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. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.
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. Below, you will find the best business credit cards that you can obtain by 2021, several of which offer generous welcome bonuses worth $750 to $1,000 or more.
You may be a small business owner like me. 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!
That’s all you need to apply for a business credit card. It doesn’t hurt to get an EIN (which takes all of 60 seconds), but some people apply using their social security numbers.
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 a significant percentage 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 2021
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 of 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.
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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 $750 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 Flex (5% cash back on rotating categories & groceries on up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter 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 $750 welcome bonus, you must spend $7,500 on these Chase business cards.
Chase Ink Business Cash: $750 cash back
The Chase Ink Business Unlimited offers a flat 1.5% cash back on all purchases. 0% introductory APR for 12 months. No annual fee.
The Chase Ink Business Cash offers 5% back on up to $25,000 spent on cell and landline service, internet, cable TV, and at office supply stores. 2% back at gas stations & 1% back on all else. No annual fee.
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 will give you 2% cash back (or a miles equivalent) for life. They come with a $95 fee, and the fee is waived in the first year for both cards.
The Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business is a straightforward cash back card offering 2% back on all purchases.
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 with the Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business. The card also has the benefit of a$100 global entry or TSA pre✓ reimbursement.
The Spark Cash business card offers 2% back on all purchases & no foreign transaction fees. $95 annual fee waived in year one.
The Spark Miles business card offers 2,000 Miles (2 cent value) per dollar spent on all purchases, 5,000 miles per dollar on hotel & car rental via Capital One Portal, $100 Global Entry or $85 TSA Pre✓ reimbursement & no foreign transaction fees. $95 annual fee waived in year one.
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 an industry-leading 100,000 Chase Ultimate Reward points (after a $15,000 spend in 3 months) instead of cash back. 100,000 points can be used to book $1,250 to $1,500 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 $2,000 or more. The minimum spend is high at a total of $15,000 in the first three months.
This card also comes with an annual fee of $95 and adds the benefit of no foreign transaction fees.
The Chase Ink Business Preferred offers 3 points per $1 spent on travel & select business categores. 1 point per dollar on all else. No foreign transaction fees (unlike other Chase Ink Business cards. $95 annual fee.
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 Blue Business Plus offers 2 points per dollar spent on the first $50,000 per year, and 1 point per dollar thereafter. No annual fee.
The American Express MembershipAward 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.
To learn how to best use these points, see CardRatings’ Guide to American Express® Membership Rewards.
Note, there is also an excellent personal card from American Express called the Blue Cash Preferred that gets you 6% cash back at U.S. grocery stores among other perks.
The Blue Cash Preferred card offers 6% back on up to $6,000 a year in US supermarket purchases and 6% back on popular streaming services. 3% back on US gas station & transit purchases, 1% back on all else. $95 annual fee.
I have a hard time recommending the Gold card when comparing the card’s perks to its $295 annual fee, but the Platinum Card might be a good option, especially if you don’t carry a premium personal credit card.
The Business Platinum Card carries a hefty $595 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 75,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $15,000 in the first three months.
I would only recommend this card if you are a frequent business traveler and plan to spend enough to get the full welcome bonus in the first three months.
The Business Platinum Card from American Express is a premium card offering stellar perks including a sizable welcome bonus. Global Lounge Collection (airport lounge) access, $200 in airline fee reimbursement, $100 or $85 for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓, Uber VIP status, 5x points on flights and prepaid hotels via amextravel.com, 35% bonus points when using points for flights, and more. $595 annual fee.
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 cards article. The welcome bonuses and spending required to reach them are all listed.
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 Business Card: 75,000 miles
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 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 to kick back for a few hours waiting for our flight!
The United Business Card comes with a generous welcome offer, gets you a free checked bag on United flights & 2 passes for a United Club every year. 2 miles per dollar at gas stations, restaurants, and office supply stores. $99 annual fee waived in year one.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Card: 60,000 Points
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 points with a $3,000 spend in the first three months.
A savvy traveler will obtain a Southwest business card and one of their personal credit cards, the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus and/or the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier cards and meet the minimum spend to earn over 120,000 miles, qualifying for the coveted Companion Pass which gives you a free companion on every Southwest flight you take this year and next.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Card: up to 100,000 Points
Chase and Southwest offer a premium card known as the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Card offering 70,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first three months. Spend another $20,000 before the 6 month mark and you’ll get 30,000 additional bonus miles.
The Performance card has a higher annual fee as opposed to the premium-sounding Premier card ($199 vs. $99), but the Performance card has additional perks like 3x points on Southwest purchases, wifi reimbursement, Global Entry / TSA Pre✓ reimbursement every four years, and up to four upgraded boardings per year.
The Southwest Premier Business Card gets you 60,000 points when meeting the minimum spend, 2 points per dollar spend with Southwest or hotel and car rental partners. No foreign transaction fees. $99 annual fee.
The Southwest Performance Business Card gets you up to 100,000 points when meeting the minimum spending requirements, 3 points per dollar spent with Southwest, 2 per dollar at hotel and car rental partners. Inflight wifi credit, 4 upgraded boardings annually. No foreign transaction fees. $199 annual fee.
Gold Delta Skymiles Business Card: 40,000 Miles
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 60,000 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 40,000 Delta Skymiles after $2,000 spent in the first three months and a $100 statement credit towards a Delta flight made if you spend $10,000 in a calendar year. Your first checked bag flies free and you’ll qualify for priority boarding. The $99 annual fee is waived the first year.
The Delta Gold SkyMiles Business card gives you a generous welcome bonus, an annual $100 Delta credit with $10,000 in purchases, 2 miles per dollar spent on Delta. 1st checked bag free, priority boarding, and no foreign transaction fees. $99 annual fee, waived in year one.
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 of 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.
Hilton Honors Business from American Express: 130,000 Points
The Hilton Honors Business card is currently offering a whopping 130,000 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.
The Hilton Honors Business has a welcome bonus good for 130,000 points redeemable for free hotel nights. Additional free weekend night after $15,000 in spending annually, 2nd night after $60,000, and Diamond status after a $40,000 annual spend. 12x points at Hilton properties. 10 Priority Pass uses every year. $95 annual fee.
Marriott Bonvoy Business Card: 75,000 Points
Finally, after the 2019 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 75,000 point bonus after a $3,000 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. Spend $60,000 on the card in a year for a second complimentary night.
The card comes with complimentary Platinum Elite Status for one year (February 1, 2021-January 31, 2022). You’ll pay no foreign transaction fees, and there is a $125 annual fee.
The Marriott Bonvoy Business card gives you a great welcome bonus, Platinum Elite status for 1 year, 6x points at Marriott, 4x points at U.S. restaurants, gas stations & cell phone. 1 free night's stay annually + extra night after $60k in purchases each year. $125 annual fee.
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 much 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.