BEST OF

7 Best Business Credit Cards for Startups of September 2021

Ryan LaneSep 23, 2021

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Being a startup shouldn’t affect your business credit card options. Business credit card issuers typically don’t mind if you have no business history; they prioritize your personal credit history instead when you apply. If you have good credit, you should be able to choose from the best small-business credit cards even as a new business.

Business credit cards can help startups access financing. But the right card for you will offer more than just spending power. It can support your new business with benefits that create financial flexibility or boost your bottom line, like a long 0% APR introductory period or cash back tied to travel or certain purchases.

Some of our selections for the best business credit cards for startups can be applied for through NerdWallet, and some cannot. Below, you'll find application links for the credit cards from our partners that are available through NerdWallet, followed by the full list of our picks.

NerdWallet's Best Business Credit Cards for Startups of September 2021

Best Business Credit Cards for Startups From Our Partners

Our pick for

Intro APR offer

American Express® Blue Business Cash Card
Apply now

on American Express's website

American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card

4.7

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on American Express's website

Annual fee

$0

Intro APR

0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening

Regular APR

13.24% - 19.24% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score

Pros

  • No annual fee

  • High rewards rate

  • Intro APR period

  • Cash rewards

Cons

  • Spending caps on bonus rewards

  • Requires good/excellent credit

  • Earn a $250 statement credit after you make $3,000 in purchases on your Card in your first 3 months.

  • Earn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1%. Cash back earned is automatically credited to your statement.

  • From workflow to inventory to floor plans, your business is constantly changing. That’s why you’ve got the power to spend beyond your credit limit with Expanded Buying Power.

  • Just remember, the amount you can spend above your credit limit is not unlimited. It adjusts with your use of the Card, your payment history, credit record, financial resources known to American Express and other factors.

  • 0.0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, 13.24% - 19.24%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors as determined at the time of account opening.

  • No Annual Fee

  • Terms Apply

  • View Rates & Fees
Read full review

Our pick for

Flat-rate cash-back rewards

Capital One Spark Cash Plus
Apply now

on Capital One's website

Capital One Spark Cash Plus

4.7

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Capital One's website

Annual fee

$150

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

Pros

  • Earns cash back on primary and employee cards

  • Rewards don’t expire

  • No foreign transaction fees

Cons

  • Balance must be paid in full every month

  • Has annual fee

  • Earn up to a $1,000 cash bonus; $500 once you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months, and $500 once you spend $50,000 in the first 6 months of account opening

  • Earn unlimited 2% cash back on every purchase, everywhere—with no limits or category restrictions

  • Earn an annual $200 cash bonus every year you spend $200,000 or more

  • Comes with no preset spending limit, so it can adapt to your needs based on your spending behavior, payment history and credit profile

  • Rewards won't expire for the life of the account, and you can redeem your cash back for any amount

  • Add employee cards for free, and earn unlimited 2% cash back from their purchases

  • $150 annual fee

  • Spark Cash Plus has no APR because your balance is due in full every month

Read full review

Our pick for

Bonus cash-back categories

Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card Credit Card
Apply now

on Chase's website

Ink Business Cash® Credit Card

4.4

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Chase's website

Annual fee

$0

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 12 months

Regular APR

13.24% - 19.24% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score

Pros

  • No annual fee

  • Intro APR period

  • New cardholder bonus offer

Cons

  • Requires good/excellent credit

  • Low rate outside bonus categories

  • Spending caps on bonus rewards

  • Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

  • Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year

  • Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year. Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases

  • With Fraud Protection your card transactions will be monitored for possible signs of fraudulent activity using real-time fraud monitoring.

  • With Zero Liability you won't be held responsible for unauthorized charges made with your card or account information.

  • No Annual Fee

  • Redeem rewards for cash back, gift cards, travel and more through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases

Read full review

Our pick for

Travel rewards + big sign-up offer

Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
Apply now

on Chase's website

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Chase's website

Annual fee

$95

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

15.99% - 20.99% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score

Pros

  • New cardholder bonus offer

  • Bonus categories

  • Transfer partners

Cons

  • Has annual fee

  • No intro APR offer

  • Earn 100k bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 cash back or $1,250 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases

  • With Fraud Protection your card transactions will be monitored for possible signs of fraudulent activity using real-time fraud monitoring.

  • With Zero Liability you won't be held responsible for unauthorized charges made with your card or account information.

  • Redeem points for cash back, gift cards, travel and more - your points don't expire as long as your account is open

  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

  • Purchase Protection covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account.

  • $95 Annual Fee

Read full review

Our pick for

Corporate card for startups

Brex
Apply now

on Brex's website

Brex Card

4.4

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Brex's website

Annual fee

$0

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

Pros

  • No annual fee

  • New cardholder bonus offer

  • Qualify with limited/bad credit

  • Bonus categories

  • No foreign transaction fees

Cons

  • Complicated rewards

  • No Intro APR

  • Get 30,000 points after spending $3,500, or 50,000 points after spending $9,000 in the first 30 days.

  • No personal guarantee needed – Brex does not ask for a personal credit check or security deposit during the application.

  • Credit limits 10-20x higher than traditional small business corporate cards.

  • $100,000 bank balance required to qualify for Brex.

  • Exclusive signup offers from the best products and tools for your business (e.g. AWS, Google Ads, WeWork, Salesforce) worth over $50,000 in value.

  • Earn points on every dollar spent with industry-leading multipliers: 7x on rideshare, 4x on Brex travel, 3x on restaurants, 3x on Apple products, 2x on software subscriptions and 1x on all other transactions.

  • Miles transfer program to 6 airlines (including Singapore Airlines, Qantas, Air France, and more) and their loyalty programs, giving Brex customers access to book travel across all of the major global airline alliances - Star Alliance, Oneword, and SkyTeam.

  • 30-day charge card running on the Mastercard network. Enjoy global acceptance with no foreign transaction fees.

  • Build business credit: Brex partners with Dun & Bradstreet and Experian to report your on-time payments.

  • Make employee expenses seamless - automated receipt-capture and expense matching and reconciliation via text and email. Instantly add new users and set spending limits.

  • Simplify reconciliation with built-in integrations with QuickBooks, Xero and more.

Read full review

Our pick for

Hotel credit card

Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card
Apply now

on American Express's website

Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on American Express's website

Annual fee

$125

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

15.74% - 24.74% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score

Pros

  • Anniversary perk

  • High rewards rate

  • Automatic elite status

Cons

  • Has annual fee

  • Rewards have limited flexibility

  • Lower acceptance abroad

  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points & 2 bonus Free Night Awards after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months. Each bonus Free Night Award has a redemption level up to 50K points. Certain hotels have resort fees. Offer ends 11/3/2021.

  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program.

  • 4x points at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping. 2x points on all other eligible purchases.

  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program. Certain hotels have resort fees.

  • Enjoy complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status with your Card. Plus, earn Gold Elite status after making $35,000 in eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year.

  • Terms apply.

  • View Rates & Fees
Read full review

Our pick for

Flexible financing

American Express Plum Card Credit Card
Apply now

on American Express's website

The Plum Card® from American Express

3.3

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on American Express's website

Annual fee

$0 intro for the first year, then $250

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

Pros

  • No foreign transaction fees

  • No reward caps

Cons

  • Has annual fee

  • No bonus offer

  • Complicated rewards

  • Paying early pays off: get a 1.5% Early Pay Discount, with no cap on what you can earn back.

  • Take up to 60 days to pay with no interest, when you pay your minimum due by the Payment Due Date.

  • Use the power of the Plum Card to buy big for your business.

  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.

  • Introductory annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $250

  • Terms & Restrictions Apply.

  • View Rates & Fees
Read full review

FULL LIST OF EDITORIAL PICKS: BEST SMALL-BUSINESS CREDIT CARDS FOR STARTUPS

Click the card name to read our review. Before applying, confirm details on the issuer’s website.

Our pick for: Intro APR offer 

The American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card boasts one of the better introductory APR offers among business credit cards. Beyond that, you earn a solid cash-back rate (at least for a while — the rate drops after you hit a spending threshold). There's also no annual fee. Read our review.

Our pick for: Flat-rate cash-back rewards

The Capital One Spark Cash Plus is an excellent option for business operators whose expenses don't fall into the bonus categories on other business credit cards. You get a high, flat rewards rate on every purchase, with no limit to how much you can earn. Just make sure that you can pay off your spending in full each month, as this is a charge card that doesn't let you revolve a balance. Read our review.

Our pick for: Bonus cash-back categories

If your business's spending matches the bonus categories on the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card, you can rack up some serious cash back. (If not, then look elsewhere.) There's an excellent sign-up bonus for a no-annual-fee cash-back card, plus an introductory APR period for purchases. Read our review. 

Our pick for: Flat-rate rewards + no annual fee

The no-fuss, no-hassle rewards of the Discover it® Business Card make it a great choice for entrepreneurs and side hustlers whose business expenses don't fall into the bonus categories on other small-business rewards cards (things like office supplies, advertising and so on). You also get Discover's signature "cash-back match" bonus your first year. Read our review.

Our pick for: Corporate card for startups

Unlike most cards designed for entrepreneurs, the Brex Card doesn't require the cardholder to personally guarantee the debt on the card. Instead, Brex determines creditworthiness by evaluating a company's cash balance, spending patterns and investors. It's a good option when a business owner has a thin credit file but is well-capitalized. The card earns rewards, too. Read our review.

Our pick for: Hotel credit card for business 

The Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card can pay for itself just with the automatic free night's stay every year. Add in automatic elite status, generous rewards, a dandy welcome bonus and more, and it's hard to go wrong. Terms apply. Read our review.

Our pick for: Flexible financing

Businesses with high working capital needs but sometimes inconsistent cash flow might find The Plum Card® from American Express a perfect fit. Pay early and get a discount, or enjoy up to 60 days without interest. Terms apply. There's a substantial annual fee, but if you're using the card for, say, big inventory purchases, the benefits could far outweigh the costs. Read our review.

Our pick for: Fair credit

The rewards rate on the Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business isn't going to wow anyone, there's no sign-up bonus and the APR is high. What makes this card valuable is that it's available to business operators with fair or "average" credit, who don't have a lot of options in business credit cards — especially with no annual fee. Read our review.

Our pick for: Building business credit

If you can afford to put a lot of money down, the First National Bank Business Edition® Secured® Visa Card may be a good choice for bad-credit borrowers. Your security deposit will earn interest, and First National Bank lets you choose your own credit limit between $2,000 and $100,000 (in multiples of $50) when you apply. This card charges a $39 annual fee. Read our review.

Can startups get business credit cards?

Startups with no credit history can get business credit cards because most issuers require a personal guarantee. That means if your business can’t repay the debt, you’ll personally have to. As long as your credit history doesn’t make you look like a risky bet to hold up that end of the deal, you should be able to get a business credit card for a new business.

Your new business’s structure also won’t stop you from getting most small-business credit cards. Many cards are available to sole proprietors, not just LLCs or corporations. However, if your startup falls into one of those buckets, you may want to weigh the differences between corporate credit cards and small-business credit cards to find the best fit.

Most new businesses can benefit from a business credit card. A card used wisely can help your business establish good credit — a necessity for future small-business financing — and offer working capital for a startup. Even if your new business is just a side gig, a business credit card can keep your personal and business spending separate, which you’ll appreciate at tax time.

How to get a business credit card for a new business

  • Know your credit score. To qualify for most business credit cards, you’ll need to have good to excellent personal credit (typically a FICO score of 690 or above). If your personal credit is thin or poor, business credit cards for bad credit are available. You can get a free credit score from many sources, including NerdWallet.

  • Look at your spending to find the best card. For example, if you or your employees travel often, consider a card with hotel or flight rewards. New businesses without months of receipts can look at future costs, such as opening an office. A card with bonus cash back on office supplies could make sense in that case. If you’ll use your card like a startup business loan, a long 0% APR introductory offer may be the right choice.

  • Check for fees. Every dollar counts for a startup, so you may prefer a business credit card that helps cover your expenses — instead of adding to them. Some cards charge annual fees, which may be hundreds of dollars. If the rewards outweigh that cost, paying a fee may be worth it. But there are also a number of business credit cards with no annual fee to choose from.

  • Gather your application materials. To get a business credit card, you’ll need to provide basic information about yourself, such as your name and Social Security number, and your new business. A formal business structure isn’t required for most cards. But in some instances — for example, if you want a corporate card for startups — you’ll need to provide company details like an employer identification number.

  • Use your card responsibly. Once you get your new business credit card, you can start spending. Many issuers offer free cards for employees, if you have any, and you’ll get any rewards tied to their purchases. If this is your first business credit card, work to build business credit by establishing good habits, such as keeping your spending low (20% to 30% of your credit limit) and making on-time payments.

Last updated on September 23, 2021

Methodology

NerdWallet's Credit Cards team selects the best credit cards for small business based on overall consumer value, as evidenced by star ratings, as well as their suitability for specific kinds of small-business operators. Factors in our evaluation include annual and other fees, rewards rates, the earning structure (for example, flat-rate rewards versus bonus categories), redemption options, bonus offers for new cardholders, introductory and ongoing APRs, and other noteworthy features such as special financing arrangements, free cards for employees or tools for managing business expenses.