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The best small business credit cards in 2021:
|Category||Small business credit card|
|Best sign-up bonus:||Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card|
|Best for premium travel benefits:||The Business Platinum Card® from American Express|
|Earns travel points with no annual fee:||The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express|
|Best cash-back business card:||Capital One Spark Cash for Business|
|Earn 2x miles no matter what you buy:||Capital One Spark Miles for Business|
|Maximize Chase Ultimate Rewards points OR cash back:||Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card|
|Best for big spenders:||American Express® Business Gold Card|
|If your business spends a lot on office supplies and wireless:||Ink Business Cash® Credit Card|
|If you only use one business credit card:||Brex Corporate Card for Startups and the Brex Corporate Card for Ecommerce|
Whether you're a freelancer, someone with a side gig, or you run a business with 15 employees, keeping your personal and business finances separate is vital. Things can get muddy quickly when you're cutting personal and business checks from the same account. That's where business credit cards come in.
Even the smallest of businesses are eligible for business credit cards, such as freelancers, individuals with side gigs, or even people who resell things on eBay. And if you're a bigger business — or aspire to grow into one, with employees and more resources — a business credit card will not only help separate expenses, but it will also help you establish business credit, so that you have flexibility later on with loans and leases. Plus, you can get additional authorized cards for employees as needed.
Best sign-up bonus: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
If you're looking to earn valuable, flexible rewards points on your small business spending, the Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) ecosystem is among the best options. If you already have one of Chase's popular personal rewards cards — like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve® — the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card is an ideal business card companion.
Like those cards, the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card earns UR points, and while you can keep them on that card and separate from the rest of your stash, you can also combine them with the rest of your points. These points can be traded for cash back, transferred to frequent flyer and hotel loyalty partners, or used to purchase travel with a 25% bonus (or a 50% bonus if you move your points over to your Chase Sapphire Reserve®).
What the experts love: A great sign-up bonus, 3x points on up to $150,000 spent per year in select popular business categories.
What the experts don't love: You have to spend $15,000 in the first three months to earn the 100,000-point welcome bonus, so this offer won't be ideal for smaller businesses with less spending.
Read more about the Ink Business Preferred:
- Ink Business Preferred credit card review
- I put 90% of my small business spending on Chase's Ink Business Preferred card to get more points, easier redemptions, and no foreign transaction fees
Best for premium travel perks: The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
The small business version of American Express' famed Platinum Card used to be our pick for the top business card, but the annual fee has since increased and it's become a bit more of a niche product — potentially useful for mid-sized businesses that spend a lot on flights and travel, but less valuable for sole proprietors and very small operations.
What the experts love: Lots of perks, including statement credits, plus 5x points on airfare and prepaid hotels when you book through Amex Travel
What the experts don't love: Very high annual fee of $595 (See Rates), plus a high minimum spending requirement to earn the welcome bonus. Says Benét Wilson, credit cards editor at The Points Guy, "If you don't travel a lot, this may not be your best choice since you don't earn higher points on spending categories most popular for businesses."
Read more about the Business Platinum card:
Earns travel points with no annual fee (See Rates): The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express doesn't usually have a welcome offer, and that might be enough to turn many people away from it. However, it's the rare points-earning business card that doesn't charge an annual fee; you'll earn 2 points per dollar on the first $50,000 you spend each calendar year, with no bonus categories to keep track of.
According to The Points Guy, Amex points are worth 2 cents apiece, so you're getting a 4% return on all your business spending up to $50,000 each year.
What the experts love: 2x points on up to $50,000 spent per year (then 1x), with no annual fee. "Plus, pay no interest on new purchases for the first year. That's very helpful for small business owners," says Sara Rathner, credit card expert at NerdWallet.
What the experts don't love: "If you're looking for a lucrative welcome offer to give you an instant points boost, this isn't the card to give you that," says Benét Wilson.
Read more about the Blue Business Plus card:
Best cash-back business card: Capital One Spark Cash for Business
The Capital One Spark Cash for Business earns unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases. That's it. No categories, no points values or conversions, no redemption minimums. Rewards won't expire for the life of the account, and you can redeem any amount of cash back. The card has a $95 annual fee, waived the first year.
At first glance, The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express might seem like a better option, since it earns 2x points and doesn't have an annual fee. However, keep in mind that while 2x points may be more valuable than 2% cash if you redeem strategically for travel by transferring to partners, Membership Rewards points can't be redeemed outright for cash. You can redeem them for a statement credit, but they'll only be worth 0.6 cents each. That means that effectively, the Amex card only offers 1.2% "cash" back, compared to the no-strings-attached 2% from the Capital One Spark Cash for Business.
What the experts love: You earn the same 2% back everywhere, annual fee waived the first year
What the experts don't love: Other business credit cards offer a great return on spending in some purchase categories, and some offer higher welcome bonuses as well.
Read more about the Capital One Spark Cash card:
Earn 2x miles on everything: Capital One Spark Miles for Business
The Capital One Spark Miles for Business is a great option if you don't want a complicated rewards credit card strategy but you want choices in how you redeem your miles from the one card you do use. You can transfer them to more than 10 airline partners or you can use miles to "wipe" your business' travel expenses from your credit card statement. Beyond that, you can redeem miles for cash back or gift cards. So if you don't want to be locked into just one way to use your rewards, this card could make sense.
What the experts love: "The flat 2 miles per dollar spent that you earn on this card transfer to more than a dozen airline and hotel partners, plus you earn 5x miles on hotels and rental cars booked with the card through Capital One Travel," says Wilson.
What the experts don't love: N0 0% APR period, not as many perks as some other cards with a $95 annual fee
Read more about the Spark Miles for Business card:
- Capital One Spark Miles for Business review
- Capital One Spark Miles vs. Capital One Spark Cash card comparison
If you want to maximize Chase points and cash back: Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card
The newest card in Chase's business portfolio, the Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card is a simple one at first glance — earn unlimited 1.5% cash back. However, just like the consumer Chase Freedom® and Chase Freedom Unlimited® cards, the Ink Business Unlimited has a trick up its sleeve. Although the card is marketed as "cash back," it actually earns Ultimate Rewards points that you can redeem for cash (1 point = $0.01).
That means that you can combine the points earned from the Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card with the ones you earn from cards like the Ink Preferred, or the personal Sapphire Reserve, and either earn a bonus when you redeem them for travel through Chase, or transfer them to travel partners. Combined with an Ink Preferred, you'll get a guaranteed 1.5–3 points per dollar spent.
What the experts love: "The current sign-up bonus is worth $750, which is especially impressive for a no-annual-fee card," says Silbert.
What the experts don't love: This card isn't as valuable on its own — you need another Chase card to truly maximize the rewards.
Read more about the Ink Business Unlimited card:
- Ink Business Unlimited card review
- The Chase Ink business cards all come with hefty sign-up bonuses, and the best one depends mostly on how you spend and travel
Best for big spenders: American Express® Business Gold Card
If you don't want to pay the higher annual fee of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, the American Express® Business Gold Card is a good alternative. And depending on your spending habits, the Business Gold could actually be a more rewarding choice, thanks to the ability to earn 4x points on popular business spending categories on the first $150,000 in combined purchases each calendar year in the two select categories where your business spent the most each month; then 1x.
What the experts love: High level of customization when it comes to where you earn the most rewards
What the experts don't love: Wilson notes that it's the only premium Amex card that doesn't offer a statement credit to offset the annual fee.
Best for office supplies and wireless: Ink Business Cash® Credit Card
The Ink Business Cash® Credit Card is another solid Chase entry, and just like with the Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card, you can pool the "cash" you earn with points from a points-earning card, effectively converting your cash into (potentially) more valuable points.
Ink Business Cash® Credit Card is an especially good option if you can maximize its bonus categories, including office supply stores, internet, cable, and restaurants, among others.
What the experts love: No annual fee, you can earn up to 5% cash back
What the experts don't love: Not the best option if you don't spend a lot within the 5% cash-back categories
Read more about the Ink Business Cash card:
- Ink Business Cash card review
- The Chase Ink Business Unlimited and Ink Business Cash are both great cards with no annual fee — the better option for you depends on your spending
If you only use one business credit card: Brex Corporate Card for Startups and the Brex Corporate Card for Ecommerce
Brex offers two versions of its unique business credit card: the Brex Corporate Card for Startups and the Brex Corporate Card for Ecommerce. The card stands out because it doesn't require any personal guarantees, and it offers strong rewards for customers who make Brex their exclusive corporate card (7x points on rideshare and 3x points at restaurants and coffee shops, for example).
The Brex Corporate Card for Ecommerce offers a credit limit of 5o% to 100% of your projected monthly sales, up to $5 million, while Brex says the Brex Corporate Card for Startups offers up to 20 times higher credit limits than competing cards.
You can transfer Brex points to seven airline partners, including JetBlue, which was the most recent addition.
What the experts love: "Generally with small-business cards, if your business can't pay the bill, you're liable to pay it out of your personal accounts. The Brex card doesn't require this, nor does it require an established personal credit history. It's a rare card designed for startup founders," says NerdWallet's Rathner.
What the experts don't love: The card is only available to US corporations and other forms of non-individual liability companies, such as LLCs, LLPs, C-corps, and S-corps, plus you must have at least $100,000 in a business bank account to qualify, notes Wilson.
Airline business credit cards
Welcome offer: Varies
If you fly often for work, and you're loyal to one particular airline, then it could be worth getting an airline's business credit card. In addition to earning frequent flyer miles on every purchase, you'll get a variety of perks like free checked bags and priority boarding.
Each airline card's terms and benefits are slightly different, but these are some of the best options to consider for your business.
- Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card
- Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card
- Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card
- United℠ Business Card
- United℠ Club Business Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card
- Alaska Airlines Visa® Business credit card
Hotel business credit cards
Welcome offer: Varies
If you frequently travel for business, a hotel business credit card could also make sense. You'll earn hotel points on all your spending, and some cards offer complimentary elite status and annual free reward nights.
The benefits and bonuses vary, but here are some top options to consider:
Frequently asked questions
How did we choose the best business credit cards?
Personal Finance Insider evaluated dozens of business credit cards that are currently open to new applicants, and narrowed the list down based on the following criteria:
- Sign-up bonus — does the card offer a valuable welcome bonus to new cardholders who meet a minimum spending requirement in the first three months after opening the card?
- Ongoing rewards — beyond the welcome bonus, does the card offer a competitive rate of points or cash back on purchases?
- Other features — does the card come with any additional benefits, such as travel protection, free employ cards, or car rental coverage?
- Annual fee — if the card has an annual fee, does it offer enough benefits to justify it?
What's the difference between a personal credit card and a business credit card?
While personal credit cards are intended for any types of purchases, business credit cards are targeted toward small business owners. That doesn't mean you need a large established company to apply for a business credit card; even if you're a freelancer you can get approved for a business card provided you meet the bank's application requirements.
Business credit cards usually offer different rewards and benefits than personal credit cards. For example, a business card may earn bonus rewards on purchases at office supply stores, and it may offer free cards for employees. Plus, business cards can have higher credit limits than personal credit cards, and in most cases, the activity on a business card won't affect your personal credit report (although if you default on the business card, the card issuer can still come after you personally).
Who has the best business credit card?
American Express, Chase, Citi, Capital One, and other issuers all offer solid options when it comes to business credit cards. The best choice for you depends on what benefits you value, and how much of an annual fee you're willing to pay.
If you want a rewards credit card with all the bells and whistles, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express is a good choice. If you care less about perks like airport lounge access and annual statement credits, a more straightforward card that earns bonus rewards on all your spending, a card like the Capital One Spark Miles for Business could be a better fit.
How do I qualify for a business credit card?
The good news is that it's easier to qualify for a business credit card than you may think. If you do any freelancing or a side gig, such as driving for Uber or selling items on eBay, you can typically qualify for a business credit card as a sole proprietor. In this case, you are personally on the hook for your business' debts.
Small business owners who aren't sole proprietors can qualify for business cards too. If you have a larger business with employees, you may be asked to include Employer Identification Number number on your credit card application.
What do I put on a business credit card application?
If you're a sole proprietor, you can apply for a business card using your Social Security number. You should put down your legal name as the business name. If you have a business with employees, you'll need to answer questions about your business size, type, and revenue, in addition to providing your SSN and your EIN (if requested).
What's the difference between a business credit card and a corporate credit card?
With a business credit card, the primary cardholder is responsible for the debts on the card and for any fees that are incurred. A corporate card is issued by a company to its employees, and the company is responsible for paying that card. With a corporate card, you generally won't earn rewards (and you also usually won't be on the hook for whatever you charge to it), while with a business card in your name, you get to keep whatever rewards you earn through your spending.
Our expert panel for this guide
We consulted top credit card experts from NerdWallet and The Points Guy, a certified financial planner, and our own credit cards editor to inform our picks for the best business credit cards. We also interviewed them about how to find the best small business credit card for you — you'll find the whole text of our interviews at the bottom of this page.
How our list compares to other publications
Opening a new credit card isn't a decision you should make lightly — it involves plenty of research and cross-checking top experts' lists. To help streamline your decision-making process, we've compared our list of the best business credit cards to other top publications' recommendations.
The experts' advice on choosing the best business credit card for you
We interviewed three credit card experts and one financial planner about what to look for if you're considering opening a business credit card. You can find the full text of our interviews below (some answers may be lightly edited for clarity).
What features make a business credit card good?
The rewards need to be in line with your business' typical spending. An ultra-high bonus isn't worth overspending for. And what good is extra cash back if it's for types of purchases you'll never make?
The ability to easily provide corporate cards to employees with their own spending limits, plus a strong sign-up bonuses and cash-back or rewards programs.
A good business credit card will reward your company on the purchases it makes most frequently. It will also offer benefits to make your life easier, such as free employee credit cards and travel perks.
If you spend a lot on specific categories (like travel, office supplies, dining and internet/wireless), then you want a card that offers top points per dollar spent on them. You want free employee cards and tools that help you balance the books. Plus you need broad options to redeem your points (travel, statement credits, gift cards).
How should someone approach finding the best business credit card for their specific situation?
Sara Rathner, NerdWallet:
Before applying, know how much you spend, and on what. From there, you can find the cards that reward you the most for what your business already does.
Luis Rosa, CFP:
Benefits will vary from solopreneurs to bigger businesses so make the decision based on spending patterns or anticipated future purchases.
Sarah Silbert, Personal Finance Insider:
If there are any specific benefits you want from a business credit card, start there. For example, not every business card comes with airport lounge access. If you don't have any particular perks in mind, consider whether you want to earn cash back or travel rewards — that decision alone will narrow down your options. From there, take a look at the credit card options and evaluate their benefits. If you're looking at a card with an annual fee, make sure it's worth it for you. You won't want to pay hundreds of dollars per year for a card if you never put its luxury travel perks to use.
Benét Wilson, The Points Guy:
Look for a business credit card that can help you maximize your purchases, separate your expenses and save money on interest each year. Do you prefer earning cash-back rewards, airline miles, hotel points, or transferable currencies? Are you willing to pay an annual fee? What categories does your business spend the most in each year? Do you or your employees travel frequently and if so, would there be a benefit in having hotel elite status or a checked bag allowance when flying?
Is there anything else you'd tell someone looking to open a business credit card?
Sara Rathner, NerdWallet:
Remember that you're personally liable to cover any unpaid credit card bills if your business fails. Spend carefully.
Luis Rosa, CFP:
Keep in mind that if you assign employees cards you and the business are still ultimately responsible for the charges on those cards.
For rates and fees of The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card, please click here.
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. We occasionally highlight financial products and services that can help you make smarter decisions with your money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we get a small share of the revenue from our commerce partners. This does not influence whether we feature a financial product or service. We operate independently from our advertising sales team.
Please note: While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they're subject to change at any time and may have changed, or may no longer be available.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Business Gold Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card, please click here.