Credit cards for small-business owners differ from general consumer credit cards in many ways, including reward structures and how you qualify to get the card. Among the most eye-popping differences are the lucrative sign-up bonuses offered by business credit cards compared with their consumer counterparts.
Business card bonuses are typically higher
The more you spend on a credit card, the more the card issuer earns, and businesses tend to spend more than individuals and households.
If a business carries a balance, the issuer makes more in interest charges. Even if the cardholder never carries a balance and never pays interest, the issuer earns a percentage of each transaction through swipe fees.
Because businesses spend more, issuers can afford to be more generous — and enticing — with their sign-up bonuses. Qualifying for those bonuses, though, often requires a higher amount of spending soon after being approved for the card.
Sign-up bonuses can change frequently, but here are real examples of sign-up bonuses — sometimes called “welcome offers” — featured by business credit cards compared with a comparable consumer-level card.
Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited®
|Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card||Chase Freedom Unlimited®|
|Bonus||Earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening||Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening|
|Maximum bonus value||$500||$150|
Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
|Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card||Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card|
|Annual fee||$95||$0 for the first year, then $95|
|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®||Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®|
|Maximum bonus value||$1,000||$625|
Capital One® Spark® Miles Select for Business vs. Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card
|Capital One® Spark® Miles Select for Business||Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card|
|Bonus||Plus, a one-time bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening||One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening|
|Maximum bonus value||$200||$150|
The Business Platinum® Card from American Express vs. The Platinum Card® from American Express
|The Business Platinum® Card from American Express||The Platinum Card® from American Express|
|Bonus||Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.||Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months. Terms Apply.|
|Maximum bonus value||$750||$600|
How you can capitalize
Even if you’re not a full-time entrepreneur and just have a side business, you may qualify for a business credit card and be eligible for these big sign-up bonuses. Just be aware that cardholder protections are weaker for business cards vs. consumer cards and you must agree to a personal guarantee, stating that you are personally liable for debt even if your business goes belly-up.
On a good note, if you’re using your card for business, its fees and interest count as business expenses. That means you can deduct those card expenses at tax time.