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.
Pros & Cons
Qualify with limited / bad credit
No annual fee
No foreign transaction fee
No 0% intro APR
Alternate Pick: 0% intro APR on purchases
American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card
Up to 2% cash back
Finance a big purchase over time with an introductory APR of 0% intro APR on Purchases for 12 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.24% - 19.24% Variable APR. The card earns 2% cash back on up to $50,000 a year in eligible purchases and 1% afterward. The annual fee is $0.
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The Brex Card for Startups boasts unique features for a card in its class. Unlike most business credit cards, it does not require applicants to personally guarantee the debt on the card, meaning the applicant's personal assets won't be at risk if the business fails.
Also, instead of considering personal credit scores, Brex determines creditworthiness by evaluating the business itself: its cash balance, spending patterns and investors. This can be ideal for the right kind of entrepreneur — namely, a founder of an early-stage startup who may have a thin or nonexistent credit file. That may include a recent graduate or someone new to the U.S.
But it's not a slam-dunk for everyone. Interested companies must be willing to provide access to their bank information, and smaller businesses that don't have the kind of cash flow Brex requires may not qualify. (At a minimum, you'll need $50,000 in the bank.) Plus, since it's a charge card, a company that's looking to revolve a balance wouldn't be a fit. And while the Brex Card for Startups does earn rewards, you'll have to jump through some hoops to earn its highest rates.
Nerd tip: Brex offers several different credit cards, each aimed at a different type of business. This review focuses on the Brex Card for Startups, but other products include the Brex Card for Ecommerce, the Brex Card for Life Sciences and the Brex Card for Late Stage and Enterprise.
Brex Card for Startups: Key features
Card type: Small business.
Annual fee: $0.
Sign-up bonus: 75,000 in Brex Rewards points upon signup and waived card fees for life (equal to $750+ value).
Rewards: The card's baseline rate is 1 point per dollar spent. But 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.
Nerd tip: As of March 31, 2020, and for a limited time, the Brex Card for Startups was allowing users to opt in to new bonus rewards categories that are geared more toward those working from home. See our story for more information on how the option works.
Brex's website notes it will determine eligibility for this Exclusive rewards program by using information provided by the customer and via third-party providers authorized by the customer to give Brex bank account information.
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.
You can also transfer points to one of Brex's multiple airline partners. Members of the Brex Exclusive rewards program enjoy a 1:1 transfer ratio. (For non-Exclusive members, the ratio will be 1.5:1 — meaning 1.5 Brex rewards points will be needed for 1 airline mile).
Foreign transaction fee: None.
Deals and discounts at various vendors that startups may find appealing, including Amazon Web Services, Google Ads, WeWork, Indeed, Zoom and more.
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. There's also no need to provide a Social Security number or have a hard 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.
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.)
Generous sign-up bonus
It's always nice to get something for nothing, and that's what the welcome offer on the Brex Card for Startups is. Just for signing up, you'll get 75,000 in Brex Rewards points upon signup and waived card fees for life (equal to $750+ value).
Drawbacks of the Brex Card for Startups
You need a minimum of $50,000 in the bank, maybe more
If your company has professional investors and you're willing to connect your bank to Brex, you can qualify for the Brex Card for Startups by maintaining a bank account balance of $50,000 at all times. If you have investors but don't connect your bank to Brex, you'll need a balance of $100,000 at all times, which is also the threshold that self-funded businesses must meet.
Sole proprietorships or mom-and-pop shops without that kind of cash on hand may be out of luck.
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 American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card, which earns cash-back rewards and offers an introductory 0% intro APR on Purchases for 12 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.24% - 19.24% 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.
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 Cash℠ Credit Card. It earns 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 and 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent each account anniversary year in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants. All other spending earns 1 point per dollar. It comes with a great sign-up offer, too.
Limited travel perks
The Brex Card for Startups offers rewards on travel and even allows you to transfer those earnings to several airline partners. But it lacks the flashy benefits that some premium travel credit cards offer. If it's travel perks you're seeking, consider an airline card like the Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card. It earns 2 miles per dollar spent directly with Delta, 2 miles per dollar at restaurants, 2 miles per dollar on U.S. shipping purchases and on U.S. advertising in select media and 1 mile per dollar spent on all other purchases. Terms apply. With this card, your first checked bag is free for you and up to eight others on your reservation. That could be worth far more than the annual fee of $0 intro for the first year, then $99. Plus, you'll get priority boarding, and if you spend $10,000 or more in a calendar year, you'll receive a $100 credit toward a future Delta flight. Terms apply.
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 — or available to — every type of business owner. See our roundup of best business credit cards for more potential options.
To view rates and fees of the American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card, please visit this page.
on Brex's website
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