The Best Personal Credit Cards For Business Expenses
So you’ve decided to launch a new business. You may naturally be attracted to the idea of getting a business credit card to use for your business expenses. And why not? “Business” is right there in the name.
However, there are a number of reasons why you might want to go with a personal credit card instead, especially when getting your startup off the ground. For one thing, the CARD Act of 2009 regulates personal credit cards. By law, personal credit card providers can’t jack up your APR overnight or charge excessive fees for minor infractions.
While most credit card companies extend these safeguards to business credit card holders as a courtesy, many do not. Similarly, introductory rates associated with personal credit cards must be offered for the first six months. Not so with business cards.
What’s more, the incentive programs associated with personal credit cards may be more fitting for your needs than the rewards associated with business credit cards. Your startup likely does not yet need a large office, for example, so a business card that offers discounts on office supplies probably doesn’t hold any special appeal.
Check out our piece on using personal credit cards for business expenses for more information on the subject.
Let’s take a look at the best personal credit cards for entrepreneurs.
The Best Cards For Cash Back
Most embryonic businesses will want to select a personal credit card with a solid, all-purpose rewards program. The following cards can help you maximize your profits on the everyday purchases you make for your budding business, whether you’re spending on gas for your car, paint for your office, printer paper, or new-client lunches.
|Credit Card||Annual Fee||Rewards|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited||$0||3% cash back during your first year (max. $20,000), unlimited 1.5% cash back after|
|US Bank Cash+ Visa Signature||$0||5% cash back on two categories of your choosing; 2% cash back on one category of your choosing; 1% on all other purchases|
|Quicksilver from Capital One||$0||Unlimited 1.5% cash back|
|Discover it Cash Back||$0||5% cash back on rotating quarterly categories; 1% on all other purchases|
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Chase Freedom Unlimited
17.24% - 25.99%, Variable
For entrepreneurs who require flexibility in a credit card, the Chase Freedom Unlimited card is an ideal choice. It’s a flat-rate cash-back card, so there are no bonus categories — you get cash back on all purchases, and you are allowed great flexibility in how you redeem your rewards.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited card has no annual fee, and you also get an introductory 0% APR for the first 15 months. This 0% intro APR applies to both purchases and balance transfers. Unfortunately, there is a 3% foreign transaction fee.
When you’re starting a new business, you may find yourself making all manners of unexpected purchases. To this end, the Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card offers a great deal. For your first year, you’ll earn 3% cash back on your first $20,000 in purchases, which comes out to $600 in cash you can potentially earn at the 3% cash back rate. After your first year (or after you spend $20,000 on the card; whichever comes first), you’ll get an automatic 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
You won’t have to keep track of the categories your purchases fall into; everything is covered. And you can redeem for cash back in any amount you wish — there’s no minimum redemption.
Your redemption options continue from there. Beyond getting a statement credit or a direct deposit to your checking or savings accounts, you can also redeem your rewards by booking trips through Chase’s travel portal, which is great if your startup has you shuttling around. And if you use the Chase Freedom mobile app, you can redeem your rewards at certain participating stores.
If you have other Chase cards, you can also transfer rewards to them to take advantage of their particular redemption options.
All in all, Chase Freedom Unlimited is a very versatile card.
US Bank Cash+ Visa Signature
U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature
16.24% - 25.74%, Variable
This is another card with versatility up the wazoo. Want to pick your own bonus categories to fit your startup? The US Bank Cash+ Visa Signature card might be the one for you.
The US Bank Cash+ Visa Signature card has no annual fee, though the introductory 0% APR for the first 12 months only applies to balances transferred within 60 days of opening the card.
Here’s where the versatility comes in: You’ll get 5% cash back on the first $2,000 worth of purchases per quarter in two categories of your choosing. According to US Bank, category options are subject to change on a quarterly basis, but as of May 2019, these categories are:
- Ground Transportation
- Select Clothing Stores
- Cell Phone Providers
- Electronics Stores
- Car Rentals
- Gyms/Fitness Centers
- Home Utilities
- Fast Food
- Sporting Goods Stores
- Department Stores
- Furniture Stores
- Movie Theaters
Furthermore, you’ll get unlimited 2% cash back on one “everyday” category of your choosing:
- Gas Stations
- Grocery Stores
Lastly, all other eligible net purchases earn 1% cash back.
Unfortunately, you’ll have to remember to log in to choose new bonus categories every quarter. Also, the cash rewards expire after three years, you can’t transfer the cash to other rewards programs, and there is a 3% foreign transaction fee. The credit score requirements are pretty steep as well. On the plus side, there are no limits on the total amount of cash back you can earn and no minimum redemption amount.
Quicksilver from Capital One
Quicksilver from Capital One
16.24 - 26.24%, Variable
Quicksilver from Capital One is a good option for the new business owner whose expenses don’t fit neatly into approved categories.
Quicksilver from Capital One bears some similarities to the Chase Freedom Unlimited card. There’s no annual fee, and you’ll get a 0% intro APR for 15 months on both purchases and balance transfers.
This is another card for those who can’t be bothered keeping track of rotating categories of rewards-eligible purchases. The Quicksilver from Capital One card will see you earning unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases, with no caps on how much you earn and no minimum redemption thresholds.
One advantage this card has over Chase Freedom Unlimited is that Quicksilver from Capital One has no foreign transaction fee. On the downside: the card carries a 3% balance transfer fee.
Discover it Cash Back
Discover it Cash Back
14.24% - 25.24%, Variable
Let’s say you’re an entrepreneur who makes a lot of purchases through Amazon or wholesale clubs. You might want to consider the Discover it Cash Back card.
With this card, you can get 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories on your first $1,500 spent per quarter. Discover’s bonus categories for 2019 are:
- Q1 2019: Grocery stores
- Q2 2019: Gas stations, Uber and Lyft
- Q3 2019: Restaurants & PayPal
- Q4 2019: Amazon.com, Target, and Walmart.com
With Discover matching all the rewards you earn over the first year, you should accumulate a healthy supply of cash back. You can put that cash back to use in the following ways:
- Pay with rewards at the Amazon.com checkout
- Gift cards with at least $5 added to each
- Deposit to your bank account or apply to your Discover credit card bill
- Make a charitable donation
It’s not a spectacular card for the frequent flyer (though there is no foreign transaction fee), but for the land-bound entrepreneur who doesn’t mind keeping track of the rotating categories, the Discover it Cash Back card provides plenty of value.
What’s more, the Discover it Cash Back card offers an intro 0% APR for 14 months on purchases and balance transfers.
The Best Cards For Travel Rewards
Not all entrepreneurs need to travel for business, but for those who do, a travel rewards program can be a godsend. The following personal credit cards can help you maximize your current travel spending and earn valuable points towards any future hotel stays, flights, and car rentals you’ll book as your business continues to grow.
|Credit Card||Annual Fee||Rewards|
|American Express Gold Card||$250||4 points per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants and supermarkets; 3 points on flights booked directly with airlines or Amex; 1 point on all other purchases|
|Venture from Capital One||$95 (waived the first year)||2 miles per dollar spent on all purchases|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred||$95||2 points per dollar spent on travel and restaurants; 1 point on all other purchases|
|Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard||$450||2 miles per dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases; 1 mile on all other purchases|
American Express Gold Card
American Express Gold Card
Here’s a great card for the entrepreneur who travels a lot: the new, revamped American Express Gold Card.
Keep in mind that this is a charge card, not a traditional credit card. In other words, you’ll have to pay the entire balance every month. (You may be eligible to pay select charges of over $100 with monthly payments if you’re approved for Amex’s Pay Over Time program, though)
If your startup has you going to and fro, you’re in luck, because this card’s rewards are tailored to the frequent traveler and will easily offset the $250 annual fee. First off, there’s a decent signup bonus: you’ll earn 35,000 rewards points if you make $2,000 in purchases within the first three months of signing up (terms apply).
The revamped Amex Gold Card now offers an uncapped 4 points per dollar spent on all restaurant purchases and 4X points on up to $25,000 per year in supermarket purchases. You’ll also be rewarded when you book flights. You get 3 reward points per dollar when booking a flight directly with the airline or at amextravel.com. You’ll get one point per dollar on all other purchases.
Other new perks include a $120 dining credit for GrubHub and select restaurant chains and an annual $100 airline fee credit you can use towards checked bag fees and other incidentals with a qualifying airline of your choosing.
Another factor for the frequent-flying entrepreneur to consider is that the Amex Gold Card has no foreign transaction fee. Of course, American Express is less accepted internationally than Visa and Mastercard, so you’ll want to carry a backup card when traveling.
Venture from Capital One
Venture from Capital One
$95 ($0 the first year)
17.99% - 25.24%, Variable
Here’s another card from Capital One — this one’s a versatile travel card for the entrepreneur on the go.
The Venture from Capital One card is designed to immediately reward the frequent traveler. Earn 50,000 bonus miles — the equivalent of $500 for travel — after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months. After that point, you’ll earn unlimited 2x miles per dollar on all purchases. This means that if you rack up $500 in charges on your card in a given month, you’ll get 1,000 miles that month. Not too shabby!
Here’s a truly eye-popping new perk of the Venture card: Earn 10 miles per dollar on all hotel bookings through hotels.com/venture until January 2020.
The Venture gives you a great deal of flexibility in how you use your travel rewards as you can transfer your rewards miles to one of Capital One’s 10+ participating airline partners. You can also get a $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
Unfortunately, if you want to redeem your miles for cash back or non-travel purchases, they will be worth half of what they would be worth if applied to travel purchases. Thankfully, the card has no international transaction fees. Plus, there are no blackout dates, no expiration dates, and no limits on the number of miles you can accrue.
The card carries an annual fee of $95, waived for the first year.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred
18.24% - 25.24%, Variable
Here’s a travel-oriented card that might be even more flexible than the Venture: the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred card comes with a very nice bonus. You’ll get 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
With this card, not only do you get two points per dollar when spending on travel and restaurant dining and one point per dollar on all other purchases, but you can transfer your points — on a 1:1 basis — to the following airline and hotel loyalty programs:
- Aer Lingus AerClub
- British Airways Executive Club
- Flying Blue AIR FRANCE KLM
- Iberia Plus
- JetBlue TrueBlue
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards®
- United MileagePlus®
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
- IHG® Rewards Club
- Marriott Bonvoy™
- World of Hyatt®
What’s more, your points will be worth $0.0125 apiece (instead of the standard $0.01) if you redeem them for travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards. There’s no foreign transaction fee, either. You will have to pay a $95 annual fee, though.
Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard
Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard
17.99% - 25.99%, Variable
As you might be able to surmise by the name, the Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard isn’t for everyone, but the well-heeled flight-hopping entrepreneur with something to prove should enjoy the heck out of this card.
For the entrepreneur with the means to get around in style, the Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard has quite the bag of perks. From the 50,000 AAdvantage bonus miles if you spend $5,000 within the first three months to the automatic Admirals Club membership (a $550/year value that includes lounge access!) to the AAdvantage miles you’ll be racking up, this card brings significant value the table. However, that value doesn’t come cheap — note the eye-popping $450 annual fee. If you really want that Admirals Club membership, however, it’s a cost-effective way of getting it.
For this card to be worth it for you, you have to be a frequent American Airlines flyer with a burning desire to hang out in AA Admirals Club lounges. If you spend a big chunk of your life in airports and want to get away from the beleaguered proles, this card gives you the opportunity to pay for that privilege. You’ll also get 25% savings on in-flight purchases (Offer expired.), a $100 credit for the TSA PreCheck program every 5 years, priority boarding, and a 0% foreign transaction fee.
Entrepreneurs deserve a credit card that fits their particular needs. For many, a personal credit card can do the job just fine, and with greater legal protections than a business card. If, on the other hand, you think a business card might best suit your company, check out the links below.