Best Business Credit Cards in the United States

Best Business Credit Cards in the United States

This article details the best business credit cards in the United States. To see the best business credit cards in Canada, click here.

Travel miles, reward points and cash back — the reward programs for business credit cards almost as tempting as the sugary breakfast cereal with the leprechaun on the front of the box.

A business credit card can be an incredibly convenient tool to help you build a credit history, separate business and personal expenses and manage cash flow. But what are the best business credit cards in the United States and how can you tell which one will be best for your business?

In order to provide businesses using our financial management tools and reading our blog the tools they need to sustain a healthy cash flow, we decided to do a little research ourselves. Here’s what we found out about the best business credit cards in the United States:

The 15 best business credit cards in the United States

We sourced the comparison sites and the table below shows the cards that appeared time and again on other lists of the best business credit cards in the United States.

American Express®

Business Gold Rewards Card

Card Type: Charge card

Rewards: 3X points per one specified category: airfare, advertising, fuel, shipping or computer hardware and software. | 2X points the remaining categories. (3X and 2X points apply only to the first $100,000 spent.) | 1X for all other purchases.

Employee Cards: Free

Interest: As it’s a charge card, you are expected to pay in full at the end of each month. If you have to carry a balance, the interest rate is 19.99% and the penalty rate is 25.99%.

Annual Fee:  $175 – Free for the first year.

Personal Guarantee: Required

Welcome Offer: 50,000 points after you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months.

Best For: Established businesses who want flexibility in their rewards an lower annual fee.

Business Platinum Card®

Card Type: Charge card

Rewards: 5X points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com. | 1.5X points on eligible purchases of $5,000 or more. | 1x for all other purchases.

Employee Cards: Free

Interest: As it’s a charge card, you are expected to pay in full at the end of each month. If you have to carry a balance, the interest rate is 19.99% and the penalty rate is 29.99%.

Annual Fee: $450

Personal Guarantee: Required

Welcome Offer: 50,000 points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 50,000 points after you spend an additional $15,000 within the first 3 months.

Best for: Established businesses with large travel budgets. This card also gives you access to American Express Global Lounges at airports around the world.

Blue BusinessSM Plus Card

Card Type: Credit card

Rewards:  Earn 2X points on everyday business purchases up to $50,000 with no category restrictions.

Employee Cards: Free

Credit Limit: Adjusts with usage.

Interest: 0% introductory APR for the 15 months. | After that your APR will be a variable rate, 12.99%, 16.99% or 20.99%, based on your business’ creditworthiness.

Annual Fee: None

Personal Guarantee: Required

Welcome Offer: Earn 10,000 extra points after $3,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months.

Best For: Businesses looking for one of the longest introductory APR offers on the market.

SimplyCash® Plus

Card Type: Credit card

Rewards: 5% cash back on office supplies and mobile phone services. |  3% back on an expense category of your choosing. (5% and 3% up to the first $50,000 in purchases.)| 1% on all other purchases.

Employee Cards: Free

Buy Above Your Credit Limit: Make larger purchases and earn cash back on those purchases — even when the purchases exceed your credit limit.

Interest: 0% introductory APR for the 9 months. | After that your APR will be a variable rate, 13.99%, 18.99% or 20.99%, based on your business’ creditworthiness.

Annual Fee: None

Personal Guarantee: Required

Welcome Offer: None

Best For: Businesses who want a cash back card with high rewards and no annual fee.

Mastercard®

Bank of America® Business Advantage Cash Rewards

Card Type: Credit card

Rewards: 3% on purchases at gas stations and office supply stores. (Maximum $250,000 annually.) | 2% on purchases at restaurants. | 1% on all other purchases.

Employee Cards: Free

Interest: 0% intro APR for 9 months. | 12.99% to 22.99% variable APR thereafter.

Annual Fee: None

Personal Guarantee: Required

Welcome Offer: An additional 25% – 75% bonus on every purchase made when you join the proprietary rewards program. | $200 statement credit bonus after $500 in net purchases in the first 60 days when you apply online.

Bank of America® Business Advantage Travel Rewards

Card Type: Credit card

Rewards: 3 points per every travel dollar spent when you book through the Bank of America Travel Center. | 1.5 points for all other purchases.

Employee Cards: Free

Interest: 0% intro APR for 9 months. | 12.99% to 22.99% variable APR thereafter.

Annual Fee: None

Personal Guarantee: Not required

Welcome Offer: 25,000 bonus points after $1,000 in purchases in the first 60 days.

Best for: Businesses who want rewards points without an annual fee or personal guarantee requirement.

CitiBusiness® AAdvantage® Platinum Select®

Card Type: Credit card

Rewards:  Earn 2 miles for every $1 spent on American Airlines and for telecom, car rental and fuel purchases. Earn 1 mile for other purchases.

Employee Cards: Free

Interest: 17.49% – 25.49% APR based on your business’ financial history.

Annual Fee: $99 – Free for the first year.

Personal Guarantee: Sometimes

Welcome Offer:  Earn 70,000 miles with $4,000 in purchase in the first 4 months.

Best For: Businesses who regularly travel on American Airlines.

Bento for Business

Card Type: A pre-loaded credit card and expense management system hybrid.

Rewards: None

Employee Cards: Free

Credit Limit:  The primary account holder sets individual limits for each cardholder. They can also limit where each card is used.

Interest: None

Annual Fee: 60-day free trial. | Monthly fees ranging from free up to $149 depending on the number of cardholders.

Welcome Offer: None

Best for: Businesses that need to manage employee purchases.

Capital One® Secured

Card Type: Secured credit card

Rewards: None

Employee Cards: Free

Credit Limit: $200 initial credit line that you can increase after making your first 5 payments on time. | Requires a refundable deposit of $49, $99 or $200.

Interest: 24.99% variable APR.

Annual Fee: None

Personal Guarantee: Required

Welcome Offer: None

Best For: Building or rebuilding credit.

Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card

Card Type: Secured credit card

Rewards:  Your choice of cash back or reward point program. | Enrollment in either rewards programs is optional.

Employee Cards: $25

Credit Limit: $500 to $25,000 credit line based on the amount you deposit in your business banking account.

Interest: Prime + 11.90% on purchases. | Prime + 20.74% on cash advances. | Up to 21-day grace period.

Annual Fee: $25

Personal Guarantee: Required

Welcome Offer: Join the rewards program when you get your card and earn 1.5% cash back on qualified purchases for the life of the account.

Best For: Building or rebuilding credit.

Visa®

Capital One Spark Cash for Business

Card Type: Credit card

Rewards: Unlimited 2% cash back with no minimum to redeem.

Employee Cards: Free

Interest 18.74% variable APR

Annual Fee: $95 — Free for the first year.

Personal Guarantee: Required

Welcome Offer: $500 cash bonus with $4,500 on purchases in the first 3 months.

Best For: Businesses who simply want one flat rewards rate.

Capital One Spark Classic for Business

Card Type: Credit card

Rewards: Unlimited 1% cash back with no minimum to redeem.

Employee Cards: Free

Interest: 24.74% variable APR

Annual Fee: None  

Personal Guarantee: Required

Welcome Offer: None

Best For: Businesses that can’t qualify for the Spark One Cash card.

Chase Ink Business CashSM

Card Type: Credit card

Rewards: Earn 5% cash back at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services. | 2% cash back on spent at gas stations and restaurants. (5% and 2% up to the first $25,000 in purchases.) | 1% on all other purchases.

Employee Cards: Free

Interest:  0% intro APR for 12 months. | 14.99%–20.99% variable APR thereafter.

Annual Fee: None

Personal Guarantee: Required

Welcome Offer: $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months.

Best For: Flexible cash back rewards with no annual fee.

Chase Ink BusinessSM Preferred

Card Type: Credit card

Rewards: Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel, shipping, internet, cable and phone services and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines.

Employee Cards: Free

Interest: 17.74% – 22.74% variable APR

Annual Fee: $95

Personal Guarantee: Required

Welcome Offer: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months. | Earn 20,000 bonus points when you refer another business owner who signs up for the same card.

Best for: Businesses that regularly travel to trade shows or advertise regularly.

Read More: 10 Best Businesses for Cash Flow

Checklist: Choosing the best business credit card for your business

You’ve just read our list of the best business credit cards in the United States, now comes the challenging part — picking the best one for your business. Use this checklist of things to consider and questions to ask to help narrow down the best options for your business.

The following sections after this checklist will also help you prepare for the application process and do the math as your final point of comparison. Then we wrap up by revealing our top picks.

Figure out if your business needs a charge card, credit card or secured credit card

While you know there are several main credit card brands, you probably didn’t know that there are three types of cards.

1. Charge cards: These cards have no pre-set limits, which can be helpful whenever you need to make large purchases. However, you must pay the balance each month in full. If there are times when you have to carry a balance, the interest and penalty rates are substantially higher than those for similar credit cards.

In our list of the best credit cards in the United States, two charge cards from American Express made the list — the Business Gold Rewards  Card and Business Platinum Card. For these cards, users can earn rewards points or travel miles at a higher rate than with other comparable credit cards. You also have to have a pretty solid credit history in order to qualify for these cards.

2. Credit cards: These are the traditional credit cards (revolving business credit cards) that you’re most familiar with. There’s a set limit you can spend each month and they’re more flexible in terms of carrying a balance. Because businesses are more likely to carry a balance with a credit card, the interest and penalty rates are lower than with charge cards.

If you like to earn rewards, you can choose from reward points, travel miles or cash back. Many of the best business credit cards in the United States also offer a 0% introductory APR. If you’re considering a business credit card, making a large purchase or changing cards, the 0% offers are pretty enticing. Just make sure you know what the interest and annual fees will be when these offers expire.

3. Secured business credit cards: Designed for newer business or business with lower credit ratings, secured cards offer a way to build or repair credit. If you can’t qualify for a traditional business credit card, a secured card can also be a first step to getting a standard business credit card.

With a secured card, you have a pre-set limit. In certain cases, you have to have the exact amount as the limit in your business checking or savings account. The issuing company will explain the requirements. Once you’ve established a record of on-time payments, you can increase your monthly limits and/or switch to a regular (unsecured) business credit card.

The interest rates depend on how the card is structured as well as your business’ credit history. In general, the rates are competitive with traditional business credit cards.

Know how your business credit card affects your credit history

Before you apply for a business credit card, even if it’s one of the best business credit cards in the United States, find out if your application will be reported on your business credit history. Some applications may also trigger a record on the owner’s personal credit history, so make sure you know ahead of time.

Certain credit card companies also report to the major business credit bureaus. Again, find out if they report both good and bad financial transactions – or only delinquent or late payments. This kind of information is invaluable for building and maintaining your business and personal credit histories.

This table from NerdWallet summarizes which banks report business credit card activity to the credit bureaus.

US credit cards that report to credit bureaus

Learn More: What’s a Business Credit Report?

Know what the interest rate for your business credit card will be

The interest rates for the best business credit cards in the United States definitely vary. It’s also important to note that unlike consumer credit cards, business credit card companies don’t have to notify customers about interest rate changes.

While a credit card company can’t raise the interest rate on a past-due amount until a period of 60 days has passed, business credit card companies aren’t held to this standard.

As you investigate business credit cards for your business, find out:

  • How long the introductory rates are valid.
  • Exactly which rate you qualify for and the reasons why.
  • The rates for late payments, cash advances and balance transfers.
  • If you’ll be notified in advance of upcoming increases.
  • If your payments will be applied to the balance with the highest interest first.

Understand how the annual fee works

With any of the top business credit cards in the United States, you’ll want to know how much the annual fee will be and if you’ll be notified of any increases. You should also ask if the annual fee is applied to employee cards too.

According to creditcards.com, the higher the fee, the greater the rewards. But, you also have to factor in the value of the rewards and if they matter to your business. Later in this article, we’ll be doing the math on business credit cards. This will show you how to compare rewards cards to cards with lower or no annual fees.

Note: Another consideration is that business credit card annual fees are also valid business tax deductions. When you’re making your decision, factor in the fact that you can deduct your annual fee at tax time.   

Determine if you’ll need employee cards

Need to offer a way for employees to manage expenses or purchase items as a routine part of doing business? Most business credit cards let business add employees to the main credit card amount. While many on our list of the best business credit cards in the United States, there’s at least one that charges an annual fee for each employee card.

Some business credit card companies also place a limit on the number of free employee cards they’ll issue. One more thing: Be sure to verify if the employee cards also include any fraud or purchase protection plans.

Establish if your business will benefit from a rewards program

Within our list of the best business credit cards in the United States, there are three main types of reward programs: points, air miles and cash back. Beyond this, the differences are in how the programs are applied.

Some have varying rates of returns based on specific spending categories. Other credit card companies give you more air miles when you use their travel services. (Meaning you should research their online travel services to see if they match your company needs before signing up for rewards.)

Again, it all comes back to doing the math and asking the right questions. How much do you have to spend to earn your rewards and what’s the value of the rewards over time? Plus, some rewards have limits and expiration dates too.

Tools, like ValuePengin’s rewards calculator, can also help you determine the long-term value of the rewards. According to their formula, using an average monthly spend of $1,430, the Chase Ink Business CashSM card had the highest two-year rewards value.

Know if there are places where your business credit card is accepted or not accepted

While American Express, Mastercard and Visa are widely accepted, there are instances where they aren’t. If your business makes regular purchases at certain retailers or wholesalers, make sure you know which types of credit cards these merchants accept. It’s one of those “know before you go” type things.

Ask if there’s a foreign transaction fee

If you travel or operate internationally, foreign transaction fees can add up. Read the fine print or as a service representative to verify if there’s a foreign transaction fee before you sign on the dotted line.

More Tips: 7 Ways to Boost Cash Flow

Understand if you’ll be dealing with the credit card company itself or the issuing bank

In the United States, Mastercard and Visa are only issued through banks. This means you’ll be establishing a relationship with the issuing bank, which may also have a service agreement with Visa or Mastercard to manage cardholder needs. With American Express, you work with American Express. It’s mostly just how they’ve set up their business models. As long as you feel that you’ll get the service and support you need, that’s all you need to know.

Applying for a business credit card

Applying for a credit card is a business transaction and you’ll want to have all the required information, whether you apply online, over the phone or in person at the bank. Here’s what you’ll need to apply for any of the best business credit cards in the United States:

  • Employer Identification Number (EIN) — If your business is incorporated, then you would have received this number when you registered your business with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). If you’re a sole proprietor, your Social Security Number is also your EIN.
  • Business name and address — When you provide these items, make sure they match the information on your tax records. Otherwise, the issuing company may have a harder time verifying your business details.
  • Business financial information — This includes your business banking accounts and may include your previous tax filings to help substantiate your income and overall financial health.
  • Personal financial information — If you own more than 25% of the business, you will need to provide your legal name, date of birth, SSN, home address and percentage of ownership.
  • Your business plans, books and budget — While each of these items informs each other, they also help creditors evaluate the overall strength of your business. Having your books in order and providing copies of your recent financial statements can go a long way in showing that your business is creditworthy.

Before you apply: Verify if you’ll have to provide a personal guarantee

A personal guarantee is pretty much what it sounds like. It’s a promise that the business owner or applicant will be personally responsible if the business fails to pay its debts. It doesn’t matter if you’re incorporated or not. The laws are on the side of the card issuers on this one. This is why you need to find out if you have to provide a personal guarantee as part of the application process.

If you already have a business relationship with the issuing bank along, along with a record of on-time payments and low debt-to-equity ratio, you might be able to negotiate the waiving of the personal guarantee. If not right from the start, you can also try again after a few months of paying your credit card on time.

In general, find out if a guarantee is required and if there are any criteria for exclusion that your business can meet. Also know that there are cards on our list of the best business credit cards in the United States, like the Bank of America® Business Advantage Travel Rewards card that don’t require a personal guarantee.

Best Practices: Separating Business and Personal Finances 

Calculating the costs and rewards of business credit cards 

Brace yourself, this is the math part. If you’re not a math person, you will be when you see how important determining costs and comparing rewards is in choosing the best business credit cards in the United States.

Start by estimating your average owing balance each month. For these examples, we’ll use $4,000. Keep in mind that these examples assume you’re not using your business credit card again until the owing balance is paid.

Example # 1 — Comparing annual fees and interest rates (excluding rewards and intro offers)

In this example, we’re looking at interest rates and annual fees only. We’re leaving out any introductory 0% APR and waiving of the annual fee offers.

Card # 1 — CitiBusiness® AAdvantage® Platinum Select®
$4,000 x 17.49% (the lowest variable rate) = $699.60 in interest charges.
$699.60 + $99 annual fee = $798.60 total cost to carry a balance

Card # 2 — Capital One Spark Cash for Business
$4,000 x 18.74% (the lowest variable rate) = $749.60
$749.60 + $95 annual fee = $848.60 total cost to carry a balance

The 1.25% difference in interest had a lot more impact than the $5 separating the annual fees. With close to half of the cards on our list setting interest rates based on financial health, you can clearly see how solid financial health helps out.

Example # 2 — Comparing the value of rewards and intro offers

In order to compare “apples” to “apples” — we’re going to compare two cash back cards. We also factor in the intro offers to show the costs the once the offers expire.

Card # 1 — Capital One Spark Cash for Business

In the first year, with the intro offers:
$4,000 X 18.74% = $749.60
$749.60 + $0 annual fee = $749.00
$4,000 X 2% cash back = $80 + $500 cash bonus = $580
$740.00 – $580 = $169 total cost when you carry a balance in the first year.

Following years:
$4,000 X 18.74% = $749.60
$749.60 + $95 annual fee = $848.60
$4,000 X 2% cash back = $80
$846.60 – $80 = $766 total cost when you carry a balance thereafter.

Card # 2 — Capital One Spark Classic for Business

Every year (This card has no annual fee or intro offers):
$4,000 X 24.74% = $989.60
$989.60 + $0 annual fee = $989.6
$4,000 X 1% cash back = $40
$986.60 – $40 = $949.60 total cost when you carry a balance.

The lower interest rate and higher cash back percentage of the Spark Cash for Business card offset the costs of the annual fee. When you compare the difference in cost between the first year and the following year without the offers, brace yourself for a little sticker shock.

Our choice for the best business credit card in the United States

Our top choice is the American Express SimplyCash® Plus card. Now that the suspense is over, we’ll explain our criteria. First, in terms of rewards, cash is the most tangible. You don’t have to convert it to anything, you just use it. This is why compared all the cash back cards on our list of the best business credit cards in the United States to determine the best value.

  • Cash back: We overlooked any first-year offers, like 0% APR for 9 to 12 months or no annual fee. Then we just ran the numbers. As the cash back rewards for the SimplyCash® Plus card were tiered, we broke the reward amounts on our $4,000 monthly spend number down this way: $2,000 x 5% + 2,000 x 3% + $1,000 x 1% = $100 + $60 + $10 = $170 cash back per month. (Assuming that you’re going to spend more on the categories where you earn the most.)
  • Cost of carrying a balance: We then calculated, that if you carried this $4,000 balance over for one billing cycle at 20.99% (the highest APR), you’d pay $839.60 in interest. Subtracting the cash rewards of $170, you end up with a cost of $669.60 to carry a balance. This was the lowest cost of all the cash back cards. Plus, there’s no annual fee for the lifetime of the card.
  • Introductory offers: If you take advantage of the introductory offers, you really do well with no interest for the first nine months. Meaning for nine months, all you do is accrue cash rewards. This card also has the highest maximum, $50,000 each year for the 5% and 3% categories.
  • Flexible spending: With this card, you can “buy above your limit” when making large purchases. There are no overlimit fees and you simply need to pay the overage amount in full when payment is due.
  • Flies in the ointment: The main drawback is that the categories are set to narrow parameters that suit a white-collar professional business more so than a manufacturer, contractor or retailer. The highest level of cash back is at office supply stores and US-based mobile phone providers. The second highest level also favors travel and tech over raw materials. If you travel or do business internationally, this card also has a foreign transaction fee.

Our second and third runners-up for the best business credit cards in the United States

At $689 to carry a balance, the Chase Ink Business CashSM card comes a close second to the American Express SimplyCash® Plus card. Its cash back rewards are structured similarly to the top card, but its second tier of rewards is only 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants and both tiers have a $25,000 annual limit.

With its flat 2% cash back on all qualified purchases, the Capital One Spark Cash for Business card the top contender for businesses who don’t want to fuss with categories. Granted the cash back when you spend $4,000 is a mere $80. When you add interest and the annual fee, the total cost to carry a balance is $766. In the first year, waiving of the annual fee and the $500 cash bonus when you spend $4,500 in the first three months brings the cost to carry a balance down to $169.

Closing thoughts: Know all the tools available for accessing funds and managing cash flow

A business credit card, even if it’s one of the best business credit cards in the United States, is a financial tool. But, it’s not the only tool at your disposal to help you manage your cash flow.

Start by analyzing and forecasting your cash flow to get a clearer picture of how money moves through your business on a regular basis. The more you track and monitor your financials, the more aware you’ll be of the patterns and which variables have the greatest impact.

You should also be aware of the range of traditional and non-traditional short-term financing options available to businesses. Know all the tools in your toolbox from term loans and lines of credit to invoice factoring and financing. There’s always a cost for borrowing money, the key is knowing which costs make the most sense for your business and the specific instance in which you need funding.

Finally, pay attention to how other businesses and financial service providers view your business in terms of risk. Monitor your credit scores and use our proprietary risk score to assess your standing.

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This information does not replace the expertise that comes from working with an accountant, bookkeeper or financial professional. It is also not an advertisement or endorsement for any of the banks or credit cards name. The credit card details are valid as of the publishing of this post.

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Author: Michelle Mire

When not overseeing the PayPie Blog or writing about cash flow and business financial health, Michelle can be found working on her own health by going out for a run.