Key takeaways

  • Cash back cards let you earn rewards on multiple spending categories and redeem your cash in multiple ways, but most don't come with many additional perks or ways to boost your rewards value.
  • You'll get the most mileage out of a travel points or miles card if you travel frequently and plan on using your rewards for travel purchases.
  • Make your decision depending on how often you anticipate traveling in the next year.

Many small business owners get a lot of value out of their business credit cards — whether they’re using their cards to fund business growth or earn rewards on everyday business expenses. Freelancers, entrepreneurs and brick-and-mortar retailers can all use business credit cards to their advantage, especially if they choose a small business credit card that offers the best rewards for their growing business.

In most cases, this means deciding between a cash back credit card and a travel credit card. The top business credit cards generally offer either a percentage of cash back on every purchase or the opportunity to earn points and miles that can be redeemed for travel expenses.

If you’re trying to choose between a cash back vs. a travel business card, it’s helpful to understand the pros and cons of both cash back and travel rewards — as well as the best business credit cards in each category.

Cash back for business

Many small business owners can benefit from earning cash back. Cash back is an easy rewards currency to understand, and it puts real dollars back into your pocket. However, its value has a preset ceiling.

Here are some of the pros and cons of cash back credit cards:


  • Flexible earning potential: In most cases, cash back credit cards allow you to earn rewards on more types of purchases than travel cards. Choose a cash back card that offers rewards that complement your business type, or apply for a flat-rate cash back rewards card that offers the same earning potential on every purchase. Since you won’t be limiting your highest earning potential to travel purchases, you might have the opportunity to earn more rewards on everyday business expenses. Plus, many business cash back credit cards offer welcome bonuses that can be extremely lucrative — especially for small-business owners who are looking for extra cash to put towards business growth.
  • Flexible redemption potential: Cash back credit cards sometimes offer more flexible redemption options than travel credit cards. In those cases, you can redeem your cash back rewards for statement credits, online purchases, gift cards and more. This is especially beneficial if you want to reinvest your rewards in your business. While travel credit cards may offer similar redemption options, you may not get as much value out of your travel rewards if you redeem them for non-travel purchases.


  • Limited perks: Cash back cards can be relatively light on additional perks and benefits compared with travel credit cards. You might get access to some services, but you likely won’t get the same dollar value as you would from airport lounge access, travel credits and other premium travel perks.
  • Flat value: With cash back, what you see is what you get. Typically, there’s no way to earn $50 worth of cash back and redeem it for $75, for example. Travel cards, on the other hand, offer the chance to score a deal that boosts your rewards value, so your points or miles can stretch further depending on how you spend them.

Travel points or miles for business

Many of today’s top travel credit cards for businesses can help small business owners save money — but just like cash back credit cards, travel cards have both benefits and drawbacks. If you don’t travel very often, you may be unable to take advantage of the rewards and perks these cards offer.

Here are the pros and cons of business travel credit cards:


  • High rewards potential for travel purchases: If you make a lot of travel purchases, you could get a lot of value out of a travel credit card. Many travel credit cards offer as much as 5X rewards on travel purchases, giving you plenty of points and miles potential. Plus, some business travel credit cards offer sign-up bonuses that are valuable enough to cover the cost of your next flight.
  • Valuable travel perks: Points and miles aren’t the only perks travel credit cards offer. Many of the best travel, airline and hotel credit cards offer additional benefits, from travel insurance to free companion flights. Whether you’re hoping to save money on checked bags or take advantage of hotel upgrades, most travel credit cards offer a few extra perks that could make your trip less expensive and more comfortable.


  • Limited high-value redemption options: Most travel credit cards make it easy for you to redeem your rewards for travel purchases. However, other redemption options could be limited — or, in many cases, lower-value. Make sure you understand all of your available redemption options before you apply for a business travel credit card.
  • May only earn maximum rewards with certain brands: If you choose a business travel credit card that reserves its highest rewards potential for purchases made with a specific airline or hotel, you could be limiting your reward-earning opportunities.

Which rewards currency is best for your business?

If you’re trying to decide between a cash back and a business travel card, start by asking yourself how much business travel you plan on doing in the next year.

If you frequently travel for business, a travel credit card could help you save money on flights and hotels. Some business travel cards even offer perks like TSA PreCheck membership credits or airport lounge access. So keep that in mind before you apply, and look for a business travel credit card that can help you save money and make your travel more comfortable.

If you don’t often travel for business, a top cash back credit card is probably your best choice. Cash back is right for you if you’re looking to earn rewards on everyday business purchases or if you want to redeem your credit card rewards for statement credits, Amazon and PayPal purchases and more.

Many business cash back credit cards even let you redeem your cash back rewards for travel purchases. While the value might not be as high as it would be for a dedicated travel rewards credit card, you’d still be able to use your cash back rewards to save money on an upcoming business trip. In this case, the cash back card would offer the best of both worlds.

The bottom line

If you’re a small business owner who can’t decide between a cash back vs. a travel business card, keep in mind that cash back credit cards are often more flexible than travel credit cards. So, unless you do a lot of business travel, you’re likely to get more value out of a top cash back credit card.

If you already have a solid cash back credit card for your business or are looking to send yourself or employees traveling more frequently, then a travel credit card might be the better choice. The most important thing is to look at your current business goals and spending habits and see what works best for your venture.