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1. Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business
Why we like it: The Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business delivers some of the best all around cash rewards of any business credit card. Business owners get a simple 2% cash back on all purchases with no limits or restrictions, compared to a typical 1-1.5% back from others. While some cards can deliver as much as 5% back, they have spending caps or restrictions that make them a hassle to use. Small business owners who are busy and don't want to jump through hoops will appreciate the simplicity of this card.
Potential deal-breakers: The card has an annual fee that's fairly reasonable for a rewards business card ($0 intro for first year; $95 after that annual fee). You need to charge at least $4,750 after the first year to justify the fee. Businesses with less expenses will be better off with the Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business.
2. Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business
Why we like it: The Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business is a great $0 annual-fee credit card for small business owners. It offers unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, plus a $200 welcome offer for spending $3,000 in the first three months from account opening. You'll also have the ability to get free cards for your employees.
Potential deal-breakers: The only major downside to the Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business is that it doesn't offer the highest available rewards rate on purchases. While some other cards offer 3% to 4% cash back on certain categories of spending, the Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business earns a flat 1.5% on every dollar. However, most cards with better rewards rates charge annual fees, so the Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business is a good option for low spending businesses with varied purchases.
3. Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business
Why we like it: We highly recommend the Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business for companies with high travel demands. The card earns 2X miles per dollar on every purchase with no cap on rewards, and there's no minimum to redeem your miles. You can transfer you miles to over 10 travel partners, or you can use them on flights, vacation packages, hotels and other redemptions.
Potential deal-breakers: One possible drawback to using the Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business is that it earns miles rather than cash back. While most cash back can be applied as statement credit toward travel expenses without losing any value, miles are less flexible; if you want to redeem them for travel expenses, though, the miles will come in handy.
4. Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
Why we like it: The Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card currently has the highest bonus of any small business credit card, letting you Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. While we estimate this to be worth around $1,000, bonuses on most business credit cards tend to max out at $600. What makes the deal even sweeter is that the bonus comes in the form of Ultimate Rewards points. We consider these to be the most valuable credit card points, because they can be redeemed at a high value and transferred to a number of airline and hotel programs at a 1:1 ratio.
Potential deal-breakers: The main drawback to this card's bonus is the high purchase minimum of $5,000 within the first three months of opening your account to qualify. That can be steep for small firms or lean startups that have low expenses. If you go with a regular cash back card, you can get a bonus for spending as little as $500 or $1,000, but the bonus will be worth substantially less.
5. Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card
Why we like it: The Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card is our top pick for small companies who want cheap short term financing, or more time to pay off existing debt. It's an excellent card that combines both a long 0% intro APR for 12 months on purchases with cash back rewards. Cash back rewards aren't common among even the most attractive low-interest business credit cards.
Potential deal-breakers: Although this card doesn't carry an annual fee, you'll get poor rewards if your business spends over $25,000 in a year. In addition, there are no travel rewards on this card, which could be a downside if you or your employees fly frequently.
6. CitiBusiness®/ AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®
Why we like it: The CitiBusiness®/ AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® is a great option for small business owners who are loyal to American Airlines. The card earns 2 miles per dollar on American Airlines purchases, 2 miles per dollar in select business categories (telecommunications merchants, car rental merchants, cable and satellite providers, gas stations), and 1 mile per dollar on everything else. You'll also get a free checked bag on domestic American Airlines itineraries.
Potential deal-breakers: The main downside to this card, depending on your travel preferences, is that it only earns American Airlines AAdvantage miles. This is great if you mainly fly American, but it's not so useful for people who prefer to find the cheapest fare, regardless of airline. If you're not an airline loyalist, consider a general travel rewards card like the Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business.
7. Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card
Why we like it: The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card is a solid business credit card for people who fly Southwest and have internet-related expenses. You'll earn 3 points per dollar on Southwest airlines purchases; 2 points per dollar on social media and search engine advertising, Internet, cable and phone services; and 1 point per dollar on everything else. You'll also get four upgraded boardings per year, in-flight Wi-Fi credits, a Global Entry or TSA Precheck fee credit once every four years, and more.
Potential deal-breakers: This card comes with a $199 annual fee, which isn't waived the first year. While the host of benefits make the fee worth it for Southwest-loyal business owners, some may not be able to justify shelling out that much per year on a credit card. If this is the case, consider the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card, which comes with a $99 annual fee.
Summary of the best small business credit cards
- Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business: Best for cash back
- Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business: Best business credit card with no annual fee
- Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business: Best for travel
- Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card: Best sign-up bonus
- Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card: Best low-interest business credit card
- CitiBusiness®/ AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®: Best for American Airlines
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card: Best for Southwest Airlines
We evaluated dozens of credit cards to determine the best one for different types of business needs. Our research shows that the typical business card should provide $940 in rewards every two years — whether in cash back, points or miles. However, entrepreneurs may value perks differently, which is why we encourage all readers to compare multiple offers.
How to choose a small business credit card
In many ways, finding the best small business credit card is much like finding the top consumer card. This also means businesses which fail to pay off their credit card balance in full every month should opt for a card with a low or 0% intro APR offer. That's because carrying a balance on your card means your business will have to pay costly interest fees. These interest fees often outweigh any rewards offered by a small business card. A card with a low or 0% intro APR will give your company a grace period for interest payments, typically six to 12 months, on purchases, balance transfers or both.
Small businesses with bad credit or those that just recently launched a venture (and therefore have a limited credit history), should focus on strengthening their credit before applying for a business rewards card. Doing so will help business owners avoid applying for a card only to be denied. One strategy these business owners can take is to apply for a secured card, which is targeted towards businesses with subpar credit. Keep in mind that business credit scores are different from a consumer's credit score. However, applying for a small business credit card can result in a hard pull of your personal credit report. Banks may also evaluate your personal credit score when you apply.
Small businesses with limited spending, generally $1,000 per month or less, should search for a small business credit card without an annual fee. Generally, companies that spend less than this amount will not earn enough rewards from a card to justify paying an annual fee for a credit card.
The best small business credit cards will offer at least a 1.5% rewards rate and the rewards rate should more than offset any annual fees that the card may have. The leading options will have a sign-up bonus that's worth more than $200. Since the card is meant to be used for all of your business expenses, you should be able to request cards for your employees at no additional cost. Anyone looking for a card that aligns with (in some cases exceeding) the guidelines mentioned above, should consider applying for the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business.
Other features that may be offered by small business credit cards, like the ability to connect to your account to QuickBooks or other expense management tools are nice to have, but not necessary. Of course, the larger your company becomes, the more these types of benefits will come in handy.
How we chose the best small business cards
Our team analyzed 45 small business cards on the market. After long discussions weighing the merits of one card over another, we decided that there isn't a single best business credit card. That's because small businesses are unique and need different perks and features. This decision led to us crowning seven cards as the 'best' across seven different categories. We selected cards that offered the highest rewards rates, have longevity, offer valuable bonuses, offer employee cards, have worthwhile fees and come equipped with other valuable perks.
To make sure our analysis was comprehensive, we scoured our competitor's recommendations, popular online forums, and our site's own comments. We wanted to make sure that we caught the most significant concerns and details for business owners and managers. Our goal was to avoid any recommendations that might seem good on paper, but ultimately failed to live up to expectations. As a result of our diligence, we're positive we have put forth a great guide on selecting the best small business credit card of 2020.
Our Selection Criteria
Rewards rate: Our search was centered around finding small business cards that provide the greatest value. Within the universe of small business credit cards this means having a minimum rewards rate of 1.5%. We feel that most small businesses would be able to meet the minimum eligibility requirements set forth by credit card issuers to get a card with this rewards rate.
Staying power: A great small business card should provide value for as long as it's being used. We selected the best in-class cards under the assumption that most business owners will want to keep their account open for several years. By making this a set of our criteria, we were able to eliminate cards that provided great value through a sign-up bonus, but little redeeming value in their ongoing rewards.
Welcome offer: While we consider a card's long-term value to be more important than a welcome offer, bonuses are still critical as they can provide hundreds of dollars of value. While we didn't disqualify small business cards that didn't offer a sign-up bonus, we did dock them given the great offers that are available.
Employee cards: Given a small business credit card can accrue rewards for employee spending, we searched for cards that allowed business owners to order cards for their employees. There were two main considerations taken into account when it comes to employee cards: the number of additional cards that could be ordered and how much each card cost. The more cards that could be ordered and the less it costs, the better the card.
Fees: Annual fees are fair play when it comes to small business cards. However, that's only the case if a card offers enough rewards to offset the annual fee. We also considered other fees, such as foreign transaction fees, which grant cardholders the ability to spend freely when they're outside of the U.S. Under our scoring system, we penalized cards that carried a foreign transaction fee since we understand that certain small businesses have international travel needs.
Other business perks: Tracking and organizing expenses is important for any small-business. While determining the best small business cards, we took such features into account, but they weren't the primary scoring factor. We believe that these kinds of features are important and they add value, but they shouldn't be the determining factor when choosing a card.
What is the easiest business credit card to get?
If you're looking to get a business credit card that's guaranteed by your personal credit, you should already have good credit — i.e., a score that's at least in the high 600s. This is because most business credit cards, like the Chase lineup, require excellent personal credit. However, you may be able to meet application requirements if you can provide proof of income for your business. In most cases, Capital One business cards tend to have slightly more lenient credit requirements (they accept applicants with both good and excellent credit, among other factors), so these are your best bet if you don't have excellent credit.
How do I build credit for my business?
The most important step toward building a strong business credit profile is to incorporate your business and apply for an Employee Identification Number (EIN) through the IRS. The EIN functions like a Social Security number for your business, and it allows you to apply for credit cards with your business' credit score. Once you've incorporated your business, the next step to building business credit is to open a credit card.
How do small businesses get credit cards?
As mentioned above, the best way to get a business credit card is to, first, incorporate your business and, second, apply for an EIN through the IRS. Once you've done these steps, you can apply for a business credit card with your EIN and incorporated business name. Alternatively, some credit card issuers allow you to use your personal information to apply for a small business credit card.