Key takeaways

  • Business credit cards enable you to separate your business spending from your personal expenses, but they come with fewer consumer protections than personal cards.
  • When choosing between business cards, pick one with rewards offerings that match your business spending patterns.
  • Many business cards require a personal guarantee, which means the issuer can take your personal assets to pay off the debt if your business can't pay.

Business credit cards are a convenient way to cover expenses, from office supplies to utility bills to client dinners. Having a card exclusively for business purchases also allows you to keep personal spending separate, which can mean fewer headaches at tax time.

Most business credit cards allow you to earn rewards in the form of points, miles or cash back. Additionally, business credit cards can include other features and benefits, such as free employee cards, travel perks and access to discounts on business services.

Credit Card
Bankrate insight
If you’ve never had a business credit card before, there are a few important things to know:
  • Spending limits may be higher than personal credit cards, giving you more purchasing power for your business.
  • Rewards, features and benefits are often tailored to how businesses spend.
  • Business credit cards aren’t covered by the CARD Act, so they have fewer fee restrictions than personal credit cards, making it important to always pay on time.
  • Most business credit cards require a personal guarantee, which means you — not the business — will be responsible for any debt incurred on the account.

With so many business credit cards to choose from, finding the right one while keeping all of this information in mind might seem a little overwhelming. That’s why we’ll break down the five most important steps to take when it comes to choosing the best business credit card for your business needs.

1. Think about the types of business credit cards you might want

Like personal credit cards, business credit cards can be broken up into various categories. Some popular ones include:

Types of credit cards

Travel rewards credit cards
These credit cards can net you all kinds of perks for making travel-related purchases, such as airfare and hotel purchases.
Cash back rewards credit cards
These credit cards focus on providing cash back for business-related purchases, such as for office supplies or dining out.
Gas and fuel credit cards
These cards, also called fleet fuel cards, are built for business owners who do a lot of driving or who own a fleet of vehicles, such as for a transportation or trucking business.
Starter credit cards
These credit cards are geared toward business owners who are just starting to build business credit.

While shopping around, it’ll be beneficial to focus on credit cards that will cater to your business needs in particular.

2. Find a card with a useful rewards structure

Finding the right rewards programs goes hand in hand with finding out what type of business credit card you should get, which is why it’s important to choose a card that reflects your spending habits. Earning rewards on a business credit card can save you money when you apply those rewards as a statement credit against purchases or redeem them for travel or cash.

When it comes to how you can earn rewards, every business credit card is different. For example, your business budget might include spending on:

  • Travel, such as for airfare or hotel stays
  • Dining, including food for employees or restaurant outings with clients
  • Office supplies, such as paper, chairs and printer ink
  • Utilities, including internet and cellphone services
  • Shipping, including international shipping
  • Gas, for fleets or trucking purposes
  • Advertising, including digital marketing

It’s important to match your card’s rewards program with your business’s “lifestyle.” For example, if your business primarily spends on everyday operations, you might prefer a card that pays you cash back on office supplies, utilities and advertising. On the other hand, a travel card could make more sense if you book frequent business trips.

Certain cards also offer boosted rewards, with some spending categories earning more points, miles or cash back than others. There may be spending caps that limit the dollar amount of rewards you can earn each year.

Other business credit cards offer a flat rewards rate on all purchases, which can be useful for those who have varied spending. With The American Express Blue Business CashTM Card, for example, you earn 2 percent cash back on all purchases up to $50,000 per year, then it drops to 1 percent. Maxing out that spending limit can net you an extra $1,000 a year without even having to think about rewards categories.

Estimating the amount you could earn based on your typical monthly spending can help you decide which one might work best.

Also, don’t forget about introductory rewards or anniversary bonuses. Many business credit cards offer a sign-up bonus when you meet a minimum spending requirement. Some may also reward you with anniversary rewards each year. Those are both additional opportunities to increase your rewards earnings if your primary goal for getting a business credit card is racking up points, miles or cash back.

3. Decide whether you’re willing to pay an annual fee

While some business credit cards don’t charge an annual fee, they might not have the same level of perks as those that do. As a general rule, the better the rewards program, features and benefits the card comes with, the higher the fee tends to be.

Whether it makes sense for you to pay an annual fee depends on your spending and what you’re hoping to get from the card.

For example, say you’re eyeing The Business Platinum Card® from American Express for travel. To recoup the card’s $695 annual fee in Membership Rewards points alone, you’d need to spend $14,000 a year on flights and prepaid hotels booked through But American Express also offers Biz Platinum cardholders high-value perks like statement credits for:

  • TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fees
  • CLEAR airport security membership fees
  • Adobe business plan purchases and Dell purchases
  • Indeed hiring and recruiting services
  • Phone services made directly with a U.S. wireless provider
  • Qualifying airline fees with your selected airline
  • Qualifying stays at properties from The Hotel Collection

Cardholders also get airport lounge access and a slew of travel protections — all of which can offset the card’s annual fee.

On the other hand, you might choose something like Capital One Spark Miles for Business instead if you’d like to keep things simple. This card earns an unlimited 2X miles on all eligible purchases, with no category restrictions. There’s a $0 introductory annual fee the first year, then $95 each year thereafter. The only trade-off is that this card offers less in the way of travel benefits compared to a luxury travel card like the Amex Business Platinum Card — no airport lounge access, for example.

4. Make sure you’re comfortable with the card’s Interest rates (APRs)

Paying interest with any credit card makes your purchases more expensive. The best way to avoid interest is to pay in full every month. If you think you’ll need to carry a balance from time to time, however, it’s important to understand what purchase APR you’ll pay.

You might be interested in choosing a card with a low or 0 percent introductory APR if you’re planning a large purchase for the business. For example, the Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card offers a 0 percent introductory APR on purchases for 12 months (then 18.49 percent to 24.49 percent variable APPR), so you’d have a full year to pay off your purchase with this card before interest begins accruing. Low APR balance transfers are less common with business credit cards, though there are a few that offer them.

In general, the better your credit score, the lower the interest rate and APR you’re likely to qualify for. Business credit card issuers can base approval on your personal credit scores if you don’t have much business credit history, so you might want to check your credit history before applying to get an idea of what rate you might be able to get.

Also, be aware that there’s a difference between business credit cards and business charge cards. With a credit card, you can make purchases and pay them down over time, usually accruing interest charges each month. A business charge card, such as the popular Brex Card*, doesn’t charge interest since you’re required to pay the balance in full each month. If you’d like the flexibility of carrying a balance, then you may want to rule out charge cards in your search for a business credit card.

5. Keep an eye out for additional features and benefits

Business credit cards can offer more than just rewards. For example, some of the valuable features and benefits you might be able to take advantage of include:

Valuable features and benefits

Travel protections:
basic or upgraded travel protections, such as travel accident insurance, trip cancellation or interruption insurance, baggage delay insurance or roadside assistance
Travel benefits:
airport lounge access, complimentary concierge service, hotel and resort upgrades, free checked bags, in-flight food and drink credits or annual airline fee credits
Everyday protections:
extended warranty protection or purchase protections, like cellphone insurance
Employee cards:
employee credit cards at no charge that come with the option to set custom spending limits
Account management tools:
bookkeeping tools and the ability to export data to your preferred accounting software
Discounts and statement credits:
exclusive discounts or statement credits for services or products you regularly use, like cloud storage or upgrades when it’s time to replace computer hardware or software

But remember, the more perks a business card has, the more you’ll likely pay for the annual fee.

The bottom line

Getting a business credit card could make your life as an entrepreneur easier if you can charge purchases as needed while earning some of what you spend back. When considering the best business credit cards, take time to weigh the rewards and benefits of each, as well as the fees and APR. Ultimately, the best business credit card for you is the one that offers rewards and features that fit your spending style at a cost you’re comfortable paying.

*The information about the Brex Card has been collected independently by Bankrate. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.