There are more than 30 million small businesses in the United States, and many of them are eligible for a business credit card. You can earn rewards by using one, but is a business card the best choice?
This type of card is different from your personal credit card. Business cards can offer greater rewards and perks geared toward your company’s spending, but you also could lose purchase protections that you get with personal cards.
Money expert Clark Howard says that’s reason to think carefully before applying.
“There are definitely things you’re giving up when you go from a personal card to a business card,” Clark says. “But as long as you know those things up front and the rewards you receive are significantly more generous in exchange, you may be willing to make that trade-off.”
It’s our goal to help you decide if a small business credit card is best for your situation.
Team Clark has analyzed the business credit card market to uncover the best options for small business owners. We also have some things you should consider before making your choice.
Top Business Credit Cards for Small Business Owners
|Business Credit Card||Best For||Top Perk|
|Capital One Spark Cash Plus||Everyday Business Spending||Unlimited 2% cash back|
|American Express® Business Gold Card||High-Volume Spending||4x points in key business categories|
|Ink Business Cash® Credit Card||Bonus Spending Categories||5% back on select business spending|
|Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card||Airline Rewards||4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available|
|The Business Platinum Card® from American Express||High-Volume Travel||Travel upgrades and lounge access|
|Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card||Welcome Bonus Offer||Up to $1,250 in welcome rewards|
|U.S. Bank Business Platinum Card||Balance Transfer Offer||Introductory APR offer|
Best Business Credit Cards
If you’ve weighed all of the factors and decided that a business card is right for you, it’s time to find the best fit.
We have compiled a list of business credit cards you may want to consider:
Best for Everyday Business Spending: Capital One Spark Cash Plus
What To Know About This Card
- Annual Fee: $150
- Rewards Program Highlights: Earn unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases with no category restrictions or spending limits. Earn up to a $1,000 cash bonus in the first 6 months; $500 once you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months, and $500 once you spend $50,000 in the first 6 months.
- Top Business Perk: Earn an annual $200 cash bonus annually after spending $200,000 or more, which covers the cost of the annual fee. There is no preset spending limit on this credit card, so you’ll be able to leverage your business spending as necessary. However, you will owe the entire balance at the end of the month. This keeps you from owing interest, but you’re also subject to a monthly late fee if not paid in full on time.
Why We Like It: For many business owners, cash back is going to be king. So locking in 2% cash back on every purchase you make for the business is a great way to set up a steady, projectable amount of money coming back to your business.
Note on the family of Capital One Spark Cards: This is a potentially confusing line of credit cards. There are six Spark Business cards. The Capital One Spark Cash Select for Excellent Credit, for example, offers 1.5% cash back on all purchases but does not require an annual fee.
Best for High-Volume Spending: card_name
Annual Fee: $295 (See Rates & Fees)
Rewards Program Details: MORE REWARDS: Get 4X Membership Rewards® points on the 2 select categories where your business spent the most each month. 1X is earned for other purchases. ** **4X points apply to the first $150,000 in combined purchases from these 2 categories each calendar year.*
Bonus Offer: Earn 70,000 Membership Rewards® points
Bonus Offer Disclaimer: after you spend $10,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Gold Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.*
Top Business Perks: Get 25% of your points back when you book a flight with American Express Travel using Membership Rewards Pay with Points, up to 250,000 points back per calendar year. You can receive extended warranty coverage on costly business equipment. Terms apply.
Why We Like It: You can get a big points return on the categories in which you spend the most each month. And there are no guessing games on the 4x multiplier for your spending categories.
Best for Bonus Spending Categories: card_name
Annual Fee: $0
Rewards Program Details: Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year. Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year. Earn 1% cash back on all other card purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn.
Bonus Offer: Earn $900 bonus cash back
Bonus Offer Disclaimer: after you spend $6,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
Top Business Perks: Your business builds its own credit history with Chase through the Ink card program, so responsible use could lead to potential business lending opportunities through the bank.
Why We Like It: This card carries no annual fee and offers bonus rewards for spending in oft-used business categories.
Best for Airline Rewards: card_name
Annual Fee: $199
Rewards Program Details: Earn 4 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases. Earn 3 points per $1 spent on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partners. Earn 2 points per $1 spent on local transit and commuting, including rideshare. Earn 2 points per $1 spent on social media and search engine advertising, internet, cable, and phone services. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Bonus Offer: Earn 80,000 points
Bonus Offer Disclaimer: after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Top Business Perks: You get 4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available and 9,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
Why We Like It: Money expert Clark Howard chose the sister card (card_name) to issue to his employees. But that’s only because this “Performance” version of the Southwest card was not yet available when he set things up. Clark says Southwest cards work for his company because it’s really easy to use the points, which he says help pay for company travel as well as personal trips. He considers this Performance card to be an even better choice than the one he has –thanks to enhanced rewards multipliers to go along with the perks he enjoys, such as an accelerated path to the Southwest Companion Pass that lets his wife travel with him for free.
Best for High-Volume Travel: card_name
Annual Fee: $695 (See Rates & Fees)
Rewards Program Details: Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases. Earn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
Bonus Offer: Earn 120,000 Membership Rewards® points
Bonus Offer Disclaimer: after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with your Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
Top Business Perks: You get The American Express Global Lounge Collection® access, $200 Airline Fee Credit, $189 CLEAR® Plus Credit and more. Terms apply. (see rates and fees)
Why We Like It: If you travel often for business, you may find that this card’s fee quickly pays itself off each year with the travel perks it provides. The airport lounge access alone is likely worth the annual fee to many high-volume travelers. This card isn’t for everyone, so make sure you do the math before committing to pay this annual fee.
Best for Welcome Bonus Offer: card_name
Annual Fee: $95
Rewards Program Details: Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases-with no limit to the amount you can earn.
Bonus Offer: New Cardmember Offer! Earn 100,000 bonus points
Bonus Offer Disclaimer: after you spend $8,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Top Business Perks: This card carries a welcome bonus of 100,000 points for spending at least $8,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,000 cash back or $1,250 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Why We Like It: If you hit the welcome bonus offer spending goals, you can enjoy up to $1,250 in travel if redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. If you play it just right, that could be a free exotic vacation!
Best for Balance Transfer Offer: U.S. Bank Business Platinum Card
What To Know About This Card
- Annual Fee: $0
- Rewards Program Highlights: This card does not offer much in the way of rewards for new purchases.
- Introductory Offer: The U.S. Bank Business Platinum Card offers 0% for 18 months on new purchases. Afterward, the variable APR will be 16.24% – 25.24%, based on creditworthiness. The U.S. Bank Business Platinum Card offers 0% for 18 months on balance transfers. Afterward, the variable APR will be 16.24% – 25.24%, based on creditworthiness.
Why We Like It: This no-annual-fee card is a way to get access to introductory APR on both balance transfers and new purchases for up to 20 billing cycles. If you’re moving an existing balance to this card, you are subject to a relatively small transfer fee of 3% of the amount of each transfer or $5 minimum, whichever is greater, but you’ll need to make sure you complete the transfer within the first 30 days of membership in order to get the promotional APR.
6 Things To Consider When Picking a Business Credit Card
As you’re considering if you should get a small business credit card, it’s important to know that this often is a very individualized decision.
Each business is in a unique financial situation that may make it a better or worse candidate for using certain types of credit.
So before you dive into the individual cards on our recommendations list, here is a list of questions you should ask yourself.
1. What Is a Business Credit Card?
There are key differences are between a personal credit card and a business card.
The business credit card is intended to be of use for day-to-day expenses for companies rather than individuals.
Since they’re for business purchases, these cards often offer higher credit limits and can carry the business name on the front of the plastic. Most make it very easy to get multiple cards for employee use.
Clark says to be wary of handing cards to your employees though, as you’re ultimately responsible for paying the tab.
“If you hand these out to trusted employees and somebody does betray you by buying a bunch of things, your only remedy is to fire them,” Clark says. “And you’re still stuck with whatever the balance is.”
While card issuers make a big deal about branding these cards differently from personal credit cards, many of them function a lot like personal cards in terms of welcome bonuses and rewards programs.
For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred (personal) and Chase Ink Business Preferred (business) are constructed with similar welcome bonuses and rewards programs.
2. Can You Qualify for a Business Credit Card?
The term “business credit card” leads some to think of stuffy corporate boardroom types spending on extravagant business lunches, but you may be surprised to learn that almost everyone can qualify for this type of card.
Most business credit cards don’t even require you to have an incorporated business to be eligible, though that designation would qualify you in most cases.
You also may be eligible if you’re an independent contractor, sole proprietor or in a business partnership. And in our “gig economy” with its ample “side hustle” opportunities, it’s getting easier to meet the qualifications for getting a business card.
Something as simple as delivering for DoorDash or writing a few paid articles for a blog might qualify you as an independent contractor who is eligible to apply for a business card.
3. Should You Use a Personal Credit Card or a Business Credit Card When Given the Choice?
Clark says that you’re most likely going to be held personally responsibly for the balances you run up on either type of card, so many small business owners may want to consider continuing using their personal cards.
“It’s the same liability risk in either case,”Clark says. “They’re going to come after you individually [for any outstanding debts]. So that’s why, as a default, the consumer version is usually the superior choice.”
“There’s a big advantage to using a personal credit card for business. You have federal consumer protection that you’re giving up if you use a business credit card.”
Many of the assurances and protections on things like fees and interest rates provided in the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 apply only to personal credit cards.
Clark says that the credit card companies are tempting small business owners to forgo those protections in exchange for better rewards programs, flexibility for employee usage and higher spending limits.
He says business cards are also subject to being billed on a shorter cycle than personal cards and also may be subject to frequent interest rate hikes.
All of this is designed to try to push business owners into carrying a balance that is subject to interest charges.
“They’re counting on businesses not paying their balances in full,” Clark explains. “They are hoping that small business owners use it as a personal line of credit, because it’s really hard to get a line of credit [from a bank] when you open a business.”
If you don’t feel the benefits of a business card are worth it, you may be better off sticking to your personal card.
4. How Much Money Do You Plan To Spend with the Credit Card?
One advantage of getting a business credit card is the likelihood of more purchasing power.
Business cards typically carry higher credit limits to let you make major purchases for things like inventory or supplies. And you have the potential to rack up rewards in the process.
“Business owners have the potential to run massive volumes through these cards,” Clark says. “And if you can use a business card as a payment system and not as a borrowing tool, that’d be fantastic. Because you skip on the ridiculous interest rates while getting all the rewards.”
The exact spending limits these cards offer vary from issuer to issuer. Your credit history — both business and personal — may be part of the calculation for your business card’s limit.
If this is a big factor for you in choosing a card, you may find it worthwhile to reach out to a card issuer prior to applying to get a better understanding of the factors that will be considered.
Determining your projected annual spend with your business card will not only help you know what type of credit limit you’ll need, but it also will help you decide whether getting a card with an annual fee is worth it based on the rewards you could earn.
5. Should You Pay An Annual Fee For Your Business Credit Card?
If you read our credit card content often, you probably already know that both Clark and I tend to suggest staying away from large annual fee cards. It just keeps your personal credit cards from being a potential burden if you don’t spend enough in any particular year.
However, we are a bit more bullish on the idea of paying an annual fee for your business credit card.
Since you’re more likely to be spending (and perhaps traveling) at high volumes with a business credit card, there are more opportunities to earn accelerated rewards with an annual-fee credit card. And that could justify the yearly cost.
And in some cases, as with the American Express Platinum Business Card, you may get enough benefits from things like airport lounge access and travel upgrades to justify the hefty annual fee.
“If you’re a frequent business traveler, there are enough perks they’ll throw your way that you’ll ‘net zero’ that annual in what they give back to you,” Clark says.
6. Are Business Credit Cards a Viable Loan Alternative?
Business owners often need advances on money to pay for the costs of keeping their company’s day-to-day activities moving properly.
You can get a personal line of credit or business loan from a bank or credit union, but those are often difficult to get for businesses that are already in need of cash.
Clark says that taking a 0% APR offer through a business credit card is a plausible method for acquiring necessary funds, but you should know the risks associated before you sign up.
“This is a great opportunity for someone who is a business owner and doesn’t have enough working capital to get money for the business,” Clark says. “If I’m carrying high-interest rate debt and I get an offer to transfer that to a special interest rate for a period of time via a balance transfer, that can be fantastic for a business that’s already in a borrowing mode.”
Final Thoughts on Business Credit Cards
As you make your decision, Clark wanted me to remind you that these principles for using a credit card are universal whether it’s a personal or business card.
“Some of the same rules apply here,” Clark says. “Cash back is king if you’re not running balances. Interest rate is king if you are running balances.”
So as you make your decisions, factor in some of the things we talked about like how much you spend per year, how much travel rewards could mean to your business and whether or not you can justify the annual fees.
Do you already have a business credit card? We’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below!
To see the rates and fees for the American Express cards featured, please visit the following links: Business Platinum Card® from American Express: See Rates and Fees; American Express® Business Gold Card: See Rates and Fees