The Best Business Credit Cards For 2018
Choosing the best business credit card can be enough to make your head swim. Nearly every credit card issuer offers several rewards cards, and there are multiple factors to consider – the APR, fees, perks, rewards and signup bonuses – each of which affect your overall satisfaction with your card.
If you and your employees frequently travel for business, a card that offers travel perks and reward miles is a solid choice, though you'll pay an annual fee if you require a card that offers premium travel perks like baggage fee credits or lounge access. Otherwise, a card with cash back rewards is the best option for most businesses, as reward money is easy to redeem, and you can use it as you see fit.
American Express, Bank of America, Capital One and CitiBusiness are our top picks for the best business credit cards. You can read more about them below, along with our recommendations for the terms and features you should look for, as well as tips for saving money and maximizing rewards on your business credit card.
State of the Industry
Business credit cards account for less than 4 percent of all credit cards in circulation, but approximately one in every six dollars charged, amounting to $430 billion in 2015, according to the Mercator Advisory Group.
Although most of the businesses that apply for business credit cards are approved, the Small Business Association cites MasterCard data stating that 46 percent of small business owners continue to use their personal credit cards to pay for business expenses.
There are, however, some differences between business and consumer credit cards. Consider the following.
Business-centric rewards and perks. You can often earn more miles or points when you use your business credit card to pay for typical business purchases, such as office supplies, computer hardware and software, phone and internet bills, or for business travel. Perks frequently include travel-related assistance, conveniences, discounts or insurance.
Expense management tools. Business credit cards frequently provide account management tools that help you track expenses, attach receipts and import transactions into your accounting program.
Higher credit limits. Card issuers expect business credit card holders to spend more than consumers; some cards don't have a preset spending limit. If you use your credit card to purchase more than office supplies and incidentals, this can be a useful feature.
Higher late fees. The 2009 CARD Act doesn't apply to business credit cards. The main difference business owners will notice is higher late fees. In 2016, the CARD late fee cap was $38, though business credit card late fees can cost as much as $49, according to a fee survey conducted in 2015 by CreditCards.com. However, some of the best card issuers extend CARD consumer protections to their business customers. As with any business service, read the terms and conditions before signing up so you understand your obligations.
Lower APRs. Business credit cards usually have lower APRs than consumer cards, according to CreditCards.com's Rate Report. However, rates can be more volatile, as business credit cards aren't subject to the CARD Act and issuers aren't required to provide notification when they raise your rates.
Below are all of our reviews for business credit cards and related categories. Our coverage includes reviews of the best credit cards and business credit cards. See all of our reviews below.
Capital One Review
Bank of America Review
AT&T Universal Review
Business Green Rewards Card from American Express OPEN Review
Citi Simplicity Card Review
Discover it® Review
Ink by Chase Review
Features to Look For - Choosing Your Benefits
Some banks reward your use of their card by giving you points that you can redeem for goods, airline miles, services or cash. Select business credit cards also offer statement credits as a reward.
If the card doesn't come at too high a price in terms of annual fees or high interest rates, you might be attracted to benefits that can include auto rental, baggage loss-and-damage insurance, or purchase protection in case of loss, fire, theft, damages, or price depreciation. Some providers offer advanced benefits such as access to exclusive events, hotel amenities and air travel upgrades.
When choosing a card for its benefits, be sure to take a look at the limitations. While the benefits may look good on the surface, limitations may render them nearly useless in reality. For example, some benefits may expire after a certain time while other card issuers require that you use the card for a certain period of time before you're eligible to use the rewards. Some cards also have rules about what types of purchases count toward points or cash-back rewards. Others have caps on how many points or rewards you can accrue in a certain amount of time.
Customer Service Options
When you have a question or an unexpected emergency (your card is stolen), being able to reach the credit card company quickly is paramount. You should have online access to manage your account.
In addition, you want to be sure you can quickly reach a customer service representative over the phone. Also check to see whether the company offers online live chat. This can be helpful when you don't want to wait on hold or you have a quick question.
Company credit cards are a convenient way to separate your personal finances from your business finances. This move will also help you each April when you prepare your tax returns. Your CPA will thank you for separating out your personal and business finances.
The benefits and rewards associated with business credit cards are intended to be helpful for business owners. However, the legal protections afforded by the Truth in Lending Act and the Credit CARD Act of 2009 do not apply to corporate credit cards. Bottom line: shop wisely.
Ready to choose your business credit card? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage:
- Give Yourself Credit in Properly Managing Small Business Credit Cards
- Employee business credit cards
- Can a Business Credit Card Lower Your Stress
- What To Know About Business Credit Cards
- Refinancing Business Credit Card Debt
- Considering a Business Credit Card
- The Best and Worst Business Credit Card Issuers
Interest Rates. The credit card issuer uses your business and personal credit to determine your interest rate, which means that if you have an excellent credit score, you'll be eligible for low interest rates. If you have poor credit, your rates will be high.
- Introductory rates. Many card issuers offer 0 percent introductory APRs for the first six to 12 months, though some are only for purchases and don't apply to balance transfers.
- Standard rates. After the introductory period, this is the rate you'll pay. All the APRs we saw in our research are variable, based on Prime. At the time of writing, the rates we saw for business credit cards ranged from 12.24 to 24.74 percent.
- Balance transfers. Usually these are the same as your purchase APR.
- Cash advance rates. These typically carry a higher APR than purchases or transferred balances.
- Penalty rates. If you pay late on your business credit card, your APR may increase to the penalty rate, which is around 30 percent APR.
Fees. All credit card issuers charge late and returned payment fees. Other fees vary by card, so you want to check the card's terms before signing up to find out which fees apply to that specific card.
- Late fee. As mentioned above, these are expensive, and can cost as much as $49. Although most card issuers charge a flat fee for late payments, some may charge a percentage of the past due amount. In such cases, the late fee may exceed $49, depending on how much you owe.
- Returned payment fee. This is usually the same as the late payment fee.
- Annual fee. Many issuers waive this fee the first year you have your card, though others don't charge it at all. Annual fees are typically around $100, but premium travel rewards cards can cost up to $450 per year. If you have cards for your employees, there are a couple of ways annual fees may be calculated, depending on the issuer. Some charge a single fee per company, others charge a fee for each card, and some charge both per company and per card.
- Cash advance fee. This fee is either a flat rate, which can range between $5 and $15, or a percentage of the transaction, usually between 3 and 5 percent, whichever is greater.
- Balance transfer fee. Like the cash advance fee, this is either a flat rate or a percentage of the amount transferred, whichever is greater.
- Foreign transaction fee. Sometimes called an international transaction fee, this fee usually costs 3 percent of the transaction. Some cards don't include this fee.
Understanding how you'll use your business credit card and repay the balance can help you choose the offer that's best for your business. For example, if you typically carry a balance, you need a card with a lower APR. However, if you pay in full each month, you want the card that gives you the best rewards and perks. Here are some tips to help you save money and use your card rewards.
Look for cards with no annual fee. Choosing a business credit card with no annual fee is an easy way to save a hundred dollars or more each year. Before you splurge on a card with an annual fee, calculate whether the perks will save you enough money each year to offset the fee.
If you travel internationally, choose a card with no foreign transaction fees. This is a money-saving perk to look for in your next business credit card, as foreign transactions fees are typically around 3 percent.
Make sure you qualify for signup bonuses. Business credit card often include enticing signup offers, such as 50,000 bonus miles or a few hundred dollars if you spend a certain amount within the first few months of receiving your card. However, Money.com notes that if you've previously received a generous mileage signup bonus from a credit card issuer and airline, you may be ineligible to receive another one. Read the terms to determine whether you're eligible before you sign up.
Pay attention to how the rewards are calculated. Most of the big carriers now base rewards on dollars spent rather than miles flown. If you travel frequently for business, a travel rewards card may still be your best bet, but infrequent travelers should consider cash back or point-based rewards cards.
Consider how easy it will be to redeem your rewards. If you don't want the hassle of figuring out how to redeem miles and points, choose a card that offers cash back bonuses, as these are often simple to redeem.
Save your rewards miles for expensive flights. Money.com explains you can get the best value on your rewards miles when you book premium business class seats for international flights. They also advise that redeeming points for upgrades isn't as good of a deal as it used to be, as you may have to supplement reward points with a copay or, if you got a good price on your tickets, you may be ineligible to upgrade.
Pay Attention to the Terms And Conditions Agreement
As any small business owner can attest to, credit cards can be a safety valve if you experience cash-flow crunches, and they do happen.
For those business owners considering getting a new business credit card, there are dozens of options to choose from, with lots of incentives and attractive options. However, you'll want to ask for and carefully look over the terms of service before agreeing to sign up for a new card. Here's what you need to consider:
Teaser, Introductory Rates
Don't get teased into an attractive introductory interest rate while the actual rate lurks in the wings to make an unannounced appearance. Check the terms and conditions of service to see what your rate will be and if it will change after a certain time period. Another item to watch for is whether the rate is fixed or variable. A varying rate can skyrocket, leaving you paying much more interest than you planned, especially if you plan to carry a balance.
Late & Over-Limit Fees
When reviewing the terms of service, take a look at what your late fees and over-limit fee may be. Late fees fluctuate depending on the card. Some cards don't have an over-limit fee, which can be good for those times in your business cycle when spending is high or if you lose track of your balance and overspend.
Foreign Transaction Fees
If you travel a lot, see if there is a fee for using your card overseas. Foreign transaction fees can add up when you are abroad and leave you with an unpleasant surprise on your statement.
The Truth in Lending Act and the Credit CARD Act of 2009 does not apply to business credit cards. That means issuers can legally charge you late fees. It is also well within their right to raise the interest rate on previously accumulated balances.
Best Convenience Features or RewardsAmerican Express
When it comes to convenience features or rewards, especially for business travelers, American Express offers the best business credit cards. Several cards are available, and you can choose cards with basic perks and no annual fee or premium cards with extensive perks and high annual fees.
With its Business Platinum Card, cardholders can access more than 1,000 airport lounges worldwide, concierge service and premium car rental privileges. It also has a generous signup bonus, airline fee credit, and rewards points for travel-related purchases.
Best for Small Business RewardsCapital One
Capital One's Spark Rewards business credit cards allow you to choose between cash back or travel rewards, and annual fee or no annual fee, so you can choose the rewards and terms that make the most sense for your business.
For each of its cards, you earn rewards for every purchase rather than for specific purchase categories or with certain vendors, making it a versatile choice for business owners intending to charge more than business travel expenses or office supplies. There's no cap on the rewards you can earn, and no transfer fee if you move a balance from another card.
Best with No Annual FeeBank of America
Bank of America offers several business credit cards, many of which carry no annual fee. You can choose a card with cash rewards, travel rewards or lower interest rates. Each of its no annual fee cards come with an attractive signup offer and an introductory APR for the first seven to nine months. One other convenient feature is that you can access online account management tools that allow you to download your transactions to QuickBooks.
The Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard comes with a statement credit when you spend a certain amount within the first several weeks of receiving the card. Purchases made at office supply stores and gas stations earn the highest cash back percentage, followed by restaurants, and all other purchases earn a lower cash back percentage. The card also comes with travel perks, such as auto rental insurance and lost-luggage assistance.
Best Employee Credit CardsCitiBusiness
Citi partnered with American Airlines to create the CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard. This is the best employee credit card if you have employees that travel frequently. It offers several travel perks and has a low annual fee, which is waived for the first year you have the card. Additionally, all AAdvantage miles earned on employee accounts are allocated to the authorized account owner.
This card comes with a generous signup bonus in which you earn a large number of bonus miles when you spend a certain dollar amount within the first few months you receive your card. You earn double AAdvantage miles for purchases at gas stations, car rentals, telecommunications companies, and on the flights that you purchase from American Airlines.
Common Business Credit Card Questions & Answers
Receipts - the #1 pain of bookkeepers is getting substantiation from cardholders. I would suggest a cardholder policy that they sign that they must provide receipts for everything over $25 along with a policy stating thresholds of acceptable spend for meals and entertainment, hotel stays, etc. Aggregate vs. Individual limits - your company will have an aggregate credit limit (the amount of total credit the company has) that will usually not be the sum of all the individual limits (each...Read More ▼
I'm not a big fan of giving employees expense cards, unless they are vetted and you can be sure there won't be issue. Having the employee submit a receipt and request for reimbursement forces them to do better receipt logging. As far as how many credit cards you should open, I can't provide much there. Just keep it simple and don't play the Points Game. Focus on building value for your customers and you'll make more money than the points will give you!Read More ▼
Business payment history is the lion's share of what goes into your business credit scores. Other factors are outstanding judgments, liens, etc. But the big one is payment behaviors. Pay on time or early, as in full as you possibly can (i. e. go beyond the minimum amount to as full as your budget can stand), and that will help build your business credit. Another piece of the business credit puzzle (it happens to be true for consumer credit as well) is to check your reports - not just...Read More ▼
The universe is moving towards mobile - EVERYTHING. Therefore you have to keep up with current technology. There are plenty of portals which are protected and encoded for protection against ID theft. Don't be scared. Paypal is a perfectly acceptable option and its basicly free and super easy to set up. It also has some great options for small business owners such as auto invoicing etc. Download the app onto your phone and you can accept cards straight from your mobile device. Bam.Read More ▼
List of 10Business Credit Cards
Discover It is a credit card that will keep your money safe and help you earn cash back rewards. Read our review to see how it compares to others on our lineup.
Citi Simplicity Card
Read our unbiased review of Citi Simplicity Card. See how Citi Simplicity Card compares to the rest for 2018.
American Express Open credit cards feature travel and hotel benefits. Learn more here about the business credit cards AE offers.
Business Green Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
The Business Green Rewards Card from American Express OPEN offers an appealing rewards program, the luxury of no interest rate, and a secure alternative to cash.
The AT&T Universal Business Rewards Cards let you accrue rewards points quickly that you can redeem for gift cards or travel services. Learn more here.
Century Business Solutions
Century Business Solutions provides in-store, mobile and online payment solutions for businesses of all sizes across multiple industries. It doesn't require you to sign a contract, and it integrates with more than 50 accounting software programs, e-commerce platforms and CRM systems.
Bank of America
Bank of America business credit cards let you download your credit transactions into QuickBooks to help you stay on top of your accounting. Learn more here.
CitiBusiness AAdvantage business credit cards offer airline miles through American Airlines. Learn more here.
Capital One Spark for Business offers many different reward programs with their business credit card line. Learn more here.