The Best Business Credit Cards For 2018

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best business credit card

Credit cards are a very good solution to many business financial goals. Whether you’re interested in earning points or cash back, easily keeping track of your spending, consolidating business expenses to a single source, or improving your business credit score, a credit card can help.

But which credit card is best for your business? There are an overwhelming amount of credit card offers out there (your junk mail can attest to that), and everyone wants a chunk of your business. How do you sort the wheat from the chaff?

We’re here to help! Here at Merchant Maverick, we’ve spent a lot of time comparing credit cards to find the best available options. Credit cards are not one size fits all, so we’ve chosen the best cards for many business needs, whether you want to earn points, cash back, or travel miles.

Read on to find the perfect credit card (or credit cards) for your business needs.

Chase Ink Business Preferred

Chase Ink Business Preferred is often cited as one of the best credit cards for small business. And after doing our own research and comparing it to the competition, we agree. This card is an excellent choice for many small businesses.

Chase offers three points per $1 on a few common business categories, so businesses that spend a lot of money in one or more of these categories will have no trouble earning points. In addition to points, cardholders have access to many benefits, including cell phone protection.

Chase Ink Business Preferred
Annual Fee$95
APRVariable, 16.99% – 21.99%
Signup Bonus80,000 points
Rewards3 pts./$1 for travel; shipping; internet, cable, and phone; and social media and search engine advertising (up to $150,000 per year)
1 pt./$1 on all other purchases
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Offering 80,000 bonus points, the Chase Ink Business Preferred credit card has the largest sign-on bonus of any business credit card we surveyed (rivaled only by another Chase card, the Marriott Rewards Premier Business credit card). At $0.01 a point, that’s a bonus equivalent to $800 cash back. To earn the bonus points, cardholders must spend at least $5,000 on the card after opening an account.

Unlike some cards that offer fewer bonus points, however, Chase charges an annual fee of $95. The company does not waive the annual fee for your first year.

With the Ink Business Preferred card, it’s easy to rack up multiple points at a time on standard business purchases. Card users earn three points per $1 on all purchases made in these categories:

  • Travel
  • Shipping purchases
  • Internet, cable, and phone services
  • Advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines

There’s a catch, though. Card users only receive three points on their first $150,000 worth of purchases in all these categories combined each year. After that, all purchases revert to one point per $1 purchased until the next anniversary year rolls around.

If you do a fair amount of traveling, Chase offers a couple more reasons to use Ink Business Preferred: all points redeemed for travel are worth 25% more, and points can be transferred to other travel programs.

To utilize the 25% more benefit, you must redeem the points via Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, the 80,000 bonus points are worth $1,000 (instead of the standard $800 you receive for cash back) when used for travel. Naturally, cardholders can redeem points for other uses via Chase Ultimate Rewards (such as cash back, gift cards, or pay with points), but if they are redeemed for something other than travel, points are worth the standard amount.

Or, if you’d prefer, points earned via this card can be transferred on a 1:1 basis to other airline or hotel travel programs, including Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards, United MileagePlus, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and others.

Chase offers quite a few benefits to cardholders with Ink Business Preferred. Most notably, this card offers cell phone protection. Following a $100 deductible, Chase will pay a maximum of $600 per claim on stolen or damaged cell phones (for a maximum of three claims, or $1,800, per year).

American Express OPEN Business Gold Rewards

For businesses planning on charging a lot to their card, and want to rack up as many points as possible while doing so, this may be the credit card for you. The American Express OPEN Business Gold Rewards charge card offers more point-earning flexibility than most business credit cards. Because you choose the category you want to earn the most points on, this card can be personalized to maximize your savings.

American Express Business Gold Rewards
Annual Fee$175 ($0 the first year)
APRNo APR – charge card
Signup Bonus50,000 points
Rewards3 pts./$1 spent on a category of your choice—airfare, advertising, shipping, gas stations, or computer hardware and software (up to $100,000 per year)
2 pts./$1 spent on the four categories remaining (up to $100,000 per year)
1 pt./$1 on all other purchases
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On sign up, American Express offers 50,000 bonus points (if you spend at least $5,000 in the first three months). That is the equivalent of about $500, but might be worth more or less depending on how you decide to use your points. AMEX waives the annual fee for your first year; after that, you’ll be charged $175 per year, which is a little pricier than the annual fee for most other business credit cards.

Note that this is a charge card, not a traditional credit card. You cannot hold a balance; You must pay the whole amount when your statement arrives. However, AMEX does offer extended payments (called Pay Over Time) on some purchases.

With the American Express OPEN Business Gold Rewards card, you will have the option of choosing the category from which you earn three points for every $1 spent. You get a choice between these five categories:

  • Airfare purchased directly from airlines
  • Advertising (on select media)
  • Shipping
  • Purchases at gas stations
  • Computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases

Cardholders earn three points per $1 spent in their chosen category up to $100,000 in purchases each anniversary year, after which the purchases are worth one point. Each of the categories that aren’t chosen are worth two points per $1 (up to a $100,000 cap per category per anniversary year). Purchases over the category caps (and all other purchases) are worth the standard one point per $1 spent. With spending maximums of $100,000 per category, you may be able to earn more points than you would on other cards (if you are able to put the right purchases on your card).

AMEX offers a fair amount of benefits to Business Gold Rewards cardholders, in both travel and shopping categories. Check out their terms and conditions for a full list of benefits.

American Express Blue Business

American Express Blue for Business has a simple points-earning rewards system that will appeal to merchants looking for the ultimate hassle-free way to earn points. And because this card carries no annual fee, this card is a very good choice for small businesses.

American Express Blue Business Plus
Annual Fee$0
APRVariable, 12.24% – 20.24% (0% APR for the first 15 months)
Signup BonusNone
Rewards2 pts./$1 spent on all purchases (up to $50,000 per year)
1 pt./$1 on purchases after $50,000
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Unlike the above two cards, American Express Blue Business Plus is an excellent choice for businesses that are either small or don’t plan to utilize their card a lot. This card does not currently carry a signup bonus, but makes up for it in other ways.

As stated above, this card does not carry an annual fee, so you don’t have to worry about whether or not you’re using the card enough to compensate for the annual charge.

Earning points is simple: every $1 spent is worth two points, up to a maximum of $50,000 per year. Double points are applicable to all eligible purchases, cardholders are not subject to category restrictions. Naturally, businesses interested in spending a significant amount more than $50,000 will either want to forgo this card or supplement it with another credit card, but AMEX Blue Business Plus is one of the easiest ways we’ve found to rack up points.

American Express Blue Business carries many travel and shopping benefits. Take a look at the Blue Business Plus benefit terms for a full list.

American Express SimplyCash Plus

If you’re strictly interested in saving as much money as possible, American Express SimplyCash Plus is a good option. With both 5% and 3% cash back options on purchases in certain categories, you can save more money than you’d otherwise be able to, especially if you’re mindful about putting the right charges on your card.

American Express SimplyCash Plus
Annual Fee$0
APRVariable, 13.24% – 20.24% (0% introductory APR for the first 9 months)
Signup BonusNone
Rewards5% cash back on office supply stores and wireless telephone services (up to $50,000 per year)
3% cash back on a category of your choosing – see below (up to $50,000 per year)
1% cash back on all other purchases
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American Express SimplyCash Plus does not have an annual fee, nor does it currently carry a signup bonus.

With the SimplyPlus Cash card, you can receive 5% cash back on purchases from office supply stores and wireless telephone services. You also receive 3% cash back from a category of your choosing. There are the categories you get to choose from:

  • Airfare purchased directly from airlines
  • Hotel rooms purchased directly from hotels
  • Car rentals purchased from select car rental companies
  • U.S. gas stations
  • U.S. restaurants
  • U.S. purchases for advertising in select media
  • U.S. purchases for shipping
  • U.S. computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers

Assuming your business makes a significant number of purchases in one of these categories, the SimplyPlus Cash card is an excellent way to save a little money. That said, both 5% and 3% cash back perks max out once you spend $50,000 in each category per anniversary year, after which all purchases are worth 1% cash back. All purchases in other categories are also worth 1%.

In addition to cash back, this card carries many travel and shopping benefits. Head over to the SimplyCash Plus benefit terms for the full list.

Chase Ink Business Cash

Chase’s cash back business credit card, Ink Business Cash, offers the opportunity for business owners to earn 5% and 2% cash back on purchases in certain categories. With a category cap of $25,000, you won’t be able to earn as much as you might for another card, (like the AMEX SimplyCash Plus), but Chase Ink Business Cash has a generous signup bonus of $300, and no annual fee.

Chase Ink Business Cash
 
Annual Fee$0
APRVariable, 14.24% – 20.24% (0% introductory APR for the first 12 months)
Signup Bonus$300 cash bonus
Rewards5% cash back on office supply stores and internet/phone/cable purchases (up to $25,000 per year)
2% cash back on gas stations and restaurants (up to $25,000 per year)
1% cash back on all other purchases
Visit Site

As stated above, Chase Ink Business Cash does not have an annual fee. Unlike some cards without an annual fee, however, this card still comes with a signup bonus. If you spend at least $3,000 within three months of opening your account, you’re looking at a bonus of $300 cash back.

Chase offers 5% cash back on office supply stores and internet, phone, and cable purchases, and 2% cash back on gas stations and restaurants. Both 5% and 2% cash back options cap off at $25,000, so this might not be a good choice for businesses interested in spending a lot of money. Purchases above the category caps (and all other purchases) are worth 1% cash back.

Naturally, rewards can be redeemed for cash back. However, you can also redeem your points for travel, gift cards, or shopping on Amazon.

Capital One Spark Cash Select

Capital One offers a very passive way to earn a fair amount of cash back. With 1.5% cash back on all purchases–instead of the standard 1%–this card is perfect for merchants looking for a simple way to save money.

We chose the Capital One Spark Cash Select card because it has no annual fee. However, be aware that Capital One offers a similar card that offers 2% cash back on all purchases and a higher signup bonus, but carries a $95 annual fee (however, the fee is waived the first year).

Capital One Spark Cash Select
capital one spark cash select
Annual Fee$0
APRVariable, 13.99% – 21.99% (0% introductory APR for the first 9 months)
Signup Bonus$200 cash back
Rewards1.5% cash back on all eligible purchases
Visit Site

As stated above, this card does not administer an annual fee, which means that your initial savings (and sign-on bonus) aren’t negated by a hefty yearly charge.

Capital One’s Spark Cash Select card is very straightforward: you receive 1.5% cash back on all eligible purchases made through your card. If you spend $10,000 on the card, for example, you’ll get $150 cash back. This card is not subject to maximums; You will earn 1.5% cash back regardless of how much you spend on your card.

This card carries many common travel and shopping benefits. Head over to the Capital One and Visa’s [PDF] benefits pages to take a look at their benefits.

Citi Costco Anywhere Visa

For business owners who do a lot of Costco shopping, the Citi Costco Anywhere Visa is an obvious choice. With 4%, 3%, and 2% cash back on certain categories, you’ll have no trouble saving money with this card.

Citi Costco Anywhere Visa
Annual Fee$0 (but must have a Costco membership)
APRVariable, 16.24% (0% introductory APR for the first 7 months)
Signup BonusNone
Rewards4% cash back at gas stations (max $7,000 per year)
3% cash back on restaurants and travel
2% cash back on purchases from Costco in-store and online
1% cash back on all other purchases
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The Citi Costco Anywhere Visa does not have an annual fee, but you must have a Costco membership. Currently, annual Costco memberships are $60 for a Business Membership or $120 for an Executive Business Membership. This card does not currently have a signup bonus.

The Costco Anywhere Visa has four tiers of rewards, which are listed above. Notably, the only category with a spending cap is 4% cash back at gas stations. You can spend as much as you want on restaurants, travel, and Costco, and you will still earn 3% or 2% cash back.

Cardholders will not get many benefits in terms of travel, but will have access to many shopping benefits, including extended warranty, 90-day return protection, and price rewind. Head over to Citi’s cardholder benefits website to learn about benefits.

Capital One Spark Miles Select for Business

For frequent travelers, Capital One’s Spark Miles Select for Business is an excellent and easy way to earn miles. Cardholders earn 1.5 miles per $1 spent on all purchases, so you can easily earn miles regardless of what you’re purchasing.

Like Capital One’s cash back rewards card, it’s worth noting that Capital One has another travel card, simply called Spark Miles. This card earns 2 miles per $1 spent, and has a higher signup bonus, but also carries an annual fee (however, the fee is waived the first year).

Capital One Spark Miles Select for Business
Annual Fee$0
APRVariable, 17.99%
Signup Bonus20,000 miles
Rewards1.5 miles/$1 on all eligible purchases
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Cardholders receive 1.5 miles for every $1 spent on all purchases. That is higher than the amount granted by most credit cards and a very good incentive to use this card for many purchases.

In addition to the miles earned for purchases, Capital One grants cardholders 20,000 bonus miles for signing on, as long as you spend at least $3,000 within the first three months of opening your account. That’s an equivalent of $200 for travel. This card also does not carry an annual fee.

Miles can be redeemed for most travel expenses, including airfare, hotels, vacation packages, and other purchases.

Cardholders have access to all the benefits from Capital One and Visa.

Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG)

Starwood Preferred Guest is a very popular travel card because points are very valuable, depending on how you redeem them. While this card obviously isn’t worth having for businesses without a lot of travel expenses, it’s definitely worth considering if you and/or your employees frequently travel.

Starwood Preferred Guest
 
Annual Fee$95 ($0 the first year)
APRVariable, 16.24% 20.24%
Signup Bonus25,000 points
Rewards5 pts./$1 spent at eligible SPG hotels
2 pts./$1 spent at eligible Marriott hotels
1 pt./$1 on all other purchases
Visit Site

The SPG card carries a $95 annual fee, but it’s waived the first year. It also carries a signup bonus of 25,000 points, which you receive if you spend at least $3,000 within the first three months of opening your account.

Business owners earn five points per $1 spent at eligible SPG hotels, and two points per $1 spent on eligible Marriott hotels. All other purchases are worth one point per $1 spent.

As stated above, SPG points, called Starpoints, can be worth quite a bit if you use them in the right ways. These points can be redeemed for many travel purposes, such as airline tickets and free nights at hotels owned by Starwood. Or, if you’re interested in using them for purposes that aren’t in available via SPG’s rewards program, points can be transferred to other rewards programs, including Marriott’s reward program or airline reward programs.

This card carries many standard AMEX travel and shopping benefits. Read all about the benefits via the SPG benefits page.

Marriott Rewards Premier Business

This card won’t be worth much if you don’t plan to stay at any of the participating hotels, but the Marriot Rewards Premier Business credit card offers more generous rewards than many other travel credit cards.

Because you can earn two points per $1 in non-travel categories, this card may be a little easier to earn points on than the SPG card, but points can still be transferred to the SPG program if necessary.

Marriott Rewards Premier Business
Annual Fee$99
APRVariable, 16.99% – 23.99%
Signup Bonus80,000 points
Rewards5 pts./$1 on purchases from participating Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, and SPG hotels
2 pts./$1 spent on airline tickets, car rentals, restaurants, office supply stores, and for internet, cable, and phone services
1 pt./$1 on all other purchases
Visit Site

Cardholders who spend at least $3,000 within three months of opening their account will receive 80,000 bonus points. With the exception of the Chase Ink Business Preferred credit card, this is the highest bonus offered by any credit card we surveyed. That said, this card charges an annual fee of $99 (and it is not waived for the first year), so the points are, in effect, worth a bit less than they’d be if the annual fee was waived.

As you might expect, Marriott Rewards Premier Business credit cards grant you points for spending money at participating Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, and SPG hotels. You can see the participating locations via the rewards websites of the respective hotels (Marriott here, Ritz-Carlton here, and SPG here).

This credit card stands out from many other travel cards because, in addition to points earned from hotel purchases, you can gather extra points from other purchases. Specifically, you can earn two points per $1 spent in these categories:

  • Restaurants
  • Airline tickets directly purchased through the airline
  • Car rental agencies
  • Office supply stores
  • Internet, cable, and phone services

All other purchases are worth the standard one point per $1 spent. Points can be redeemed for a number of perks, such as free stays, discounts, or room upgrades at Marriott hotels. Points can also be transferred to the SPG program for similar perks from other hotels.

Cardholders have access to many travel and shopping benefits. The full list of benefits can be found via Chase’s benefits portal.

Final Thoughts

These are the best credit cards if you are running a seasoned business. If you are just starting out, you might want to take a look at your options for the best personal credit cards for entrepreneurs. Head over to our favorite Personal Credit Cards For Business Expenses for more information.

Bianca Crouse

Bianca Crouse

Bianca is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. As a product of the digital age, she likes absorbing large amounts of information and figures she might as well pass it on. When not staring at a screen, she is probably foraging for food outside, playing board games, or harassing somebody with theories about that movie she just watched.
Bianca Crouse
Bianca Crouse

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2 Comments

    David Wynn

    Bianca, thank you for your information here. I have a company that we may spend $3,000,000 per year on a credit card. The spending is going to be for food vendors as I have 7 restaurants. I am only interested in cash back programs. I would prefer to have one card per restaurant location so it is easier to account for. Which of the cards would you recommend for my business?

      Jessica Dinsmore

      Thanks for your question, David. We’d recommend taking a look at the Capital One Spark Cash cards. Depending on where your business spends a lot of money, you might also want to look at the Amex SimplyCash Plus, Chase Ink Business Cash, or the Citi Costco Anywhere Visa. I hope that helps!

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