Guide to Choosing a Business Credit Card

Kayla Harrison
, Contributing Writer
| Updated
Feb 01, 2019

Guide to Choosing a Business Credit Card

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 for a card that offers premium travel perks like baggage fee credits or lounge access. Otherwise, a card with cashback rewards is the best option for most businesses, as reward money is easy to redeem, and you can use it as you see fit. 


Negotiation Tips

Understanding how you'll use your business credit card and repay the balance can help you choose the best offer 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 save money and use your card rewards.

1. Look for cards with no annual fee. Choosing a business credit card with no annual fee is an easy way to save $100 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.

2. If you travel internationally, choose a card with no 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.

3. Make sure you qualify for signup bonuses. Business credit cards 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, 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.

4. 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 cashback or point-based rewards cards.

5. 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 cashback bonuses, as these are often simple to redeem.

6. Save your rewards miles for expensive flights. explains that you can get the best value on your rewards miles when you book premium business-class seats for international flights. The article also advises that redeeming points for upgrades isn't as good 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.

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 interest rates, you might be attracted to benefits such as 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 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 cashback 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, for example), being able to reach the credit card company quickly is paramount. You should have online access to manage your account.

You want to make sure you can quickly reach a customer service representative over the phone. Check to see whether the company offers live chat online. This can be helpful when you don't want to wait on hold or you have a quick question.

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.

Business owners considering getting a new business credit card have dozens of options, with lots of incentives and attractive benefits. 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 and Over-Limit Fees

When reviewing the terms of service, 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.

The Truth in Lending Act and the Credit CARD Act of 2009 do 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.

Additional reporting by Lori Fairbanks.

State of the Industry

Business credit cards account for less than 4 percent of all credit cards in circulation, but approximately $1 in every $6 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 Administration cites research by MasterCard that shows 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 be as much as $49, according to a fee survey conducted in 2015 by However, some of the best card issuers extend CARD consumer protections to their business customers. As with any business service, you should 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'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.

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