Editorial Review

Brex Card: Tailored for Startups, No Personal Guarantee Required

Early-stage companies with high cash flow may appreciate this corporate card's potentially lucrative rewards, discounts and lack of fees.

Robin Saks FrankelFebruary 1, 2019

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Our Take

3.6

NerdWallet rating 

The Bottom Line: Ideal for a specific profile: owners who may have a thin credit history but a well-funded startup. If you're seeking a big sign-up bonus or the ability to revolve a balance, look elsewhere.

Brex

on Brex's website

on Brex's website

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

recommended credit score

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Qualify with limited / bad credit

  • No annual fee

  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons
  • No 0% intro APR

Alternate Pick: 0% intro APR on purchases

SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express

Customizable rewards

Finance a big purchase over time with an intro: 0% on Purchases for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 14.49% - 21.49% Variable APR. The card earns 5% cash back on up to $50,000 a year in combined spending on U.S. wireless phone service and U.S. office-supply store spending; 3% cash back on up to $50,000 a year in spending on a category you choose from a list of eight; and 1% cash back on all other spending. Terms apply. The annual fee is $0.

Read our review

Compare to Other Cards

Annual Fee

$0

Annual Fee

$0

Annual Fee

$95

Regular APR

N/A

Regular APR

15.24% - 23.24% Variable APR

Regular APR

18.24% - 23.24% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

0% on Purchases for 9 months

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

Full Review

The Brex Card for Startups boasts some unique features that could be an ideal fit for a certain type of company owner.

Most business credit cards require a personal guarantee. The Brex Card for Startups does not. And instead of considering personal credit scores, Brex determines creditworthiness by evaluating a company's cash balance, spending patterns and investors. This can be a boon to a founder of an early-stage startup who may have a thin or nonexistent credit file — say, a recent graduate or someone new to the United States. The card, issued on the Mastercard payment network, also has a rich rewards program, if you qualify for the highest rates.

Still, it's not a slam dunk for anyone looking to hang out a shingle. A business interested in applying for the Brex Card for Startups has to be willing to provide access to its bank information, and smaller businesses and sole proprietorships that don't have the kind of cash flow Brex requires may not qualify. And since it's a charge card, a company that's looking to revolve a balance wouldn't be a fit.

Brex Card for Startups: Key features

Card type: Small business.

Annual fee: $0.

Sign-up bonus: N/A.

Rewards: If you make the Brex Card for Startups your only company card, you'll earn elevated and unlimited rewards through its Exclusive rewards program at the following rates:

  • 7 points per dollar spent on rideshares and taxis.

  • 4 points per dollar on travel booked through the Brex portal.

  • 3 points per dollar spent on restaurants.

  • 2 points per dollar on recurring software expenses.

  • 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.

Brex's website notes it will determine eligibility for this program by using information provided by the customer and via third-party providers authorized by the customer to give Brex bank account information. If you pair the Brex Card for Startups with other cards for business spending, you'll earn 1 point per dollar on all purchases made on the card.

Rewards can be redeemed at a value of 1 cent per point as a statement credit against a transaction made on the card, or to pay for flights, hotels or Airbnbs through Brex's travel portal.

APR: N/A

Foreign transaction fee: None

Other benefits:

  • Deals and discounts at various vendors that startups may find appealing, including Amazon Web Services, WeWork, Google Ads, Salesforce, Twilio, Caviar, Instacart, Zendesk and Snapchat.

  • Once approved, get immediate access to a virtual card. Your physical card will be sent to you within three to five business days.

  • Your first five cards are included. ($5 per user per month for additional cards).

Highlights of the Brex Card for Startups

  • No personal guarantee or Social Security number required: With the Brex Card for Startups, there's no founder liability should the business fail; an applicant's personal assets won't be at risk. There's also no need to provide a Social Security number or have a pull on your credit file. Brex eschews traditional underwriting methods in favor of a focus on funding and cash flow. Businesses instead must provide an employer identification number and access to bank information.

  • Light on fees: The annual fee is $0, and there are no foreign transaction fees. There are also no interest charges, as the Brex Card for Startups is a charge card, which means the balance has to be paid in full every 30 days.

  • Strong rewards for loyalty: If you can use the Brex Card for Startups exclusively for your business expenses, you can be rewarded fairly handsomely in some popular spending categories.

  • Your credit limit can rise with your company's cash flow. The amount of credit you're initially given on the Brex Card for Startups isn't static. Brex's method of evaluating potential cardholders uses factors including cash flow and spending patterns to offer dynamic credit limits that rise along with a business's repayment abilities. (Of course, the reverse of this is also true. More on that below.)

Drawbacks of the Brex Card for Startups

  • You need a minimum of $100,000 in the bank: If you're a sole proprietorship or a mom-and-pop shop without that kind of cash on hand, you likely won't qualify for the Brex Card for Startups.

  • Your credit limit can fall with your company's cash flow: Brex's credit model updates in real time, so if a company depletes most of its cash in a given month, the credit limit on the card will be reduced until there's more cash in the bank account.

  • No 0% intro APR; automatic debiting: Since the Brex Card for Startups is a charge card, not a credit card, the balance is due in full each month. You won't owe interest, but you also won't be able to carry debt from one month to the next or finance a large purchase over time. Your account will be automatically debited for the balance, so you'll need to have sufficient resources on hand. If you're looking to revolve a balance and get a break on interest charges, a better choice might be the SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express, which earns rewards and offers an introductory 0% on Purchases for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 14.49% - 21.49% Variable APR. Terms apply. The annual fee is $0.

  • Complex rewards structure: Bonus-category tracking isn't for everyone, and if you're not ready to commit solely to using the Brex Card for Startups so that you can earn the highest rates, a flat-rate rewards card like the Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business can be more palatable. With it, every purchase earns a straightforward 1.5% cash back. It also offers a sign-up bonus, which the issuer phrases this way: "Plus, a one-time $200 cash bonus once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening." The annual fee is $0.

  • Rewards that may not fit your spending: If your business spending doesn't align with the Brex Card for Startups elevated earning categories, consider a different option, like the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card. It earns 3 points per dollar up to the first $150,000 combined in travel; shipping; internet, cable and telephone service; and advertising purchases with social media sites and search engines. All other spending earns 1 point per dollar.  Plus, it comes with a juicy sign-up offer: 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®. The annual fee is $95.

  • Little in the way of travel perks: Although the Brex Card for Startups offers rewards on travel, it lacks the flashy benefits that some premium travel credit cards offer, such as lounge access, reimbursement for TSA Precheck or Global Entry application, travel credits, transfer partners, etc. The Business Platinum® Card from American Express, for example, offers all of these perks — in exchange for a hefty annual fee of $595.

To compare more options, visit NerdWallet's roundup of top credit cards.

Should you get the Brex Card for Startups?

For someone unable or unwilling to have a line of business credit in their name, there are few no-annual-fee corporate card options that offer the kind of benefits that the Brex Card for Startups has.

But the card isn't right for every type of business owner. See our roundup of best business credit cards for more potential options.