Brex Review: How It Works, And Who It’s For (2020)

Filed Under: Business
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There are all kinds of business cards out there, with different annual fees, different benefits, and different return on spending. However, fundamentally they’re all more or less similar.

Then there’s the recently introduced Brex Card for Startups, which frankly is completely different than any other business credit card out there. This card has the potential to shake up the business card landscape. While it’s not for everyone (actually, I’d say it’s not for most businesses), the card is incredibly interesting.

A couple of months ago I wrote about how Brex rewards started to transfer to airline miles. That’s right, there’s a new flexible points currency, and it’s offered by a card that most of us probably haven’t even heard of.

Brex has introduced yet another transfer partner (as they’ve added JetBlue TrueBlue), and has also rolled out a 75K sign-up bonus. So let’s dig into the details of what exactly Brex is all about.

Brex Card For Startup Basics

It seems to me like the thought process for the Brex Card for Startups is radically different than the approach any other card issuer has taken up until now. The priorities are different, what’s required for approval is different, the way you can spend and have to pay off your bill is different, and more.

But this card has the potential to be lucrative — it has no annual fee, it’s great for startups, and you can earn up to 7x(!!!) airline miles per dollar spent.

So let’s take a closer look at the details of this card, because initially, I found this card as confusing as my dad found boarding on Southwest.

75K Sign-Up Bonus

The Brex Card for Startups is offering 75,000 Brex Rewards points when you sign-up and spend at least $1,000. Previously the card had no bonus, so that’s awesome.

No Personal Guarantee Required

The Brex Card is the only corporate card that doesn’t require personal guarantees, credit scores, or security deposits from founders. So this is a card that even those with bad or no credit can potentially be approved for. Furthermore, because no personal guarantee is required, the card has no impact on your personal credit score.

You Need A US EIN + Proof of Funding

Brex does their underwriting in-house, so while no personal guarantee is required, you do need a US EIN, and to show proof of your business actually having funding. Your Brex spending limit is based on that funding, so you’ll need to show either a bank balance, or another funding source (such as proof of fundraising or other investment).

According to Brex, about 50% of their current clients aren’t fundraising, and instead are self-funded. For those businesses, Brex looks to see ~$100k in a US corporate bank account for approval.

You’ll also need to sign up with your business email address. While they’re looking for all kinds of customers, this is targeted largely at tech companies and startups.

Interest-Free, Net-60 Payments

Most credit cards make you pay your balance within 30 days, while Brex gives you 60 days to pay your bills, and there’s no interest during that period.

Dynamic Limits

Rather than having a fixed credit limit, the card offers dynamic credit limits that are based on your projected monthly sales. You can expect your credit limit to be 50-100% of your monthly sales, up to $5 million.

Note that you’ll have to link your bank account to get the Brex Card, so the limit is dynamic largely based on your ability to pay. That means if they have concerns about your ability to pay you could see your limit lowered.

No Annual Fee

This card has no annual fee… you can’t beat that.

Instant Virtual Cards

If approved instantly, you’ll immediately have access to a virtual card. Then within three to five days, you’ll receive the physical card in the mail.

No Foreign Transaction Fees

The card has no foreign transaction fees, so this is a great card for purchases both in the US and abroad.

World Elite Mastercard Benefits

The Brex Card is a World Elite Mastercard, and comes with all of the corresponding perks, from travel protection to purchase protection.

Who Should Consider A Brex Card?

To put it bluntly, Brex isn’t designed for small independently-owned companies like mine. There are other small business cards that are a better fit for the size and style of our operation. And very large legacy corporations may have too many restrictions for changing to Brex to make sense.

But if you are involved in a startup or rapidly scaling firm, whether the focus is on tech, e-commerce, or life sciences, Brex is absolutely worth considering.

Not only is the card rewarding for those businesses, the entire interface and system are geared around streamlining operations for growing companies.

Brex Application Tips

Brex looks for a few things to determine if a company is a good fit, and as they aren’t pulling personal credit, the approval process is a bit different.

There are two main things you’ll want to be aware of in order to have a smooth application experience:

  1. You must show a balance of ~$100k in a US bank account, OR $50k if your company is backed by venture capital
  2. Always apply using your work email address — I’ve heard from a few readers who had their applications pulled because they used a personal (or not obviously a business) email address

If your company isn’t backed by outside investors (who presumably have done some level of due diligence), Brex will do an additional manual review prior to making any approval decisions.

Earning Points With Brex

The above gives you a basic rundown of some of the things that make the Brex Card for Startups different. But here at OMAAT, we’re all about rewards, so what does the rewards structure on the card look like?

Earn One Point Per Dollar Spent

All cardmembers earn one point per eligible dollar spent on the card. As I’ll outline below, there are ways to do much better than that.

Earn Up To 7x Points With Brex Exclusives

There are better rewards available if your card qualifies for Brex Exclusive. In order to be eligible, you need to make Brex your exclusive business corporate card (this is defined as putting over two-thirds of your business credit card spending on this card). If you do, you’ll earn the following rewards:

  • 7x points on ridesharing, including Uber, Lyft, taxi, scooters, etc.
  • 4x points on Brex Travel, which includes flights, hotels, and Airbnb stays booked with Brex
  • 2x points on recurring software, including Salesforce, GitHub, Slack, and more
  • 1x points on everything else

As you can see, those are some untraditional bonus categories. 7x points on ridesharing is huge, and the 4x points on travel is also huge, though you do need to book travel through Brex to qualify.

New Rewards For Remote Teams

One of the impressive things about Brex is how nimble they are able to be. Brex has different constraints than large financial institutions, and rolled out a new earning structure for their card in late March — as soon as it became apparent that some companies would have far less business travel.

If your team is working remotely (or if these categories are just better for your company), you can opt-in to the Brex for Remote Teams reward structure, which includes the following:

  • 7x points on collaboration tools bundle
  • 3x points on food delivery bundle
  • 2x points on recurring software
  • 1x points on everything else

Redeeming Brex Rewards

You can potentially earn 1-7x points with the card, but what are those points good for? The points actually give you a good amount of flexibility, and some awesome rewards. While this card is still fairly new, the second redemption option mentioned below is something that’s only “live” as of today.

Redeem Points As Cash Back

Brex points can each be redeemed for one cent, either towards a statement credit, or towards a travel purchase made through Brex’s website. That’s a decent enough option, when you consider you’re earning 7% cash back on ridesharing.

However, there’s a whole different way to redeem rewards on the card.

Transfer Brex Rewards To Airline Programs

This was only introduced for Brex over the summer, and is really exciting. It’s possible to transfer Brex points to select airline programs. The transfer ratio is 1.5:1 for ordinary members, and for Brex Exclusive members it’s a 1:1 transfer ratio.

The transfer partners are as follows:

AirlinesHotels
Aeromexico Club PremierN/A, though hotels/Airbnb are in the rewards portal.
Air France/KLM Flying Blue
Avianca Lifemiles
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
JetBlue TrueBlue
Qantas Frequent Flyer
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer

Brex notes that they have two partners in each of the major global alliances, which gives members flexibility in terms of the airlines they can redeem on (since you can always transfer miles to one of those partners, and then redeem them on one of the airlines’ partners). If you’re a current Brex cardholder, and are wondering what to do with this newfound option, you’ll want to start by learning how airline alliances work.

This is an excellent way to use these points, and since I value most airline miles at more than a penny each, that would be my preferred way to use these points.

Other Brex Card Perks

Brex offers customers discounts on top services that help run and grow companies. Brex claims that their partner offers are worth over $50,000 in value and can be redeemed at any time.

They position this as being in lieu of a traditional sign-up bonus, which they say is typically worth $500.

Of course, a vast majority of companies aren’t actually going to get $50,000 of value out of these perks, though there are still some perks that companies might find valuable.

For example, you can expect discounts with companies like Amazon Web Services, Google Ads, WeWork, Expensify, HubSpot, and many more.

The interface is streamlined, and everything from expense and user management to travel booking is integrated into the Brex portal. Brex is pretty proud of this bit of engineering, and sees it as a way for them to help make things easier for startups as they scale — everything being in one place can simplify workflows.

Of course, for miles and points people who are accustomed to cross-referencing eight different websites to do anything, this may or may not seem like an exciting perk. 😉

Is The Brex Card Worth It?

It’s almost silly to compare Brex to other cards, since it’s so different. One thing is for sure — they’ve created an incredibly innovative product that’s unlike anything we’ve seen before.

This card serves a purpose that many others don’t. I think in many ways the credit card industry hasn’t kept up with the ways in which startups and modern companies operate, and this card is an answer to that.

There are so many businesses that would benefit from this — those with founders who have bad or no credit in the U.S., those who have businesses where they spend a ton, which other credit card issuers can’t accommodate, those who would benefit from 60-day payment terms, and those who are looking for a modern corporate card strategy.

It just happens to be that this card also has the potential to be really lucrative, earning up to 7x points per dollar spent, though that’s dependent on making Brex your exclusive card issuer.

So this card isn’t for every business — and I’d argue it’s even not for most businesses — though I also think this is potentially one of the best business credit cards for many of the nimble and rapidly-growing startups we see today, and it serves a niche that otherwise isn’t served.

If you want to learn more about the Brex Card for Startups or apply, follow this link.

Apply Now

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Comments
  1. Please elaborate on how one becomes a Brex Exclusive member (vs an ordinary member). The sign up bonus seems worth it, but only if I will get a 1:1 points transfer to the airline programs. Thank you/

  2. I signed up for Brex last year for our eCommerce company. We qualified and I got a $1k sign up bonus so why not. The virtual cards were useful for splitting up expenses. Everything was fine until covid hit and our sales dipped. Even though we didn’t miss a payment, without notice Brex FROZE our credit line and then tried to withdraw the entire balance we owed (even though we normally had rolling 60 days to pay it). It completely screwed our business during the midst of a pandemic. Honestly, they only care about their bottom line and have no regard for the small businesses on their platform. I would avoid them. At least with Chase, your terms are fixed so they aren’t going to close your card when you actually need to access your credit line.

  3. I applied with 300k in the bank with my small IT consulting startup(have been in business for 7 years now) with 2M gross receipts.
    Denied after 2 hours by email.
    I have no idea who their target audience are

  4. I always felt they were sketchy. @PlanMoreTrips confirms it.

    They want full view of your bank, and require that *all* spending be with Brex. It’s way too much of a financial strip search just for some points. No thanks, Member Rewards and Ultimate Rewards work great for my business!

  5. Actually, I think you missed the key point. It’s not about the points or the return for most businesses, the important factors are two:

    1. No personal guarantee
    2. Time to pay the bill

  6. I would stay far away from BREX. I can say their requirements are not clear and nebulous. The company got alot of VC money. They are a solution to a problem that does not exist. Somebody mentioned sketchy. No PG means nothing. As Ivany stated and I commented, “their requirements are not clear and nebulous.” Something is fishy. I dont see them lasting long. And as Planmoretrips saw they can and will pull the rug from under you. I know they did this to many small companies I know, (who are not small in revenue btw) Inexperienced people running that company.

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