A purchasing card, also called a P-Card, is a charge card but is used to procure goods and services from merchants without other payment methods, such as checks and automated clearing house (ACH) transactions. We’ve made a list of the five best P-Cards for 2019 and ranked them based on costs, terms, qualifications, and potential benefits.
Top 5 P-Cards 2019
|P Card Options||Best For|
|One Card from Capital One||(Best overall) Earning rewards on eligible business purchases|
|WellsOne Commercial Card||Consolidating your company spending and business-related expenses onto one card|
|American Express Purchasing Card||Businesses with at least $4 million in annual revenue|
|Citi Purchasing Card||Businesses who want expert analysis on their programs and recommended strategies|
|PEX Prepaid Business Card||Best alternative for easier requirements and abilities to manage employee spending|
What Is a Purchasing Card?
A purchasing card is a charge card that falls into the commercial card family, which also includes corporate cards. You’ll find that a P-Card works just like a corporate card, except it’s specifically focused on business-to-business purchasing, rather than paying for travel, entertainment, and meals. Some card providers have all-in-one purchasing card and corporate card options, which allows you to do both things.
A charge card is required to be paid in full monthly and generally has terms that are net 30. This means your credit card bill is due in full at least every 30 days. Unlike business credit cards, charge cards don’t carry any APRs and can’t carry balances month-over-month. Instead, unpaid balances that remain after the month’s end incur late fees and are considered past due.
P-Card vs Business Credit Card
The major difference between a purchasing card and business credit card is that a P-Card acts like a charge card and a business credit card does not. The full balance on P-Cards must be paid in full every month, while a business credit card can carry a balance month-over-month. Some of the other differences including interest rates, repayment terms, discounts and rewards, and spending restrictions. Additionally, there may be different qualifications to get a business credit card, too.
How We Evaluated Purchasing Cards
Business owners typically use purchasing cards to help streamline and simplify their purchasing process. Just like normal credit cards, purchasing cards have a wide range of costs, terms, and qualifications. The best P-Card for your business is likely going to be determined by how you plan to use the card, costs, potential benefits, and if you meet the qualifications. it’s important to choose a business card that matches your business needs.
Based on the wants and needs of business owners, the criteria we used to evaluate the best P-Cards are:
- Costs: Costs including annual, card, and late fees. However, there is no APR because you have to pay the balance in full monthly
- Terms: You’ll be required to at least pay your balance in full monthly but, sometimes, more frequently if you need access to more funds that your limit wouldn’t allow if you only pay one time per month
- Rewards: Possible rewards and pay early discounts account holders can earn while using a P-Card
- Benefits: Whether the card offers account management tools or programs that deliver data reports
- Qualifications: Business credit score and business history that is required to qualify for a card
- Reviews: Both positive and negative user reviews sourced from the web about a specific card
Based on the above criteria, we recommend the One Card from Capital One as the best P-Card because of its versatility. It offers business with the best opportunity to maximize and earn rewards, gives them the option to choose between different billing cycles, and allows business owners to control employee spending.
One Card from Capital One: Overall Best P-Card for Small Businesses
The One Card from Capital One is the best P-Card because of the ability for businesses to earn and maximize rewards, streamline the purchasing process, and benefit from flexible billing options. Unlike the cards on our list, it does have a cardholder fee of $35 per card, and it’s both a purchasing card and a corporate card. If you use a corporate card, you should consider developing a corporate credit card policy to set expectations with card users.
One Card from Capital One Features at a Glance
One Card from Capital One Cost
Compared to a normal small business credit card, purchasing cards need to be repaid in full at least monthly, which means they generally have lower costs. The One Card from Capital One carries no interest since it’s a charge card and any unpaid balances will result in a late fee. The major downside to this card is that it carries a $35 fee per card, unlike the rest of the cards on our list.
The costs of the One Card from Capital One are:
- Annual fee: $0
- Cardholder fee: $35 per card
- Late fee: 1.5% of past due amount
- Cash advance: $5, or 5% of the amount of each advance, whichever is greater
What’s different about the Capital One card is that cardholders can use it for cash advances. This may be helpful for cardholders that are in need of cash, but only have their business card handy to access company funds.
One Card from Capital One Terms
Just like the rest of the purchasing cards in our list, the One Card from Capital One works like a business charge card and has similar terms. All charges made on this card are due and payable when you receive your periodic statement, which is customizable for each account.
You have two billing options with this card and those are:
- Flexible 14-day billing cycle: A shorter repayment period is good if you have more expenses in a month than your card limit would allow
- Flexible 30-day billing cycle: If you don’t need access to more of your limit, a longer repayment period can help spread out expenses during the course of the month; this may be an easier billing cycle if you don’t have the revenue two pay more than once a month
Compared to the other purchasing cards, the Capital One card ranks best in this category as it’s the only card with flexible billing options. Another major benefit of the Capital One card is that, depending on the repayment terms you choose, you can receive rewards for your net purchases.
One Card from Capital One Rewards & Benefits
Although there are no introductory rewards like some business cash back credit cards, account holders can earn ongoing rewards. Depending on the billing cycle you select for your account, you can earn up to 1.5 times the rewards on net purchases. There is no cap to the number of rewards you can earn, and they will never expire unless you close your account.
The ongoing rewards for the One Card from Capital One are:
- 1.25 times the rewards: Earn 1.25 times the rewards with a 30-day billing cycle
- 1.5 times the rewards: Earn 1.5 times the rewards with a 14-day billing cycle
Capital One also offers online management tools that can help account holders manage spending by supplier, schedule automated reports, receive expense reporting, and access up to 36 months of extended transaction information. You can connect your transactions quickly to your accounting software, such as QuickBooks and Quicken, to make your accounting process easy.
One Card from Capital One Qualifications
Most card providers have varying specific qualifications for each card inquiry. Some common qualifications include monthly and annual spend amounts, level of liquidity, business and personal credit score, level of cash flow coverage, and the financial condition of your business. They typically require your business to be profitable both currently and in the past couple of years.
Also, it’s always a good rule of thumb to maintain a “good” business credit score with the four business credit bureaus. The four business credit bureaus and what’s considered a good score include Dun & Bradstreet (80 and higher), Experian (76 and higher), Equifax (90 and higher), and FICO SBSS (140 and higher).
One Card from Capital One Is Missing
As our best P-Card, the One Card from Capital One isn’t missing much for small business owners. It’s a great option that offers rewards, cash flow flexibility, online management tools, employee cards, and real-time spend controls.
One Card from Capital One Reviews
We sourced the internet for customer reviews and, in doing so, we found that the One Card from Capital One has excellent reviews as account holders like that they can earn rewards while they streamline their purchasing process. This separates this card from the rest as it offers more opportunities to maximize rewards and provides extra cash flow flexibility. The only negative review we found was in regard to its per card fee.
WellsOne Commercial Card: Best P-Card for Consolidating Spending Onto One Card
The WellsOne Commercial Card is best for small businesses looking for a P-Card that can consolidate payables into a single card. Unlike other purchasing specific cards, this card can be used for purchasing, travel and entertainment, account payable invoices, and fleet expenditures. This card is a combination of a P-Card and a corporate card. Similar to the Capital One P-Card, the Wells Fargo card has no annual fee and is required to be paid in full monthly.
WellsOne Commercial Card Features at a Glance
WellsOne Commercial Card Costs
Similar to most purchasing cards, the WellsOne Commercial Card doesn’t carry an annual or monthly fee. Typically, there will be annual fees for cards that offer rebates and rewards. Because this commercial card works like a charge card, any balances that are unpaid will be dinged with a late fee.
To avoid this late fee make sure to pay off your full account balance every month. If your business becomes habitually late on your payments, your provider may require automatic payments or can potentially cancel your card.
WellsOne Commercial Card Terms
Compared to business credit cards, WellsOne account holders are expected to repay their total account balance in full every month. Most providers will require you to pay at least once every 30 days. However, you may be able to be set up with more frequent repayment terms if you want them, or so you can spend more than your card limit would allow if you were on a 30-day payment cycle.
You shouldn’t be surprised if card providers require you to set up automatic payments. The benefit to this is you won’t need to worry about missing a payment, but you do need to pay attention to what the balance of your bill is to not unexpectedly overdraft the connected checking account. You will receive a bill before your automatic payment goes through, which makes it easy to stay on top of.
WellsOne Commercial Card Rewards & Benefits
The Wells P-Card doesn’t offer any rewards like some cash back and travel rewards cards. Although, it provides their cardholders and account holders with a handful of benefits through comprehensive reporting on the CEO Mobile app. Wells Fargo’s reporting helps you improve working capital, update your accounts payable system automatically, analyze spending trends easily, and deliver convenience to traveling employees through mobile access.
The big benefit to having your accounts payable system automatically updated is that it makes for a simplified account process. Your accounts payable team won’t have to put in the legwork and enter every transaction manually. Also, employees can keep track of their receipts using the mobile app, which partially automates the expense reporting process.
WellsOne Commercial Card Qualifications
Similar to the Capital One P-Card, you must reach out to a banking representative online to find out if you qualify for the WellsOne Commercial Card. However, some common qualifications with most providers include your monthly and annual credit card spend amounts, business and personal credit score, level of liquidity, and the financial standing of your business.
As a good rule of thumb, you should maintain a good business credit score (FICO SBSS score of 140 and higher) and a good personal credit score (640 and higher). Providers also want to see that your business has been profitable, and you have the cash flow to pay off your debt obligations.
What the WellsOne Commercial Card Is Missing
Unlike the One Card from Capital One, the WellsOne Commercial Card doesn’t offer any rewards for business-related purchases. If you’re a business that is looking to consolidate expenses onto one card alongside earning some rewards, it may be best to consider another option like Capital One.
WellsOne Commercial Card Reviews
Online customer reviews suggest that cardholders and account holders especially like that this card can be used for more than just their purchasing needs. They like this flexibility, as it allows them to consolidate different expenses onto one card. There were no negative reviews online.
American Express Purchasing Card: Best P-Card for Small Businesses With at Least $4 Million in Annual Revenue
The American Express Purchasing Card is best for small businesses that have at least $4 million in annual revenue. It’s an excellent option for growing businesses that are looking to use a card for their purchasing process. With no annual fee, this card’s inexpensive costs are similar to the WellsOne P-Card. This P-Card is right for business owners looking to have access to expense management program and expense reporting to improve their working capital management.
American Express Purchasing Card Features at a Glance
American Express Purchasing Card Costs
The American Express P-Card comes with no annual fee for its account holders and cardholders. Although there is no APR, your account can be hit with a late fee if you fail to pay your monthly balance. The American Express P-Card has a minimum late fee of $39 compared to the 1.5% of the past due amount Capital One charges.
The costs you can expect with the American Express P-Card are:
- Annual fee: None
- Late fee: $39 or 2.99%, whichever is greater
Since purchasing cards act like a charge card, it’s expected that you repay your account balance in full every month. For any unpaid balances, your account will accrue a late fee of at least $39. If your late payments become common, it’s likely that you could lose the privilege of being able to use this card.
American Express Purchasing Card Terms
The American Express P-Card has monthly repayment terms that require you to pay your balance in full. It’s common for most P-Card providers to require you to pat at least once every month. Although, there are sometimes opportunities to have more frequent repayment terms if you’d like. This can help if you want to spend more than what your card limit would allow for if you pay every 30 days.
Also, card providers may often require you to set up automatic payments. This can help you not miss any payments. However, you do need to be aware of your bill to make sure you don’t accidentally overdraft your connected checking account.
American Express Purchasing Card Rewards & Benefits
Although you can’t earn cash back or point rewards with this purchasing card, you do have access to beneficial expense reporting. The American Express P-Card offers two expense programs that can help your small business control their purchasing process. These programs include the American Express @ Work Reporting and the ExpenseIt Pro from Concur App.
The American Express expense programs are:
- American Express @ Work Reporting: Allows for employees to create online reporting for their company’s P-Card program, allowing for simplified expense reporting
- ExpenseIt Pro from Concur app: Helps cardholders save time by uploading their purchase receipts immediately, which can connect with your business’s account system making for easy accounting
American Express Purchasing Card Qualifications
Specifically, American Express qualifies you based on your annual revenues ― operating budgets for nonprofits ― and requires businesses to have at least $4 million in annual revenue. In comparison, most other P-Card providers will generally qualify you based on an annual spend requirement.
American Express also requires that your business is organized as a limited liability company (LLC) or corporation to qualify. Although there are no annual spend requirements needed to qualify for their P-Card, there are program features, such as liability, reporting and control options, travel and expenses (T&E), and so on, that might be tied to your level of annual spend.
What the American Express Purchasing Card Is Missing
The main downside to the American Express P-Card is that it’s only made available to growing small businesses that are bringing in a good chunk of annual revenue. It’s missing the lower qualifications that some other purchasing cards offer. A good alternative to consider would be the One Card from Capital One.
American Express Purchasing Card Reviews
According to online customer reviews, account holders like using this card because of the benefits and programs they receive alongside the card. The expense management programs allow them to take control of their traditional purchasing process, making it more efficient. However, the only negative reviews we found were in regard to the annual revenue requirements.
Citi Purchasing Card: Best P-Card for Comprehensive Control of Your Procurement Process
The Citi Purchasing Card offers robust spend controls and industry-leading merchant acceptance. Similar to the other cards on our list, besides Capital One, the Citi Purchasing Card has no annual fee and is required to be paid in full monthly. It offers tools such as the CitiManager Online Tool and Citi Working Capital Analytics (CWCA) to help business owners gain control and visibility over decentralized buying decisions through in-depth analysis.
Citi Purchasing Card Features at a Glance
Citi Purchasing Card Costs
The Citi Purchasing Card has similar fees with the rest of the cards in our best P-Cards list. This purchasing card carries no annual fee or regular APR. Because it’s a charge card, your account will be hit with a late fee if your balance isn’t paid in full. Citi’s costs are customized to each business, which is very typical among most providers. You’ll need to contact a representative through their website for specifics.
Citi Purchasing Card Terms
Just like all purchasing cards, the Citi Purchasing Card acts like a charge card and is required to be paid off in full monthly. Most providers require that you pay them at least once every 30 days. However, there may be other opportunities to agree to more frequent terms, such as 15 days. This can benefit you if you need to spend more money than your current limit provides.
Some card providers may have an automatic payment requirement to help mitigate the risk of late payments. If this is the case, be sure to keep an eye on your bill every month to avoid an overdraft on your connected business account.
Citi Purchasing Card Rewards & Benefits
Citi Purchasing Card account holders will receive benefits such as reporting, administrative, and online tools to help simplify its P-Card program. It offers tools that provide in-depth analysis of your P-Card program, such as CitiManager and CWCA.
The account management tools Citi offers are:
- CitiManager online tool: Allows business owners to P-Card programs, set card spending restrictions, retrieve robust reporting, and modify any account parameters
- CWCA: Provides in-depth analysis of your P-Card program, pointing out opportunities to take advantage of your supply chain; Citi experts analyze your data to help recommend a payment-optimization strategy that best fits your business
Similar to the American Express P-Card, Citi’s software, programs, and account management tools connect to your accounting software and expense management systems to simplify your business’s accounting needs.
Citi Purchasing Card Qualifications
Most P-Card provides typically have qualifications that vary per business looking to get a card. However, some of the qualifications you can expect include annual credit card spend amounts, business and personal credit score, level of liquidity, level of cash flow coverage, and the financial condition of your business.
Also, it’s always a good rule of thumb to maintain a “good” business credit score (FICO SBSS 140 and higher) and a good personal credit score (640 and higher). However, not all providers will require the business owner’s personal credit score. They will also want to see that your business is currently profitable and has been over the last couple of years.
What the Citi Purchasing Card Is Missing
The Citi Purchasing Card can only be used for business-to-business purchases. If you’re looking for a card to help you consolidate your company spending, it’s worth considering a card through Capital One or Wells Fargo.
Citi Purchasing Card Reviews
Online customer reviews suggest that most account holders like this purchasing card specifically for its robust card-level controls and the amount of data they receive in their reports. Additionally, cardholders and employees like this card because of the level of card acceptance. There were no negative customer reviews on the web.
PEX Business Prepaid Card: Best Alternative to a Purchasing Card
The PEX Business Prepaid Card is the best alternative to a purchasing card because of the scalability it offers through 100 employee cards per account. It cost $7.50 per month for each card. However, this is waived if you spend $50,000 or more per month. This card is best for small business owners who want to control employee spending limits and don’t meet the spend qualifications of most P-Cards.
PEX Business Prepaid Card Features at a Glance
PEX Business Prepaid Card Costs
Compared to purchasing cards, most prepaid business cards have monthly card fees instead of annual fees. The PEX card charges a flat monthly fee of $7.50 per card and offers up to 100 or more cards per account. This is generally more expensive than a P-Card, but it’s an excellent option if your business doesn’t meet P-Card qualifications. For example, if your annual spend is too low.
The Pex Business Prepaid Card costs are:
- One-time setup fee: $49
- Monthly fee: $7.50 per card, waived after spending $50,000 or more
If you spend $50,000 or more per month across your account, PEX will waive all of your card fees. This makes it a great option for larger businesses. In addition to the monthly and one-time fees, PEX also charges 1.5% for all foreign transactions. However, there are no domestic transaction or load fees.
PEX Business Prepaid Card Terms
Prepaid business cards work much differently than normal credit cards and purchasing cards because the funds are preloaded. Therefore, there aren’t any specific repayment terms for the account holder to follow. The cardholders or employees can only use the amount of funds that are preloaded onto their cards. Once that amount runs out, you can add more funds to the card by transferring money through your online PEX account.
PEX Business Prepaid Card Rewards & Benefits
Similar to most purchasing cards, there are no rewards or discounts you can earn by using the PEX business prepaid card. However, with the PEX card, you can control company spending by setting employee card spending limits. Through an easy-to-use online portal, you can set specific spending privileges by department, individual cardholder, spending category, and time.
PEX Business Prepaid Card Qualifications
Compared to purchasing cards and normal credit cards, prepaid business cards have fewer qualifications. Since PEX isn’t a credit card or credit card company, it doesn’t require a personal credit check or a personal guarantee from the business owner. However, PEX requires you to fill out your basic business and personal information and confirm your identity. It may also ask you to provide necessary information to fund your PEX account from a business checking account.
What the PEX Business Prepaid Card Is Missing
With the PEX business prepaid card small business owners won’t have the opportunity to save money on their purchase orders or earn rewards on their business-related purchases. If you’re looking to save money on these types of expenses, it’s worth considering a cash back rewards credit card.
What People Think About the PEX Business Prepaid Card
PEX reviews are both positive and negative. A positive review suggests the fees associated with this card and customer support services are very beneficial to small business owners. Although, another customer says he’s experienced deposits that were withheld and failed transfers to his employee cards.
Purchasing Card Alternatives
A purchasing card may not be right for small business owners if you’re looking to do more than simplify your purchasing process. If that’s the case for your business spending needs, it’s worth considering an alternative financing option. The most common alternatives to a P-Card are a small business credit card, prepaid business credit card, and secured business credit card.
Small Business Credit Card
Small business credit cards are an excellent way to solve your working capital needs especially if you have little-to-no revenue. The best cards on the market offer cardholders various rewards and have low introductory and ongoing APRs. It’s possible to qualify for a small business credit score with a score of 640 or higher. However, we recommend having a score of 700 or higher if you want to qualify for the best cards.
Prepaid Business Card
Business prepaid cards can help your small business manage employee spending and typically have lower qualifications than a small business credit card. Some prepaid cards offer up to 100 employee cards, which can help you distribute your company funds easily. Although, it’s important to note these cards don’t have a revolving line of credit and the funds must be preloaded.
Secured Business Credit Card
Secured business credit cards are a great option for small business owners who may not qualify for a normal business credit card. There are card options on the market that offer financing to borrowers with personal credit scores below 640. With that being said, a secure business credit card is a great way to establish business and personal credit
The Bottom Line
Purchasing cards help small businesses and organizations streamline their purchasing process, saving them time and money. A purchasing card can save account holders up to 90% of the normal purchasing process. The best P-Cards for your business is determined by your current business financial situation and what you need to use it to purchase.
With that in mind, our recommendation for the best P-Card is the One Card from Capital One. It’s the best card on our best P-Cards list and gives account holders the opportunity to earn rewards on their net purchases.