Combining business credit cards with other rewards cards
Each of these business credit cards comes with its own perks and pitfalls. That’s why, sometimes, it pays to have more than one. That way you can use one card for your primary spending while you can benefit from the rewards of another. We call these “power pairings” and listed below are just a few pairs you can consider from our 2017 list of the best business credit cards.
Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express
We’ve already explained all the crucial benefits the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card can bring to small businesses. However, what about the businessman that needs to travel? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could have your small business credit card while also staying at some of the best hotels worldwide? Well, now you can, when you pair your Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card with hotel rewards cards like the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express. Sign up for the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express, and you can start making those 25,000 signup bonus points work for you towards hotel stays and airfares. Just use your new card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. And, if you’re meeting a business contact for dinner, you can use the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card to earn rewards at participating restaurants.
SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express and Discover it® Miles
When you’re a digital nomad or a freelancer who needs to travel, there are two things that matter more than anything: travel accommodations and staying connected. We have already gone into detail about all of the travel benefits made possible by the Discover it® Miles card, but there’s more.
In addition to racking up those travel miles, you could receive 5% cash back on wireless phone service expenses by using the SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express. Not only that, but the SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express also lets you earn 3% cash back on the rewards categories of your choice. On top of all that, neither of these cards will hit you with an annual fee. With this pairing, you’re free to travel the world and keep in touch with your clients.
If your business has made it to the top, you may be searching for ways to make your business travel more comfortable instead of pinching pennies on day-to-day expenses. The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN and The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN can serve you well because they are loaded with premium travel benefits that help you relax and travel in style.
The trade-off is cost: The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN carries a $450 annual fee, while The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN will set you back a mere $175 annually.
The king of business travel cards has traditionally been The Platinum Card® from American Express due to its previously unmatched benefits for travel. However, recently it has been losing a bit of its luster. First, there is a $550 annual fee. Then, US Airways/American Airlines severed ties with AMEX for their airport lounge access. The Platinum Card® from American Express has scrambled to try and replace that value.
The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN still excels with airport lounge access with over 1000+ participating lounges through Priority PassTM Select and Airport Club Access programs worldwide. You can use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back. However, if you don’t travel much, none of this means anything to you.
Frequent travelers will enjoy getting 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels booked through the American Express travel site. But, with a $450 annual fee, make sure to check your spending levels to make sure you will get enough value for this card.
Who are small business credit cards good for?
When it comes to business credit cards, it’s never a one-size-fits-all scenario. Sometimes, certain businesses will find something to appreciate in certain cards that others will not. This is also true for any of the designated small business credit cards we have covered. And, while it’s true that businesses of all sizes can apply for a small business credit card, generally these cards are best suited for the following categories:
- Self-employed individuals who travel frequently for work and want to rack up rewards
- Freelancers who need help managing their cash flow
- Consultants who may travel or entertain clients
- Small business owners or freelancers who experience irregular cash flow throughout the month
- Doctors or dentists who are part of their own practice
- Financial advisors
- Salespeople who travel for work and want to maximize travel-related rewards
- Business owners who spend heavily on office supplies and equipment
People who fall in these categories all have certain expenses that can be separated and classified as “business” expenses. These type of expenses can include things like meals, required travel, advertising, business development, entertainment and office space.
Meanwhile, certain types of individuals are employed by an outside company, yet asked to front expenses like gas, meals and parking. Their company is then expected to reimburse them for their purchases, but this arrangement doesn’t preclude them from getting a business credit card. In fact, this may be the type of person who could benefit from a business card the most. By using a card for their business-related expenses, they keep their expenses on a separate tab without messing with their personal cash flow.
Here are some other ways almost anyone could benefit from having a business credit card:
- Individuals who spend a lot in specific categories, such as dining and gas, could choose a card like the SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express, which offers 3% cash back in 8 different categories of your choosing
- Like we mentioned above, individuals who are expected to pay for work-related expenses then get reimbursed can use a business card for those expenses instead of paying for everything with their own money
- Freelancers and digital nomads who do most of their work on the move will benefit most from what the Discover it® Miles card with $0 in annual fees and lots of ways to earn free travel
- Salespeople who drive a lot could benefit from a card with increased earnings on gas purchases, such as the SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express or the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card
How to use a business credit card to manage cash flow
Managing cash flow is crucial to the longevity of your business, big or small. Whether you sit at the head of a large corporation or freelance, it pays to keep track of your cash flow. A business credit card can help, and we’ve put together a handy list of real-life examples that illustrate the impact the right business credit card can have.
Real life example #1
Sometimes a self-employed freelancer will find themselves in that awkward interval waiting to receive payments from various clients. During this period, everyday expenses on office supplies, internet service, and more can pile up. Normally, this freelancer might be out of luck until those payments arrive. However, with a business credit card, those necessary business purchases could be charged temporarily and then paid off once client payments trickle in.
Real life example #2
An owner of a small business (10-12 employees) wraps up a huge project for a client, but payment is forthcoming. Payroll sends an email saying that there are not enough funds in the current budget to maintain business operations and pay the employees. With a business card, all the day-to-day business expenses could be temporarily charged, while freeing up funds to pay the employees on time. And after the client’s payment is received, the company owner could pay off the balance before it accrues interest.
Real life example #3
The CEO of a large business has determined that a purchase of $50,000 worth of equipment is necessary. However, he wants to be able to pay this off over several months without taking out a large loan. In lieu of a loan, the business could utilize a high-limit business credit card. Many cards offer 0% intro APR on purchases, which would function like an interest-free loan if paid in full before the end of the intro period. Plus, the business could earn cash back through the card’s rewards program!
Strategies for maximizing total rewards
One of the great things about business credit cards is that there are lots of little tricks you can do to really maximize your rewards. Tricks as in utilizing the existing rules to your advantage so you can effectively earn rewards in both personal and business expenses. Here are just a few of the strategies we’ve put together to help keep all of those expenses separate while still getting the most out of your business credit cards.
As we have seen, most rewards credit cards offer bonus rewards in certain categories of spending. I sought out a business credit card that earns more points in categories that my personal rewards credit card does not.
For me, Chase has the best combination of personal and business cards on the market right now. For business, I use my Chase Ink Bold®, which earns 5x points on cell phone service, internet service, landline service and office supply stores plus 2x points on gas and hotels. I pair that card with my personal Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which earns 2x points on travel and dining.
If I am out to eat with a client, a business expense, I use my personal Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card instead of my Chase Ink Bold® because I earn double points with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. If I spend on an item outside of any of these bonus categories, I still earn 1 point per dollar, so I’m always earning.
What to watch out for
Combining expenses is all well and good, but you must keep meticulous notes on your expenses and accounting to divorce your business and personal spending. Otherwise, you’ll have to review months of calendar notes, credit card statements, and receipts just to have an accurate accounting of where your expenses lie. There are, however, tools that can help you keep track of everything.
How to avoid these problems
Getting into the habit of good recordkeeping and accounting will help you avoid these problems and manage your finances. There are also lots of valuable tools online that can make this easier, as well as software you can buy. Jot from Chase Business is a prime example, as it lets you categorize your expenses with tags and take pictures of your receipts for easy recordkeeping. No need to hang onto all those paper receipts and rifle through them at the end of the year.
Another great tool is Expensify, which accomplishes the same thing (with a few more bells and whistles). While Jot works with your Chase business credit card, Expensify can be used to manage all of your finances across accounts. You could also try Quickbooks for keeping detailed accounting notes.
All of these tools can promote responsible financial management and, perhaps more importantly, see you through tax season with minimal hassle.
Research the 25 best business credit cards
We’ve put together a directory of the most popular business credit cards as they stand today. Our listing of business credit cards emphasizes the features we feel will be the most beneficial to you in your business endeavors. Check back often as this directory is maintained and updated on a weekly basis to reflect any new changes to the listing.
Business credit cards directory
There’s a lot to take into account when putting together a comprehensive business credit card directory. Luckily, you don’t have to worry about that. We’ve done most of the heavy lifting by considering the annual fees, foreign transaction fees, rewards, signup bonuses, perks, and other characteristics. Based on all of this, we’ve ranked and rated the following business credit cards. This objective comparison of credit cards and features will help you make an informed decision when choosing the card that’s right for you.
Take a moment to sort, filter, or search for what matters most to you in a business credit card.
Perks Tier Level
Sign up Bonus Tier Level
Rewards Tier Level
Great Signup Bonus
Great Ongoing Rewards
No Annual Fee
No Foreign Transaction Fee
Understanding how and why we rate these cards can give you better insight into what cards make our list and which ones are right for you. In order to help explain this further, we have included a detailed outline of all the different factors considered for business credit cards.
A signup bonus refers to a number of extra points or a percentage of cash back offered to a new cardholder. These bonuses tend to be rather large but usually only last for a limited period of time upon activating your account – hence, why they are signup bonuses.
A signup bonus could be as large as 40,000 points or it could offer a lump sum of cash back if you hit a certain purchasing milestone within the first few months. We consider signup bonuses carefully when comparing business credit cards, because they can prove substantial in placing one card over the other.
The business credit cards we have covered above include access to rewards programs. These rewards are the incentive a cardholder receives for making purchases with their card. Rewards can come in different forms, from points accrued for every dollar spent to a specific percentage of cash back per every dollar spent. Furthermore, the amount of rewards you’ll earn for each purchase can vary based on rewards categories. For example, with some cards, you might receive 5% by making specific types of purchases and a flat 1% on all other purchases.
Redemption options refer to all the different ways you can spend the points you’ve accumulated through your rewards program. Some of the best redemption options can be found through business credit cards, since many of them are associated with online rewards platforms like Chase Ultimate Rewards® or American Express Membership Rewards. Redeeming your points through these platforms (with an applicable credit card) can often earn you bonus points on certain types of redemption. Common redemption options include the ability to book travel, redeem for gift cards, and more.
Just like it sounds, rewards rate is the rate at which your purchases on a credit card can earn you points or cash back (rewards). Sometimes this is expressed as a “points per dollar spent” model, while other times you might see a percentage of cash back per dollar spent. Many business credit cards offer as high as 5 points per dollar in particular spending categories (see Rewards categories), plus and 1 point per dollar spent on all other categories.
There are also flat rate rewards cards that reward you two points per dollar on all purchases instead of higher points on only limited categories.
“Rewards categories” refer to the spending categories wherein your credit card can earn more than 1% or one point per every dollar spent. These percentages and point values can vary based on the credit card you are using, with some going as high as 5% or 5 points per every dollar spent. These rewards categories factor into your business purchasing strategy, as they can boost your points just by funding your day-to-day operations. However, these rewards are not without their limitations, and some spending can be capped in certain categories. These limitations can also vary, along with rewards structure. Understanding these limitations and rewards programs can help you compare business cards to find the one that’s best for you.
Perks are the other programs and benefits that add further value to a business credit card. For the most part, these perks entail travel benefits like airline credits, lounge access, or hotel upgrades. When it comes to the very best business cards, those perks can include hotel rewards programs, free Wi-Fi, and premium roadside assistance.
Applying for one of the business cards we’ve covered on this list is a sound business strategy that should not be overlooked. The rewards you could earn on your business-related charges can more than make up for any annual fees. Furthermore, these business credit cards serve as a valuable distinction between your personal and professional expenses. It’s wise to keep your business expenses separate — especially where taxes are concerned. If you’ve found a card that aligns with your spending habits, applying online is quick and easy. Apply today to start earning valuable rewards — and streamlining your business expenses — right away.