Best business credit cards of 2020

The best small-business credit cards are designed to help companies big and small benefit from everyday spending. Generous rewards programs, expense tracking and features that boost the bottom line can benefit nearly every type of small-business owner, from the occasional freelancer to those with brick and mortar storefronts. While some business cards offer a flat rewards rate on all purchases, others are designed to reward common types of business purchases, like internet services or travel, at a higher rate. The other major differentiator is redemption style — most business credit cards allow you to exchange rewards earnings for either airline miles or cash back. When choosing the best credit card for your small business, it depends on spending habits, rewards preference, and a number of other factors. Our experts have reviewed hundreds of options to identify the best business credit cards available from our partners.

Bankrate's Picks for the Best Business Credit Cards (October 2020):

Need more information?

Skip down to read our card profiles and expert advice.

Best for unlimited cash back

Chase Image

Recommended Credit Score

Excellent (740 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Chase's secure website

Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card

Rewards Rate:
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase made for your business
Welcome Offer:
Earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 12 Months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
13.24% - 19.24% Variable

Card Details

  • Earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase made for your business
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
  • No Annual Fee
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for office supplies

Chase Image

Recommended Credit Score

Excellent (740 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Chase's secure website

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

Rewards Rate:
Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year Earn 1% cash back on all other card purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn
Welcome Offer:
Earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 12 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
13.24% - 19.24% Variable

Card Details

  • Earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year
  • Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year
  • Earn 1% cash back on all other card purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
  • No Annual Fee
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for flexible travel options

Chase Image

Recommended Credit Score

Excellent (740 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Chase's secure website

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Rewards Rate:
Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases – with no limit to the amount you can earn
Welcome Offer:
New Offer! Earn 100k bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,250 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
Annual Fee:
$95
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
15.99%-20.99% Variable

Card Details

  • New Offer! Earn 100k bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,250 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year
  • Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases – with no limit to the amount you can earn
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Redeem points for travel, cash back, gift cards and more – your points don't expire as long as your account is open
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
  • $95 Annual Fee
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for everyday business expenses

American Express Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On American Express's secure website

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

Rewards Rate:
Earn 2X Membership Rewards® points on everyday business purchases such as office supplies or client dinners. 2X applies to the first $50,000 in purchases per year, 1 point per dollar thereafter.
Welcome Offer:
Earn up to $300 back to boost your business. You can earn up to $100 in the form of statement credits at each of the following merchants: Dell Technologies, DocuSign or FedEx after you make an eligible purchase on your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
Annual Fee:
No annual fee
Purchase Intro APR:
0% on purchases for 12 months from date of account opening
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
13.24% - 19.24% Variable

Card Details

  • Earn up to $300 back to boost your business. You can earn up to $100 in the form of statement credits at each of the following merchants: Dell Technologies, DocuSign or FedEx after you make an eligible purchase on your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 2X Membership Rewards® points on everyday business purchases such as office supplies or client dinners. 2X applies to the first $50,000 in purchases per year, 1 point per dollar thereafter.
  • Enjoy the flexibility to put more purchases on the Card and earn rewards when you buy above your credit limit*.
  • You’ve got the power to use your Card beyond its credit limit* with Expanded Buying Power.
  • More buying power for your business means more opportunities to earn points. That’s everyday business with the Blue Business Plus Card.
  • *The amount you can spend above your credit limit is not unlimited. It adjusts with your use of the Card, your payment history, credit record, financial resources known to us, and other factors.
  • 0.0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, 13.24% - 19.24%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors at account opening.
  • No Annual Fee
  • Terms Apply

Best business card for startups

American Express Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On American Express's secure website

American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card

Rewards Rate:
Earn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1%. 1% cash back on all eligible purchases after spending $50,000 per calendar year.
Welcome Offer:
Earn up to $300 back to boost your business. You can earn up to $100 in the form of statement credits at each of the following merchants: Dell Technologies, DocuSign or FedEx after you make an eligible purchase on your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
Annual Fee:
No annual fee
Purchase Intro APR:
0% on purchases for 12 months from date of account opening
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
13.24% - 19.24% Variable

Card Details

  • Earn up to $300 back to boost your business. You can earn up to $100 in the form of statement credits at each of the following merchants: Dell Technologies, DocuSign or FedEx after you make an eligible purchase on your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1%. Cash back earned is automatically credited to your statement.
  • From workflow to inventory to floor plans, your business is constantly changing. That’s why you’ve got the power to spend beyond your credit limit with Expanded Buying Power.
  • Just remember, the amount you can spend above your credit limit is not unlimited. It adjusts with your use of the Card, your payment history, credit record, financial resources known to us and other factors.
  • 0.0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, 13.24% - 19.24%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors as determined at the time of account opening.
  • No Annual Fee
  • Terms Apply

The information about the Capital One Spark Business Cards and the U.S. Bank Cards has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer. Some of the offers on this page may have expired.


Find the right business credit card with Bankrate

Business credit cards can be game-changing for small-business owners. Accumulating rewards bonuses that maximize your necessary expenditures can help you and your employees conduct business more easily.

If you’re looking to streamline your business-related purchases and earn rewards that can help you save money, a business credit card is a great option. Read our guide to learn all about how these cards can improve your business and which one might be a perfect fit for you.

A quick rundown of the top business credit cards

Card Name Rewards Highlights/Top Features Bankrate Score
Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card Unlimited 1.5% Cash Back on business purchases 4.8/5
Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card 5% cash back on internet, cable, phone services and office supply stores (up to $25,000 a year in combined purchases) 4.8/5
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card 3x points per $1 on the first $150,000 annually in combined travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services 4.6 / 5
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from account opening, then 13.24% – 19.24% variable 4.5 / 5
American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card 2% cash back on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1% 3.7 / 5
U.S. Bank Business Cash Rewards World Elite™ Mastercard® 3% cash back on eligible business purchases (cell phone/service provider, office supply stores, and gas stations) 3.6/5
U.S. Bank Business Platinum 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 20 billing cycles (9.99%-17.99% variable APR after) 2.3/5
Bank of America® Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card 3% cash back in choice category and 2% cash back on dining (on the first $50,000 in combined choice category/dining purchases each calendar year) 4.7 / 5
Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business 2X miles on every purchase; 5X miles on hotel and rental car booking through Capital One Travel℠ 4.3 / 5

A closer look at 2020’s best credit cards for business

Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card

Why we rate it the best business card with rewards

If you treasure the idea of earning rewards without thinking about which business card to pull out for which purchases, the Ink Business Unlimited has what you’re looking for. Because the flat-rate rewards are so easy to work with, this is a good card for the business cardholder just starting out with rewards. And another fine feature: Employee cards come at no additional cost.

Read the full review and apply on Chase’s secure website.

Another card you might consider

If you’d like to try your skills at earning on specific categories, the Ink Business Cash is a good choice, because it rewards at a higher rate on office supply stores, internet, cable and phone services (5 percent cash back in combined purchases of the first $25,000 spent each account anniversary year), as well as gas stations and restaurants (2 percent cash back in combined purchases of the first $25,000 spent each account anniversary year). And it has the same great sign-up bonus of the Ink Business Unlimited — $500 cash back after a $3,000 spend within the first three months.

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

Why we rate it best for office supplies

A few business credit cards feature the category of office supplies, but the Ink Business Cash stands out because of the sheer volume of the rewards: Earn 5% cash back at office supply stores (as well as on internet, cable and phone services) on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases each account anniversary year.

Read the full review and apply on Chase’s secure website.

Another card you might consider

If travel is a category you see your team often turning to with your business card, the Spark Miles for Business might be a better choice. Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, as well as 5X miles on hotel and car rental bookings through Capital One Travel using this card. Your miles won’t expire for the life of the account, and there are no limits or category restrictions.

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Why we rate it best for flexible travel options

The rewards rates alone make this card valuable for business travelers, but the real icing on the cake is the wealth of redemption options. You can redeem your points for 25 percent more value through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal, but you also have the option to transfer your points 1:1 to big-name airline and hotel partners like United, Southwest, British Airways, Marriott and Hyatt. In addition to the long-term value, this card offers a massive sign-up bonus: a whopping 100,000 points to those who spend $15,000 within the first three months of opening an account.

Read the full review and apply on Chase’s secure website.

Another card you might consider

The Ink Business Preferred does come with a $95 annual fee, which we think is well worth it. But if you’re unsure of what the future holds for your business in terms of travel, it may be tough to commit to a travel credit card that charges an annual fee. The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express is a great alternative because it charges no annual fee and offers a similar ability to transfer your reward points to several popular airlines. While there’s no welcome bonus, the rewards rate is solid: 2x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on the first $50,000 in purchases each year (it’s 1x after that).

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

Why we rate it best for everyday business expenses

The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express offers a flat 2X rewards rate on up to $50,000 in business purchases every year, then 1X, which means you can earn rewards for office supplies, client dinners and more.

Earn up to $300 back to boost your business. You can earn up to $100 in the form of statement credits at each of the following merchants: Dell Technologies, DocuSign or FedEx after you make an eligible purchase on your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

Also, for business owners looking to avoid interest charges on a big purchase, this card is a great choice, as long as your credit score is within the good to excellent range. It offers a 12-month introductory 0% APR period on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening (then a variable 13.24% – 19.24%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors as determined at the time of account opening).

Annual Fee: $0

Read the full review and apply on the American Express secure website.

Another card you might consider

The Bank of America® Platinum Plus® Mastercard® Business card offers a sign-up bonus worth a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 within 90 days of account opening. However, the Blue Business Plus annual rewards structure and extended introductory offer will bring higher long-term value and earning potential for many business owners.

The information about the Bank of America® Platinum Plus® Mastercard® Business card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card

Why we rate it best for startups

The American Express Blue Business Cash Card offers extended purchasing power, a potential game-changer for a new business. This benefit gives you the option of exceeding your credit limit without having to pay an over-limit fee. If you need to make a large purchase that would put you over your credit limit, the flexibility of extended purchasing power could help you get over the hump. Just remember that the amount you can spend over your normal limit isn’t unlimited and that it changes according to payment history, credit record and other factors.

Earn up to $300 back to boost your business. You can earn up to $100 in the form of statement credits at each of the following merchants: Dell Technologies, DocuSign or FedEx after you make an eligible purchase on your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

The card also earns 2% cash back on the first $50,000 in purchases per year and 1% cash back thereafter. All in all, it’s one of the better credit cards for new businesses on the market.

Annual Fee: $0

Read the full review and apply on the American Express secure website.

Another card you might consider

The Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business seems like a natural rival. It also earns 2% cash back, but the earnings are unlimited. (The Blue Business Cash Card slips from 2% to 1% after you spend $50,000 in a year.)

The biggest difference is the Blue Business Cash Card’s extended purchasing power, but the value of that benefit depends entirely on whether you would ever need to exceed your credit limit. If you’re confident that your business won’t need any unusually large, credit-stretching purchases, you might do just as well with the Spark Cash for Business.

U.S. Bank Business Cash Rewards World Elite™ Mastercard®

Why we rate it best for gas stations

If your motor pool will put a fair amount of gas station purchases onto your new business credit card, the U.S. Bank Business Cash Rewards card has what you are looking for — earn 3% cash back on eligible gas station, office supply store and cell phone/service provider net purchases. That 3% rate on gas station purchases is higher than that of the Ink Business Cash, and it’s unlimited, another definite plus.

Read the full review and apply on the U.S. Bank’s secure website.

Another card you might consider

If restaurants are on the table for your team, then the Ink Business Cash may actually be your best bet. That’s because you’ll earn 2% back at restaurants on up to $25,000 spent in combined purchases (along with gas station purchases) each account anniversary year. The cash back offer on the Ink Business Cash is also considerably higher at office supply stores: 5% cash back (as well as on internet, cable and phone services) on combined purchases of up to $25,000 spent each account anniversary year.

U.S. Bank Business Platinum

Why we rate it best for balance transfer

Not many business credit cards offer a 0% intro APR rate on balance transfers, but the U.S. Bank Business Platinum makes it so. For the first 20 billing cycles, get 0% on both purchases and balance transfers, then it’s a rock-bottom regular interest rate of 9.99%-17.99% variable APR.

Read the full review and apply on the U.S. Bank secure website.

Another card you might consider

If rewards are more your thing, take a look at the U.S. Bank Business Cash Rewards. And for the team that often turns to travel, the Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business is a fine choice. However, while the U.S. Bank Business Cash Rewards has no annual fee, the Spark Miles for Business’ $95 annual fee kicks in after the first year.

Bank of America® Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card

Why we rate it best cash back card for BofA customers

This is a great card for any business owner who enjoys customizable rewards, especially those who already bank with Bank of America. The Bank of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard rewards 3% cash back on your choice of 6 categories:

  • Gas stations (the card’s default)
  • Office supply stores
  • Travel
  • TV/telecom and wireless
  • Computer services
  • Business consulting services

You’ll also earn 2% back on dining (for the first $50,000 on combined choice category and dining annually, then 1%) and unlimited 1% on all other purchases. The card offers a $300 statement credit after spending $3,000 in net purchases within 90 days of account opening.

Read the full review and apply on Bank of America’s secure website.

Another card you might consider

In addition to the Cash Rewards Mastercard, Bank of America also offers the Bank of America® Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard® credit card, both with no annual fee and boosted rewards for Preferred Rewards for Business members.

Instead of cash back, Travel Rewards cardholders can earn 3X points on travel purchases booked through the Bank of America Travel Center and unlimited 1.5X points on all other purchases. If you need more flexibility in your rewards earnings, the Cash Rewards is likely the more lucrative choice. But if your business requires frequent travel and you prefer flat rate rewards, the Travel Rewards card is likely a better option.

The information about the Bank of America® Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card and Bank of America® Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard® credit card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business

Why we rate it best for business travel rewards

While some travel credit cards have complicated rewards structures, the Spark Miles® from Capital One® keeps it simple: unlimited 2X airline miles on every purchase. Plus, when you redeem with the Capital One Travel℠ portal, hotel and rental car bookings earn 5X miles. You can also transfer miles to one of Capital One’s many travel partners. With no blackout dates, seat restrictions or minimum redemption threshold, the frequent business traveler will find it difficult not to love this card.

Read the full review and apply on Capital One’s secure website

Another card you might consider

While this is a good option for the budget-conscious traveler, it doesn’t compete with some other cards when it comes to perks like airport lounge access and hotel elite status. If you’re looking for luxury travel perks, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express is likely the best choice. However, beware of the infamous $595 annual fee.

The information about the Capital One Spark Business Cards has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

What are business credit cards?

Business credit cards are similar to personal credit cards, only tailored to business needs. They can provide businesses with rewards on their everyday spending, help cover expenses during seasonal periods and assist in building business credit, making it easier to borrow in the future and qualify for a lower credit card APR.

How do business credit cards work?

Rewards are often customized to fit the categories in which businesses spend most, allowing you to save money on common expenditures. Your business credit card can earn rewards for any eligible expenses your business incurs, from copier ink to hotel stays. The rewards typically come in the form of cash back or travel miles.

Depending on which type of card you choose, they often come with additional perks and upgrades, including:

  • Airport lounge access
  • TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application rebate
  • Cellphone and rental car insurance
  • Purchase protection
  • Travel and emergency assistance
  • Free additional employee cards
  • Merchant discounts

A business credit card can also provide an automatic method of keeping business expenses separate from personal expenses, which makes tax records simpler to unravel. You may also be able to deduct business credit card-related expenses on your businesses’ tax return, including your business card’s annual fee and any interest accrued.

More than half (53 percent) of small employers use credit cards on a regular basis, according to the Federal Reserve’s 2020 Small Business Credit Survey. Still, a business credit card could have some drawbacks. Make sure you weigh the advantages and disadvantages carefully before you apply

Pros of business credit cards

  • It can be easier to qualify for a business credit card than a line of credit or a bank loan.
  • Using a business credit card responsibly can increase your business credit score, which looks better to vendors and can get you the best interest rates on business loans.
  • They usually provide higher credit limits than consumer credit cards.
  • A business credit card can help address cash flow concerns.
  • Some card issuers have deferred payment policies tailored to the demands of operating a business.

Cons of business credit cards

  • You may be personally liable for any unpaid debt on the cards, which can affect your personal credit score.
  • Business cards generally have higher fees and interest rates than personal credit cards.
  • Business credit cards are not required to offer the same consumer protections as personal cards under the Credit CARD Act of 2009, which can lead to unexpected fees and interest rate increases.

Types of business credit cards

Invest some time in determining the ideal business credit card for your business so that you can reap the benefits with the most value to you. Here’s a breakdown of different types of cards and how they might appeal to you based on your business objectives:

Cash back cards

Good for: Helping small businesses maintain cash flow

Just like personal cards, cash back business cards are a popular choice for business owners looking for simple ways to put money back in their pockets. Some cash back business cards offer a straightforward flat rate on all your business expenditures while others have tiered rewards in different categories that may be more useful if they align with your spending.

Travel rewards cards

Good for: Owners who want to offset costs of business trips

If your business requires frequent travel, a travel credit card is a great way to not only save but also take advantage of perks like lounge access and travel insurance. You can often increase the value of the points you earn on these cards even more by redeeming them through issuer membership programs, like redeeming American Express® Business Gold Card points through American Express Membership Rewards.

Balance transfer cards

Good for: Businesses that need to manage and consolidate debt

If your business has taken on high-interest debts in the past, transferring the balance to a business credit card with a lower APR can help you clear debts more quickly and save money on incurred interest. Business cards are less likely to offer 0% introductory balance transfer rates than personal cards, but you can find some with low variable rates that allow a low or no-fee transfer. Make sure you understand the terms and figure out whether the interest savings are worth any fees you’ll incur. You can run a simulated balance transfer with Bankrate’s Credit Card Balance Transfer Calculator.

Charge cards

Good for: Owners who want to maintain financial discipline

Though they work in largely the same ways as credit cards, but charge cards differ from credit cards in that they have no pre-set spending limit. Instead, purchases are approved based on a number of factors in your financial history and you must pay the balance in full each month. Charge cards may be a good option if you have large purchases planned, but make sure your business has the cash flow to cover any charges you make month-to-month. Charge cards are primarily issued by American Express.

How to choose a business credit card

  1. Assess your spending. Be aware of the categories you spend in most frequently in order to choose a card with rewards that will maximize those expenses.
  2. Sum up your expenses. Look at your spending history and what you expect to spend annually to determine whether a card’s annual fee is worth its rewards. An easy way to get a rough estimate is to multiply one credit card statement by 12.
  3. Plan ahead. If you know there may be times when you risk carrying a balance, whether you’re anticipating periods of slow growth or you’re planning a large purchase to grow your business, you should prioritize a low standard APR card to help mitigate interest payments.
  4. Check out additional card perks. Look further than cash back percentages and points rewards to see what else a card has to offer, from airport lounge access to free additional employee cards and other tools that can help your business grow.

How to apply for a business credit card

The business credit card application process is similar to applying for a personal credit card, but not entirely. Here are a few things you might want to prepare for:

Submitting your information

When you apply for a business credit card, the information an issuer asks for may differ depending on the type of business. Regardless of how your business is structured, though, issuers will be looking for signs of good financial health and at least good credit, though there are a few business credit cards for bad credit.

As a sole proprietor or freelancer, you’ll likely only need to provide the same personal information required for personal credit card applications, including your name, Social Security number (in some cases you may use an employer identification number instead), address and income.

As an LLC or corporation, be ready to provide:

  • Your personal information
  • Information about your business, including name, tax identification number, address and business income
  • Additional information and documents related to your business for verification after receiving an initial approval
  • A personal guarantee stating that you’re personally willing to assume liability for any debt your business incurs. This is required by most business credit cards, with a few exceptions.

Always be sure to also provide all documentation the issuer requests, or you’ll risk your application being discarded.

Be aware of effects on your credit score

Regardless of your business type, the issuer will also pull a hard credit check on your personal report, even though the business line of credit will be separate from your personal accounts and won’t affect your personal credit utilization rate.

Similar to applying for personal credit cards, you should evaluate your financial health before submitting any applications. Evaluate the length of your credit history, whether you have any negative activity on your report and your credit score itself. Don’t apply for any cards that you know you’re unlikely to qualify for, as too many applications in a short time period can affect your score negatively.

Tips on how to use business credit cards

  • Establish spending guidelines to ensure you don’t take on high-interest debt using your business credit card.
  • Outline what constitutes a business expense, set your own spending limits outside of the designated credit limit and have a system in place for tracking purchases to ensure adherence to the rules.
  • If your business is made up of multiple employees, have a clear policy in place to decide who will receive an employee card. Most importantly, communicate all policies and guidelines across the business.
  • Use your card responsibly, but don’t forget to actually use it. Especially if your card charges an annual fee, you’ll want to ensure you’re maximizing your rewards and getting the most value out of your spending.
  • Stay diligent in keeping your personal expenses separate from your business expenses to simplify bookkeeping.
  • Don’t let your cash back or rewards points expire. Redeeming your rewards regularly can ensure that cash back or points value is invested back into your business rather than going to waste.

Expert Q&A: Monica Eaton-Cardone

Monica Eaton-Cardone is the COO and founder of Chargebacks911, an industry-leading chargeback remediation firm. In addition to COO, she holds the titles of speaker, entrepreneur and author. She is a tireless advocate for the role of women in IT and business leadership. We spoke with Monica about what a successful business looks like in terms of credit.

What tips do you have for building and maintaining good business credit?

As with personal credit, the underlying principle here is to convince lenders that you’re a reliable, stable entity who’s worth their investment. Many of the things that boost your business credit will be in line with that goal.

Ensure that your business can be found easily on Google, as well as on social media, and that you have a professional presentation. You’ll also want to try to establish a good rapport with vendors, as they may be more willing to extend credit to you at first. Incorporating your business as an LLC can also be very helpful, as it makes the business legally distinct from you as an individual.

Finally, once you are able to secure credit cards and other lines of credit for your business, you need to maintain what you’ve established. This means paying all bills on time and in full. Plus, just like with your personal credit, you need to monitor your reports on a regular basis, and ensure that they are free of errors.

What are some things to avoid when it comes to choosing a business credit card?

Some small businesses tend to shy away from cards that require an annual fee. This would be a mistake; if you want a business card, you can’t simply write off any card that requires an annual fee, as these charges are common practice for business cards. In line with what I mentioned earlier, you need to weigh the benefits against the cost of the card, and see if it plays to your advantage.

You also need to figure how many cards you should have at once. Having multiple cards can be a good move, as it increases your available credit and lowers your credit utilization ratio. That said, you don’t want to apply for every card out there, as each application triggers a hard inquiry on your credit, which means your score will take a slight hit.

Do you have a favorite business credit card? If so, why?

Again, it will vary based on what I’m using it for. I have several business cards that we use for different things, like booking travel, buying supplies, or organizing events. That said, I think the Capital One Spark Cash card offers a good “bang-for-buck” balance for small businesses.

The card offers a flat, unlimited 2% back on purchase, plus a $500 bonus if you spend $4,500 in the first 3 months. There’s a $95 annual fee, but it’s waived for the first year, and between the cash back bonus and the standard 2% back, it shouldn’t be long before it pays for itself.

Business credit scores: what you need to know

In many ways, a business credit score serves the same function as a personal credit score. Its main purpose is to let lenders know whether a business has been a trustworthy borrower in the past.

Why your business credit score matters

Since you technically can lean on your personal credit for some business pursuits, you may wonder why your business credit score even matters. For an insider’s take on the matter, we reached out to Brian Bond, senior vice president of Product, Marketing and Strategy for Experian Business Information Services.

“Business credit is established on day one, so businesses should be thinking about how they want to improve and maintain their scores as soon as possible,” says Bond. “Lenders use businesses credit scores to gauge financial risk. It can determine whether they receive a loan, the interest rates they’re given, and if vendors will want to work with them. A good credit score can offer greater financial opportunities and affect a business’s ability to obtain capital, so it’s important for them to regularly monitor and keep up with their scores.”

Beyond business matters, there are personal reasons to set credit boundaries too.

“It’s important for small business owners to separate business credit and personal credit for a few reasons,” says Bond.

“If your business ever becomes at risk, your personal credit score becomes at risk as well. Maintaining separation can protect your personal credit profile should a financial mishap occur in the company, and vice versa. ”

How does a business credit score differ from a personal credit score?

While serving the same function, business and personal credit scores have a few key differences.

  • The business credit score range is smaller. While personal credit scores are between 300-850, business credit scores are typically between 0-100.
  • The credit reporting agencies and scoring systems are different. The three primary reporting agencies for business credit are Dun & Bradstreet, Experian and Equifax. They all use different scoring models, so your score may vary greatly between agencies.
  • Business credit is public, while personal credit is not. Anyone can look up your score through the business credit reporting agencies.
  • Business credit scores are tied to an EIN (unless you are a sole proprietor and do not have one), unlike personal credit scores which are tied to your social security number.

How do I check my business credit score?

Since your business credit scores vary by agency, it’s a good idea to check in with each to have a well-rounded idea of your company’s financial health. There are three main business credit reporting agencies: Dun & Bradstreet, Experian and FICO.

What is the highest-paying business cash back card?

That question doesn’t have a truly definitive answer, mainly because of the way cash back credit cards work. Some offer unlimited earnings on general purchases at a relatively low flat rate, while others feature higher rewards rates in special categories limited by spending caps.

However, we can offer a detailed analysis of several business cash back cards available from our partners to help you make your own decision.

Flat-rate with spending caps

The American Express Blue Business Cash Card has a rewards structure similar to that of the Capital One Spark Cash for Business — similar, yet not identical. The Blue Business Cash earns 2 percent cash back on all eligible purchases, but only on up to $50,000 per calendar year, after which the rate slides to 1 percent.

If you made $50,000 in purchases with this card in a calendar year, you’d earn $1,000 in cash back at that 2 percent rate. You would continue to earn after reaching the $50,000 limit, but at the reduced rate of 1 percent.

All things considered, the potential to earn at least $1,000 in cash back per calendar year should hold some appeal for just about any small business owner.

Tiered categories with spending caps

Things get a little more complex with the Bank of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard credit card. It has two bonus cash back categories, but your combined earnings in those categories have a $50,000-per-calendar-year limit. The card also earns 1 percent cash back on all other non-category purchases.

Category Earnings Limit
3% choice, which you can select from a list of six options including office supply stores and travel Combined $50,000/per calendar year with dining category
2% on dining purchases Combined $50,000/per calendar year with choice category
1% on all other purchases Unlimited

The most cash back you could earn in the combined choice/dining categories in a calendar year would be $1,500 ($50,000 at 3 percent). You would also earn an unlimited 1 percent cash back on eligible purchases outside the bonus categories.

If your business spends a lot of money on purchases in the choice and dining categories, you could earn cash back at a significantly faster rate with this card than with most others — at least until you hit the $50,000 threshold. Overall, this Bank of America card (which has no annual fee) could generate a tidy sum of cash back for a particular kind of business owner.

Business credit cards vs. business loans

Consider whether a credit card or a loan is the better option for you to get your business up and running. Generally speaking, a business credit card is easier to obtain than a business loan. Even if your credit is just average, you may still qualify for some business credit cards, like the Capital One Spark Classic for Business. There are also secured business credit card options, in which you put down an initial deposit that acts as your credit limit, which can help if your credit score is less-than-stellar.

A business loan, however, would be much more difficult to qualify for with anything less than a strong credit profile, as you’d be deemed too big of a risk. It can take months to get approved for a business loan, which may also require collateral, potentially putting you at risk if your business runs into financial trouble.

However, business loans typically have much lower interest rates than business credit cards. If you need large amounts of cash upfront, a lump sum may also be a better choice than a revolving line of credit, especially if you’re likely to carry a balance on a credit card. But if you’re able to pay the card balance in full every month and you can obtain a large enough credit limit or have the cash flow for a charge card, you’ll likely benefit more from the rewards and perks of a business credit card.

Generally, business loans are a good choice for refinancing or one-time large investments, while business credit cards are ideal for ongoing expenses.

Bankrate’s Business Loan Calculator can help you decide which is best for you.

Frequently asked question about business credit cards

Are business credit cards worth it?

Whether your business is large or small, having a separate account for business expenses almost always makes sense. Simplified tax reporting, more targeted rewards and expense tracking tools are bound to make doing business easier.

If you’re concerned about value, there’s a good selection of business credit cards with no annual fee. As long as you’re able to pay your bill in full each month, there’s nothing to lose.

What is the difference between a business and a personal credit card?

In practice, business credit cards work nearly the same as consumer cards. But there are a few differences, most of which work to your benefit.

  • Higher credit limits. Since you’re able to include both personal income and business revenue on a business credit card application, you’re more likely to be approved for a higher credit limit than a consumer card.
  • Rewards categories. It’s common to see enhanced reward rates on unique, business-oriented categories like office supplies, travel and wholesalers.
  • Extra perks. Business credit cards come with a variety of benefits designed to help the business owner save time and money. One common benefit is quarterly or annual expense summaries — not only a good budgeting tool but also a way to simplify your business tax return.
  • Credit reporting. Have you ever wondered whether your business spending habits affect your personal credit? Your credit card issuer may report to both business and personal credit bureaus or business credit bureaus alone. It varies based on the issuer, the credit card, your spending habits and the state that you live in. If this matters to you, do some research to understand the full connection between business and personal credit.
  • Legal protections. Many of the laws that protect consumers from unfair and predatory lending tactics do not apply to business credit cards. Unlike consumer credit cards, it technically is not illegal for issuers of business credit cards to increase interest rates with no advance notice or charge extremely high late fees.

When you apply for a business credit card, is approval based on your personal credit score?

Your personal credit score and financial health are taken into account when you apply for a business credit card. Most issuers will require at least good credit (670 and above), while some may even require excellent credit (740 and above). It’s important to keep in mind that when applying, the issuer will pull a hard inquiry on your credit file even though your business line of credit is separate from your personal accounts. Similar to applying for a personal credit card, it’s important to evaluate your credit health and history to determine if a business card is a good fit for you.

What is a business credit score?

A business credit score measures your company’s creditworthiness. The higher your business credit score, the more trustworthy you’ll appear to lenders, much like your personal score credit score. However, there are some distinctions that set the two apart.

While personal credit uses a scale between 300-850 to determine your score, business credit scores typically use a scale between 0-100. Business credit is also public, meaning that anyone can look up your score through the business credit reporting agencies. There are three primary business credit reporting agencies, Dunn & Bradstreet, Experian and Equifax, and each has its own scoring system.

You’ll need to keep up with all of the credit scoring models to see the full picture of your company’s creditworthiness, so get familiar with how business credit scoring works.

Can I apply for a business credit card without a business?

In order to get approved for a business credit card you need to be earning money independently, but don’t necessarily need to have a traditional “business” to get approved. The requirements for applying for a business credit card are more simple than they appear. Any income-producing hobby or activity may be considered a business when applying for the card, as long as it’s profitable.

Can you get a business credit card without a personal guarantee?

Though uncommon, business credit cards that do not require a personal guarantee do exist. However, there is usually a tradeoff. Instead of providing a personal guarantee, you’ll usually need to link a corporate bank account with a large balance, provide proof of significant business profits, or offer business assets as collateral.

One popular option is the Brex Corporate Card for Startups. In order to qualify, you’ll need to link a corporate account containing at least $100,000.

Can I apply for a business credit card with an EIN (employer identification number)?

Yes, you can apply for specific business credit cards with your EIN. However, application requirements for business credit cards differ depending on business type.

For example, as a sole proprietor or freelancer, you may be asked to provide similar personal information that is required when you apply for a personal credit card, like your Social Security number (in certain cases you can provide your EIN), address and income. As an LLC or corporation, be ready to provide your personal and business information, and any other details related to your business for verification after an initial approval.

Regardless of your business type, it’s important to provide everything the issuer requires to avoid the risk of having your application declined.

How do I check my business credit score?

Since your business credit scores vary by agency, it’s a good idea to check in with each to have a well-rounded idea of your company’s financial health. There are three main business credit reporting agencies: Dun & Bradstreet, Experian and FICO.

  • The Dun & Bradstreet PAYDEX score ranges from 1-100, and to track your credit you’ll need a D-U-N-S number®, which you can apply for on their website.
  • To see your Experian business credit score you’ll need to head to their website as well. On the site you’ll be given different options to track your credit, like a one-time report or an annual subscription plan.
  • The FICO® Liquidcredit® Small Business Scoring Service (SBSS) can also be used to track your credit score, especially if you are a small business owner. Your FICO® score is generated on your likelihood of paying back credit on time based on your previous financial health, and uses a larger scale of 0-300. On the website you’re also given different options to track your credit: the basic, advanced and premier packages.

How we choose our top business card selections

While we consider all aspects of a credit card when calculating the 5-star Bankrate score, the criteria for business cards emphasize features most valued by business owners. Scoring on this page places a weighted emphasis on factors including:

APR (Annual Percentage Rate)

Some cards offer lower variable APRs, while others allow business owners to manage debt from large purchases or other credit accounts with 0% intro APR offers.

Rewards rates

When evaluating each card, we consider both the earning structure rate and corresponding redemption values that a small/medium business owner can expect with every eligible purchase.

Bonuses, discounts and perks

For each sign-up bonus or welcome offer, we compare the spending requirements with the redemption value that each card brings to the table. On top of the bonus, we layer in additional perks like free employee cards and rental car insurance to calculate the total expected value.

More research on credit cards for businesses

If you want a deeper look into how each card may serve your business’s needs, check out our expert reviews on all of the major business credit cards on the market today.

You can also refer to these Bankrate resources:

More info on rates and fees for the American Express® Business Gold Card.


Senior Editor Barry Bridges has been writing about credit cards, loans, mortgages and other personal finance products for Bankrate since 2018. His work has also appeared on websites including Nasdaq.com, Zillow.com and The Simple Dollar. He was previously an award-winning newspaper journalist in his native North Carolina. Send your questions about credit cards (and fantasy baseball) to bbridges@bankrate.com.

Mariah Ackary is a writer for Bankrate.com, specializing in rewards and small businesses. Through her research and advice, she strives to make financial education easier and more approachable. Send your questions to mackary@redventures.com.

Have more questions for our credit cards editors? Feel free to send us an email, find us on Facebook, or Tweet us @Bankrate.

* See the online application for details about terms and conditions for these offers. Every reasonable effort has been made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. After you click on the offer you desire you will be directed to the credit card issuer's web site where you can review the terms and conditions for your selected offer.

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, is accurate as of the publish date. All products or services are presented without warranty. Check the bank’s website for the most current information.