The Best Business Credit Cards for 2018
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, or use the table of contents below to navigate to the sections that interest you.
Table of Contents
- Best Business Credit Cards for Earning Points
- Best Business Credit Cards for Cash Back
- Best Business Credit Card for Frequent Travelers
Best Business Credit Cards for Earning Points
With cards of this type, cardholders generally earn one point per $1 spent. However, most credit cards offer additional points on purchases in certain categories. To get the most for your money, you’ll want to find a card that offers extra points for purchases your business already makes.
Points can be redeemed for many different rewards which will vary according to the program associated with your card. For example, you might be able to redeem the points for cash back, gift cards, purchases from select stores, travel, or other uses. Usually, points are worth $0.01 each, but they might be worth more or less depending on how you choose to redeem them.
Below are our two top picks for earning points: Chase Ink Business Preferred and Business Gold Rewards from American Express OPEN. Both have high sign-on bonuses and flexible reward points earning systems which make them suitable for many businesses.
|Chase Ink Business Preferred||American Express OPEN Business Gold Rewards|
|Visit Site||Visit Site|
|Annual Fee||$95||$175 (first year $0)|
|Signup Bonus||80,000 points||50,000 points|
|Tier 1 Rewards||3 pts./$1 for travel; shipping; internet, cable, and phone; social media and search engine advertising||3 pts./$1 for one category of your choice (airfare; advertising; shipping; gas stations; or computer hardware, software, and cloud computing)|
|Tier 2 Rewards||—||2 pts./$1 for the 4 categories remaining from Tier 1|
|Tier 3 Rewards||1 pt./$1 on all other purchases||1 pt./$1 on all other purchases|
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 reasons.
- 80,000 bonus points if you spend $5,000 within the first 3 months of opening your account (points equal $800 cash back, or $1,000 when applied to travel expenses)
- 3 points per $1 spent on travel, shipping purchases, internet/cable/phone services, and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines on your first $150,000 worth of purchases in these categories each year
- 1 point per $1 spent on other purchases
- Points are worth 25% more if redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Variable APR of 16.99% – 21.99%
- $95 annual fee
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.
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:
- 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 another reason to use the Ink Business Preferred card: all points redeemed for travel are worth 25% more. 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. Merchants can also redeem points for other uses (including cash back and gift cards) through Chase Ultimate Rewards or pay with points through stores such as Amazon.
American Express OPEN Business Gold Rewards
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.
- 50,000 bonus points if you spend $5,000 within the first 3 months of opening your account (a savings of about $500, depending on how you use your points).
- 3 points per $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 points per $1 spent on the four categories you didn’t pick to receive 3 points up to $100,000 per year in each category
- 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
- Charge card—no interest (some purchases can be paid over time via AMEX’s Pay Over Time feature)
- $0 annual fee for the first year, $175 subsequent years
If you charge a lot on your card and are interested in racking up points, American Express OPEN Business Gold Rewards might be the card for you. This card lets you choose to earn three points for every dollar spent in one of the following categories:
- Airfare purchased directly from airlines
- Advertising (on select media)
- Purchases at gas stations
- Computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases
Cardholders earn three points per $1 spent in their chosen category up to $100K 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.
Upon 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.
Best Business Credit Cards for Cash Back
Rewards points programs can offer your business significant savings, but for some businesses, they’re more trouble than they’re worth. With the following cards, instead of earning points on your purchases you simply earn back a small percentage of the money spent.
If you want to skip the complexities of a rewards programs and simply earn cash back, consider Capital One Spark Cash Select or American Express’s SimplyCash Plus. Out of all the options we examined, these two cards offer the highest amount of cash back.
|Capital One Spark Cash Select for Business||American Express SimplyCash Plus|
|Visit Site||Visit Site|
|Signup Bonus||$200 cash back||—|
|Tier 1 Rewards||—||5% cash back on office supply stores and wireless telephone purchases|
|Tier 2 Rewards||1.5% cash back on all purchases||3% cash back on one category of your choosing (see above)|
|Tier 3 Rewards||—||1% cash back on all other purchases|
Capital One Spark Cash Select
With 1.5% cash back on purchases–instead of the standard 1%–this card is perfect for merchants looking for a simple way to save money.
- $200 cash bonus if you spend $3,000 within the first three months of opening your account
- 1.5% cash back on all eligible purchases
- 0% introductory APR for the first nine months, then a variable APR of 13.99% – 21.99%
- No annual fee
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 can be an excellent choice for small businesses, but if your business is a little larger, you might want also want to consider the Capital One Spark Cash for Business, which earns 2% cash back on all purchases and has a higher sign-on bonus.
American Express SimplyCash Plus
This card is another good option for businesses strictly interested in saving money. With both 5% and 3% cash back options on certain purchases, you can save more money than you’d otherwise be able to, especially if you’re mindful about charging the right purchases to your card.
- 5% cash back on office supply stores and wireless telephone services for the first $50,000 spent
- 3% cash back on a category of your choosing (airfare, hotels, car rentals, gas stations, restaurants, advertising, shipping, or computer hardware/software/cloud computing) for the first $50,000 spent
- 1% cash back on all other purchases
- 0% introductory APR for the first nine months, then a variable APR of 13.24% – 20.24%
- No annual fee
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. 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%.
SimplyCash Plus does not offer a sign-on bonus, but it carries no annual fee.
Best Business Credit Card for Frequent Travelers
Travel can be an expensive part of running a business, so using a credit card that offers savings and perks on travel expenses might be a good idea. A lot of travel credit cards give you perks for using specific services (like a particular airline), but we’ve chosen the two that offer you the most benefits regardless of the services you choose to use.
To rack up points for travel, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a card with a better program than Capital One Spark Miles for Business. Or, if your business frequently stays at Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, or SPG hotels, the Marriott Rewards Premier Business credit card offers many ways to earn points.
That said, don’t forget that Chase Ink Business Preferred points are worth 25% more if redeemed for travel. So, depending on your needs, that card might be worth considering as well.
|Capital One Spark Miles Select for Business||Marriott Rewards Premier Business|
|Visit Site||Visit Site|
|Signup Bonus||20,000 miles||80,000 points|
|Tier 1 Rewards||—||5 pts./$1 spent at participating Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, and SPG hotels|
|Tier 2 Rewards||1.5 miles/$1 on all purchases||2 pts./$1 spent on airline tickets, car rentals, restaurants, office supply stores, and for internet, cable, and phone services|
|Tier 3 Rewards||—||1 pt./$1 on all other purchases|
Capital One Spark Miles Select for Business
For frequent travelers, Capital One’s Spark Miles Select for Business is an excellent choice. All points have to be redeemed for travel expenses.
- 20,000 bonus miles if you spend $3,000 within three months of opening your account (the equivalent of $200 in travel)
- 1.5 miles per $1 spent on all eligible purchases
- Variable APR of 17.99%
- $0 annual fee
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 all 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.
Like Capital One’s other card, the Select card is best for smaller businesses. If you are planning to utilize the card a lot, Capital One has another travel card called Spark Miles for Business. With this card, merchants earn two points per $1 spent and a higher sign up bonus, but have to pay an annual fee of $95 (which is waived for the first year).
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.
- 80,000 bonus points if you spend $3,000 within three months of opening your account
- 5 points per $1 spent on participating Marriott, Ritz-Carlton and SPG hotels
- 2 points per $1 spent on airline tickets, car rentals, restaurants, office supply stores, and for internet, cable, and phone services
- 1 point on all other eligible purchases
- Variable APR of 16.99% – 23.99%
- Annual fee of $99
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:
- 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.