Small business owners have many and varied needs. But whether you're looking for your company's first credit card or the ultimate business platinum card, there's a card that's made for you.
So, if you're looking for the right card for you, here are some common small business needs, and the best credit card for each situation.
Best for everyday business: Chase Ink Cash Business Card
The Chase Ink Cash Business is the best credit card to give to employees for day-to-day expenses. It offers high cash back rewards on the purchases small businesses make every day, and the card has few fees.
The card offers 5% cash back on cellular, internet, cable TV, and phone, as well as at office supply stores; 2% at gas stations and restaurants; and 1% cash back on all other purchases. There is no annual fee for this card, and employee cards are free.
As a signup bonus, you'll get 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first six months.
Best for frequent travelers: Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Business from American Express OPEN
The Starwood Preferred card is great for businesses that have high airline and/or hotel expenses. This card frequently tops lists of the best travel rewards cards and for two good reasons -- you can earn up to 5% back on your travel expenses, and you get the security and peace of mind of American Express OPEN.
Purchases earn rewards known as Starpoints. Each Starpoint can be worth up to 5 cents -- five times higher than the typical 1 cent value of most rewards points -- when hotel and airline tickets are booked through the SPG site. Rewards are redeemable at over a thousand hotels and over 350 airlines.
The other big benefit of this card is that it's an American Express OPEN card. Standard OPEN perks include getting an automatic 3%-10% statement credit at partners like FedEx, Office Max, Hertz, Hyatt and Marriott. You'll also have access to AmEx's legendary 24/7 concierge service, fraud protection, extended warranties on purchases, and rental car insurance.
The annual fee is $65 (waived in the first year). The first employee card will cost a one-time $50. Subsequent employee cards are free.
Best prepaid debit card: PEX Visa Prepaid Card for Business
The PEX Card looks like a credit card -- it has the Visa logo, and you answer "credit" when asked "credit or debit?" -- but since it's a debit card, purchases must be funded in advance. The PEX Prepaid Card is the best prepaid card for businesses due to its excellent admin tools and low costs.
This card is specifically designed to let small business owners give the convenience of Visa to employees, while keeping close tabs on their spending. You can easily manage spending limits and instantly fund purchase requests via the card's website. Employees will each get their own Visa card with their name on it.
Since this is a prepaid card, there are no credit requirements to get the card; conversely, there is no credit reporting done, so using the card does not build credit for your business. The disadvantage of most prepaid cards are the fees. Here, the PEX card stands out from the crowd: there are no transaction, deposit, or annual fees. The only regular fee is the $7.50 per month per employee card. It costs an initial $50 to set up.
Best starter card for building credit: Capital One Spark Classic for Business
Using the Capital One Spark Classic will build credit for a business that has no or poor credit. Despite the low credit requirements, the Spark Classic has great benefits compared to other cards that don't have minimum credit rating requirements.
The Spark Classic is the only card in its class to offer 1% cash back on all purchases. Additionally, the card has very low costs. There is no annual fee, and you can get unlimited free employee cards. No other starter card can match these features.
Best for international executives: American Express Business Platinum
Nothing says prestige and power like the Platinum AmEx. This is a charge card. The deal is premium benefits in exchange for a high annual fee and full monthly payments. The $450 annual fee is the membership fee for executive road warriors.
Card membership gets you access to over a thousand American, Delta and US Airways airport lounges globally, companion tickets with a business or first class ticket purchase, $200 annual credit towards airline fees, and free upgrades at hotels (think: early check in, automatic room upgrades), premium upgrades for car rentals at Hertz, National and Avis; and legendary 24/7 concierge service from American Express. There is no foreign transaction fee (typically 2-3%), so this card is great for use overseas.
If you do more work on the road than at home, and your travel takes you around the world, then this card will help you be at your best wherever you land next.
Greg Go is editor of the Credit Card Guide at Wise Bread.