Best Business Credit Cards of 2019

With generous rewards programs and features that boost the bottom line, business credit cards are designed to help companies big and small benefit from everyday spending. Our experts have reviewed hundreds of options to identify the best credit cards available from our partners.

Bankrate's Top Picks for Business Credit Cards

Need more information?

Skip down to read our card profiles and expert advice.

Best flat-rate cash back card for businesses

Capital One Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Capital One's secure website

Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business

Rewards Rate:
Earn unlimited 2% cash back for your business on every purchase, everywhere, no limits or category restrictions.
Welcome Offer:
Limited Time Offer: Earn up to $2,000 in cash bonuses. Earn a $500 cash bonus when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months and earn $1,500 when you spend $50,000 in the first 6 months of your account opening.
Annual Fee:
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
18.74% (Variable)

Card Details

  • Limited Time Offer: Earn up to $2,000 in cash bonuses
  • Earn a $500 cash bonus when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months and earn $1,500 when you spend $50,000 in the first 6 months of your account opening
  • Earn unlimited 2% cash back for your business on every purchase, everywhere, no limits or category restrictions
  • $0 annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
  • Free employee cards, which also earn unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases
  • $0 Fraud Liability if your card is lost or stolen
  • Rewards won't expire for the life of the account, and you can redeem your cash back for any amount
  • No foreign transaction fees
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for cash back with no annual fee

Capital One Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Capital One's secure website

Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business

Rewards Rate:
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back for your business on every purchase, everywhere, no limits or category restrictions.
Welcome Offer:
Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% on purchases for 9 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
14.74% - 22.74% (Variable)

Card Details

  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back for your business on every purchase, everywhere, no limits or category restrictions
  • Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Save on interest with 0% intro APR on purchases for 9 months; 14.74% - 22.74% variable APR after that
  • No annual fee
  • Free employee cards, which also earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases
  • Rewards won't expire for the life of the account, and you can redeem your cash back for any amount
  • $0 Fraud Liability if your card is lost or stolen
  • No foreign transaction fees
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best cash back for businesses that bank with BofA

Bank of America Image

Recommended Credit Score

Excellent (740 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Bank of America's secure website

Bank of America® Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card

Rewards Rate:
3% cash back in the category of your choice (on the first $50,000 in combined choice category/dining purchases each calendar year) 2% cash back on dining (on the first $50,000 in combined choice category/dining purchases each calendar year) Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
Welcome Offer:
Get a $300 statement credit when you make at least $3,000 in net purchases within 90 days of your account opening - with no annual fee and cash rewards don't expire.
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% Introductory APR on purchases for 9 billing cycles
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
13.74% - 23.74% Variable APR on purchases

Card Details

  • Get a $300 statement credit when you make at least $3,000 in net purchases within 90 days of your account opening – with no annual fee and cash rewards don't expire.
  • Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice, 2% cash back on dining and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • You'll get 3% and 2% cash back on the first $50,000 in combined choice category/dining purchases each calendar year, 1% thereafter.
  • 0% Introductory APR on purchases for your first 9 billing cycles.
  • Redeem your cash rewards as a statement credit, check, or have cash deposited into a Bank of America® checking or savings account.
  • Get 75% more cash back on every purchase when you’re a Preferred Rewards for Business Platinum Honors tier member. That means you will earn 5.25% on your selected choice category, 3.5% on dining and unlimited 1.75% cash back on all other purchases.
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best business card for startups

American Express Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On American Express's secure website

American Express® Blue Business Cash Card

Rewards Rate:
Earn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1%. 1% cash back on all eligible purchases after spending $50,000 per calendar year.
Welcome Offer:
N/A
Annual Fee:
No annual fee
Purchase Intro APR:
0% on purchases for 12 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% on balance transfers for 12 months
Regular APR:
14.74% - 20.74% Variable

Card Details

  • Earn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1%. Cash back earned is automatically credited to your statement.
  • From workflow to inventory to floor plans, your business is constantly changing. That’s why you’ve got the power to spend beyond your credit limit with Expanded Buying Power§.
  • Just remember, the amount you can spend above your credit limit is not unlimited. It adjusts with your use of the Card, your payment history, credit record, financial resources known to us and other factors.
  • 0.0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months, then a variable rate, 14.74%, 17.74%, or 20.74%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors as determined at the time of account opening.
  • No Annual Fee
  • Terms Apply

Best for average-credit business owners

Capital One Image

Recommended Credit Score

Fair to Good (580 - 740)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Capital One's secure website

Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business

Rewards Rate:
Earn unlimited 1% cash back for your business on every purchase, everywhere, no limits or category restrictions.
Welcome Offer:
N/A
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
24.74% (Variable)

Card Details

  • Earn unlimited 1% cash back for your business on every purchase, everywhere, no limits or category restrictions
  • No annual fee
  • Build and strengthen credit for your business by using this credit card responsibly
  • $0 Fraud Liability if your card is lost or stolen
  • Free employee cards, which also earn unlimited 1% cash back on all purchases
  • Rewards won't expire for the life of the account, and you can redeem your cash back for any amount
  • No foreign transaction fees
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for balance transfers

American Express Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On American Express's secure website

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

Rewards Rate:
Earn 2X Membership Rewards® points on everyday business purchases such as office supplies or client dinners. 2X applies to the first $50,000 in purchases per year, 1 point per dollar thereafter.
Welcome Offer:
N/A
Annual Fee:
No annual fee
Purchase Intro APR:
0% on purchases for 12 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% on balance transfers for 12 months
Regular APR:
14.74% - 20.74% Variable

Card Details

  • Get rewarded for business as usual. Earn 2X Membership Rewards® points on everyday business purchases such as office supplies or client dinners.
  • 2X applies to the first $50,000 in purchases per year, 1 point per dollar thereafter.
  • Enjoy the flexibility to put more purchases on the Card and earn rewards when you buy above your credit limit*.
  • You’ve got the power to use your Card beyond its credit limit* with Expanded Buying Power.
  • More buying power for your business means more opportunities to earn points. That’s everyday business with the Blue Business Plus Card.
  • *The amount you can spend above your credit limit is not unlimited. It adjusts with your use of the Card, your payment history, credit record, financial resources known to us, and other factors.
  • 0.0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months, then a variable rate, 14.74%, 17.74% or 20.74%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors as determined at the time of account opening.
  • Terms Apply

Best for simple travel rewards

Capital One Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Capital One's secure website

Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business

Rewards Rate:
Earn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, everywhere, no limits or category restrictions, and miles won't expire for the life of the account. Earn 5X miles on hotel and rental car bookings through Capital One Travel℠ using a Spark Miles card.
Welcome Offer:
Limited Time Offer: Earn up to 200,000 bonus miles worth up to $2,000 to spend on travel—flights, hotels and more. Earn 50,000 bonus miles when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months and earn 150,000 bonus miles when you spend $50,000 in the first 6 months of your account opening
Annual Fee:
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
18.74% (Variable)

Card Details

  • Limited Time Offer: Earn up to 200,000 bonus miles worth up to $2,000 to spend on travel—flights, hotels and more
  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months and earn 150,000 bonus miles when you spend $50,000 in the first 6 months of your account opening
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, everywhere, no limits or category restrictions, and miles won't expire for the life of the account
  • Earn 5X miles on hotel and rental car bookings through Capital One Travel℠ using a Spark Miles card
  • Transfer your miles to 10+ leading travel loyalty programs like JetBlue™, Air Canada, and Emirates™
  • Redeem your miles instantly for any travel-related purchases, from flights and hotels to ride-sharing services
  • Fly through security with one statement credit for either the $85 TSA Pre✓® application fee or the $100 Global Entry application fee
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by Bankrate.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank’s website for the most current information.


Author: Barry Bridges | bbridges@bankrate.com


 

Find the right business credit card with Bankrate

Business credit cards can be game-changing for small-business owners. Accumulating rewards bonuses that maximize your necessary expenditures can help you and your employees conduct business more easily.

If you’re looking to streamline your business-related purchases and earn rewards that can help you save money, a business credit card is a great option. Read our guide to learn all about how these cards can improve your business and which one might be a perfect fit for you.

A quick rundown of the top business credit cards

Card Name Rewards Highlights/Top Features Bankrate Score
Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business Unlimited 2% cash back 4.7 / 5
Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business Unlimited 1.5% cash back 4.5 / 5
Bank of America® Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard® 3% cash back in choice category and 2% cash back on dining (on the first $50,000 in combined choice category/dining purchases each calendar year), unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases 4.7 / 5
American Express® Blue Business Cash Card 2% cash back on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1% 3.7 / 5
Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business 1% cash back on every purchase 4.4 / 5
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 12 months, then 14.74%, 17.74% or 20.74% variable 4.5 / 5
Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business Unlimited 2 miles per $1 on every purchase, everywhere 4.6 / 5

A closer look at 2019’s best credit cards for business

Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business

Why we rate it best for flat-rate cash back

The Capital One Spark Cash for Business card is great for business owners who spend big and want a generous cash back rewards program to match. With unlimited 2% cash back earnings, including on free employee cards and straightforward redemption options, simplicity is one of its biggest perks.

You should avoid carrying or transferring a balance with this card. It has an 18.74% variable APR — slightly higher than other cards — meaning incurring interest would ultimately negate any cash back returns.

Read the full review and apply on Capital One’s secure website.

Another card you might consider

For cash-back lovers, the Spark Cash for Business is a viable alternative to Chase’s popular Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card.

Both options offer competitive sign-up bonuses and cash back, but Spark Cash for Business offers an unlimited flat 2% rate on all purchases while the Ink Business Unlimited offers 1.5% cash back, like Capital One’s other flat cash back business card, the Capital One® Spark®  Cash Select for Business.

If you spend enough on business expenses to justify the $95 annual fee and don’t need to transfer a balance, the Spark Cash’s 2% rate is likely a better choice for you.

The information about the Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business

Why we rate it best for cash back with no annual fee

The Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business is a straightforward, no annual fee business rewards card. If you’re just making the move to a small business card, this is one to consider. It earns an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases, which will stack up quickly if you’re charging all your business expenses to the card.

Capital One is also currently offering a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months of account opening.

Read the full review and apply on the Capital One secure website.

Another card you might consider

The Spark Cash Select for Business is little sister to the Spark Cash for Business. Spark Cash Select has the same no-frills flat cash back rewards structure as the Spark Cash, but falls short of the Spark Cash’s unlimited 2% cash back and $500 bonus when you spend $5000 within the first 3 months of account opening.

In order to outearn the Spark Cash $95 annual fee (waived the first year) in cash back, you’ll need to spend more than $19,000. Otherwise, the no annual fee Spark Cash Select is your better option.

Bank of America® Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card

Why we rate it best cash back card for BofA customers

This is a great card for any business owner who enjoys customizable rewards, especially those who already bank with Bank of America. The Bank of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard rewards 3% cash back on your choice of 6 categories:

  • Gas stations (the card’s default)
  • Office supply stores
  • Travel
  • TV/telecom and wireless
  • Computer services
  • Business consulting services

You’ll also earn 2% back on dining (for the first $50,000 on combined choice category and dining annually, then 1%) and unlimited 1% on all other purchases. The card offers a $300 statement credit after spending $3,000 in net purchases within 90 days of account opening.

Read the full review and apply on Bank of America’s secure website.

Another card you might consider

In addition to the Cash Rewards Mastercard, Bank of America also offers the Bank of America® Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard® credit card, both with no annual fee and boosted rewards for Preferred Rewards for Business members.

Instead of cash back, Travel Rewards cardholders can earn 3X points on travel purchases booked through the Bank of America Travel Center and unlimited 1.5X points on all other purchases. If you need more flexibility in your rewards earnings, the Cash Rewards is likely the more lucrative choice. But if your business requires frequent travel and you prefer flat rate rewards, the Travel Rewards card is likely a better option.

American Express® Blue Business Cash Card

Why we rate it best for startups

The American Express Blue Business Cash Card offers extended purchasing power, a potential game-changer for a new business. This benefit gives you the option of exceeding your credit limit without having to pay an over-limit fee. If you need to make a large purchase that would put you over your credit limit, the flexibility of extended purchasing power could help you get over the hump. Just remember that the amount you can spend over your normal limit isn’t unlimited and that it changes according to payment history, credit record and other factors.

The card also earns 2% cash back on the first $50,000 in purchases per year and 1% cash back thereafter. All in all, it’s one of the better credit cards for new businesses on the market.

Read the full review and apply on the American Express secure website.

Another card you might consider

The Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business seems like a natural rival. It also earns 2% cash back, but the earnings are unlimited. (The Blue Business Cash Card slips from 2% to 1% after you spend $50,000 in a year.)

The biggest difference is the Blue Business Cash Card’s extended purchasing power, but the value of that benefit depends entirely on whether you would ever need to exceed your credit limit. If you’re confident that your business won’t need any unusually large, credit-stretching purchases, you might do just as well with the Spark Cash for Business.

Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business

Why we rate it best for average-credit business owners

In a market with only a handful of business credit cards for those with average credit, the Capital One Spark Classic for Business is a viable option. You’ll receive a 1% cash back rate on all business-related purchases with no limit on how much you have to spend to redeem. While the rewards rate isn’t as generous as some other cards, there’s no annual or foreign transaction fees. So if you travel frequently for business and buy from overseas vendors, this card is a solid contender.

Although the APR is relatively high, it could provide an incentive to pay your bills on time and in full to avoid interest charges (and boost your credit).

Read the full review and apply on Capital One’s secure website.

Another card you might consider

The Credit One Bank Platinum Visa for Rebuilding Credit isn’t technically a business credit card, although you can still use it for business purposes. Both the Credit One Platinum Visa for Rebuilding Credit and the Capital One Spark offer 1% cash back on eligible purchases. However, you won’t get the same business-specific perks with the Credit One card as you would with the Capital One Spark Classic, including free additional employee cards and no foreign transaction fees or annual fees. So if you travel frequently for business, the Credit One card might not be for you.

Depending on your credit history, you could also qualify for a lower APR on the Credit One card than the Capital One. But as long as you pay your credit card bill on time and in full, interest shouldn’t be a concern either way.

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

Why we rate it best for balance transfers

For business owners looking to consolidate company debt or avoid interest charges on a big purchase, the Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express is a great choice, as long as your credit score is within the good to excellent range. It offers a 12-month introductory 0% APR period on purchases and balance transfers (then a variable 14.74%, 17.74% or 20.74%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors as determined at the time of account opening).

This card also currently offers a flat 2X rewards rate on up to $50,000 in business purchases every year, then 1X, so you should be able to count on steady rewards earnings.

Read the full review and apply on the American Express secure website.

Another card you might consider

The Bank of America® Platinum Plus® Mastercard® Business card offers a sign-up bonus worth a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 within 90 days of account opening. However, the Blue Business Plus annual rewards structure and extended introductory offer will bring higher long-term value and earning potential for many business owners.

Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business

Why we rate it best for simple travel rewards

For simple travel rewards, the Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business card is hard to beat. You can earn 2 miles for every dollar you spend on all purchases. If your business has varied expenses that aren’t concentrated into typical business spend categories like office supply stores, then this card offers extra flexibility. Since it charges no foreign transaction fees, you won’t rack up extra fees traveling outside the U.S.

This card is a good fit for business owners who travel often but want to avoid the complexity associated with some travel rewards cards.

Read the full review and apply on Capital One’s secure website.

Another card you might consider

The Spark Miles Select offers a smaller sign-up bonus compared to the Spark Miles’ 50,000 after spending $5,000 in the same period and lower rewards rate (1.5 miles per dollar versus 2 miles per dollar). The Spark Miles Select does not charge an annual fee, though, so if your business can’t justify enough of an annual spend to surpass the annual fee in rewards value but you still want great travel rewards, the Spark Miles Select may be the better option for you.

What are business credit cards? How do they work?

Business credit cards are similar to personal credit cards, only tailored to business needs. They can provide businesses with rewards on their everyday spending, help cover expenses during seasonal periods and assist in credit-building, making it easier to borrow in the future and qualify for a lower credit card APR.

Rewards are often customized to fit the categories in which businesses spend most, allowing you to save money on common expenditures. Your business credit card can earn rewards for any eligible expenses your business incurs, from copier ink to hotel stays. The rewards typically come in the form of cash back or travel miles.

Depending on which type of card you choose, they often come with additional perks and upgrades, including:

  • Airport lounge access
  • TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application rebate
  • Cellphone and rental car insurance
  • Purchase protection
  • Travel and emergency assistance
  • Free additional employee cards
  • Merchant discounts

A business credit card can also provide an automatic method of keeping business expenses separate from personal expenses, which makes tax records simpler to unravel. You may also be able to deduct business credit card-related expenses on your businesses’ tax return, including your business card’s annual fee and any interest accrued.

Pros and cons of business credit cards

More than half (52 percent) of small employers use credit cards on a regular basis, according to the Federal Reserve’s 2019 Small Business Credit Survey. Still, a business credit card could have some drawbacks. Make sure you weigh the advantages and disadvantages carefully before you apply

Pros:

  • It can be easier to qualify for a business credit card than a line of credit or a bank loan.
  • They usually provide higher credit limits than consumer credit cards.
  • A business credit card can help address cash flow concerns.
  • Some card issuers have deferred payment policies tailored to the demands of operating a business.

Cons:

  • You may be personally liable for any unpaid debt on the cards, which can affect your personal credit score.
  • Business cards generally have higher fees and interest rates than personal credit cards.
  • Business credit cards are not required to offer the same consumer protections as personal cards under the Credit CARD Act of 2009, which can lead to unexpected fees and interest rate increases.

How to choose the right business credit card

Invest some time in determining the ideal business credit card for your business so that you can reap the benefits with most value to you. Here’s a breakdown of different types of cards and how they might appeal to you based on your business objectives:

Cash back cards

Good for: Helping small businesses maintain cash flow

Just like personal cards, cash back business cards are a popular choice for business owners looking for simple ways to put money back in their pockets. Some cash back business cards offer a straightforward flat rate on all your business expenditures while others have tiered rewards in different categories that may be more useful if they align with your spending.

Travel rewards cards

Good for: Owners who want to offset costs of business trips

If your business requires frequent travel, a travel credit card is a great way to not only save but also take advantage of perks like lounge access and travel insurance. You can often increase the value of the points you earn on these cards even more by redeeming them through issuer membership programs, like redeeming American Express Business Gold Card points through American Express Membership Rewards.

Balance transfer cards

Good for: Businesses that need to manage and consolidate debt

If your business has taken on high-interest debts in the past, transferring the balance to a business credit card with a lower APR can help you clear debts more quickly and save money on incurred interest. Business cards are less likely to offer 0% introductory balance transfer rates than personal cards, but you can find some with low variable rates that allow a low or no-fee transfer. Make sure you understand the terms and figure out whether the interest savings are worth any fees you’ll incur. You can run a simulated balance transfer with Bankrate’s Credit Card Balance Transfer Calculator.

Charge cards

Good for: Owners who want to maintain financial discipline

Charge cards work in largely the same ways as credit cards, but unlike credit cards, they have no pre-set spending limit. Instead, purchases are approved based on a number of factors in your financial history and you must pay the balance in full each month. Charge cards may be a good option if you have large purchases planned, but make sure your business has the cash flow to cover any charges you make month-to-month. Charge cards are primarily issued by American Express.

Other factors to consider when choosing a business card

  • Be aware of the categories you spend in most frequently in order to choose a card with rewards that will maximize those expenses.
  • Look at your spending history and what you expect to spend annually to determine whether a card’s annual fee is worth its rewards.
  • If you know there may be times where you risk carrying a balance, whether you’re anticipating periods of slow growth or you’re planning a large purchase to grow your business, you should prioritize a low standard APR card to help mitigate interest payments.
  • Look further than cash back percentages and points rewards to see what else a card has to offer, from airport lounge access to free additional employee cards and other tools that can help your business grow.

How to apply for a business credit card

The business credit card application process is similar to applying for a personal credit card, but not entirely. Here are a few things you might want to prepare for:

Submitting your information

When you apply for a business credit card, the information an issuer asks for may differ depending on the type of business. Regardless of how your business is structured, though, issuers will be looking for signs of good financial health and at least good credit, while some may require an excellent credit score.

According to the Fed’s Small Business Credit Survey Report on Employer Firms released in 2018, 87 percent of employer firms rely on the owners’ personal credit scores to obtain financing.

Also, the information you’re required to provide depends on the type of business you run.

As a sole proprietor or freelancer, you’ll likely only need to provide the same personal information required for personal credit card applications, including your name, Social Security Number (in some cases you may use an employer identification number instead), address and income.

As an LLC or corporation, be ready to share:

  • Your personal information
  • Information about your business, including name, tax identification number, address and business income
  • Additional information and documents related to your business for verification after receiving an initial approval

Always be sure to also provide all documentation the issuer requests, or you’ll risk your application being discarded.

Be aware of effects on your credit score

Regardless of your business type, the issuer will also pull a hard credit check on your personal report, even though the business line of credit will be separate from your personal accounts and won’t affect your personal credit utilization rate.

Similar to applying for personal credit cards, you should evaluate your financial health before submitting any applications. Evaluate the length of your credit history, whether you have any negative activity on your report and your credit score itself. Don’t apply for any cards that you know you’re unlikely to qualify for, as too many applications in a short time period can affect your score negatively.

Tips on how to use business credit cards

  • Establish spending guidelines to ensure you don’t take on high-interest debt using your business credit card.
  • Outline what constitutes a business expense, set your own spending limits outside of the designated credit limit and have a system in place for tracking purchases to ensure adherence to the rules.
  • If your business is made up of multiple employees, have a clear policy in place to decide who will receive an employee card. Most importantly, communicate all policies and guidelines across the business.
  • Use your card responsibly, but don’t forget to actually use it. Especially if your card charges an annual fee, you’ll want to ensure you’re maximizing your rewards and getting the most value out of your spending.
  • Stay diligent in keeping your personal expenses separate from your business expenses to simplify bookkeeping.
  • Don’t let your cash back or rewards points expire. Redeeming your rewards regularly can ensure that cash back or points value is invested back into your business rather than going to waste.

What is the highest-paying business cash back card?

That question doesn’t have a truly definitive answer, mainly because of the way cash back credit cards work. Some offer unlimited earnings on general purchases at a relatively low flat rate, while others feature higher rewards rates in special categories limited by spending caps.

However, we can offer a detailed analysis of several business cash back cards available from our partners to help you make your own decision.

Flat-rate with unlimited earnings

Three Capital One cards that made our list of best business credit cards fit this category:

  • Capital One Spark Cash for Business: 2 percent unlimited
  • Capital One Spark Cash Select for Business: 1.5 percent unlimited
  • Capital One Spark Classic for Business: 1 percent unlimited

Strictly speaking, the sky’s the limit on how much you could earn on eligible purchases with cards of this type.

Flat-rate with spending caps

The American Express Blue Business Cash Card has a rewards structure similar to that of the Capital One Spark Cash for Business — similar, yet not identical. The Blue Business Cash earns 2 percent cash back on all eligible purchases, but only on up to $50,000 per calendar year, after which the rate slides to 1 percent.

If you made $50,000 in purchases with this card in a calendar year, you’d earn $1,000 in cash back at that 2 percent rate. You would continue to earn after reaching the $50,000 limit, but at the reduced rate of 1 percent.

All things considered, the potential to earn at least $1,000 in cash back per calendar year should hold some appeal for just about any small business owner.

Tiered categories with spending caps

Things get a little more complex with the Bank of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard credit card. It has two bonus cash back categories, but your combined earnings in those categories have a $50,000-per-calendar-year limit. The card also earns 1 percent cash back on all other non-category purchases.

Category Earnings Limit
3% choice, which you can select from a list of six options including office supply stores and travel Combined $50,000/per calendar year with dining category
2% on dining purchases Combined $50,000/per calendar year with choice category
1% on all other purchases Unlimited

The most cash back you could earn in the combined choice/dining categories in a calendar year would be $1,500 ($50,000 at 3 percent). You would also earn an unlimited 1 percent cash back on eligible purchases outside the bonus categories.

If your business spends a lot of money on purchases in the choice and dining categories, you could earn cash back at a significantly faster rate with this card than with most others — at least until you hit the $50,000 threshold. Overall, this Bank of America card (which has no annual fee) could generate a tidy sum of cash back for a particular kind of business owner.

Business credit cards vs. business loans

Consider whether a credit card or a loan is the better option for you to get your business up and running. Generally speaking, a business credit card is easier to obtain than a business loan. Even if your credit is just average, you may still qualify for some business credit cards, like the Capital One Spark Classic for Business. There are also secured business credit card options, in which you put down an initial deposit that acts as your credit limit, which can help if your credit score is less-than-stellar.

A business loan, however, would be much more difficult to qualify for with anything less than a strong credit profile, as you’d be deemed too big of a risk. It can take months to get approved for a business loan, which may also require collateral, potentially putting you at risk if your business runs into financial trouble.

However, business loans typically have much lower interest rates than business credit cards. If you need large amounts of cash upfront, a lump sum may also be a better choice than a revolving line of credit, especially if you’re likely to carry a balance on a credit card. But if you’re able to pay the card balance in full every month and you can obtain a large enough credit limit or have the cash flow for a charge card, you’ll likely benefit more from the rewards and perks of a business credit card.

Generally, business loans are a good choice for refinancing or one-time large investments, while business credit cards are ideal for ongoing expenses.

Bankrate’s Business Loan Calculator can help you decide which is best for you.

How we rate our top business card selections

While we consider all aspects of a credit card when calculating the Bankrate score, the criteria for business cards emphasize features most valued by business owners. Scoring on this page places a weighted emphasis on:

  • APR. Some cards offer lower variable APRs, while others allow business owners to manage debt from large purchases or other credit accounts with 0% intro APR offers.
  • Rewards rates. When evaluating each card, we consider both the earning structure rate and corresponding redemption values that a small/medium business owner can expect with every eligible purchase.
  • Bonuses discounts and perks. For each sign-up bonus or welcome offer, we compare the spending requirements with the redemption value that each card brings to the table. On top of the bonus, we layer in additional perks like free employee cards and rental car insurance to calculate the total expected value.

More research on credit cards for businesses

If you want a deeper look into how each card may serve your business’ needs, check out our expert reviews on all of the major business credit cards on the market today.

These reviews are up-to-date with the latest offers and our opinions on them.

You can also refer to these Bankrate resources and articles:

More info on rates and fees for the American Express® Business Gold Card.


Senior Editor Barry Bridges has been writing about credit cards, personal loans, mortgages and other personal finance products since 2017. Before joining Bankrate, he was an award-winning newspaper journalist in his native North Carolina. Send your questions about credit cards (and fantasy baseball) to bbridges@bankrate.com.

Have more questions for our credit cards editors? Feel free to send us an email, find us on Facebook, or Tweet us @Bankrate.

* See the online application for details about terms and conditions for these offers. Every reasonable effort has been made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. After you click on the offer you desire you will be directed to the credit card issuer's web site where you can review the terms and conditions for your selected offer.

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, is accurate as of the publish date. All products or services are presented without warranty. Check the bank’s website for the most current information.