Last Updated on
There are many small business credit cards available on the market all with varying interest rates, fees, sign-up bonuses, and rewards programs. But, there’s no “one-size-fits-all” answer for all small businesses.
The credit card that’s right for your business will depend on several factors, including your credit score, your business’s needs, and your financial priorities. For example, a credit card that earns you airline miles may not be the best choice if you or your employees don’t need to travel for work.
We designed this guide to empower you to make an informed decision when selecting a credit card, including a comparison table of popular cards, a brief overview of eight popular providers, and a step-by-step guide on how to get a small business credit card.
For specific information, visit the following sections:
- At-a-glance comparison of different small business credit card options
- Brief overviews of 8 popular small business credit card providers
- Details on how to get a small business credit card
Best Credit Cards for Small Business Owners
There are a variety of small business credit card options available, and the best one for your small business depends on the nature of the business, its financial situation, and even its business credit score.
To help you narrow down the right one, it’s important to understand the following key factors, including how these align with your current business needs and finances.
- Offered interest rates. All credit cards have a yearly interest rate, usually advertised as the annual percentage rate (APR). Your APR is how much interest you will be charged on your monthly statement balance, if you do not pay it off. A lower APR is ideal, but should be weighed against other factors as well. Also, it’s important to note that many credit cards offer a lower, or possibly 0%, APR for an introductory period, then increase the APR when that period ends. This can apply to the interest on any purchases as well as balance transfers. Be sure you know what your APR will be in the long-term.
- Grace periods and billing cycle adjustments. A grace period refers to a set amount of time that elapses before you must begin making your minimum monthly payment, and the amount of time you have to pay your balance each month after a bill is issued. The ability to adjust your billing cycle means that you can change when your billing cycle begins and ends. The flexibility afforded by grace periods and billing cycle adjustments is useful, especially for newer businesses, because you can make payments when it is more convenient for you.
- Employee cards. Another consideration is whether you will need additional cards for employees. This can be beneficial because employees won’t have to use their own money for purchases, and file expense reports for reimbursement, but employee cards need to be monitored carefully to prevent excessive spending. If you know you will need employee cards, or think that you might in the future, be sure to focus on offers that will allow you to get additional cards for employees.
- Reward programs. Most credit card companies offer some kind of reward program as a perk for using that company. Rewards can include statement credits, in which you receive cash back in the form of funds credited to your account, or points that you can exchange for a variety of purchases, including travel, dining, gift cards, and more. Rewards programs are enticing, but make sure you are choosing a card with rewards you can actually use. For example, if your business does not require much travel, a card with a travel rewards program may not be beneficial.
- Bonuses. Another perk that many credit cards offer is bonuses. For example, if you spend a certain amount of money within the first three months of opening your account, you may get a lump sum of cash back, or a certain amount of rewards points. These offers can be attractive, but you will want to be sure that you can pay back whatever you have to spend to earn the bonus, otherwise you can end up paying more in interest on those purchases.
- Additional fees. Some cards charge additional fees, like annual membership fees or foreign transaction fees. While at first glance it may seem like an unnecessary expense, when weighed against other factors like rewards, lower APR, and flexible billing cycles, it can make financial sense to select a card with additional fees, so don’t immediately rule out those cards.
- Application fees. There are also credit card companies that make applicants pay a fee to apply for their card. Again, you will have to weigh the cost of the application fee against the other benefits of the card, to determine if it is worth it.
- Vendors. Consider where you need to use your cards. Visa and Mastercard are more widely accepted than American Express and Discover.
|Initial 0% APR Offer||Variable APR*||Annual Fee||Employee Cards|
|American Express Blue Business Plus||12 months||13.24%-19.24%||No||Yes|
|Bank of America Platinum||First 7 billing cycles (1 cycle is typically 1 month)||10.24%-21.24%||No||Yes|
|United Club Business||None||16.49%-23.49%||$99 (waived for first 12 months)||Yes|
|Southwest Rapid Premiere||None||15.99%-22.99%||$199||Yes|
|Spark Cash Select||9 months||13.99%-23.99%||No||Yes|
|Wells Fargo Business Platinum||9 months||7.99%-17.99%||No||Yes|
|Citi Business Platinum Select AAdvantage||None||15.99%-24.99%||$99 (waived for first 12 months)||Yes|
|Chase Ink Business Preferred||None||15.99%-20.99%||$95||Yes|
*Variable APRs on purchases and balance transfers are subject to change. Variable APRS are accurate at the time of publication.
Disclaimer: We do not explicitly recommend any of the credit cards listed above. This information is presented solely for the sake of comparison.
8 Popular Providers of Business Credit Cards
There are many business credit card providers available today. Below, we give a quick overview of 8 of the most popular business credit card providers, including how many cards they offer, and pros and cons of selecting from a particular provider.
American Express Business Credit Cards
With 14 different business credit cards, American Express has something that can fit just about anyone’s needs, whether it’s minimal fees, flexibility, or rewards for travel or frequently shopping at select retailers.
In general, their cards have a variety of benefits, including:
- Travel rewards for flights, hotels, and access to airport lounges
- Membership rewards that convert to cashback, flights, hotel accommodations, and more
- No annual fees for certain cards; other cards have annual fees ranging from $95-$595
- 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers
- Widest variety of different types of cards, including options for travel rewards, cashback, and minimal fees
- Certain cards offer rewards for select retailers, including Lowe’s and Amazon
- No annual fees on some cards
- Some cards have annual fees of up to $595
- AmEx is not as widely accepted as Visa and Mastercard
Bank Of America Business Credit Cards
Bank of America categorizes their different business credit cards by travel rewards, cash rewards, and lower interest rate cards, so you can select the one that best suits your needs. They offer both Visa and Mastercard credit cards, which are the most widely accepted type of credit cards.
- Business Advantage Cash Rewards Card: Earn 3% cash back on your choice of one of the following six categories: gas stations (default), office supply stores, travel, TV/telecom & wireless, computer services or business consulting services. Automatically earn 2% cash back on dining and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. You’ll earn 3% and 2% cash back on the first $50,000 in combined category/dining purchases each calendar year, 1% thereafter. You can earn up to 75% more cash back on every purchase, if you have a business checking account with Bank of America and qualify for Preferred Rewards for Business.
- Business Advantage Travel Rewards Card: Earn unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all purchases everywhere, every time-no matter how much you spend. Points don’t expire. Earn 3 points per every dollar spent on travel purchases (car, hotel, airline) booked through the Bank of America® Travel Center. You can earn up to 75% more points on the base earn of every purchase, if you have a business checking account with Bank of America and qualify for Preferred Rewards for Business.
- Platinum Plus Mastercard Business Card: Online exclusive: $300 statement credit bonus offer. Save on interest with a competitive APR. 0% Introductory APR on purchases for the first 7 billing cycles.
- No annual fees on any of the three cards listed above
- Potential to earn more cash back rewards if you have a business checking account with Bank of America, and qualify for Preferred Rewards for Business.
- Basic rewards compared to other cards
- 0% APR intro period is shorter than some other providers
United Airlines Business Credit Cards
United Airlines offers two business cards: the Explorer Business Card and the Club Business Card.
- Explorer Business Card: Offers a business credit card welcome offer of up to 100,000 bonus airline miles; cashback on most purchases, and two one-time access passes to United Clubs, one free checked bag, and priority boarding. There is a $95 annual fee.
- Club Business Card: Customers receive up to 50,000 bonus miles, cashback on purchases, United Club membership, two free checked bags, and premier travel services.
- Both cards come with no foreign transaction fees, as well as purchase and travel protection
- Both cards offer a suite of travel benefits for United Airlines passengers
- Limited rewards flexibility, since most travel perks are tied to United Airlines
- Limited information available to non-MileagePlus members
Southwest Airlines Business Credit Cards
Offered in conjunction with Chase Bank, Southwest‘s Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card gives users a wide range of benefits, including:
- The ability to earn 70,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Plus, an additional 30,000 points after you spend $25,000 total on purchases within the first 6 months of account opening.
- Earn 3 points for every $1 you spend on Southwest Airlines® purchases.
- 9,000 bonus points after your CardMember anniversary
- Four upgraded boardings per year when available
- No foreign transaction fees
- In-flight wifi credits
- High annual fee
- Limited rewards flexibility, since most travel perks are tied to Southwest Airlines
Capital One Business Credit Cards
Capital One offers five different Spark Business Credit Cards, which are divided into two categories: cash back, and travel rewards. Both types of cards offer options with no annual fee.
- Spark Cash Back Rewards: The three cash back rewards cards will get you anywhere from 1% to 2% unlimited cash back rewards on every purchase. This “line” includes three different cards, and the one you qualify for is based on your credit history; the better your credit history, the more you get in terms of rewards and new cardmember offers (e.g., larger cash bonus when you spend a certain amount within the first three months of opening your account). The Spark 2% Cash card has an annual fee of $95 after the first year, while the other two cards do not have any annual fees.
- Spark Travel Rewards: There are two options available in this “line.” The Spark 2X Miles card allows users to earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, with no minimums or expiration date, as well as a bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $4,500 in the first 3 months. The Spark 1.5X Miles Select Card gives customers Unlimited 1.5X miles on every purchase, with no minimums or expiration date, and a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months. Both cards let users transfer miles to more than 10 different airlines.
- Options with no annual fees
- No foreign transaction fees
- Easy integration with some of the major accounting sites
- Higher interest rates on certain cards
- Excellent credit needed to qualify
Wells Fargo Business Credit Cards
There are three different Wells Fargo business credit cards to choose from, each of which have their own benefits for cash back and rewards.
- The Business Platinum Visa comes with a welcome offer of cash or points redeemable for rewards, as well as future cash back or points on all purchases and a 0% introductory rate for the first nine months on purchases. Balance transfers don’t qualify for the introductory rate.
- The Business Secured Mastercard features either cashback or reward points on all purchases, a $500-$25,000 credit line, and zero-liability protection.
- The Business Elite Visa Signature Card is geared towards businesses with annual sales over $1 million. New users get a one-time $1,000 cash back bonus or 100,000 bonus points when you spend $25,000 in the first three months of account open date, and no annual fee for the first year. All users reimbursement for travel fees up to $100.
- Redeem points for a wide range of rewards, like travel and gift cards
- Flexibility to choose between cash back or rewards points
- Points expire after a certain time period
- Most cards have an annual fee
Citi Business Credit Cards
Citi offers two business credit cards through airline and retail partnerships:
- CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard: Earn up to 60,000 bonus miles within 3 months of signup, and additional points on future purchases redeemable for airfare and other travel benefits. There is no annual fee for the first year.
- Costco Anywhere Visa Business Card By Citi: Earn cashback for all purchases with no annual fee; you only have to pay for a Costco membership.
- Generous welcome bonus if you meet minimum spending requirements
- No foreign transaction fees
- $99 annual fee
- High APR
- Travel rewards are limited to American Airlines
Chase Business Credit Cards
Chase Bank gives business customers three different options with its Chase Ink business credit cards.
- Chase Ink Business Unlimited: This is Chase Ink’s basic business card, but it comes with solid benefits, including unlimited 1.5% cash back rewards, and $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchase in the first 3 months after account opening.
- Chase Ink Business Cash: This card also offers cashback rewards, including 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year, as well as 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year.
- Chase Ink Business Preferred Card: Get 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. Customers also earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, and on advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year.
- 0% APR for the first 12 months for Business Unlimited and Business Cash cards
- Fraud Protection, Purchase Protection, personalized Account Alerts, and more
- Travel and purchase coverage
- $95 annual fee for Business Preferred card
- Foreign transaction fees for Business Unlimited and Business Cash cards
How do I Get a Business Credit Card?
Applying for business credit may seem daunting, but when you break down the process, it involves five simple steps — some you’ve likely already completed.
1. Decide whether you will incorporate your business
Any for-profit organization can apply for a business credit card, no matter the size of the operation. Freelancers and solopreneurs selling goods online are eligible to apply for these types of cards as well. Although some business owners opt to form a registered business or LLC, it’s not a prerequisite for obtaining a business credit card; some credit card providers allow sole proprietors.
2. Build your business credit
Although your personal credit is separate from your business credit, a low personal credit rating can affect your ability to qualify for a business credit card, especially if your business is relatively new. The good news is, you can increase your personal credit score. Learn more about how to improve your personal credit.
You can check your business credit report through credit reporting agencies like Dun & Bradstreet or Experian. Business credit scores range from 1 to 100, with scores of 80 or above considered very good.
If you need to improve your business credit score, try the following steps:
- Pay your bills on time
- Decrease your credit utilization ratio, keeping it under 15% as much as possible
- Establish credit accounts with suppliers with whom you have a good payment relationship, to increase the number of positive payments in your file
- Add as many positive payment experiences to your file as possible
- Dispute any errors and inquiries, as these can negatively impact your business credit score
3. Apply for an EIN
If you don’t already have one, you’ll need an Employer Identification Number to apply for a business credit card. An EIN number is issued by the Internal Revenue Service and shows that your business is legitimate. Freelancers and solopreneurs can use their Social Security Numbers, though they’ll be held personally accountable for paying the bill.
4. Gather all the required information
The process is similar to applying for a personal credit card, but you’ll need to provide additional information related to your business, such as:
- Your business name
- A tax ID (also known as an EIN), if it’s separate from your personal Social Security Number
- Your business type and the industry in which you are operating
- Business address, phone number, and other contact details
- Length of time in business
- Number of employees
- Annual revenue and estimated monthly spending — you will likely have to “prove” that these values are legitimate by providing tax returns and bank account statements to the credit card company
During the application process, you may need to pay an application fee, though, we found that most credit cards do not ask for one. Regardless, it’s best to double check before you apply.
Whether you should proceed with an application that requires a fee depends on your situation — you may decide that the card offers you enough benefits and that you are a strong enough candidate that the benefits outweigh the costs.
5. Comparison shop multiple business credit cards
The key to choosing the right business credit card is understanding the different features and perks, and knowing what you need from your card. While all reward offers seem attractive, some of them may be more beneficial than others for your particular needs.
You should look at different providers, as well as the different types of cards individual providers offer. While there are an almost overwhelming number of different cards available, comparing about 5 cards should be sufficient to finding one that works for you.
Also consider the companies with whom you do business. You will want to choose a card that they will accept. Visa and Mastercard are the most commonly accepted types of credit cards, while fewer places accept American Express and Discover.
Read customer testimonials, as they can provide useful information about customer service, using rewards, and more. You can also ask your professional and personal networks for recommendations.
What is a business credit score?
A business credit score reflects your business’s payment history. Dun & Bradstreet collects and processes your payment history and generates what it calls a Paydex score, which is a number between zero and 100. A score between 80-100 is considered good. Business credit scores are also tabulated by Experian and Equifax.
How do I check my credit score?
To check your personal credit score, you can obtain a report from myfico.com. That report will contain scores from all three consumer reporting bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. To check your business’s credit score, contact Dun & Bradstreet, Experian, or Equifax. You will likely have to pay a fee to obtain your credit reports.
Can I get a business credit card with bad personal credit?
Yes, it’s likely you can obtain a business credit card even if you have poor personal credit. Your options may be a secured card and/or one that requires a personal guarantee. You may receive fewer benefits and your interest rate and fees may be higher, but such a card can help you improve your credit history.
How do I improve my credit score?
Building your business credit and improving your personal credit score requires time and education. Practical steps include paying your bills on time, maintaining a good credit utilization ratio, and monitoring your credit. Explore Dun & Bradstreet’s CreditSignal service for monitoring and helpful educational articles on business credit.
Can I get a business credit card if my business is just getting started?
Yes, it’s possible to obtain a business credit card if your business is brand new. In this scenario, the bank will base its decision mainly on your personal credit score and history as well as your annual income. Be prepared to provide your EIN and business formation documents.
Is getting a small business credit card worth it?
Obtaining a business credit card can help you fund your day-to-day business operations, earn rewards, and build your business’ credit history. Remember, such cards aren’t one-size-fits-all, so before you sign up for one, be sure to consider what the credit card company offers in terms of interest rates and financial perks.
What is the best credit card for small business owners?
The small business credit card that is ideal for your business will depend on your unique needs, and what features are most important to you. Your credit score may also impact the offers that you receive from different credit card companies. A higher credit score typically means that you will receive better offers from credit card companies who want customers like you.