The 8 Best Business Credit Cards 2018

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Back in the day it was rare to see big welcome bonuses or generous rewards structures on business credit cards. That has changed, and nowadays we’re seeing card issuers place huge emphasis on business credit cards. This is obviously an area where they see a lot of opportunity and are hoping to grow market share.

That’s great news for consumers, since it means we’re seeing big welcome bonuses, creative new products, and more.

Business credit cards aren’t just useful for the welcome bonuses and the great return on spend, but they can also be a great way to separate personal and business expenses.

So in this post I wanted to look at what I consider to be the best business credit cards, along with some general tips on applying for business credit cards. I updated my list of best business cards just a few days ago, but we just saw some major changes to a couple of cards this week, so it’s time to update the list.

The seven all around best business credit cards

In this post I wanted to look at what I consider to be the all around most compelling business credit cards, based on a variety of metrics. In no particular order, here are seven of my favorites:

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card – most well rounded business credit card with best bonus

Welcome bonus: 80,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 within three months
Annual fee: $95
Return on spend: 3x points on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable, and phone services, and advertising purchases with social media sites and search engines (on the first $150,000 in combined purchases per account anniversary year)

This is probably the most well rounded business credit card out there. It offers the biggest welcome bonus of any credit card, as I value 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points at $1,360 (1.7 cents each), the card offers useful and well rounded bonus categories, it offers excellent travel and car rental protection, an amazing cell phone protection plan, and flexible points.

If I could only apply for one business credit card, this would be it.


Redeem Ultimate Rewards points for a stay at the Park Hyatt Paris

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card – best no annual fee card bonus categories

Welcome bonus: 50,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 within three months
Annual fee: $0
Return on spend: 5x points on office supply stores, internet, cable, and phone services, and 2x points on gas stations and restaurants (on the first $25,000 in combined purchases per account anniversary year)

This card offers the best bonus categories of any no annual fee business card, as you can earn up to 5x points.

If you use this card independently, then each point can be redeemed for one cent. However, if you have this card in conjunction with either the Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardChase Sapphire Reserve® Card, or Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, then you can pool points, and all of them can be transferred to Ultimate Rewards airline and hotel partners.


Redeem Ultimate Rewards points for travel in Aer Lingus business class

Ink Business UnlimitedSM Credit Card – best no annual fee card for everyday spend with no caps

Welcome bonus: 50,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 within three months
Annual fee: $0
Return on spend: 1.5x points on all purchases

If used correctly, this is the single best business credit card for everyday, non-bonused spend, without any sort of caps. The Amex Blue Business Plus (which I’ll talk about below) offers a better return, though it’s capped at $50,000 of spend per calendar year.

This card offers 1.5x points per dollar spent. If you use this card independently, then each point can be redeemed for one cent. However, if you have this card in conjunction with either the Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardChase Sapphire Reserve® Card, or Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, then you can pool points, and all of them can be transferred to Ultimate Rewards airline and hotel partners.

If you have the Sapphire Reserve then points can be redeemed for 1.5 cents each towards the cost of a travel purchase, meaning that this card essentially offers a return equivalent to 2.25% (1.5x points per dollar spent, with each point being worth 1.5 cents).


Redeem Ultimate Rewards points for travel in JetBlue Mint

American Express® Business Gold Card – great bonus categories

Welcome bonus: none
Annual fee: $295
Return on spend: Potentially earn bonus points on airfare purchased directly from airlines, U.S. purchases for advertising in select media, U.S. purchases at gas stations, U.S. purchases at restaurants, U.S. purchases for shipping, and U.S. computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers; you earn 4x points in the two categories you spend the most in each billing cycle, on up to $150,000 of combined purchases in those two categories per calendar year.

This card can make a lot of sense for some businesses, while it makes less sense for others. This is the Amex business card with the best bonus categories, so if you spend a lot in at least two of those categories, I’d say this card is an excellent option. Otherwise I think another card is a better option.


Redeem Membership Rewards points for travel in ANA first class

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express – best business card perks

Welcome bonus: 50,000 bonus points after spending $10,000 within three months, plus an additional 25,000 bonus points after spending an additional $10,000 within three months
Annual fee: $450
Return on spend: 1.5x points on purchases of $5,000 or more (up to one million additional points per year)

Personally this is a card I’d get for the perks it offers, rather than a card I’d get for the return it offers on your spend.

While the card has a $450 annual fee, it offers all kinds of great perks, including a $200 annual airline fee creditaccess to Amex Centurion Loungesaccess to Delta SkyClubs when flying Delta same daya Priority Pass membershipHilton Honors and Marriott Gold statusaccess to American Express Fine Hotels & Resortsaccess to the Amex International Airline Program, which can save you a ton on premium airfarea TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry free credit, once every four years, and 10 Gogo wifi passes each calendar year.

Those are so many great benefits to this card, and for someone who travels even moderately, they more than justify the annual fee, in my opinion.


Access Amex Centurion Lounges with the Amex Business Platinum Card

The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express – best return on spend of any card

Welcome bonus: none
Annual fee
: $0
Return on spend: 2x points on the first $50,000 spent on purchases per calendar year

This is the credit card that offers the single best return on everyday spend. I value Membership Rewards points at 1.7 cents each, and you’re earning two points per dollar spent, so that’s a return of 3.4% by my valuation. The catch is that the card doesn’t have a huge welcome bonus, and also caps you at $50,000 of spend per calendar year, so for anything above that you’re earning just one point per dollar.


Redeem Membership Rewards points for travel in Singapore Airlines business class

Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business – best cash back business card

Welcome bonus: Up to $2,000 cash back — earn a $500 cash bonus when you spend $5,000 within the first three months, plus a further $1,500 cash bonus when you spend $50,000 within the first six months
Annual fee: $95, waived the first year
Return on spend: 2% cash back on all purchases

If you’re not looking for travel rewards, then this is one of the best business cards out there. The card offers a flat 2% cash back on all purchases. It has a $95 annual fee that’s waived for the first year, and it also has an exceptional welcome bonus.

If you spend $50,000 within the first six months you’d earn a total of $3,000 cash back ($2,000 as part of the welcome bonus, plus the $1,000 you’d usually earn at the rate of 2% back), which is the equivalent of a 6% return. That’s incredible.

While I personally like to get outsized value out of miles & points, for someone who doesn’t want to deal with the complexity of points, this option is tough to beat.


Redeem cash back however you’d like with the Capital One Spark Cash

Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business – well rounded for everyday spend

Welcome bonus: Up to 200,000 miles — earn 50,000 bonus miles when you spend $5,000 within the first three months, plus a further 150,000 bonus miles when you spend $50,000 within the first six months
Annual fee: $95, waived the first year
Return on spend: 2x miles on all purchases

Until recently I’d say the Capital One Spark Cash for Business was almost always the better option. However, this card recently added a game-changing new perk. With this card you earn 2x miles per dollar spent, and you can redeem them in one of two ways:

  • You can redeem them towards the cost of a travel purchase at the rate of one cent per mile, meaning the card offers two cents towards travel per dollar spent
  • Starting in early December, you’ll be able to transfer them to about a dozen airline programs at the rate of two Venture miles per 1.5 airline miles

This means every dollar spent on the card would earn either two cents towards travel or 1.5 airline miles.

The welcome bonus is also especially compelling. If you spend $50,000 within the first six months you’d earn a total of 300,000 Venture miles (200,000 as part of the welcome bonus, plus the 100,000 you’d usually earn at the rate of 2x Venture miles per dollar).

Those 300,000 miles could then be converted into 225,000 airline miles, meaning you’re earning 4.5 airline miles per dollar spent.


Redeem Venture miles as cash towards a travel purchase, or transfer them to an airline

Who is eligible for a business card card?

Eligibility for a small business credit card is easier than you might think. You don’t need to have a big company, and don’t even need to be incorporated. A small side business with limited business revenue makes you eligible for a business credit card, which could include selling things on eBay, having a rental property, and freelancing.

It goes without saying that you should always answer credit card applications honestly. You might be pleasantly surprised by how easily you’ll get approved.

How should you fill out a business credit card application?

It can be intimidating to apply for your first business credit card, though even if you’re a small business or sole proprietorship, you should be eligible. I wanted to briefly outline how you should fill out a business card application. Typically you’ll be asked the following questions, in addition to personal information (your income, Social Security Number, etc.):

  • Legal name of business
  • Business mailing address & phone number
  • Type of business
  • Tax identification number
  • Number of employees
  • Annual business revenue/sales
  • Years in business

If you’re a sole proprietorship, how should you approach this? First of all, and most importantly, answer everything truthfully. I think the concern that a lot of people have is that they think they need an incorporated business, a separate office, etc., in order to be considered for a business card. That’s not the case:

  • You can use your name as the legal name of your business
  • The business mailing address and phone number can be the same as your personal address and phone number
  • If you’re a sole proprietorship, you can select that as your type of business
  • For the tax identification number, you can put your Social Security Number
  • For number of employees, saying one is perfectly fine
  • For your annual business revenue, there’s nothing wrong with saying zero (if you’re just getting started), or whatever the amount is
  • For years in business, there’s no shame in saying that it’s new, that it has been 1-2 years, etc.

Bottom line

Card issuers are focused on business credit cards nowadays, and as a result we’re seeing some lucrative business cards, in terms of the welcome bonuses, the return on spend, and more. There has never been a better time to apply for a business credit card, so whether you have a longstanding business or just recently started a business, the above are some great cards to consider, depending on the type of rewards you’re looking for.

What’s your favorite business credit card?

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Comments

  1. Lucky, I am trying to get back under Chase 5/24. Do any of these cards show up on your personal credit report, and therefore affect Chase 5/24?

  2. @ Ted — Most of these shouldn’t, though the one exception is that I believe Capital One business cards do show up on your personal report.

  3. I think banks should take account of social credit when they approve credit cards just like China does.

    Lucky. How is your social score?

  4. Hello Lucky,
    Please help me clarify an idea spinning around in my head. Currently I have the Chase Ink Business Preferred and the one year mark is coming up. At that point I plan to move down to an Ink Unlimited card to avoid the renewal fee. In the meantime can I sign up for the Ink Cash card to get the sign on bonus? In the end I will have two no annual fee cards. I am always on a quest for more sign up points/miles/cash, so is this idea possible?

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