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Many banks offer enticing small-business credit cards. However, some of the best small-business cards limit lucrative earning rates. If your small business has significant spending, you'll want to opt for a small-business card with unlimited earning rates.
For example, The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express earns two Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on eligible business purchases. But this earning rate is limited to the first $50,000 in spending. After that, you'll earn 1x points on spending. Terms apply.
Businesses with significant business spending might hit that cap in one month of spending. These small businesses will want to opt for other cards that offer uncapped 2% cash back earnings, elite status, free hotel nights or other rewards for significant spending.
The right card (or cards) for your small business depends on what rewards you want from your small-business spending. Let's take a look at the best options for each category.
» Learn more: The best travel credit cards right now
Maximize your cash back earnings
For many small businesses, cash is king. Scoring cash back on your small-business credit card can help with cash flow. And the cash back earnings can add up from significant spending.
Top options for maximizing the cash back earnings on business spending include:
Capital One Spark Cash Plus: Earn unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases with 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. Plus, earn a $200 annual cash bonus each year you spend $200,000 or more. $150 annual fee.
Chase Ink Business Premier: Earn unlimited 2% cash back on purchases with an elevated earning rate of 2.5% cash back on purchases of $5,000 or more. Plus, earn 5% cash back on all purchases made through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® travel portal. $195 annual fee.
Want cash back earnings without the annual fee? The Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card offers unlimited 1.5% cash back with a $0 annual fee.
Just make sure to do the math on your after-fee return. Small businesses with significant spending will likely do better paying an annual fee to get a higher earning rate. For example, with $5,000 in monthly spending, you'll get after-fee earnings of at least $1,005 per year through the Ink Business Premier versus $900 through the Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card.
» Learn more: The best cash back credit cards
Maximize your points and miles earnings
The right points-earning business card will depend on just how much your business spends each month and in which categories.
For example, the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card offers 3x points on business categories such as:
Cable and internet.
However, this 3x earning rate is capped at $150,000 per year in spending. Then, you'll earn 1x points on all purchases.
Similarly, the American Express® Business Gold Card earns 4x points on your top two business spending categories each billing cycle. Spending categories include:
Airfare purchased directly from airlines.
U.S. purchases for advertising in select media (online, TV or radio).
U.S. purchases made directly from select technology providers of computer hardware, software, and cloud solutions.
U.S. purchases at gas stations.
U.S. purchases at restaurants, including takeout and delivery.
U.S. purchases for shipping.
But again, this earning rate is capped at $150,000 in combined spending each year. After that, you'll earn 1x points on all spending. Terms apply.
For unlimited points and miles earnings, Capital One takes the prize. The Capital One Spark Miles for Business card earns 2x Capital One miles on all purchases, plus 5x on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. The card comes with an annual fee of $0 intro for the first year, then $95 after that.
Can't stomach an annual fee? The Capital One® Spark® Miles Select for Business earns an unlimited 1.5x miles on all purchases with a $0 annual fee.
Consider business credit cards for airline miles
Other top small-business options depend on what type of points and miles you wish to earn. Here are some of the best business credit cards for airline miles that offer a spending bonus or more than 1x earnings:
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card (annual fee: $550): After spending $150,000 in a calendar year, cardmembers earn an extra half-mile per dollar spent — meaning 1.5x miles on further purchases. Terms apply.
Hawaiian Airlines® Business Mastercard® (annual fee: $99): In addition to earning bonus miles on Hawaiian Airlines, gas, dining and office supply store purchases, cardholders can earn 40,000 bonus miles by spending $100,000 or more in annual purchases.
United Club℠ Business Card (annual fee: $450): Earn 1.5x United miles on non-United purchases and 2x miles on United purchases.
» Learn more: The best travel credit cards for businesses
Earn airline and hotel elite status
Small businesses have plenty of ways to leverage their significant spending to get airline and hotel elite status. Here's a look at some of the options.
Airline elite status
Big spenders have plenty of options for generating airline elite status credits through credit card spending. Here's a quick recap of the airline elite status levels that you can get through credit card spending:
American Airlines AAdvantage: Earn 1 Loyalty Point per $1 spent on almost all AAdvantage co-branded credit cards — including the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®. $30,000 in card spending in a year gets you AAdvantage Gold while $200,000 in spending nets you top-tier AAdvantage Executive Platinum elite status.
Delta Medallion: Use Delta Status Boost to get bonus Medallion Qualification Miles from credit card spending. If maximized, Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card cardmembers can earn 60,000 bonus Medallion Qualification Miles by spending $120,000 or more on the card in a calendar year. Also, by making $25,000 in eligible purchases in a calendar year, you'll get a Medallion Qualification Dollar waiver for Delta Platinum, Gold and Silver Medallion elite status. $250,000 in spending scores you a waiver for top-tier Diamond Medallion status.
Southwest A-List: Rapid Rewards members can earn 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points for each $10,000 in purchases on select Southwest co-branded credit cards — including the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card and Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card. There's no cap on this earning. So, you could spend your way to A-List status. Plus, you can generate the Southwest Companion Pass by earning 125,000 points through card spending in a calendar year.
United Premier: Several United co-branded credit cards offer Premier Qualifying Points for reaching set spending thresholds. Cardholders of both the United℠ Business Card and United Club℠ Business Card can earn 500 Premier Qualifying Points (PQP) for every $12,000 in net card spending in a calendar year, up to a maximum of 1,000 PQP.
» Learn more: The most valuable airline elite status program today
Hotel elite status
Like airline status, several hotel elite status tiers can be reached through significant business credit card spending. Here's an overview of your best choices:
IHG One Rewards: Use the IHG® Rewards Premier Business Credit Card to spend $40,000 in eligible purchases in a calendar year to be elevated to top-tier Diamond Elite status.
World of Hyatt: World of Hyatt Business Credit Card cardholders earn five tier-qualifying night credits for every $10,000 spent on the card in a calendar year. That means you can get top-tier Globalist elite status by spending $120,000 in a calendar year.
» Learn more: The best hotel elite status this year
Earn free hotel nights
Another way to be rewarded for significant business spending is through hotel free night awards. Here's a roundup of some top options:
Hilton Honors: The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card cardmembers will get one Free Weekend Night Reward after spending $15,000 in a calendar year. Then, earn a second Free Weekend Night Reward after reaching $60,000 in eligible spending during a calendar year. Terms apply.
IHG One Rewards: Cardholders of the IHG® Rewards Premier Business Credit Card get Anniversary Free Night (valued up to 40,000 points) each calendar year. Plus, you can earn another free night by spending $60,000 on your card in a calendar year — and then making one additional purchase.
Marriott Bonvoy: The Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card already grants cardholders a Free Night Award (up to 35,000 points in value) on each cardholder anniversary. Score another Free Night Award after spending $60,000 in a calendar year. Terms apply.
» Learn more: Hotel loyalty programs that offer free night stays
Consider a multiple card strategy
Instead of just using one business credit card, you can split your business spending across several credit cards to maximize your rewards-earning potential.
Say your small business spends around $10,000 per month. You could split your spending between The JetBlue Business Card and The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card to earn:
JetBlue Mosaic elite status.
Top-tier Hilton Diamond elite status.
Two Weekend Free Night Rewards.
At least 60,000 JetBlue TrueBlue points.
A minimum of 180,000 Hilton Honors points.
Plus all of the other travel perks that come with each card — like 10 Priority Pass lounge visits or 50% off in-flight purchases. Terms apply.
» Learn more: Should I have more than one travel credit card?
Maximize rewards on business spending
The best business card — or combination of travel cards — comes down to your earning and travel preferences. Top-tier AAdvantage Executive Platinum status might be worth spending $200,000 on a CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®. However, other small-business owners might prefer to generate $4,000 in cash back by putting that spending on the Capital One Spark Cash Plus instead.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2022, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card