Key takeaways

  • Business credit cards are available to people with a variety of credit histories, but check your credit score and only apply for the account that matches your rating.
  • Look for business cards that have the benefits and perks that you will use.
  • Some business cards have especially high annual fees. Make sure you get more out of the card than what it will cost you.
  • One business card may not be sufficient for all of your needs, so consider layering them to cover all of your requirements.

Small Business Saturday is November 25. Take advantage of our Small Business Saturday Guide for tips and advice from small business owners.

Startups are a little different from traditional small businesses. In general, the intention of these young companies is to make waves with a groundbreaking product or service. If you’re one such entrepreneur, having access to a credit card that can fulfill your company’s unique needs will be essential.

The right business credit card for a startup will give your company access to capital, flexible financing terms and perks that will help you start your business and connect with clients around the globe. You’ll also be able to build your business’s credit separately from your personal credit, which can help if you ever apply for a business loan.

So which business credit card aligns best with your startup? As always, that depends on what you most want from the account.

Best business credit card Reward highlight Annual fee APR Bankrate score
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card 1X-3X points $95 21.24% to 26.24% variable 4.4
American Express® Business Gold Card 1X-4X points $295 ($375 if application is received on or after 2/1/24) 19.49% to 27.49% variable 4.4
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express 1X-5X points $695 19.49% to 27.49% variable 4.8
Ink Business Cash® Credit Card 1%-5% cash back $0 18.49% to 24.49% variable 4.6
Capital One Spark Cash Plus 2%-5% cash back $150 N/A 4.7
U.S. Bank Business Platinum Card* N/A $0 17.24% to 26.24% variable N/A
Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card 2%-6% cash back $125 20.74% to 29.74% variable 4.8
Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business 1%-5% cash back $0 30.49% variable N/A

Ink Business Preferred Credit Card: Best for its sign-up bonus

  • Rewards: 3X points on the first $150,000 you spend on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year, then 1X points; 1X points on all other purchases
  • Welcome bonus: 100,000 bonus points after spending $15,000 on purchases in your first three months
  • Annual fee: $95
  • Regular APR: 21.24 percent to 26.24 percent variable

If you’re running a startup, you’re probably no stranger to budget constraints. If you can use every dollar you can get, a credit card that gives you a big welcome bonus will be helpful.

With the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, you can earn a sign-up bonus of 100,000 points (after spending $8,000 on qualifying purchases within three months from account opening), which is worth $1,000 in cash back. If you use the points for travel expenses by redeeming them through Chase Ultimate Rewards, they’ll be worth even more — up to $1,250. Given this card’s modest annual fee, that’s extremely generous.

To get the bonus, you’ll need to meet the spending requirement, so consider what you’ll charge and how you’ll manage the bill. You’ll want to pay the debt off by the due date to reap the full benefit of the sign-up bonus, so plan ahead.


  • Low annual fee for rewards program and bonus
  • Employee cards come at no additional cost
  • Various travel and purchase protection benefits, including the coveted cell phone protection


  • Welcome bonus spending requirement and timeframe may be too high for some small businesses

American Express Business Gold Card: Best for flexible payment arrangements

  • Rewards: 4X points on up to $150,000 per year in two select categories your business spends the most in each billing cycle; 2X points on rental cars booked through
  • Welcome bonus: 70,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $10,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months
  • Annual fee: $295 ($375 if application is received on or after 2/1/24)
  • Regular APR: 19.49 percent to 27.49 percent variable

Need to pay for a big marketing campaign or extra research and development but don’t have the money for it at this moment? Give some serious consideration to the American Express® Business Gold Card.

At the end of your billing cycle, you can pay the entire balance in full with no interest added or use the Amex Pay Over Time plan. If you choose Pay Over Time, you can split up the cost of a large purchase into monthly installments with interest.

This card combines the advantage of a high-limit charge card with a credit card that allows for revolving balances, making it great for startups with potentially large purchases on the horizon.


  • No preset credit limit
  • You can carry a balance with Amex’s Pay Over Time
  • Travel insurance benefits, like trip delay and baggage delay insurance


  • $295 annual fee ($375 if application is received on or after 2/1/24)
  • Lacks more premium travel perks, like lounge access or travel statement credits, despite its high fee

American Express Business Platinum Card: Best for business travel

  • Rewards: 5X points on flights and prepaid hotels on; 2X points on prepaid rental cars when booked via; 1.5X points per dollar spent (on up to $2,000,000 per calendar year) on key purchases of $5,000 or more (electronics goods, retailers, software and cloud service providers, construction materials, hardware supplies and shipping providers); 1X points on all other purchases
  • Welcome bonus: 120,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months
  • Annual fee: $695
  • Regular APR: 19.49 percent to 27.49 percent variable

If you travel quite a bit for your startup business, you’ll want a credit card that can help you travel economically while remaining comfortable. The Business Platinum Card® from American Express is dense with valuable benefits that can help you do both, such as up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year toward qualifying airline fees at one qualifying airline.

Cardholders also get up to $189 back per year on CLEAR membership, a $100 statement credit for Global Entry or a credit of up to $85 for TSA PreCheck (every four years) and complimentary access to 1,400+ of the finest airport lounges in the world (including access to Amex Centurion lounges).

These benefits extend to accommodations, too. Cardholders automatically get Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors elite status (enrollment required), which grants you access to free room upgrades, breakfast and late checkout (terms apply).

If you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership, the 120,000 Membership Rewards points welcome bonus will be yours, which can pay for several business flights. Note, of course, that all of these great perks come with a hefty $695 annual fee.


  • Fantastic first-year welcome bonus (with a value that can be boosted using Amex Travel’s Airline Bonus feature)
  • More than up to $2,534 in annual statement credits related to travel, business needs and more
  • High spending limit on key business purchases


  • Exceptionally high annual fee
  • Not right for entrepreneurs who don’t need to travel

Ink Business Cash Credit Card: Best for cash back

  • Rewards: 5 percent cash back on the first $25,000 on office supplies and telecommunications each account anniversary year; 2 percent back on the first $25,000 in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year; 1 percent back on everything else
  • Welcome bonus: $750 bonus cash back when you spend $6,000 on purchases in your first three months of account opening
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 18.49 percent to 24.49 percent variable

If you plan on spending a lot on office supplies and telecommunications bills, make sure you get a card that rewards you for it. The Ink Business Cash® Credit Card offers 5 percent cash back on the first $25,000 you spend at office supply stores, as well as on internet, cable and phone services every year. If you max those rewards out, they’ll total $1,250 in cash.

You can also earn 2 percent back at gas stations and restaurants on the first $25,000 in combined spending each account anniversary year — and if you max that out, you’ll earn $500. Anything else will score you 1 percent cash back.

Additionally, you get access to a 0 percent intro APR on purchases for 12 months (followed by a regular interest rate of 18.24 percent to 24.24 percent), which can really help with any large purchases on the horizon.


  • No annual fee
  • Intro APR offer on new purchases
  • Solid cash back rewards and welcome offer for a no-annual-fee business card


  • Spending caps might be too low for higher-spending businesses
  • Unlike most other cards on this list, there’s a 3 percent foreign transaction fee

Capital One Spark Cash Plus: Best for pay-in-full cardholders

  • Rewards: Unlimited 2 percent cash back every purchase; unlimited 5 percent cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travels
  • Welcome bonus: $1,200 cash bonus after spending $30,000 in the first three months
  • Annual fee: $150 annual fee (refunded every year you spend at least $150,000)
  • Regular APR: N/A (because this is a charge card, there is no APR since you can’t carry a balance)

A startup’s first year can be expensive, but so can subsequent years. If you’ll be spending at least $30,000 to get your venture up and running and can afford to pay your bills in full, you can really come out ahead with the Capital One Spark Cash Plus card.

The card’s annual fee of $150 will be waived if you use the card to make a minimum of $150,000 worth of purchases each year. The financial advantage of this kind of spending can be strong because you will also earn an unlimited 2 percent cash back on every purchase you make.

Even better, if you use the card for hotels and rental cars and book through Capital One’s travel portal, you’ll earn 5 percent back on those purchases. This card, however, isn’t designed for luxury travel, and it doesn’t come with airport credit or lounge access.

Other benefits of this card include free additional warranty and protection on eligible items that you purchase with your card, free employee and virtual cards, and a year-end itemized spending report that can help you budget your expenses and prepare for tax time.


  • No annual fee potential if you’re a big spender
  • High rewards earning potential
  • Very large cash back bonus


  • Can’t revolve balances
  • No airport lounge access

U.S. Bank Business Platinum Card*: Best for 0% APR purchases and balance transfers

  • Rewards: None
  • Welcome bonus: None
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 16.49 percent to 25.49 percent variable

If you’ve already acquired a sizable amount of debt for your startup and don’t have the cash to quickly pay it off, a balance transfer credit card could be instrumental in keeping costs to a minimum.

The U.S. Bank Business Platinum Card offers a 0 percent intro APR for the first 18 billing cycles on both balance transfers made within the first 30 days and purchases (followed by a 16.99 percent to 25.99 percent variable APR), making it one of the best business balance transfer credit cards on the market, as well as a great product for interest-free purchases.

When you use the card for a balance transfer, a balance transfer fee of 3 percent ($5 minimum) will be added to the balance. Outside of this, your debt will decrease by the same amount as your payment every month that the 0 percent intro rate is active. Just be careful to adhere to its terms, since the deal will end prematurely and the regular rate (or higher) will begin if you pay late, make a payment that is returned or if your account exceeds its credit limit.


  • One of the longest intro APR offers on the market for business cards
  • Free employee cards
  • No annual fee


  • No ongoing rewards or first-year welcome bonus
  • 3 percent balance transfer fee ($5 minimum)
  • 3 percent foreign transaction fee

Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card: best for business travelers dedicated to the Marriott brand

  • Rewards: 6X points for purchases at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy; 4X points at restaurants, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping expenses; 2X points on all other purchases
  • Welcome bonus: Earn three Free Night Awards after you use your new Card to make $6,000 in eligible purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership. Redemption level up to 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points for each bonus Free Night Award, at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Annual fee: $125
  • Regular APR: 20.74 percent to 29.74 percent

If you’re an aficionado of the Marriott brand of hotels, and plan on staying in them frequently, the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card will work out to your advantage.

In addition to the three Free Night Awards after you use your new Card to make $6,000 with the card in he first 6 months, you’ll also earn 6X points when staying within the Marriott Bonvoy portfolio of over 7,000 hotels in 131 countries and territories. You’ll also earn 4X points when using the card at domestic and international restaurants and US gas stations, as well as on your wireless telephone and shipping services. Everything else will earn you 2X points.

On top of these bonuses, you’ll also receive a 7 percent room rate discount, a free night award every year and an additional free night award after you spend $60,000 in purchases with your card in a calendar year. This card will provide you with Gold Elite status, so you’ll receive impressive room upgrades when available, and 15 Elite Night credits to help you advance to the next elite tier.


  • Perfect for the frequent traveler who stays in the Marriott Bonvoy hotel portfolio
  • Free night stay annually (and the potential to earn more throughout the year)
  • Discounts on accommodations
  • High earning potential, especially for hotel spending


  • Not appropriate for people who want to stray from the brand
  • Does not offer airport perks

Capital One Spark Classic for Business*: Best for Fair Credit

  • Rewards: 1 percent unlimited cash back for all business purchases
  • Welcome bonus: None
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 30.49 percent variable

Many business cards require good to excellent credit scores, which can put you out of the running if your credit is in the fair range. The Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business can be an ideal first step to building your business credit. The card has no annual fee, so it won’t cost you anything as long as you make your payments in full (though, if you do revolve balances, prepare for an APR of 30.49 percent).

You will earn unlimited 5 percent cash back on hotels and rental cars when you book them through Capital One Travel. After that, you’ll earn unlimited 1 percent cash back on all other purchases, making it a straightforward, no-nonsense approach to earning rewards.


  • Unlimited cash back potential, making it easy to track rewards
  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees


  • No introductory APR offers
  • Higher regular APR

Business credit cards for startups FAQ

  • Yes. However, while your startup doesn’t need to be generating revenue, you will have to prove that you have an income source that is sufficient to satisfy the monthly payments on the credit line.
  • Business credit cards that have been developed for people with less than perfect scores are ideal, such as the Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business, which only requires a fair credit rating.
  • No. As a sole proprietor, you can apply for a small-business credit card. You would use your Social Security number, rather than an employer identification number (EIN).
  • You will almost certainly be liable for the debt since most business cards require a personal guarantee. If you don’t make your payments on time, your credit reports will show delinquencies, which will lower your credit score. If the accounts go into default, you can be sued for the amount outstanding, or the credit issuer will send the account to collections.

The bottom line

Business credit cards are worthwhile tools for startups, but the key is to choose the right one for you and your company — then to manage it responsibly. After all, while your business may be disruptive, your credit card should be constructive.

As always, before you apply, consider our picks for the best small-business credit cards, as there might be additional options that suit your business needs, as well as your wants.

*The information about the U.S. Bank Business Platinum Card and Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business has been collected independently by The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.