Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.
Because business expenses can vary widely from day to day, business owners often require a card that can adjust seamlessly with their needs. Charge cards can do that. Unlike regular business credit cards, they have no preset spending limit, but their balances almost always have to be paid in full every month. Plenty of cards cater to businesses, but the Nerds have found a few that stand out:
For power over payment: The Plum Card® from American Express
The Plum Card® from American Express turns the traditional premise of charge cards on its head by giving you the option to either pay your bill in full or defer a portion of it for up to 60 days. Each month, cardholders can:
Pay later with no penalty: Cardholders can defer a portion of their bill for up to 60 days by making at least the minimum monthly payment by the due date. With no interest or fees (if the balance is eventually paid in full), this essentially gives businesses owners a free 60-day credit line.
Pay early and get a discount: If you choose to make at least the minimum payment on your bill within 10 days of your statement's closing date, you'll receive 1.5% of that payment as a credit on the next month's statement. For example: If your total bill is $1,000 and you pay $100 within the 10-day window, your next bill will be reduced by $1.50.
Paying your bill on time but outside the 10-day window results in no added drawback or benefit.
These options let business owners decide what to do with their money each month. If business is good, and you can afford to pay your card balance within the discount period, you'll pay less on the next bill. If business is a little sluggish, and cash is better spent on operating costs, you can pay a small portion of what's owed and cover the rest the next month.
With a $0 intro for the first year, then $250, new cardholders can decide whether this card is the best option for their needs before committing to an annual fee.
For flexible rewards: American Express® Business Gold Card
Businesses spend heavily in different areas. The American Express® Business Gold Card automatically determines which categories will earn the highest rewards, based on your spending habits.
The card earns 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent in two bonus categories (from a list of six) where cardholders spend the most each billing cycle (up to the first $150,000 in combined purchases per year; then 1 point back):
Airfare purchased directly from airlines.
U.S. purchases at restaurants.
U.S. purchases for advertising in select media (online, TV, radio).
U.S. purchases at gas stations.
U.S. purchases made directly from select technology providers of computer hardware, software and cloud solutions.
U.S. purchases for shipping.
Other spending earns 1 point per dollar spent. Terms apply.
Membership Rewards points can be redeemed for a variety of travel options, gift cards, or simply a statement credit, so you'll have little trouble finding a use for your points.
The card's annual fee is $295.
For frequent travelers: The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
If your work calls for frequent flying and lengthy layovers, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express can make travel slightly less taxing with some of the best airport amenities around, such as:
Airport lounge access: This card offers free access to the AmEx Global Lounge Collection that includes 1,000 lounges worldwide and could help make the time in an airport terminal more bearable.
Speed through security: Getting through security can be a breeze, as cardholders receive a $100 credit for Global Entry enrollment or $85 toward TSA PreCheck every five years. You'll have to apply and pay the fee, but as long as you do it with your card, it will be covered.
Airline fee credit: An additional $200 annual credit for airline fees (checked bags, change fees, in-flight refreshments) makes The Business Platinum Card® from American Express an ideal choice for those looking to travel as comfortably as possible. Just be sure to select which airline you'd like the credit to apply toward before charging.
No foreign transaction fee: Forget paying foreign transaction fees — this card comes without added charges when swiping abroad.
As for earning rewards, this card offers 1 Membership Rewards point per dollar spent on most purchases and 5 points per dollar spent on flights and prepaid hotels booked through the American Express Travel website. Individual purchases of $5,000 or more earn 1.5 points per dollar. Points can be redeemed directly for travel through AmEx's travel platform, or even transferred to the participating frequent-flier programs of your choice.
You'll even start off with a generous welcome bonus: Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms apply. Keep in mind that the annual fee is $595. But if you're the type of frequent traveler who will benefit most from this card, that fee can be easily offset by the many statement credits available for purchases you're bound to make anyway.
If your business needs to spend without a preset ceiling, getting a charge card is the way to go. Just be sure to find one that molds to your custom spending habits and business style.