Key takeaways

  • The best business credit cards for earning points are often ideal for businesses that spend highly in categories like travel and hotel stays.
  • There are solid card choices for all types of businesses, from startups to well-established organizations.
  • Adding employees as authorized users on your business card can boost your earning potential.

In the world of credit card rewards, there’s an age-old debate: points, miles or cash back? The short answer is: It depends. While cash back is best for people seeking a low-maintenance rewards experience, points are best for frequent travelers and anyone who doesn’t mind doing a little research in exchange for an exceptional deal.

If you’re a business owner looking for a points-earning card, know that you have plenty of solid options — whether you want to earn loyalty points with a particular hotel or airline, or general-purpose points you can redeem in a variety of ways. Many of the best business credit cards are points-earning cards that come with welcome bonuses and other compelling benefits.

Best business credit cards for earning points

Because a wide variety of options exists and offers change frequently, choosing a business card can be challenging. In addition to the points-per-dollar-spent rate, compare current bonus offers and perks.

Here are Bankrate’s top picks for business credit cards that earn points.

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express: Best flat-rate business card

The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express is a great choice for business owners who want to use one card for everything. There are no bonus categories to keep track of, just 2X points on your purchases up to $50,000 in purchases per year (then 1X) and 2X points on travel booked through AmexTravel.com.

American Express Membership Rewards points are notoriously valuable, especially for travel redemptions. Redeem them for flights or hotel stays through Amex Travel, or transfer them to one of American Express’s travel partners, including Delta Air Lines, Marriott and British Airways.

Overall, this card is great for budding businesses. The simple rewards structure not only makes for a low-maintenance card, but also means it’s a card you can keep for years, even if you add more business credit cards to your lineup. If you later get the urge to apply for a card with specific bonus categories, you can continue to use The Blue Business Plus for miscellaneous spending, knowing that you’re earning a solid rewards rate on all purchases. The lack of an annual fee makes this idea especially true.

Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card: Best for business-focused bonus categories

Do you want to earn boosted rewards rates on key expense categories like travel, dining out, gas stations and even shipping costs? The Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card offers cardholders 6X points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program, 4X points at restaurants worldwide and U.S. gas stations, 4X points on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping, and 2X points on all other purchases.

If those categories cover many of your most common business expenses and you can also benefit from free hotel stays at Marriott properties, this card can be a great fit. You’ll also have the opportunity to earn enhanced rewards if you hold elite status within the Bonvoy loyalty program.

The card’s current welcome offer is also solid: for a  Limited Time you can earn five Free Night Awards after you use your new Card to make $8,000 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. Offer Ends 3/20/24.)

Given Bankrate’s valuation of Marriott Bonvoy points at an estimated 0.7 cents apiece, the latest welcome offer is worth up to $1,050 if you can maximize your award night value. The card does come with an easy-to-offset $125 annual fee, but its flexible rewards scheme can carry you a long way with the right amount of planning.

The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card: Best for hotel rewards

The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card‘s bonus categories are similar to that of the Marriott Bonvoy card detailed above, but business owners who frequently stay in hotels will get more value from this card due to its rewards rate.

Cardholders can earn 12X points on hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio, compared with the 6X points offered by the Marriott Card. Hilton Honors points are worth slightly less than Marriott Bonvoy points by Bankrate’s calculations: 0.6 cents vs. 0.7 cents, respectively, but the doubled rewards rate means your hotel stays ultimately earn more rewards with the Hilton card.

Aside from hotel stays, cardholders earn 6X points on select business purchases (U.S. gas stations, U.S. cellphone service providers and U.S. shipping purchases) and travel purchases (airfare booked through Amex Travel and select car rentals), as well as 3X points on all other purchases. These competitive rates all come with a fairly low $95 annual fee compared to other popular travel credit cards.

New cardholders can earn a welcome offer of 130,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors Business Card in the first three months of card membership.

Based on Bankrate’s valuation, Hilton Honors points are worth about 0.6 cents apiece, making the welcome bonus points alone worth about $780.

Ink Business Preferred® Credit card: Best for business travel

The Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, which comes with a $95 annual fee, offers 3X points on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year (then 1X points), plus 1X points on all other purchases. The 3X points bonus categories include travel; shipping purchases; internet, cable and phone services; and advertising purchases made with social media and search engines.

Additionally, cardholders who spend $8,000 in the first three months of account opening will earn a 100,000-point welcome bonus. You may trade your points in for cash, equalling $1,000, but if you book travel arrangements via Chase Ultimate Rewards, the bonus is worth $1,250. The boosted value for travel redemptions — combined with the boosted rate on travel spending — makes this a great choice for business owners who travel frequently.

One last bonus feature: Chase points transfer to partners at 1:1 ratio, meaning 1 point equals 1 transfer partner mile or 1 cent of cash back.

How to maximize the points you earn for your business

After obtaining the right card for you and your business, make a plan to rack up the rewards. You can do this by charging as many of your expenses as possible to your chosen cards, especially in those categories where the issuer will provide the highest reward values.

Secondly, it’s important to steer clear of debt. To offset balance shock, you may want to delete your charges as you make them or on a weekly basis, but as long as you pay the bill within the card’s interest-free grace period, your reward value won’t be diluted by financing fees.

Another way to earn more is to make your employees authorized users since their charges will apply to the reward accumulation pool. Of course, this requires a strong foundation of trust, as you’ll ultimately be liable for their transactions.

Lastly, pay attention to the perks that are embedded in the account. For example, many business travel cards come with free access to airport lounges and complimentary checked luggage. And, if you’re traveling internationally, using a business credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees can save you a bundle.

Redemption strategies for business owners

Once you’ve accumulated credit card points with your business card (or cards), what should you do with them?

First, consider that it’s generally best to keep business and personal spending separate — and that includes the use of credit card points. To avoid potential tax implications, plan to redeem your business card points for business-specific purchases. If your business has multiple partners, align on a redemption strategy that all parties feel is fair.

A few possible business uses for your credit card points include:

  • Offsetting business travel costs: If your line of business involves regular travel to prospective customers or existing clients, using your points to book travel can help reduce these costs, freeing up budget to be allocated elsewhere.
  • Reducing conference expenses: Business conferences and events can be great learning and networking opportunities. But they can also be expensive. Using your points to book flights, hotels and rental cars can help make high-value conferences more accessible to you or your employees.
  • Facilitating on-site and all-employee meetings: If you have remote or hybrid staff, point redemptions can make gathering together more affordable, whether you rally the troops at the office or schedule a team get-together at a fun destination.
  • Rewarding employees with travel: Retaining top talent is increasingly important in today’s competitive markets. If you have top performers who truly go above and beyond, why not recognize their contributions by using your points to book quick getaways for them as a thank you?
  • Redeeming points for gift cards: Many credit card points can be redeemed for merchandise or gift cards within issuer portals (though, often at a lesser valuation than travel redemptions). These items can be gifted to employees during the holiday season or given away throughout the year as prizes and incentives. Just be aware that you may be required to report gift cards as “cash equivalent” gifts on your business taxes at the end of the year.

Finally, remember that travel you pay for with credit card points can’t be deducted from your business expenses in the same way as travel paid for out of pocket. As a result, it may make sense in some cases to pay for business travel in cash and reserve your credit card points for other redemptions.

The bottom line

The key to getting the most out of your business credit cards is to know and use all of the cards’ features, from bonus point categories to perks and beyond. Compare your options and make a plan for your points redemption strategy before applying, and then take the time to brush up on your cardholder agreements every once in a while.