The 9 Best Small Business Credit Cards (2019)

Filed Under: American Express, Business
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Back in the day, it was rare to see big welcome bonuses or generous rewards structures on small business credit cards. That has changed, and nowadays we’re seeing card issuers place a huge emphasis on business 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.

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

The Best Small Business Credit Cards

In this post I wanted to look at what I consider to be the best and most rewarding business credit cards, based on a variety of metrics. I’ll also share some general tips on applying for small business cards.

In no particular order, here are nine of my favorites business cards:

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card 

  • Why I like this card: most well-rounded business credit card with the best bonus
  • Welcome bonus: 80,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 within three months
  • Annual fee: $95
  • Rewards structure: 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)

The Ink Preferred 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 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, the Ink Preferred would be it.

Read a full review of the Ink Business Preferred.


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

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

  • Why I like this card: best no annual fee card bonus categories
  • Welcome bonus: 50,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 within three months
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Rewards structure: 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)

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

If you use the Ink Cash independently, then each point can be redeemed for one cent. However, if you have the Ink Cash in conjunction with either the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (review), Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card (review), 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.

Read a full review of the Ink Business Cash.


Redeem Ultimate Rewards points for travel in Aer Lingus business class

Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card

  • Why I like this card: best no annual fee card for everyday spending with no caps
  • Welcome bonus: 50,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 within three months
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Rewards structure: 1.5x points on all purchases

If used correctly, the Ink Unlimited is the single best business credit card for everyday, non-bonused spending, without any sort of caps. The Amex Blue Business Plus (which I’ll talk about below) offers a better return on spending, though the bonus is capped on the first $50,000 spent every calendar year.

The Ink Unlimited offers unlimited 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 the Ink Unlimited 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).

Read a full review of the Ink Business Unlimited.


Redeem Ultimate Rewards points for travel in JetBlue Mint

American Express® Business Gold Card

  • Why I like this card: great bonus categories
  • Annual fee: $295 (Rates & Fees)
  • Rewards structure: 4x points on the two select categories where your business spent the most each month (the 4x points apply to the first $150,000 in combined purchases from these two categories each calendar year); the bonus categories are as follows:
    • 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
    • U.S. computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers

The Amex Business Gold 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 the Amex Gold is an excellent option. Otherwise, I think another card is a better option, given the card’s fairly high annual fee.

Read a full review of the Amex Business Gold.


Redeem Membership Rewards points for travel in ANA first class

Business Platinum® Card from American Express

  • Why I like this card: best business card perks
  • Welcome bonus: 50,000 bonus points after spending $10,000 within three months, plus an additional 50,000 bonus points after spending an additional $15,000 within three months
  • Annual fee: $595 (Rates & Fees)
  • Rewards structure: 1.5x points on purchases of $5,000 or more (up to one million additional points per year)

Personally, the Amex Business Platinum 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 spending.

While the Amex Business Platinum has a $595 annual fee, it offers all kinds of great perks, including a $200 annual airline fee credit, access to Amex Centurion Lounges, access to Delta SkyClubs when flying Delta same day, a Priority Pass membership, Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy Gold status, access to American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts, access to the Amex International Airline Program, which can save you a ton on premium airfare, a TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry fee credit, once every four years, and more.

Those are so many great benefits to the Amex Business Platinum, and for someone who travels a lot, they more than justify the annual fee, in my opinion.

Read a full review of the Amex Business Platinum.


Access Amex Centurion Lounges with the Amex Business Platinum Card

Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

  • Why I like this card: best return on spending of any card
  • Welcome bonus: none
  • Annual fee: No annual fee (Rates & Fees)
  • Rewards structure: 2x points on the first $50,000 spent on purchases per calendar year

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

Read a full review of the Amex Blue Business Plus.


Redeem Membership Rewards points for travel in Singapore Airlines business class

Blue Business Cash™ Card from American Express

  • Why I like this card: best no annual fee cash back business card
  • Welcome bonus: none
  • Annual fee: No annual fee (Rates & Fees)
  • Rewards structure: 2% cash back on the first $50,000 spent on purchases per calendar year

The Blue Business Cash was introduced earlier this year. While 2% cash back doesn’t sound that groundbreaking, it’s surprisingly rare for business cards.

Read a full review of the Amex Blue Business Cash.

Earn lots of cash back with this card

Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business

  • Why I like this card: best cash back business card
  • Welcome bonus: Up to $2,000 cash back — $500 cash back after spending $5,000 within three months, another $1,500 after spending $50,000 within six months
  • Annual fee: $95, waived the first year
  • Rewards structure: 2% cash back on all purchases

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

At the moment the card even has an incredible welcome bonus of up to $2,000 cash back upon completing minimum spending, which is as good as it gets.

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.

Read a full review of the Spark Cash Card.


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

Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business

  • Why I like this card: well rounded for everyday spending
  • Welcome bonus: Up to 200,000 Spark miles — 50,000 Spark miles after spending $5,000 within three months, another 150,000 Spark miles after spending $50,000 within six months
  • Annual fee: $95, waived the first year
  • Rewards structure: 2x miles on all purchases

The Spark Miles offers a lot of flexibility, which I really appreciate. There are two ways you can redeem your Spark miles:

  • 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
  • You can transfer Spark miles to about a dozen airline programs at a ratio of up to 2:1.5

This means every dollar spent on the Spark Miles earns either two cents towards travel or up to 1.5 airline miles.

At the moment the card even has an incredible welcome bonus of up to 200,000 Spark miles upon completing minimum spending, which is as good as it gets.

Read a full review of the Spark Miles Card.


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

Are You Eligible For A Business 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.

Filling Out Business Card Applications

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 a business credit card application? 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.

Best Small Business Credit Card Summary

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 spending, 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 small business credit card?

The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: American Express® Business Gold Card (Rates & Fees), The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express (Rates & Fees), The Business Platinum® Card from American Express (Rates & Fees), and American Express® Blue Business Cash Card (Rates & Fees).

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