The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN

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Great earning potential for a small business with small spending habits.

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The unique choose-your-own-bonus structure of the Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN is extremely appealing. In short, it allows you to earn the most rewards in the category where you spend the most.

This charge card is ideal for small businesses that plan to put less than $100,000 a year on plastic. You’ll also need to spend more than $5,800 a year to begin to recoup the annual fee.

Review

The rewards program really sets this card apart. You can earn 3X points on one of the following categories of your choosing: Airfare purchased directly from airlines, U.S. purchases for advertising in select media, U.S. purchases at gas stations, U.S. purchases for shipping and U.S. computer hardware, software or cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers. (Find a list of providers here.)

You’ll earn 2X points on your second favorite choice among the four categories.

All other purchases earn 1 point for each dollar spent.

Say a big part of your business is traveling around the country for meetings. If your company spends $100,000 on airfare annually, you’d recoup $3,000 annually if you made that your primary reward category.

If your company doesn’t have quite that big a budget, you may find there are better choices tailored to smaller businesses. Look elsewhere, as well, if you plan to carry a balance frequently. Business Gold Rewards is a charge card, meaning you’re supposed to pay it off every month. AmEx, however, does offer a “Pay Over Time” feature that will allow eligible cardholders to carry a balance and accrue interest.

Who should get this card

Small business owners who spend heavily in one area and want to be rewarded for it may like the flexibility of this card’s rewards system. You’d have to spend about $5,800 in the 3X rewards category or $8,750 in the 2X rewards categories per year to break even with the $175 annual card holder fee, waived the first year of card ownership.

Compared with a business credit card that offers 2X rewards without an annual fee, you’d have to spend $17,500 before you break even.

If you spend more than this annually, put this card near the top of your wish list.

Advantages
  • Get 50,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 within the first three months of card membership.
  • Earn 3X points in one of five spending categories of your choosing (airfare, advertising, gas, shipping or computer equipment and supplies) and 2X back in the other four categories.
  • Since this is a charge card and not a credit card, there are no interest charges.
  • Terms apply.
Disadvantages
  • There’s a $175 annual fee, waived the first year.
  • The bonus categories are capped at $100,000, so if your company spends in excess of that amount, you may be better off with a card that has a different rewards structure.
  • There are no travel perks which other business credit cards may offer.

Fees and APR

  • You’ll pay a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $175.
  • There are no foreign transaction fees for purchases made outside of the United States.
  • You can enroll in the “Pay Over Time” feature, which turns this card into a charge card with an APR of 19.24%.
  • See Rates & Fees.

Extras, perks and using points

American Express’ rewards points are flexible, meaning they can be redeemed for travel through the issuer’s portal, used as a statement credit or used to pay for gift cards or select online purchases.

This card comes with American Express’ OPEN benefits, the most significant of which is the 5% discount at FedEx, Hertz, Hewlett Packard, 1-800 Flowers and Barnes & Noble.

The first year fee of $50 is waived for an additional employee card and all subsequent cards after that remain free.

How this card compares

SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express
Card Details
  • Special Offer: Earn up to $400 cash back
  • Earn a $200 statement credit after you spend $5,000 in qualifying purchases on your Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Plus, earn an additional $200 statement credit after you spend an additional $10,000 or more in qualifying purchases on your Card within the first year of Card Membership.
  • No Annual Fee. Plus, more buying power and more cash back. Get cash back on business purchases, even those above your credit limit.
  • 5% cash back on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. office supply stores.
  • 3% on the category of your choice from a list of eight and 1% cash back on other purchases.
  • 5% and 3% apply to the first $50,000 in purchases per calendar year, then 1% applies thereafter. Cash back received is automatically credited to your statement.
  • Terms and limitations apply
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR 13.24% - 20.24% Variable
Annual Fee $0
Purchase Intro APR 0% on Purchases for 9 months
Balance Transfers Intro APR N/A

In just about every respect — from rewards to the annual fee — the SimplyCash Plus Business Credit Card from American Express stands tall among the elite business cards on the market.

The only reasons to shy away from this card would be if your work requires significant overseas travel or if your biggest expenses don’t match up with the bigger cash-back savings categories.

Ink Cash® Business Credit Card

This card offer is currently unavailable on Bankrate. To see more cards in this category, please visit our business category page.

Card Details
  • Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases—with no limit to the amount you can earn.
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR
Annual Fee No Annual Fee.
Balance Transfers Intro APR

If you’re just starting out and you aren’t sure what your spending patterns will be, the Ink Cash Business Credit Card is like a small rectangular mentor. The no-fee card will reward you for spending in the areas you’ll most likely need to get your business off the ground and gives you a full year break on interest for purchases and balance transfers. Who couldn’t use a little breathing room when launching a new venture?

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

This card offer is currently unavailable on Bankrate. To see more cards in this category, please visit our business category page.

Card Details
  • Earn 3X on travel, shipping purchases, advertising purchases made with search engines and social media sites, and Internet/cable/phone services, on up to $150,000 per year.
  • Earn 1X on all other purchases.
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR 16.99% to 21.99%, based on your creditworthiness. These APRs will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.
Annual Fee $95.
Balance Transfers Intro APR

The Ink Business Preferred Credit Card has one of the best sign-up bonuses of any small business card, worth well more than the annual fee. The on-going perks are also excellent for tech and travel-heavy businesses.

Of course, this card is only a great choice if your spending habits align with the rewards categories of this card. If most of your spending is on office supplies or gas, for example, you may be better off with a different card.

Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business
Card Details
  • Earning unlimited 2% cash back could mean thousands of dollars each year going back into your business
  • Plus, a one-time $500 cash bonus once you spend $4,500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Use Spark Cash across all your business spend, with no categories to limit your purchasing
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
  • Rewards won't expire for the life of the account, and you can redeem your cash back for any amount
  • Get employee cards at no additional cost, and earn rewards from their business spend
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR 17.99% (Variable)
Annual Fee $0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Purchase Intro APR N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR N/A

Capital One Spark Cash for Business ranks among the best business rewards credit cards on the market, edging out other business cards – including those offered by Capital One — because of its rewards flexibility.

We love that this card pays the same flat rewards rate on cards issued to employees as those issued to the business owner. Plus, employee cards come with no annual fee. Capital One waives the annual fee for the first year on the owner’s card. You’ll pay $59 a year thereafter, which is fairly low given the rewards value.

EDITORIAL NOTE

Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.