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Reward Resolutions for the New Year

Roman Shteyn
Roman Shteyn
at RewardExpert

No matter how much your business spends, reward programs provide a guaranteed ROI.

If you’re looking for New Year’s resolutions that can help your business save money, consider changes to your reward strategy. Even though every purchase is an opportunity to earn credit card reward points, only 24 percent of small business owners used business credit cards as their primary payment method in 2015. Most small businesses are leaving a large number of reward points on the table.

Using business credit cards for all your purchases is just one way to earn more reward points. By following a few simple concepts, you can ensure that your business maximizes its rewards and gets the most out of every dollar it spends.

Open Multiple Business Credit Cards for Bonus Points

Card issuers want to attract as many customers as possible, so they offer excellent sign-up bonuses. There’s no reason you can’t apply for multiple business credit cards and earn significant bonus points. Here are a few of the business credit cards with the biggest sign-up offers:

  • American Express Business Platinum Card – 100,000 points for spending $15,000 in the first 3 months
  • Club Carlson Business Rewards Visa Card – 85,000 points for spending $2,500 in the first 3 months
  • Chase Ink Business Preferred Card – 80,000 points for spending $5,000 in the first 3 months
  • Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Business Card – 80,000 points for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months

Considering the average small business spent $2,245 per month as of 2012, the bonus offers on the Club Carlson and Chase cards are well within most businesses’ typical spending. This is only a small selection of the sign-up offers available.

Depending on how much your business spends per month, you may want to open multiple cards at once or open a new card each time you hit the bonus requirements on your current card. By the end of the year, you could collect hundreds of thousands of bonus reward points.

Stick to One Airline and Hotel Chain

By joining airline and hotel loyalty programs, you earn miles or points for every booking. When you reach a minimum number of miles, points, or bookings, you move up to another tier in the loyalty program, which entitles you to certain benefits, such as complimentary upgrades. You can also redeem the miles/points you earn for free flights and hotel stays.

Since your credit card rewards are separate from your loyalty program rewards, you’re essentially earning twice as many rewards for every flight and hotel stay. You earn points on the purchase through your business credit card, and miles/points through the loyalty program.

When you select one airline and one hotel chain for the majority of your travels, you will earn rewards and progress through the loyalty tiers more quickly. Those long-term benefits far exceed the short-term benefits of going with the cheapest flight and hotel every time. Once you reach an elite status in a loyalty program, you still have to hit the minimum requirements every calendar year to maintain your status, but the perks are well worth it.

Most airlines and hotel chains also have their own credit cards which earn bonus points for purchases at the corresponding airline or hotel, giving you another way to collect bonus points. For example, the aforementioned Club Carlson Visa Card earns 10 points per dollar spent on purchases at participating Carlson hotels.

Match Your Credit Cards to Your Expenses

Several business credit cards offer bonus points for spending in specific categories. By putting different types of spending on different credit cards, you can go from earning 1 point per dollar to earning 2, 3, or even 5 points per dollar on the same purchase.

In terms of how much you get back, the American Express SimplyCash Plus Business Card ranks near the top, offering 5-percent cash back for purchases at U.S. office supply stores and on wireless telephone services. It also offers 3-percent cash back for spending on a category of your choice from a list of eight. This card isn’t as versatile since you get cash back instead of points, but it provides an excellent return on your spending and doesn’t have an annual fee.

For bonus points on a wide range of spending categories, the Chase Ink Business Preferred Card is hard to beat, offering 3 points per dollar spent on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services, and on advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines.

To choose the right credit cards, take a look at your standard business expenses every month, and then search for credit cards that offer bonus points in those categories. Keep in mind that most cards have bonus spending caps, often between $50,000 and $150,000, after which you only earn one point per dollar.

Take Advantage of Partner Programs When Transferring Points

Transferring your reward points to different programs is a key part of getting the most value out of your points and using your points for the rewards you want. A 100,000-point balance doesn’t do you any good if you can’t use it on the flight or hotel that you plan to book.

Fortunately, reward programs often have quite a few partner programs with 1:1 transfer rates, meaning you don’t lose any points by making the transfer. For certain transfers, you even earn bonus points.

Among the most versatile reward programs are the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Program, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and American Express Rewards, all of which boast an extensive list of partner airline and hotel programs. The SPG program, in particular, is extremely useful because of its numerous transfer partners. You also get a 5,000-point bonus for every 20,000 Starpoints you transfer to partner airline programs.

Whichever business credit card you choose, check the transfer partners for that card’s reward program, and make sure both your airline and hotel of choice are on that list of partners. Or, you can do the opposite, choosing an airline and hotel and then choosing a card that partners with them.

No matter how much your business spends, reward programs provide a guaranteed return on your money. Through a combination of credit card bonuses, airline and hotel loyalty programs, and point transfer bonuses, you can easily earn back at least 3 to 5 percent of what you spend.

Image: Shutterstock/garagestock

Roman Shteyn
Roman Shteyn
business.com Member
See Roman Shteyn's Profile
Roman Shteyn is the CEO and co-founder of RewardExpert – a free service that helps people maximize their miles and points to earn free travel. Roman has over two decades of experience in the credit industry and has helped decipher rewards programs for both businesses and consumers. As a technology entrepreneur, Roman has helped fuel his company through rewards earned by savvy business spending. As a serial globe hopper, Roman has mastered the art of reward travel and hasn't paid full price for an airline ticket, hotel room, or upgrade in over 15 years. Roman educates millions of consumers on how to turn their spending into rewards. Roman frequently writes on credit-related issues, personal finance, financial management for small businesses, business travel, loyalty & rewards programs, and money-saving tips for both consumers and businesses. Roman grew up in New York City and became an entrepreneur at an early age, starting his first company while earning a B.S. degree in Computer Sciences at the Polytechnic Institute of NYU. More information on RewardExpert can be found at www.rewardexpert.com.