American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card review: a card for the business owner still figuring it out
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American Express Blue Business Cash overview
The American Express Blue Business Cash card’s spending cap on flat-rate 2 percent cash back (up to $50,000 per year, then 1 percent), welcome bonus and list of features are small compared to other American Express and business credit cards. Despite this, the card’s no annual fee, 12-month 0 percent intro purchase APR and low ongoing 16.24 percent to 24.24 percent variable APR, makes it one of our best cards for startup businesses if you prefer cash back and want an accessible card option. However, you might consider upgrading your card to match your growing business to avoid stunting your rewards.
What are the pros and cons?
- $50,000 spending limit per year on 2 percent category limits rewards potential
- There’s a 2.7 percent foreign transaction fee if your business takes you abroad
A deeper look into the current card offer
- Rewards rate: 2 percent cash back on all eligible purchases (up to $50,000 per year, then 1 percent)
- Welcome offer: Earn a $250 statement credit after you make $3,000 in purchases on your card in your first three months.
- Annual fee: $0
- Purchase intro APR: 0 percent for 12 months
- Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
- Regular APR: 16.24 percent to 24.24 percent variable
Current welcome offer
Earn a $250 statement credit after you make $3,000 in purchases on your card in your first three months. This is well aligned with other welcome offers on competing cards and, depending on the volume of your spending, can be relatively easy to meet with a monthly $1,000 spend each month following the date you open your card account.
The one downside here is that the money is applied as a statement credit rather than provided as points, cash back or a direct deposit. While a statement credit is nothing to shrug at, some other cards offer points back which can be to your benefit on redemption if you take advantage of transfers to partnering airlines or hotels.
The Blue Business Cash card is a competitive, no-frills cash back card and its rewards are easy to earn and redeem — until you cross the $50,000 yearly rewards spending cap. An annual spending cap is expected on a card that earns in this rewards bracket and while it’s limiting to the cardholder, $50,000 is a healthy chunk of money to spend in one year.
Additionally, since this card has no annual fee, you’re already earning rewards in the positive for any dollar amount you spend. If you do happen to hit the $50,000 soft cap, it won’t hurt to use another card that will earn more than 1 percent back for the rest of the year.
How you earn
Earning cash back with the Amex Blue Business Cash is simple: All purchases will earn 2 percent cash back until you’ve spent $50,000 in combined purchases. Then, you’ll earn 1 percent back for the remainder of the year.
As far as no-annual-fee business cards go, flat-rate 2 percent cash back is one of the highest rates you’ll find. Although it comes with a disappointing annual $50,000 limit in combined purchases before your cash back halves to 1 percent, the card still holds a lot of value for business owners whose annual expenses don’t exceed $50,000.
On the other hand, plenty of competing business cards offer truly unlimited cash back at a slightly lower 1.5 percent for no annual fee. To earn more with an unlimited 1.5 percent back than you would with 2 percent back (up to $50,000, then 1 percent) you’ll need to spend more than $100,000 each year. Be sure to calculate your company’s card spending to determine if you can earn more with an unlimited 1.5 percent rate than the Blue Business Cash card’s capped 2 percent rate.
How to redeem
Unfortunately, you won’t have any flexible cash back redemption options such as direct deposit or check. The Blue Business Cash card only receives cash back as an automatic statement credit up to two billing cycles later. This can be a little discouraging, especially for business owners whose businesses take them abroad or who want to use their credit card rewards on other purchases. Despite limited redemption options, you’re still earning your rewards so the card’s value remains.
Determining whether the card is right for you, however, will boil down to how you want to receive credit card rewards. If convenience is more important than face value, then another option might be a better choice for you. However, if you want low-maintenance, high-value credit card rewards without having to redeem manually, then this is the Amex Blue Business Cash card is the one you want to look more into.
How much are rewards worth?
A 2 percent cash back rate will earn you 2 cents per dollar, but this is reduced to 1 cent after the $50,000 annual spending cap. This card’s rewards will be more valuable if you can maximize your cash back up to that limit. If you reach the $50,000 soft spending cap, then you’ll earn a combined total of $1,000 in statement credits for the year. All spending beyond $50,000 will reward you with 1 percent back. If you spend an additional $50,000 over the spending cap, you’ll receive $500 more in statement credits, totaling your rewards for the year at $1,500 with a $100,000 spend. This is effectively a combined rate of 1.5 percent back.
As you can see, the more you spend with the Blue Business Cash Card the lower its earning rate (and rewards value) as a result of the $50,000 cap on its 2 percent cash back rate.
Other cardholder perks
As a no annual fee card, the benefits on this card aren’t particularly robust, but the “Expanded Buying Power” perk and a few standard American Express features may provide small businesses a bit of a lift in a pinch.
Expanded Buying Power
In case you’re faced with a sudden expense or a stellar opportunity, you can spend beyond your credit limit with no over-limit fee. But keep in mind that purchases are approved on a case-by-case basis.
This benefit gives your small business card temporary purchasing power you may not otherwise have. While the amount you can spend above your credit limit isn’t unlimited, it adjusts with your use of the card, your payment history, credit record, and other factors. This can play well with your wallet so long as you manage your money responsibly and adjust to the higher demand placed on top of your regular expenses.
If you anticipate spending more on future opportunities and want this added lifeline to take advantage of, then it’s certainly worth considering the card despite its self-limited cash back rate. Rewards aren’t the make-or-break points on most cards, features like this exist for the cardholder’s convenience and should certainly be taken into account when you’re shopping for your next business card.
Shopping and travel protections
Although they’re standard Amex benefits, these safety features might help you rest easier during your day-to-day operations:
Amex Offers is an activation-based rewards program that lets you earn another small helping of cash back or American Express Membership Rewards points (with the appropriate cards) on limited-time promotions from participating merchants.
As an example, these deals may provide cash back offers like “Spend $50 or more, get $10 back,” or provide a set cash back rate up to a spending cap. Keeping an eye on these promotions as they cycle might give you a great opportunity to stockpile a bit more cash back every now and then.
Rates and fees
If you’re looking for a card that’s light on ongoing costs, Amex Blue Business Cash charges no annual fee and provides a 12-month 0 percent intro APR on purchases. After that, the interest is relatively low for a business card, at 16.24 percent to 24.24 percent variable APR. Plus, no over-limit fee means using the Expanded Buying Power Perk won’t incur fees. Just be careful to pay on time and avoid the 29.99 percent variable penalty APR.
Another potential cost worth considering is the 2.7 percent foreign transaction fee if you plan to travel abroad for business.
How the Blue Business Cash card compares to other business cards
The Blue Business Cash delivers one of the highest cash back rates for no annual fee business cards, but the $50,000 annual spending cap on the 2 percent cash back rate hobbles it. This card is a better fit for small businesses that spend at least $50,000, but not a great amount more.
If the Blue Business Cash yearly rewards rate spending cap is a deal-breaker, here are a few alternatives:
American Express Blue Business Cash Card vs. The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express
Although cash back is praised for its convenience and upfront value and is easily recognizable by cardholders when compared to points or other rewards cards, it does lack in value what it makes up for in ease of access. A card that earns points as part of a rewards program can hold more value if those points are utilized strategically.
Even among American Express options, cards that earn Amex Membership Rewards points collect more valuable rewards than the Blue Business Cash card will. Membership Rewards points are worth 2 cents apiece according to The Points Guy — meaning The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express essentially earns up to 4 cents per dollar via 2X points on the first $50,000 in purchases each year (then 1X points). Additionally, Membership Rewards points can be transferred to partnering airlines or hotels, sometimes increasing in value with that partner. If you pool points with a specific airline or hotel, you might consider the Blue Business Plus as another avenue through which you accumulate rewards points.
American Express Blue Business Cash Card vs. Capital One Spark Miles for Business
If you’re sure that you will exceed the $50,000 spending limit of the Amex Blue Business card, then the Capital One Spark Miles for Business might be worth looking into. First and foremost, there is no spending cap and maintains the same 2 percent cash back rate. It also has a welcome offer that is worth double the Amex Blue Business’ at 50,000 miles (after spending $4,500 within the first three months). If you have to travel for work Capital One rewards 5 percent to travel purchases when you use the issuer’s travel portal.
However, this all comes at a cost—literally. While the Spark Miles for Business has no annual fee for the first year, it incurs a $95 annual fee thereafter. It also doesn’t include intro APRs the 22.49 percent APR would apply immediately to your balance. So, while it may be more lucrative for those who spend more than $50,000 on business expenses and often travel, the annual fee and high APR can be a dealbreaker from business owners.
Best cards to pair with the Blue Business Cash card
Ultimately, other cash back cards that earn higher rates on your key bonus categories are the best partners for the flat-rate Blue Business Cash card.
The Bank of America® Business Advantage Customized Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card can earn 3 percent cash back on one category of six you choose each month, including common expenses like gas stations, travel and office supply stores. You’ll also earn 2 percent cash back on dining. But be warned that your 3 percent and 2 percent categories also share a $50,000 annual spending limit before dropping to 1 percent back. This card is a no-brainer if you already bank with Bank of America since Preferred Rewards members earn up to 75 percent more cash back on every purchase (depending on your rewards tier).
If you’re dedicated to your Amex Blue Business Cash card but typically spend beyond its 2 percent rewards cap of $50,000, then getting another unlimited cash back card, like the Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card, would reap more rewards at that point.
Bankrate’s Take — Is the Blue Business Cash card worth it?
The American Express Blue Business Cash card is best for small businesses or startups with expenses that may fall outside of normal business spending categories. The 2 percent cash back rate is top-notch, but the $50,000 yearly spending cap (before reverting to 1 percent back) could be a fatal flaw for many cardholders. However, it makes a great card for those who know their business expenses well or who are just starting out.
For rates and fees of the American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express , please click here.