We researched the most popular small business credit cards and chose the Chase Ink Business Cash, the American Express Business Platinum, and the Capital One Spark Miles cards as our top three. Read on for our comparisons and reviews of these three options, as well as our top recommendations.
Best Small Business Credit Card
|Annual Fee||Best For||Rewards|
|None||Cash Back||Up to 5% Cash Back, $300 if $3K spent in first 3 months|
|$450 Per Card||Frequent Business Travel||Up to 5x Points, 75K points if $5K spent in first 3 months|
|None||General Travel||2x Miles, 50K miles if $4.5K spent in first 3 months|
*Last Updated: August, 2017
Best Overall Small Business Credit Card: Chase Ink Business Cash
The Chase Ink Business Cash card is our top pick for small business owners because it has the best cash back introductory offer on this list. The card also offers ongoing cash back rewards that range from 1 to 5% for high-impact spending categories. Additionally, the Chase Ink Business Cash provides such ancillary benefits as an introductory APR and no annual fee.
Chase vs American Express vs Capital One Summary Table
|Best For||Cash back rewards||High frequency business travel||Airline rewards|
|None||$450 per card||None|
|Introductory Cash Back & Rewards|
|$300 after you spend $3,000 in first three months||75,000 points after you spend $5,000 in first three months||50,000 miles after you spend $4,500 in first three months|
|Ongoing Cash Back & Rewards|
|Introductory APR on Purchases & Balance Transfers|
|0% for the first 12 months||None (charge card requires monthly balances paid in full)||None|
|Regular APR on Purchases & Balance Transfers|
|Average APR between 13% and 20%||None (charge card requires monthly balances paid in full)||17.49% (fluctuates based on the prime rate)|
|Redeem for Travel Points?|
|New Card Fees|
|None||$450 annual fee per card||None|
|Expense Management Tools|
|Mobile app + desktop transaction reports||Mobile app + desktop transaction reports||Mobile app + desktop transaction reports|
|Credit Score Qualifications|
|Excellent Credit||Excellent Credit||Excellent Credit|
|Personal Liability and Company Liability||Personal Liability and Company Liability||Personal Liability and Company Liability|
|Card Type||Visa||American Express||Visa|
Why We Recommend Chase Ink Business Cash
We recommend the Chase Ink Business Cash card as our best small business credit card because it has the best introductory cash back offer and the best ongoing cash back rewards on this list.
When you sign up for the Chase Ink Business Cash card you receive $300 cash back if you spend $3,000 within the first three months. The card offers 5% cash back for every dollar you spend on office supplies, cell phones, landlines, and cable and Internet expenses, up to $25,000 a year. The card also offers 2% cash back on purchases made on hotels and gas up to $25,000, as well as an uncapped 1% cash back on all other purchases. This is by far the best cash back rewards when compared to the other two cards in the article.
In addition to the cash back rewards, the card provides the same standard benefits as many other cards, such as lost luggage reimbursement, auto collision damage waiver, as well as purchase protection. This is a similar offering to the American Express Business Platinum and the Capital One Spark Miles cards. However, unlike the American Express card, Chase doesn’t assess an annual fee on the Ink Business Cash card.
The downside of this card is that while it offers cash back rewards and some perks on travel, it’s not the best travel rewards card when compared to the American Express and Capital One cards.
To help, Chase offers a second option with their Ink Business Preferred card. While it doesn’t offer the same cash back rewards, the card is good for travel rewards and has an introductory bonus of 80,000 points if you spend $5,000 in the first three months.
Best for Overall Travel Benefits: American Express Platinum
The American Express Business Platinum card is the best small business credit card on this list for those who travel frequently. The card’s travel rewards structure benefits people who spend a significant amount of money on travel and is therefore best for travel-specific purchases.
The card starts by offering 75,000 introductory points – worth roughly $500 to $750 in cash value – after you spend $5,000 within the first three months. It offers 5x points for flights booked directly with American Express Travel as well as priority seating. Additionally, it gives cardholders a $200 annual airline credit for incidental fees, a $75 hotel credit for trips booked through American Express Travel, and a $100 annual TSA Global Entry credit.
What’s more, the American Express Platinum card provides access to over 1,000 premium airport lounges as well as discounts and deals on fine hotels and resorts.
This rewards structure is in contrast to the Capital One Spark Miles card, which offers 2x miles for all purchases – even those unrelated to travel – as it’s main travel benefit.
The American Express card carries with it a $450 annual fee for each card and is a charge card, meaning that balances are paid in full each month. But, if you travel for business a significant amount, the value of the introductory offer, ongoing rewards, and travel credits can easily offset the annual fee.
Best for Airline Miles: Capital One Spark Miles
The Capital One Spark Miles card is best for those who make significant non-travel related purchases but want their credit card rewards in miles. This is because the travel rewards, although not as comprehensive as the American Express card, are applied to any purchase made on the Capital One card.
The card offers an introductory reward of 50,000 bonus miles – equivalent to a cash price of $450 – when you spend $4,500 within the first three months. The card also offers unlimited 2x miles for each dollar spent on any item. Points can be redeemed with any airline.
Also unlike the American Express Platinum card, the Capital One Spark Miles card issues new cards for free and has a $59 annual fee that’s waived the first year. The card also provides an auto rental collision damage waiver and travel assistance services.
In addition to its travel benefits, the Capital One Spark Miles card allows you to redeem points for cash back, gift cards, and similar rewards instead of for miles. However, if you redeem your miles for rewards other than travel, the value of those miles are significantly reduced.
In-Depth Comparison: Chase vs American Express vs Capital One
A small business credit card is a payment card issued to a company to pay for business-related expenses. They are a good source for small business financing seeing as they’re quick and easy to use, can be issued to multiple employees, provide a business owner with financial controls and oversight, and offer various points, rewards, and discounts.
The general reasons why a small business owner should get a business credit card include:
- Separates small business finances from personal finances
- Gives employees an easy way to make business purchases
- Helps build your company’s business credit
- Higher credit limits and more rewards when compared to consumer credit cards
However, it’s not all perks and benefits with a small business credit card. For example, it can be difficult to qualify for a card if you have a personal credit score under 650 (you can check your credit for free here). In addition, consumer credit card legal protections such as preventing card issuers from increasing APR without warning – don’t apply to business cardholders.
You must own a registered business in order to qualify for a small business credit card. The card will be issued under your business’s name, although many small business credit cards require joint liability between the company and the business owner. Most small business credit card providers offer unlimited cards, and your employees can use their cards for business purposes.
On some occasions, a sole proprietor or partnership can still qualify even without a business EIN.
Below, we summarize some basic perks and features of our three cards featured in this article.
It’s pretty common to find small business credit cards that carry an annual fee. Some of these fees are as low as $59 a year, while other fees can run you more than $500 annually. In many cases, cash back and other rewards will more than offset these annual fees. Further, may small business credit cards offer to waive the first-year’s annual fee while other small business credit cards don’t have an annual fee at all.
Introductory Cash Back & Rewards
It’s typical to find small business credit cards that offer introductory cash back and rewards for signing up a new account. Credit card issuers use these initial perks to entice small business owners to open an account with them. It’s a win-win, because the introductory rewards are beneficial to the business and can sometimes even counter the annual card fee, if any.
Terms for these introductory rewards usually require that a cardholder spends a specific amount on the card within a three-month period. Rewards include such things as bonus points, airline miles, or cash back rewards.
Ongoing Cash Back & Rewards
In addition to introductory cash back and other rewards, almost all small business credit cards offer ongoing perks. It’s typical to find small business credit cards that offer cash back on purchases, as well as points or miles earned on credit card transactions.
Each small business credit card has its own offering, and it’s possible to find a business credit card for almost every situation or need. Within this article, for example, we provide you with the best cash back option, along with two options with travel-specific rewards.
Chase Ink Business Cash Rewards Structure
|Membership Cash Back Rewards||Spending Category|
|5% cash back, up to $25k annually||Office supplies, cell phones, landlines, and cable and Internet|
|2% cash back, up to $25k annually||Hotel and gas|
|1% cash back, uncapped||All other purchases not listed|
If you reach either of the $25,000 annual thresholds in the 5% and 2% categories, additional purchases roll into the uncapped 1% cash back reward category. Check out the card’s terms for more information on cash back rewards and spending categories
Introductory APR on Purchases & Balance Transfers
Some small business credit cards, in addition to their introductory rewards, also offer special APRs for an introductory period. This is a great benefit since a card’s APR determines the interest charges and fees on balance transfers, if any. If your introductory APR is 0% for the first year, for example, you can carry a balance for the entire first year without paying interest charges.
Some cards like the American Express card are charge cards, meaning that you have to pay the balance in full each month. In this case there’s no APR at all.
Regular APR on Purchases & Balance Transfers
Once the period ends for a card’s introductory APR, if any, the APR adjusts upward to the card’s regular APR. It’s basically the normal charge you pay for any outstanding credit balances or balance transfers.
If you keep a balance on your business credit card, be aware that your regular APR can change. For example, making a late payment can trigger a higher APR known as a penalty APR. Further, if you withdraw cash using your credit card (cash advance) or withdraw more than your credit limit allows (overdraft), that will also trigger higher APRs and other fees.
Consumer credit cards, unlike small business credit cards, are subject to the federal Credit CARD Act of 2009. This Act, among other things, protects consumers from sudden hikes in interest rates without written notice and restricts the length of time for which penalty rates can be charged. These protections don’t extend to holders of small business credit cards.
Redeem for Travel Points?
Travel points are one of the most sought after benefits provided by a small business credit card. Travel points work as discounts and can be applied to many, if not all, travel-related purchases, such as airline tickets and hotel accommodations. In this article, we highlight two specific cards that are good for travel. However, all three small business credit cards we list here have the opportunity to redeem their points, miles, and cash back rewards for travel.
New Card Fees
Most small business credit cards offer unlimited cards to a company’s employees. However, some of these small business cards charge fees on the new cards issued. These fees can come in the form of either a one-time administrative fee or an annual card fee. It’s possible to find cards with no new card fees, although the ones that do have new card fees often offer greater benefits.
A new card doesn’t require an employee-signed contract or require an employee to go through a credit check. However, you can have your own internal company credit card policies that outline company-specific requirements.
Expense Management Tools
Small business credit cards usually offer expense management tools that help with financial controls. These tools are typically a desktop portal and mobile app that allow a business owner to track card-specific charges as well as receive company-level transaction reports. Many small business credit cards also allow a business owner to set purchase restrictions on cards, such as monthly limits or limits on specific spending categories.
In addition to these management tools, many small business credit cards offer tools that help with expense reporting. Mobile apps, for example, help an employee take photos of receipts and itemize their expense reports.
There are certain situations, however, when a corporate credit card or a fleet card offers more robust expense management tools. If you have more than 15 people using company credit cards, for example, you might want to explore these other options.
Credit Score Qualifications
Almost all small business credit cards require a joint credit application. This means that a business owner’s personal credit score is considered in addition to the small business’s credit score. It’s typical for a small business credit card to look for a personal credit score above 650 and a “good” business credit score rated by one of the credit rating agencies. For more information on business credit, read our article on how to build business credit.
However, once the application is approved, the small business credit card doesn’t show up on the business owner’s personal credit report as long as the account remains in good standing. The business owner is still liable for any outstanding debts, late payments, and delinquent payments on behalf of the company.
The liability associated with small business credit cards is usually joint liability. This means that the business owner’s personal credit score is considered in addition to the business’s credit. Once approved, liability is shared jointly between the business owner and business.
Small business credit cards usually won’t show up on a personal credit report, but the business owner is responsible for any credit card payments, fees, interest charges, and delinquencies on behalf of the company. Since liability isn’t assessed on employees, if you open a joint liability card, it’s important to make use of the card’s expense management and oversight tools.
It’s possible to find a few small business credit cards that offer company-only liability. When this is the case, businesses typically need to meet certain performance thresholds, such as number of years in business, annual revenue, and more. It’s also possible to find personal-only liability, although this type of liability only makes sense if a business’s credit isn’t good enough for approval.
List of the Best Credit Cards for Startup Businesses
Small business credit cards are great for companies that want to separate business expenses, earn cash back and other rewards, build business credit, and make use of easy-to-use expense reporting and management tools.
We found the Chase Ink Business Cash to be the best small business credit card because of its cash back introductory offer and its ongoing cash back rewards. The American Express Business Platinum card is perfect for companies that expect to spend a large amount of money on travel. The Capital One Spark Miles card is great for businesses that make significant non-travel purchases yet want to earn airline miles as their reward.