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 cards for January 2022
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:
- Why I like this card: most well-rounded business credit card with the best bonus
- Welcome bonus: 100,000 bonus points after spending $15,000 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 one of the biggest welcome bonuses of any credit card, as I value 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points at $1,700 (1.7 cents each). The card also offers useful bonus categories, 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.
- Why I like this card: best no annual fee card bonus categories
- Welcome bonus: 75,000 bonus points after spending $7,500 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. The card is also offering its best-ever welcome bonus.
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 (review), then you can pool points, and all of them can be transferred to Ultimate Rewards airline and hotel partners.
- Why I like this card: best no annual fee card for everyday spending with no caps
- Welcome bonus: 75,000 bonus points after spending $7,500 within three months
- Annual fee: $0
- Rewards structure: 1.5x points on all purchases
If used correctly, the Ink Unlimited is Chase’s best business credit card for everyday, non-bonused spending. 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® Card, Chase 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).
- Why I like this card: great bonus categories
- Welcome bonus: 70,000 bonus points after spending $10,000 within three months
- Annual fee: $295 (Rates & Fees)
- Rewards structure: 4x points in the two select categories where your business spends 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 Amex Business Gold’s fairly high annual fee.
- Why I like this card: best business card perks
- Welcome bonus: 120,000 bonus points after spending $15,000 within three months
- Annual fee: $695 (Rates & Fees)
- Rewards structure: 1.5x Membership Rewards points per dollar on eligible purchases in key business categories, as well as on each purchase of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year, and then 1x Membership Rewards points.
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 $695 annual fee, it offers all kinds of great perks, including a $200 annual airline fee credit (enrollment required), access to Amex Centurion Lounges, access to Delta SkyClubs when flying Delta same day, a Priority Pass membership (enrollment required), Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy Gold status (enrollment required), 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, up to $179 back on your CLEAR membership every year, and more.
There 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.
- Why I like this card: best return on spending of any no annual fee business card
- Welcome bonus: 15,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 within three months
- Annual fee: $0 (Rates & Fees)
- Rewards structure: 2x points on the first $50,000 spent on purchases every calendar year (1x after that)
The Blue Business Plus offers an unbeatable return on everyday spending. I value Membership Rewards points at 1.7 cents each, and you’re earning up to 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 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. If you don’t yet have this card this is a great time to pick it up, as the card is finally offering a publicly available welcome bonus (which it wasn’t previously).
- Why I like this card: best no annual fee cash back business card
- Welcome bonus: $250 statement credit after spending $3,000 within three months
- Annual fee: $0 (Rates & Fees)
- Rewards structure: 2% cash back on the first $50,000 spent on purchases per calendar year and then 1%
While 2% cash back doesn’t sound that groundbreaking, it’s surprisingly rare for business cards, and it’s especially good for a no annual fee card. The card is even offering a fantastic bonus, which it wasn’t before.
- Why I like this card: best cash back business card
- Welcome bonus: up to a $3,000 cash bonus; $500 once you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months, and $2,500 once you spend $50,000 in the first 6 months of account opening
- Annual fee: $150
- Rewards structure: 2% cash back on all purchases, plus a $200 annual cash bonus when you spend $200,000 in an anniversary year
If you’re looking to earn cash back, then the Spark Cash Plus is one of the best business cards out there. The card offers a flat 2% cash back on all purchases, plus a $200 cash bonus when you spend $200,000 on the card in an anniversary year. This is also a charge card, meaning that there’s no pre-set spending limit.
For someone who doesn’t want to deal with the complexity of points, this option is tough to beat. The other awesome thing is that even if you’re into miles & points, rewards on this card can be converted into Capital One miles at a lucrative ratio in conjunction with select other cards, like the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card (review).
- Why I like this card: best business card for everyday spending with no caps
- Welcome bonus: 50,000 points after spending $4,500 within three months
- Annual fee: $95, waived the first year
- Rewards structure: 2x miles on all purchases
The Spark Miles offers a phenomenal return on spending and lots 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 do this after the fact using the Purchase Eraser feature, or you can book through the Capital One Travel portal
- You can transfer Spark miles to over a dozen airline and hotel partners at a ratio of 1:1
This means every dollar spent on the Spark Miles earns either two cents towards travel or two airline miles with select partners. Personally, I value Capital One miles at 1.7 cents each, so to me that’s like a 3.4% return on everyday spending, which is incredible.
Other travel business cards to consider
The above are what I’d consider to be the most well-rounded business cards that give you a lot of flexibility, whether you’re looking for travel rewards or cash back. However, it’s also worth mentioning that there are several co-brand travel rewards cards that potentially offer lots of value, depending on your travel patterns.
Here are seven of my favorites (you can see the linked reviews for more details):
- The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card (review) offers Hilton Honors Gold status for as long as you have the card, which could be quite valuable
- The Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card (review) offers incredible perks when traveling with Southwest, including anniversary bonus points, upgraded boardings, up to 365 Southwest Wi-Fi credit per year, and more
- The UnitedSM Business Card (review) offers valuable perks when traveling with United, including a free checked bag, two United Club passes annually, a $100 annual United travel credit, and more
- The Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card (review) offers 15 elite nights towards status annually, an annual free night reward, and more
- The World of Hyatt Business Credit Card (review) offers valuable benefits like up to $100 in Hyatt credits annually, and it can help you earn elite status through credit card spending
- The Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card (review) offer valuable ongoing perks, including an annual companion certificate
- The CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® (review) could help you earn AAdvantage elite status with the new Loyalty Points system
Like I said, I don’t consider these cards to quite be on the same level as my favorites, though if you’re a loyal customer with any of those brands, you might find that these cards pay for themselves over and over.
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 proprietor, 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 one to two years, etc.
Over the past few years, credit card issuers have largely been focused on business cards, and as a result, we’re seeing some lucrative offerings, 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).