Best credit cards for freelancers
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Not everyone enjoys working for someone else. If you’re one of the 36 percent of Americans who freelance and own your own business, you might find it useful to have a business credit card to separate your personal expenses from your professional ones. While some business credit cards cater to large- or mid-sized businesses, there are plenty of credit cards for freelancers that can help you earn rewards and manage small-business finances.
The top 4 credit cards for freelancers
Here are the best credit cards we’ve identified to help freelancers or independent consultants run their small businesses and earn some perks simultaneously.
Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card
If your spending as a freelancer is spread over many categories — or is too general to pinpoint — then the Chase Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card can help you reap decent flat-rate rewards for your expenses. It has no annual fee and offers a straightforward, unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on every purchase, making it a solid first card for general freelancers.
For example, a freelance designer can use this card for recurring software or cloud service subscriptions and other yearly business expenses. Since it has no annual fee, there’s no need to worry about recouping the cost of carrying the card.
The card is even a good fit for high spending freelancers who want to avoid an annual fee, given that there’s no spending cap on the 1.5 percent cash back rate. However, if you have large expenses throughout the year, you might get better overall value from a card with an annual fee and a better rewards rate.
American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card
What’s great about the Amex Blue Business Cash Card is its 2 percent cash back on all purchases up to $50,000 in spending per year, then 1 percent after. This card is best for freelancers who have very general expenses, but still want to earn elevated rates on their cash back rewards. The Amex Blue Business Cash and Ink Business Unlimited cards are similar in that they both have no annual fee, but both come with limited cardholder perks and statement credits.
If you think you’ll spend significantly more than $50,000 a year on business expenses, then this card’s potential is limited. Freelancers planning to put more than $100,000 in expenses on a card are better off with the Ink Business Unlimited or another card with better overall perks. Otherwise, it’s a solid pick for your business’ financial toolbox.
Bank of America® Business Advantage Customized Cash Rewards Mastercard®
For freelancers who mainly work online, the Bank of America Business Advantage Customized Cash Rewards card is worthy of consideration. It has a tiered cash back structure of 1 percent on general purchases, 2 percent on dining and 3 percent on a category of your choice (on up to $50,000 of combined 2 percent and 3 percent category spending per calendar year, then 1 percent).
Among the six customizable categories, there are three worth noting: computer services, TV/telecom services and business consulting services. Computer services include recurring software subscriptions like Adobe and merchants like Dell and Intel so that tech-heavy freelancers can earn 3 percent cash back for their expenses. The business consulting services category includes LegalZoom and One Legal, so freelancers can draft contracts and legal documents while earning 3 percent back on those costs.
You can change the 3 percent cash back category each calendar month. For example, if you’re planning a computer equipment upgrade, you can switch to the computer services category to earn 3 percent back on that purchase for the month. Next month, you can switch the category back to one where you’ll earn the most.
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
The Amex Business Platinum is the only card on this list with an annual fee — and a hefty one. Coming in at $695 a year, it’s one of the most expensive business cards from American Express. However, high-earning freelancers and independent consultants can reap plenty of rewards with its slew of statement credits and elevated reward categories.
This card is great for traveling freelancers because it earns 5X points on flights and prepaid hotels and 2X points on prepaid rental cars booked through AmexTravel.com. Plus, with the Amex Business Platinum, key purchases of $5,000 or more on electronic goods, retailers, software and cloud service providers earn 1.5X points (on up to $2 million per calendar year). General purchases earn a flat 1X points.
On top of these earning rates, this card comes with statement credits for modern business expenses, such as $150 on Adobe Creative Cloud and Acrobat Pro DC annual subscriptions, $10 per month on purchases from U.S. wireless telephone providers, and up to $400 ($200 semi-annually) on Dell purchases. Add those to the card’s numerous travel-related statement credits, and it can be easy for a self-employed freelancer to recoup the high annual fee.
Should I get a business credit card as a freelancer?
The short answer: It depends. If you occasionally freelance on the side and only rake in a couple hundred dollars a year, it may not be worth getting a business credit card.
On the other hand, if your income is solely from freelance work, getting a business credit card for your freelance expenses can help you in the long run. First, a credit card for freelance expenses can help keep personal and business purchases separate, making it easier to file taxes each year. Plus, if your business grows and you hire employees, many business card issuers offer employee cards for no additional fee.
You can also benefit from earning rewards on business-related purchases. Most business credit cards are tailored to earn rewards on software subscriptions, computer equipment purchases, consulting services and more. With these rewards, you can earn a little extra cash back, points for travel or get discounts on your business spending.
How to choose the best credit card for freelancers
When you’re ready to get a business credit card, it can be hard to choose from the many options available. Here are some questions to keep in mind as you decide:
Is there an annual fee?
Plenty of business cards with no annual fee make it easy to net rewards without yearly costs. However, business cards with annual fees usually come stacked with statement credits and higher earning rates. If you’re considering a credit card for freelancing with an annual fee, make sure you can recoup the cost and then some through your spending.
In what categories can I earn rewards?
You may find that standard business cards have spending categories you don’t need if you work from home, such as gas, flights and hotels. Compare the rewards categories for the business cards you’re considering to see where you spend, and earn, the most and. For example, a freelance web developer may have recurring software and services subscriptions, so they should target cards that offer elevated points or cash back in that category.
How does the card help me run a business?
You are running a business as a freelancer or independent consultant, and your credit card should help — not hinder — you. Look for business credit cards that have features like expense tracking and account management to make running your business smoother. Common credit card perks like purchase protection and cellphone insurance can come in clutch if your new equipment is faulty or your cellphone is stolen.
The bottom line
Business credit cards for freelancers are a solid option to earn rewards and take advantage of perks while managing your business expenses. If you’re a full-time, self-employed freelancer, consider using one of the best business credit cards to earn rewards on your business spending. Just be careful to keep personal and business expenses separate to save yourself a headache come tax season.