Best Business Credit Cards of April 2020

Lyle is a writer specializing in credit cards, travel rewards programs, and banking. His work has also appeared on MSN Money, USA Today, and Yahoo! Finance.

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Whether you have a business with dozens of employees or you're a sole proprietor, a business credit card could offer you money-saving benefits. In our list of the best business credit cards, you'll see the leading options for business owners interested in cash back, travel rewards, and zero-interest financing offers.

Ratings Methodology
2% cash back
Rewards

Unlimited 2% cash back

Annual Fee

$0 intro for first year; $95 after that

Intro APR

Purchases: N/A
Balance Transfers: N/A

Ongoing APR

18.49% Variable

Bonuses & Perks

$500 cash bonus after spending $4,500 within the first three months, free employee cards

Highlights
  • Earn a one-time $500 cash bonus once you spend $4,500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 2% cash back for your business on every purchase, everywhere, no limits or category restrictions
  • $0 annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
  • Free employee cards, which also earn unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases
  • $0 Fraud Liability if your card is lost or stolen
  • Rewards won't expire for the life of the account, and you can redeem your cash back for any amount
  • No foreign transaction fees

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When you shop for business credit cards, you'll probably have questions. What makes a business card different from a regular credit card? Do you need a business credit card? How can you know if you'll qualify for this type of credit card?

Fortunately, business credit cards aren't that complicated. It's worth learning how they work and what makes them special, because their perks can be invaluable for businesses large and small.

What is a business credit card?

Credit cards for business use typically have a few features that personal credit cards don't, including higher credit limits, more travel perks, and higher limits on the free insurance you get when you make a purchase.

Here's how business cards differ from personal cards:

  • Business-focused rewards: Business cards often pay out bonus rewards for spending in bonus categories. Some offer bonuses for spending on phone bills, office supplies, online advertising, and other common business expenses.
  • High credit limits: Businesses simply have larger spending needs than individuals, so business credit cards are typically high-limit credit cards. The average person might not need to swipe a personal card for a $25,000 purchase, but many businesses pay large bills from suppliers and vendors.
  • Perks for business users: Some cards offer features for frequent fliers, like credits to pay for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, airport lounge access, and increased travel insurance. They also typically offer no foreign transaction fees, so you won't have to worry about that added cost when you make purchases with companies who process payments through a foreign bank.
  • Credit bureau reporting: Business cards report to business-specific credit scoring databases, helping you build credit as a business.

What to look for in a business credit card?

There are several features to look for in a business credit card, including:

  • High rewards rate: You can find cash back and travel rewards business credit cards. With either option, you should look for a card that earns a high flat rate on every purchase, or one that earns extra in the categories where your business spends quite a bit.
  • 0% intro APR offer: If you have any major business expenses coming up that you need to finance, a business card with a 0% intro APR is a great choice. You can pay off those expenses interest-free until the end of the card's intro period. Note that the interest rate will increase after the intro offer expires, so it's imperative to pay down your balance before that happens. For expenses that will take much longer to pay off, it's worth checking whether a business loan or credit card will save you more money.
  • Expense tracking: Many business cards include detailed information on how your business spends money. This can help you budget and ensure you're using money wisely.
  • Free employee cards: If you have employees or plan to hire employees in the future, then you may want the option to issue employee credit cards free of charge. Also look for an option to adjust credit limits on employee cards so no employee can max out your card account.
  • Big sign-up bonus: Although a sign-up bonus isn't exactly a must on a business credit card, it's nice to earn a large chunk of cash back or travel points shortly after getting your card.

What do I need to know about business cards?

What people often don't realize about business credit cards is that you can get one surprisingly early in your business's lifespan, and it's smart to do so.

In fact, you don't need a registered business to apply for a business credit card. Card issuers let you apply as a sole proprietor, using your Social Security number. The business also doesn't have to be profitable yet. Your application can get approved based on your personal income. When you apply for a business credit card, the card issuer will look at your personal financial information and credit history.

While there are many benefits to business credit cards, the primary reason it's so important to have one is to keep your personal and business expenses separate. It's harder to track spending separately for yourself and your business if all your expenses are mixed together on the same card. During tax season, you'll be happy you got a business credit card when you can review your card's expense reports for deductions.

How to compare business credit cards

The best way to compare business credit cards is to first figure out what benefits you need most.

For the typical business owner, rewards are a priority, since they earn you a percentage back on all your business expenses. If that's the case for you, then here's how you would choose a business credit card:

  • Decide whether you prefer a cash-back card or a travel rewards card.
  • Check the rewards rates (how much a card earns back on each purchase).
  • Review any spending caps on bonus rewards. For example, a card may earn 5% back on the first $25,000 you spend per year in select bonus categories. That spending cap may not be a problem for many businesses, but it could if your business spends $5,000 or more in that category each month.

Depending on your and your business's needs, you may prioritize something different in a business credit card. If you need to borrow money to finance an expense, for instance, then you should compare cards based on intro APR offers. If your credit isn't the best, then look for business cards you can get without a good credit score.

Is a business card right for me?

Business credit cards offer a lot of spending power, but that comes with a lot of responsibility, too. Here's a checklist to help you decide if a business card is right for you.

  • You own your own business. At the risk of stating the obvious, owning a business is a prerequisite to getting a business credit card. It doesn't have to be a big business -- it could just be a side gig -- but you should have some reasonable need for a business card to apply for one.
  • You want to establish a business banking relationship and credit. This is one of the best reasons to apply for a business card. Having a relationship with a major bank can be useful if your business will need other forms of financing at a later time to purchase things like cars, equipment, or real estate.
  • You won't carry a balance. There are very few businesses that can afford to pay double-digit interest rates to borrow money. Credit cards are one of the most expensive sources of financing, so credit cards are best used as a payment method, not a financing method.
  • You're willing to be personally liable. Charges you make to a business credit card can be a personal liability, and though many business cards will not report good payment history to the personal credit bureaus, they will report it if your account is seriously delinquent. For this reason, a business credit card is not usually a good solution for building personal credit history.

FAQs

  • Getting a business credit card isn’t always as easy as getting a personal credit card. Given that business card users tend to spend more heavily than personal card users, the underwriting process can be a little more stringent.

    Here are some things that will make it more likely you’re approved:

    • Have good to excellent personal credit scores -- Most, but not all, business cards require very good or excellent credit. A credit score above 720, the point at which you are said to be a “prime” borrower, is ideal. While credit card companies will consider the business’s earnings and creditworthiness when they decide whether or not to approve an applicant for a card, personal credit scores are also very important to underwriting decisions.
    • Have business history -- While it’s possible to get a business credit card for a start-up or young business based on the applicant’s personal credit history, applicants who have an established business are more likely to get instant approval for business credit cards. Card issuers can look through government databases to see when your LLC was initially formed, for example.
    • Use an EIN on the application -- An EIN, or employment identification number, is to a business what a social security number (SSN) is to an individual. Data points suggest that applicants who put their businesses’ EIN and their personal SSN on an application are more likely to get approved than people who only use a SSN, though this varies by card issuer.
    • Apply for the right card -- Our list of the best business cards includes cards that go up and down the credit spectrum. As a rule of thumb, cards with a lower minimum credit line are more likely to approve people with lower spending needs and credit scores than cards with higher minimum credit limits.
  • One of the interesting things about business cards is that, besides elevated rewards rates, you don’t have to pay an annual fee to get additional perks from a business card.

    For example, if you want a personal card that offers primary insurance against rental car damage, the least expensive option carries an annual fee of $95. However, business cards are different. Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business offers primary auto rental coverage for vehicles rented for business use, and it doesn’t carry an annual fee.

    Therefore, we tend to think that it’s worth paying an annual fee only if you spend so much that a higher rewards rate pays for the annual fee. The table below compares two popular Capital One business cards on the basis of rewards and annual fees.

  • The best business credit cards require good credit, and that range starts at a FICO® Score of 670. Of course, a higher score is always better when applying for credit cards.

    There are business credit cards available to those with lower scores. Depending on the card you choose, you could qualify even with a credit score below 600. However, these cards won't offer nearly as many benefits. If possible, it's better to improve your credit first so you can qualify for a card that will help your business more.

  • A business credit card generally won't affect your personal credit score, but there are exceptions. The card issuer will run a hard credit inquiry when you apply for the card. Hard inquiries lower your credit score by a small amount (less than five points on average). If you miss payments on your business card and the account goes to collections, that will cause a significant drop in your credit score.

    There are also a few card issuers that report activity from their business credit cards to personal credit bureaus. If you have a business card with one of these card issuers, then your business card's balance and payment history can affect your credit score.

The Ascent's picks for the best business credit cards:
Card Business Reward Great For
Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business Graphic of Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business Business Reward:

Flat 2% cash back reward

Great For:

Sign-up bonus and cash rewards

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