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Improve Your Business Credit Card Strategy in 7 Days

July 30, 2015
Business Credit Cards, Credit Cards, Small Business
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Managing your small business credit card account can sometimes feel like a 24/7 game of whack-a-mole. So many short-term concerns pop up, it’s easy to forget the larger picture. By taking a few minutes each day to improve your practices, though, you could turn that around.

Here’s how you can improve your business credit card strategy in the next seven days:

Monday: Pay with plastic.

Time needed: 60 minutes

The more expenses you put on your card, the more points you’ll earn. That’s how Wayne Gatewood, Jr., owner of Quality Support Inc., a consulting and administrative firm in Landover, Maryland, maximizes his rewards.

“All of our vendor stuff goes on the card. Everything,” says the Marine.

In the 25 years he’s been in business, he’s put millions on his business card. He often uses the rewards to recognize outstanding employees, paying for their free travel.

If you want to earn more rewards, like Gatewood, consider switching payments over to credit. Unless the vendor charges a fee for using plastic, or the balance accrues interest because you’re not paying your bill in full, it’s almost always a better idea to pay with credit.

Click here to read about NerdWallet’s Best Small Business Credit Cards.

Tuesday: Automate everything.

Time needed: 10 minutes.

When you set up auto-pay on your credit card, you don’t have to spend time worrying about when your next payment is due. You can adjust the amount you pay to fit your spending, too. If you plan to carry a balance, you can auto-pay the minimum each billing cycle and make additional payments when you can. You can also opt to auto-pay in full, which could help you save on interest.

You can also automate your accounting — at least partially — by linking your card to the software. With some accounting applications, such as QuickBooks or FreshBooks, you can sync your credit cards with the program and view your daily transactions. Aside from making accounting practically instant, the data can also help you forecast spending and create a budget.

Wednesday: Increase your credit limit.

Time needed: 10 minutes

After 10 years in business, Gatewood’s company was offered a big government contract — one that would require much more credit than Quality Support had at the time. “This was a big chance for us,” he says. “This contract would put us on the map.”

Gatewood’s bank wouldn’t give him a small business loan, so he turned to his credit card issuer, American Express. After showing a representative the contract, he was able to secure a bigger credit line and take the job.

If your revenue has increased over the past few years and you have a history of timely payments, you may be able to get a credit-line increase, too. Apply for a higher limit before you actually need it, and you won’t have to rush at the last minute when the next opportunity arises. Generally, it only takes a few minutes to initiate a request. It may trigger a hard pull of your credit, temporarily making your score dip, but it could boost your cash flow and your personal and business credit scores in the long run.

Thursday: Delegate spending.

Time needed: 30 minutes

Rebecca Ko, owner of the Orangetheory Fitness branch near Columbus, Ohio, is financing her new gym with a Chase business credit card and a small business loan. To make the weeks before the grand opening in October a little less hectic, the cardiac-nurse-turned-entrepreneur gave her studio manager, Caila Nicol, a business credit card to use for business-related purchases.

“I have her go run errands. I don’t have to pay her back or reimburse her,” Ko says.

If you’re thinking about giving your employees more purchasing responsibility, too, putting them on the business credit card account can help minimize reimbursement paperwork and boost your company’s rewards earnings.

Like a few other issuers, Chase also provides additional cards for free. You can add an authorized user by submitting your employee’s name and information on your issuer’s online portal.

Friday: Manage employee cards more effectively.

Time needed: 30 minutes

Ko notes that on her Chase account, she’s able to limit employee spending to a set amount per day, which she can adjust as needed. If your issuer offers a feature like this, or itemizes the spending of authorized users on your billing statement, you can easily track your employees’ purchases, and talk to them if problems arise. To verify transactions, ask your employees to turn in receipts from their credit card purchases by the end of the billing cycle.

Saturday: Remember important credit card dates.

Time needed: 20 minutes.

Business credit cards come with a lot of important deadlines. If you forget them, it could cost you. By setting auto-reminders for the most important ones, you may be able to save a lot on interest and earn more rewards. Here are a few worth remembering:

  • The day your 0% APR offer ends. Pay off your balance by this time, and you won’t owe any interest.
  • The last day you can qualify for your sign-up bonus. If your card comes with a sign-up offer — say, spend $5,000 in the first three months and get $300 cash back — set up a reminder for when your card hits that three-month mark. If you’re not sure what the deadline is, ask your issuer.
  • The day your statement closes. If you make a purchase after the day your statement closes, you could potentially pay no interest on that item for 55 days, assuming a 25-day grace period. Keeping that in mind could help you boost cash flow.

Sunday: Earn more with limited time offers.

Time needed: 5 minutes.

If Sunday’s your day of rest, this next tip  won’t take much effort: log on to Twitter or Facebook. Sometimes, issuers and loyalty programs post announcements about limited time offers, or ways to earn additional points, on their social media accounts. If these show up in your news feed, it may be easier to stay informed. You can also check NerdWallet‘s credit card comparison tool to see how the latest offers stack up.

Click here to compare NerdWallet’s best business credit card offers.

Small steps

It takes time to change old habits. But once you have better practices in place, you’ll be able to get more value out of your business credit cards.

Says Gatewood, “They’ve got to be handled with care and they’ve got to be handled with respect.”

Claire Davidson is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: [email protected]. Twitter: @ideclaire7.

Image via iStock.