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January 2020: This post has been updated with limited time offers on Capital One cards that can get you 12% back on the first $5,000 charged in 3 months and an average of 6% back on the first $50,000 if charged within 6 months. Check out the cash back and travel versions of these cards below!
I’ve been a small business owner for most of my career. In recent years, I’ve learned how to leverage various credit cards to maximize rewards.
You may be a small business owner, too. If you have a private practice or a partnership, that’s obviously a business. If you earn money with a blog or podcast, do freelance work, or sell products online, that’s a business. If you watch or walk dogs via Rover, that’s a business!
When I was a locum tenens physician, I had a business for that. Now that I’m a blogger, I’ve got a business that encompasses the website and all related activities.
A small business credit card is a great way to help keep track of expenses related to the business. Personally, I track business expenses on a spreadsheet and tend to commingle business and personal expenses on different cards depending on what I’m trying to achieve.
I’ve already shared my credit card rewards strategies and top tips in the freshly updated Credit Cards for People Who Love Travel and Money. If you haven’t yet, give that a read and return here to learn more specifically about business cards.
Note: I might earn money if you apply for a card via links on this page, and I will donate half of my profits if that happens. Not many sites make that pledge, so please, do your research wherever the world wide web takes you, but consider coming back to this site for your credit card needs and support our charitable mission. Cheers!
The Best Business Credit Cards for Your Small Business
What’s best for you and your business will depend on the answer to several questions.
How much do you spend in a year?
Are you more interested in welcome bonus offers? Or do the long-term benefits of the card matter more to you?
Do you prefer cash back or flexible rewards points?
Is there a particular airline or hotel chain that you use often for business or personal travel?
I’ve selected the best cards based on what I feel is the best combination of a valuable welcome bonus, solid ongoing rewards, and a reasonable annual fee. There are additional cards that offer more perks but come with annual fees of $450 or more. I’ve included one for the big ballers out there.
In the spreadsheet that accompanies this article, I did include a couple cards with no welcome bonus for those that frequent Costco or want a no-annual-fee card, but the rest of the cards feature offer bonuses worth anywhere from $500 to $2,000 or more.
Best Cash Back Business Credit Cards
If you don’t plan on charging big bucks on a business card, there a couple of Chase Business Cards that are excellent choices. Both offer a $500 cash back welcome bonus and ongoing cash back throughout the year.
I like to think of these cards as the Business equivalent of the personal cards Chase Freedom Unlimited (1.5% cash back on every purchase) and Chase Freedom (5% cash back on rotating categories and 1% on everything else).
Compared to the Capital One Spark cards, the minimum spends are much lower and the annual fee is non-existent. To earn the $500 welcome bonus, you must spend $3,000 on these Chase business cards.
Chase Ink Business Cash: $500
- $500 after $3,000 spend in first three months
- No annual fee
- 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent on cable, internet, phone, and office supply stores.
- 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent at gas stations and restaurants
- 1% cash back on all other purchases
- $500 after $3,000 spend in first three months
- No annual fee
- 1.5% cash back on every purchase
Pro tip: Sign up for both the Ink Cash and the Ink Unlimited sequentially, collect both welcome bonuses, and then using each on its best rewards categories to maximize points with the highly transferrable Chase Ultimate Rewards.
The next two cards from Capital One are offering huge welcome bonuses for big spenders. If you put at least $100,000 on a business credit card each year, you could earn $3,000 or 6% back on the first $50,000 spent within six months of opening the card.
The welcome bonus on the first card gives you $2,000 and the $50,000 spent to earn the welcome bonus nets another 2% or $1,000 back.
- Up to $2,000 Welcome Bonus for a limited time!
- $95 annual fee, waived first year
- $500 welcome bonus after $5,000 spend in first 3 months
- Additional $1,500 bonus when you spend $50,000 in first 6 months
- 2% cash back on all purchases
- No foreign transaction fees
If travel is more your thing, you’ll get a similar value in travel credits with miles that also can also be transferred to valuable travel partners. A $100 global entry or TSA pre✓ reimbursement is another sweet perk from this next card.
- Up to 200,000 Mile Welcome Bonus for a limited time!
- $95 annual fee, waived first year
- 50,000 mile welcome bonus after $5,000 spend in first 3 months
- Additional 150,000 mile bonus when you spend $50,000 in first 6 months
- 200 miles per dollar spent on all purchases
- 500 miles per dollar on hotel & car rental via Capital One Travel portal
- $100 Global Entry or $85 TSA Pre✓ reimbursement
- No foreign transaction fees
Best Business Credit Cards with Flexible Points
Chase has a valuable third business card, the Chase Ink Business Preferred. There are a few key differences between the cash back cards and the Preferred card.
First, the Preferred card gives you 80,000 Ultimate Reward points instead of cash back. 80,000 points can be used to book $1,000 to $1,200 in travel via the Chase portal or can be transferred to one of several popular travel partners.
Those partners include United, Southwest, and Jetblue airlines and Hyatt, Marriott, IHG, or Ritz Carlton hotels. A good redemption of 80,000 points could easily carry a value of $1,600 to $2,000 or more. The minimum spend is a bit higher at a total of $5,000 in the first three months.
This card also comes with an annual fee of $95 and adds the benefit of no foreign transaction fees.
Chase Ink Business Preferred: 80,000 Points
- 80,000 points after $5,000 spend in first three months
- $95 annual fee
- 3 UR points per dollar on travel and select business categories
- No foreign transaction fees
Another business card with flexible rewards points to consider is the American Express Blue Business Plus card. This card has no annual fee and the first $50,000 spent on the card are rewarded at a rate of 2 points per dollar spent.
Unfortunately, there is no welcome bonus with this card.
The American Express Awards points for this card and other AmEx cards are quite flexible with airline partners Delta, Air France / KLM, JetBlue and Hawaiian Airlines. You can also transfer points to the Hilton and Starwood / Marriott hotel chains.
- 2 points per dollar spent up to $50,000 per year
- 1 point per dollar spent after $50,000 spent in a year
- No annual fee
- Flexible Amex Membership Rewards points
Note, there is also an excellent personal card from American Express called the Blue Cash Preferred, offering 6% back on groceries and 3% back at gas stations. The card has a $95 annual fee and you’ll get a $200 statement credit after spending $1,000 in the first three months.
Finally, if you prefer the finer things in life, American Express also offers a Business Gold and Business Platinum card. Only the Platinum card currently offers a welcome bonus and the Gold with its $250 annual fee doesn’t seem to have the perks to justify the cost compared to the Chase cards above.
The Business Platinum Card carries a hefty $550 annual fee but gives you some valuable perks including access to The American Express Global Lounge Collection, offering the widest range of airport lounges with free food and drink of any program. Additionally, $200 of the annual fee can be offset with an airline credit for baggage fees.
You’ll also receive 35% back in points when purchasing flights with points through the AmEx portal. Regular spending is rewarded at 1.5 points per dollar.
The welcome bonus is generous but requires a large initial outlay, with 50,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $10,000 in the first three months and an additional 25,000 points with an additional $10,000 in spending in that same three months timeframe.
If you were to spend the $20,000 in the first three months, you would have at least 105,000 points after factoring in the two-tiered bonus and 30,000+ points from the $20,000 spend.
I would only recommend this card if you are a frequent business traveler, love the lounges, and plan to spend enough to get the full welcome bonus in the first three months.
- 50,000 points with a $10,000 spend in first 3 months
- 25,000 extra points with another $10,000 spend in first 3 months
- 1.5 points per dollar spent
- $200 airline credit for baggage fees
- Global Lounge Collection access
- $100 Global Entry or $85 TSA Pre✓ reimbursement every 4 years
- Hilton Honors Gold Status
- Free upgrade to Bonvoy Gold Elite Status
How to Keep Track of Multiple Business Credit Cards
If you’re only going to get one card and use it for everything, there’s not much to do. Set up an online account, set up autopay (every time on every card!), and keep enough money in your checking or savings account to cover your monthly tab.
However, if you’re like me and you want to earn multiple welcome bonuses and use the right cards in the right situations (airline specific card for free checked bags, Chase Freedom for the 5 points per dollar at Costco this quarter for example), you’ll want to keep track of which cards you have.
That’s where my spreadsheet comes into play, and I’ll give you an opportunity to download it.
Business Credit Cards
The sheet shows each of the cards featured here and there’s a tab for personal cards, many of which are featured in my travel and cash back credit cards article. Limited time bonuses are shown in red, others in black, and the minimum spend to reach those bonuses is listed, as well.
I’ve filled in the annual fees and whether or not they’re waived the first year. Most, but not all cards have no foreign transaction fees. The cash back cards are less likely to have this feature which is valuable if you spend time outside of the United States.
I created columns to mark if you’ve gotten the card(s) for you and your spouse. I highly recommend not adding a spouse as an authorized user, but rather applying for a new card in his or her name once you’ve reached the minimum spend on yours. That way, your household can earn the welcome bonus twice.
The key perks are also listed to the right of the spreadsheet. I truncated the sheet in the image below to make it better fit on your screen in this article.
The personal credit card portion is a little more robust. I’ve also created a third tab which is a blank slate where you can copy and past info from the first two as you add cards to your collection or enter information from other cards on your own.
Personal credit cards
The best way to send the spreadsheet to you (it’s an Excel file in .XLS format and can easily be converted to other formats after downloaded) is to ask for your email address in the box below. An email with a download link will be generated and sent to you immediately. You can opt out of future emails if you prefer, but if you remain subscribed, I’ll be able to send you updated versions of the sheet as the limited time offers and top cards change.
Best Business Cards for Frequent Fliers
United Airlines, one of the United States’ “Big Three Airlines” has a business card with a tremendous welcome offer of 75,000 bonus miles with an initial spend of $5,000 in the first three months.
Like many other airline cards, they offer a free checked bag when booking with United using the card. You’ll get double points (2 per dollar spent) at restaurants, gas stations, and office supply stores.
You’ll also get priority boarding for you and a companion, and two passes to use in any United Club. I used these at DFW for my wife and myself after FinCon17. It was a nice place!
United Explorer Business Card: Up to 100,000 miles
- 50,000 miles after $5,000 spend in first three months
- 50,000 bonus miles after $25,000 spend in first six months
- $95 annual fee, waived in year one
- double points on United purchases, restaurants, gas stations, and office supply
- free checked bag
- priority boarding
- 2 United Club lounge passes per year
Southwest Airlines is popular with frequent fliers for their low fares, “bags fly free” policy that is rare, and the transparent system with frequent flier miles. Theirs is the least complicated where a mile has a dollar value and you don’t have to search for the best dates to use your miles.
Chase offers a Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Card that offers 60,000 Rapid Rewards miles with a $3,000 spend in the first three months.
A savvy traveler will obtain both this card and the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus and/or the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier cards and meet the minimum spend to earn over 100,000 miles, qualifying for the coveted Companion Pass which gives you a free companion on every Southwest flight you take this year and next.
This is the perfect time to set up such a strategy. Apply for the cards now, meet the minimum spend early in 2020 and enjoy buy-one-get-one-free flights on Southwest for the next 22 months or so.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Card: 60,000 Points
- 60,000 points after $3,000 spend in first three months
- 6,000 points on cardmember anniversary
- double points per dollar spent on Southwest and travel partners
- no foreign transaction fees
Delta is one of the “big three” U.S. airlines and they’ve got a quality business card via their partnership with American Express. The welcome bonus is occasionally substantially higher than the current 30,000 mile bonus, but if you’re more interested in the long-term benefits of the card, the Gold Delta Skymiles Business Card may be a good option for you.
Those benefits include 30,000 Delta Skymiles after $1,000 spent in the first three months and a $50 statement credit towards a Delta flight made in those first three months. Your first checked bag flies free and you’ll qualify for priority boarding. The $95 annual fee is waived the first year.
Gold Delta Skymiles Business Card: 30,000 Miles
- 30,000 miles after $1,000 spend in first three months
- $95 annual fee waived first year
- $50 statement credit towards Delta flight in first three months
- free 1st checked bag on Delta flights
- double points when spent on Delta
- 20% discount on in-flight drinks and snacks
Finally, there’s another “big three” airline business card offered by the same bank that offers the Costco card. Their rules prohibit direct linking, but if you, like me, like accumulating AAdvantage miles, this business card will give you 70,000 AAdvantage Miles after spending $4,000 in four months.
That’s enough to get you to Asia, South America, or Europe and back. If your spouse or a friend gets one, as well, you can take a pretty swell trip together after meeting the minimum spend on each card.
Unfortunately, I cannot link directly to the card, but I can direct you to airline reward cards and you’ll find it, along with its personal card counterpart, on the Cardratings website.
Best Business Cards for Hotel Stays
I’ll highlight a couple business cards from the popular chains Hilton and Marriott. Both have excellent reward programs and these cards will get you automatic upgraded status in those programs and enough points in the welcome bonus for at least a long weekend in one of their upscale hotels.
The Hilton Honors Business card is currently offering a whopping 125,000 Hilton Honors points as a welcome bonus after a $3,000 spend in the first three months. As a cardholder, you’ll enjoy Gold status and 12 points per dollar spent at Hilton Hotels. Spend $15,000 any year for a free weekend night with a second complimentary night after another $45,000 spent.
This card also comes with an airport lounge Priority Pass good for 10 free visits each year. With a $95 annual fee, that’s a pretty sweet perk when most cards with lounge access cost have annual fees of $550 or more.
Hilton Honors Business from American Express: 125,000 Points
- 125,000 points after $3,000 spend in first 3 months
- Weekend night free after $15,000 spend in a calendar year
- 12x Points per dollar spent at Hilton, 6x or 3x in other categories
- Automatic Gold Status
- 10 Free Priority Pass Select Lounge visits per year
- No foreign transaction fees
Finally, after the recent Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) merger with Marriott, points earned on the Marriott Bonvoy Business card can be redeemed for stays at many hotels and resorts in the following families:
- JW Marriott
- Gaylord Hotels
- Fairfield Inn & Suites
- Autograph Collection
- St. Regis
- W Hotels
- Four Points
- Luxury Collection
The card currently has a 100,000 point bonus after a $5,000 spend in the first three months. As with any hotel card, you’ll earn extra points (6 per dollar) when using the card within the hotel chain’s properties.
You’ll also earn 4 points per dollar at U.S. restaurants and gas stations. On your cardmember anniversary, you’re gifted a free night’s stay. Silver Elite status is automatic and you’ll get Gold Elite status with $35,000 in purchases in a calendar year.
If you apply by 3/28/2019, the annual fee will be $95 and waived the first year. After 3/28/2019, the annual fee will be $125. There are no foreign transaction fees.
Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card: 100,000 points
- 75,000 points after $3,000 spend in first three months
- 1 Free Night Award on Cardmember Anniversary (up to 35,000 point value)
- 6x points at participating hotels
- 4x points on US restaurants, gas stations, cell services
- Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite Status
- No foreign transaction fees.
- Annual fees: If applied by 3/28/2019, $0 the first year and $95 thereafter. After 3/28/2019, it will be $125.
Start Earning Rewards with a Business Credit Card
If you’re a small business owner, you should be reaping the rewards of a good business credit card on every business purchase made by you and your employees. Most of the cards featured here offer additional cards for employees at no additional cost.
While it’s true that this site can turn a profit if you apply for a card after clicking on the links from this article, it’s also true that I donate half of my profits. Do the research you need to do, but please return here to follow my links to the cards if you’re so inclined. And of course, do not use credit cards if you cannot afford to pay them off completely every month!
Download the spreadsheet and start earning that cash back, those flexible points, airline or hotel points today!
Please exercise caution with the language in the comments. The card issuers don’t like terms that rhyme with “travel snacking” or “travel packing.” Also, please avoid the yearning to use any word that starts like “church” and ends like “burning.” Thank you for your discretion.
Have you been earning cash back or travel rewards with small business credit cards? What are your favorite reward cards, business or otherwise?
The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone.” Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses below have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.
Physician on FIRE has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Physician on FIRE and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.