NerdWallet's

Best Small Business Credit Cards of 2018

As an entrepreneur, you value every dollar you make. These cards make those dollars go farther.

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Benefits

Benefits

With this card, the sign-up bonus is the main event, not an afterthought. The bonus: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. You can also transfer points to several airline and hotel loyalty programs, such as United, Southwest, Marriott and Hyatt, at a 1:1 ratio. As for rewards, you get 3 points per dollar on up to $150,000 a year in combined spending on travel, telecommunications (internet, phone and cable), shipping, and advertising on social media and search engines; all other spending earns 1 point per dollar.

Drawbacks

Drawbacks

This card's bonus categories aren't a good fit for all business owners. There's an annual fee of $95. After the first year, you’d have to spend at least $2,534 before the rewards make up for the annual fee. This might not matter as much to you, though, if you deduct the fee as a business expense on your taxes.

Bottom Line

Bottom Line

If you're all about that sign-up bonus, the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card should be at the top of your list. Its versatile ongoing rewards also make it worth keeping.

More on this card
Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card Review
For a similar card earning 1.5% on everything
New! Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card

Benefits

Benefits

After Chase sweetened the pot for new cardholders in the spring of 2018, the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card boasts one of the most lucrative cash sign-up bonuses of any card. There's also a 0% introductory APR period, relatively rare among cards for small businesses. You get 5% cash back on up to $25,000 a year in combined spending at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services; 2% back on up to $25,000 a year in combined spending at gas stations and restaurants; and 1% back on everything else.

Drawbacks

Drawbacks

You’ll miss out on the card’s most valuable rewards if your business doesn’t spend much at office supply stores or on telecommunications services.

Bottom Line

Bottom Line

The big bonus is just icing on the cake of this $0-annual-fee card that offers rich rewards in common business categories.

Benefits

Benefits

The rewards on this $0-annual-fee card are part business, part "choose your own adventure." First, you get 5% cash back on up to $50,000 a year in combined spending at U.S. office supply stores and on wireless phone service purchased directly from U.S. providers. Then you get 3% cash back in a category you choose from a list of eight options, on up to $50,000 in spending per year. All other purchases earn 1%. (Terms apply.)

Drawbacks

Drawbacks

This card has no bonus offer for new cardholders. It also charges foreign transaction fees of 2.7%, so it's not a great pick for business owners who plan to make international purchases. The spending cap on bonus rewards also makes it less than ideal for businesses with high operating expenses.

Bottom Line

Bottom Line

With a made-to-order rewards structure, the SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express is a good fit for business owners who want some say in where they get bonus rewards.

For a no-fee version earning 1.5% cash back
Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business

Benefits

Benefits

Flat-rate rewards cards are a bit like khakis: a little boring, but they go with everything. When you pair this 2% cash-back card with a tiered rewards card, you’ll always earn more than the “1% back on everything else” that most cards promise. If you’re a one-credit-card type of entrepreneur, a flat-rate card like this will likely offer better long-term value than a tiered rewards card.

Drawbacks

Drawbacks

After the first year, you’ll break even on the annual fee only if you put more than $4,750 on the card per year. If you plan to spend less, consider a no-annual-fee card instead.

Bottom Line

Bottom Line

With unlimited 2% cash back, the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business is a great deal on its own and can be a powerful complement to the other cards in your wallet.

For a no-fee version offering 1.5 miles per dollar
Capital One® Spark® Miles Select for Business

Benefits

Benefits

This card features an industry-leading flat rewards rate of 2 miles per dollar spent on anything. Miles are worth 1 cent each when redeemed for travel expenses. The spiffy sign-up bonus is also a big draw: A one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $4,500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening. The card doesn't charge foreign transaction fees.

Drawbacks

Drawbacks

The card has an annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $95. After the first year, you'd have to spend at least $4,750 a year on the card before the rewards would outweigh the cost. But keep in mind that this fee could be deducted as a business expense on your taxes.

Bottom Line

Bottom Line

The Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business is a keeper for traveling entrepreneurs whose expenses don't fall into common bonus categories.

Benefits

Benefits

This $0-annual-fee card offers robust rewards of 1.5 points for every dollar spent, and 3 points per dollar spent on travel purchases booked through Bank of America®. It also comes with a plum sign-up bonus for a no-fee card: Earn 25,000 bonus points when you make at least $1,000 in net purchases within 60 days of your account opening which can be redeemed for a $250 statement credit towards travel purchases. It charges no foreign transaction fees.

Drawbacks

Drawbacks

Higher reward rates are available on other no-fee small business cards. Other cards — especially cards with annual fees — also offer larger sign-up bonuses.

Bottom Line

Bottom Line

The Bank of America® Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard® credit card is just right for business owners who want a travel card with robust ongoing rewards but no fee.

Benefits

Benefits

This card's 0% intro APR period gives you plenty of breathing room. You'll get 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 12.99% - 20.99% Variable APR. For rewards, the card gives you 2 points per dollar spent on everything, on up to the first $50,000 in purchases made every year, and 1 point per dollar after that. (Terms apply.)

Drawbacks

Drawbacks

There's no bonus offer for new cardholders. The $50,000 spending cap on double points significantly reduces its value for businesses with high operating expenses.

Bottom Line

Bottom Line

Come for the 0% intro APR offer; stay for the great ongoing rewards. The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express is an excellent fit for small business owners looking for a valuable, no-fuss card.

Benefits

Benefits

Business travelers know there’s nothing quite like getting a free meal, a quiet place to rest and maybe even a shower at an airport lounge during a long layover. The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN provides access to more than 1,000 of these exclusive clubs worldwide, including Centurion lounges, Delta Sky Clubs, Airspace Lounges and Priority Pass Select lounges. You’ll also get a $200 credit for airline incidentals, such as checked baggage fees.

Drawbacks

Drawbacks

The $450 annual fee is steep, so it’s not a good fit for businesses with low operating expenses. But the fee is tax-deductible as a business expense, which makes it a little easier to stomach. Also be aware that this is a charge card, meaning you have to pay it in full each month.

Bottom Line

Bottom Line

For business travelers who spend a lot of time in the air, or waiting in airport lounges, The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN can be a bargain even at $450 a year.

Our pick for

Fair credit

Benefits

Benefits

As long as you pay your balance in full every month, this card is a whole lot cheaper than many of the high-interest loans and other short-term financing offers marketed to entrepreneurs with fair credit. You earn cash-back rewards on your spending, too. With on-time payments, you can work toward strengthening your personal credit and business credit.

Drawbacks

Drawbacks

The ongoing APR is 24.74% Variable APR, which is relatively high, so it’s not a good card for carrying debt.

Bottom Line

Bottom Line

If you have fair credit and can pay in full every month, the Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business might be the most affordable way for you to borrow money for your business.

HOW THEIR REWARD RATES STACK UP

Card Best for ... Rewards
Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card Big sign-up bonus • 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 a year spent on travel and select business categories
• 1 point per dollar on all other spending
Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card Cash sign-up bonus • 5% cash back on the first $25,000 a year in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services
• 2% cash back on the first $25,000 a year in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants
• 1% cash back on all other purchases
SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express Customizable rewards • 5% cash back on the first $50,000 a year spent at U.S. office supply stores and on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers
• 3% cash back on the first $50,000 a year spent in the category of your choice (from eight options)
• 1% cash back on all other spending
• Terms apply
Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business Flat-rate cash back • 2% cash back on all purchases
Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business Flat-rate travel rewards • 2 miles per $1 spent on all purchases
Bank of America® Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard® credit card No-fee travel rewards • 3 points per $1 spent on travel booked through Bank of America®
• 1.5 points per dollar on all other spending
The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express 0% APR period • 2 points per dollar on first $50,000 a year in spending
• 1 point per dollar after that
• Terms apply
The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN Airport lounge access • 5 points per $1 spent on flights and prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com
• 1.5 points per dollar on eligible purchases of more than $5,000
• 1 point per dollar on all other spending
• Terms apply
Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business Fair/average credit • 1% cash back on all purchases

Understanding business credit cards

At first glance, small business credit cards seem a lot like consumer cards. They come with similar sign-up bonuses, rewards and fees. But business and consumer cards differ in a few key ways. Here’s what you should know before applying.

You’ll have to sign a personal guarantee. Virtually all small business credit card applications include personal guarantees, or clauses stating that you are personally liable for the debt accrued. This means you’re responsible for the balances even if your business goes belly-up. Keep this in mind when applying and avoid borrowing more than you’re able to pay back.

Your personal credit may be affected. When you apply for a small business credit card, the application will probably show up as an inquiry on your personal credit report, which can cost you a few points on your credit scores for a short time. That’s because your issuer wants to make sure that you, the business owner, are personally on solid financial footing before letting you borrow money. 

After that, small business cards generally fall into two categories: some report your account payment history only to commercial credit bureaus, while others report to both consumer and commercial bureaus. In the latter case, your good or bad spending habits on your small business credit card could affect both your personal and business credit.

These cards generally aren’t covered by consumer protection laws. As a courtesy, issuers today generally extend many consumer protections for personal credit cards to small business credit cards. But the law doesn’t require them to do so. The consumer-friendly Credit Card Act of 2009 set important limits on fees, interest calculations and disclosures for personal credit cards, but it doesn’t cover small business credit cards.

Small business cards aren’t corporate cards. There are two types of business credit cards: small business cards and corporate cards. If you’re just starting out and your revenue is in the thousands, not the millions, you’ll likely want to go with a small business credit card, the kind featured on this list. Once you hit the big time, you might want to switch over to a corporate card. This would limit your personal financial liability for the account.

How to choose a small business credit card

Chances are, you'll use your small business credit card quite a bit, so make sure you’re getting one with favorable terms. Here’s how:

Take stock of your business’s spending habits. If you plan on carrying balances from month to month, getting a card with a 0% APR period or low ongoing interest is more important than searching for generous rewards. Alternatively, if you plan on paying in full every month, a card with a big sign-up bonus and lucrative rewards could be a perfect fit.

Figure out what type of rewards you should go for. If earning big rewards is your goal, start by looking at your costs. For businesses that spend plenty on travel and office supplies, a card that gives bonus rewards in those categories would be an excellent choice. And for companies with spending that doesn't fit into the usual categories, a flat-rate rewards card would fit the bill.

Look for business-friendly benefits. Some cards come with programs that allow you to match photos of receipts to your card purchases in-app. Many also offer free employee cards and itemized end-of-year statements that help at tax time.

For more, see our guide to choosing a business credit card

Getting the most out of your small business card

Pay with your credit card whenever possible. For entrepreneurs who pay in full every month and don't overspend, using a rewards credit card for everything makes those points, miles or cash back add up fast. Avoid paying with a credit card when a convenience charge is added, if possible.

Know when your introductory 0% APR ends. Read your credit card statements and make a note of when your promotional offer expires to avoid unpleasant surprises.

Lock down that sign-up bonus. To get your card's sign-up bonus, you typically need to make a few thousand dollars' worth of purchases in the first few months after opening the account. Check your card's terms and track your spending to make sure you don’t miss out.

Deduct interest and fees on your taxes. If you’re using your card for business costs, fees and interest count as business expenses. That means you can deduct them at tax time. 

Methodology

NerdWallet’s credit cards team selects the best cards in each category based on overall consumer value. Factors in our evaluation include fees, promotional and ongoing APRs, and sign-up bonuses; for rewards cards, we consider earning and redemption rates, redemption options and redemption difficulty. A single card is eligible to be chosen in multiple categories.

Last updated September 17, 2018.

Claire is a personal finance writer at NerdWallet. Her work has been featured by Forbes, USA Today and The Associated Press. Email: claire@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @ideclaire7.

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Best Small Business Credit Cards of 2018

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