Best for business perks with no annual fee
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
This card works well for business owners whose spending budgets aren’t too high just yet.
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Small businesses and mid-size startups will find a nice marriage of affordability and business perks in this business card. While you’ll want to be sure you keep your budget in check to avoid hitting spending caps on your reward earnings, you’ll still get a lot out of this one if you play your card(s) right.
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express has no annual fee and a high rewards rate on up to $50,000 in purchases per year, which makes it ideal for small business owners that have big startup expenses or that don’t have a specialized budget just yet.
As your business develops, the Blue Business Plus pairs especially well with other American Express cards as a flat-rate business rewards card, so it can remain a key partner in your rewards strategy well into the future.
No annual fee, so you won’t have to use your reward earnings to offset this extra cost
It has an intro APR on purchases that is on-par with other business credit cards
The Expanded Buying Power feature allows you to spend beyond your credit limit (depending on your creditworthiness, but it is not unlimited)
The 2X bonus category only earns rewards on the first $50,000 in purchases
No intro APR on balance transfers, so it’s not an ideal option for managing other high-interest debt
There is a 2.7 percent foreign transaction fee if you plan to use your card abroad on business travel or with international merchants
Earn 15,000 Membership Rewards® points after spending $3,000 in eligible purchases on the card within your first three months of card membership. Other no-annual-fee business credit cards we’ve seen have offered anywhere from $200 to $750 in welcome bonus value.
The Blue Business Plus by American Express earns points on everyday purchases with the flexible American Express Membership Rewards program. This Blue Business Plus card can offer solid value to small-business owners, as it is one of the few cards with no annual fee that offers rewards at this rate. Plus, the opportunity to earn 2X points on up to $50,000 in purchases resets every year, so the chance to earn relatively lucrative rewards is not limited to new cardholders. With such benefits, this card could earn a permanent place in your business financing strategy.
You’ll get 2X points on up to $50,000 in purchases each year and 1X points after that. If you rent cars often, you’ll also earn unlimited 2X points on prepaid rental cars booked through the American Express Travel portal.
There are no spending categories to keep track of, making it easy to rack up rewards without having to spend strategically.
American Express has various redemption options, including travel through its portal, merchandise and gift cards. You can also transfer your points to over a dozen hotel and airline partners or use rewards to cover your card charges, like a statement credit.
Online shoppers can use Pay with Points at checkout with select merchants and prepaid rental cars booked through Amex Travel as well.
Depending on your selected redemption option, each reward point could be worth between 0.5 and 2 cents.
The best way to maximize your points is to use them for travel, especially when you transfer to a partner airline or hotel. Bankrate’s latest valuation estimates that finding the right American Express transfer partner can bump each point to up to 2.1 cents apiece. However, redeeming for air travel through the Amex portal will only get you 1 cent per point. Reserving prepaid hotels, cars, cruises and planned vacations will only net 0.7 cents per point.
Paying with points and redeeming them for merchandise, gift cards (value varies by merchant, but up to a 1:1 value), or statement credits will get you the least bang for your buck since you’ll only get 0.5 cents to 0.7 cents per point in most cases.
In addition to rewards, this card has perks that can help you manage your business spending, including expanding your buying power and providing you with employee cards. Here’s a rundown of your main benefits as a Blue Business Plus cardholder.
This card has a quick and easy online application process. In fact, you could get your American Express Blue Business Plus approval in as little as 30 seconds.
If you need to make a large purchase worth more than your Amex Blue Business Plus credit limit, you can do it with expanded buying power. Based on your creditworthiness, American Express may allow you to go over your credit limit to cover business expenses like equipment and inventory, but it’s not unlimited. It adjusts with your card use, payment history, credit record, financial resources known to American Express, and more. Also, you must pay off the over-limit portion at the end of each billing statement as part of your minimum statement.
The Blue Business Plus allows you to get additional cards for your employees and set custom limits on their spending.
The account manager feature allows you to give a trusted assistant access to your accounts so they can monitor your finances for you.
This card also comes with purchase protection to protect your covered purchases from theft or accidental damage for up to 90 days from the date of purchase.
If you travel, you’ll be happy to find out this card comes with secondary car rental loss and damage insurance and a Global Assist Hotline. The hotline can help you if you find a solution for emergencies such as a lost passport or missing luggage.
Most notably, the Amex Blue Business Plus has no annual fee and a 0 percent intro APR on purchases for the first 12 months from account opening, enabling you to finance large business expenses for one year without paying interest. This intro APR offer is worthwhile — especially for a purchase-focused card — since several popular business cards don’t offer zero-interest periods.
After the intro period, your regular APR will be between 17.99 percent to 25.99 percent (variable), depending on your creditworthiness. If you spend over your limit, the Expanded Buying Power feature means you won’t face an over-limit fee, but there are a few other rates and fees to be aware of if you have difficulty paying off your balance.
A returned payment or two or more late payments in one year will subject you to a 29.99 percent penalty APR. This penalty APR lasts for at least 12 billing cycles and could cause you to rack up high-interest debt. The Blue Business Plus Credit Card also has a $39 late and returned payment fee and a 2.7 percent fee on foreign transactions.
The Blue Business Plus credit card is ideal for small business owners looking for a card with a simple rewards structure, no annual fee and an intro APR period. The downside is that this would not be a good fit for larger companies spending more than $50,000 annually (at least not as their primary business card). If your business spending is high, pairing this card with another one or utilizing another business card as your primary payment method may allow you to maximize more reward earnings.
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The Capital One Spark Cash Plus offers unlimited 2 percent cash back without a rewards cap like the Blue Business Plus, meaning big spenders may earn more with the Spark Cash Plus card. The catch is that it has a $150 annual fee, but it’s relatively easy to recoup through rewards spending or the $200 annual bonus if you spend at least $200,000 each year. That translates to about $625 spent per month to make up the cost of the $150 fee with rewards alone. Fortunately, the Spark Cash Plus is a true charge card without a set spending limit, allowing you to earn piles of cash back if your business frequently has a lot of big expenses to cover.
Businesses that don’t have expansive budgets and won’t blow through the $50,000 annual spending cap may be better off with the Blue Business Plus card. Since the Spark Cash Plus is a charge card, it may be more challenging to build credit with the requirement to pay off balances in full each billing cycle. As a result, the Blue Business Plus is the better option for building your business credit over time, while the Spark Cash Plus is ideal for more established business ventures.
If you like the perks of the Blue Business Plus card, you should consider the American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card. You’ll earn 2 percent cash back on the first $50,000 in purchases per year and 1 percent after that. Like the Blue Business Plus, it has a nearly identical rewards system, no annual fee, Expanded Buying Power, an interest-free intro period of 12 months on purchases and the same reasonable 17.99 percent to 25.99 percent variable APR afterward. The Blue Business Plus Card could give more value to small businesses wanting to earn points that can be redeemed for travel, though those looking for cash back may be more satisfied with the American Express Blue Business Cash Card. It’s also important to note that while travel purchases are the most lucrative redemption option for these cards, you will have to pay a foreign transaction fee for any purchases made abroad with both cards.
Hands down, the best pairing for the Blue Business Plus consists of the other two cards in the Amex Trifecta: The Platinum Card® from American Express and the American Express® Gold Card. This trio is the definitive combination for earning maximum Membership Rewards points across your spending. While the Amex Platinum rewards your travel purchases, the Amex Gold rakes in boosted rewards on everyday expenses like dining and groceries at U.S. supermarkets.
If your rewards strategy isn’t quite that ambitious, like other flat-rate cards, the Blue Business Plus partners especially well with some of the best rewards credit cards that offer higher rates on your biggest bonus categories. Another American Express business card, like the American Express® Business Gold Card, could also be a fantastic addition to your wallet since it earns 4X points on up to $150,000 across two of your most significant eligible categories each billing cycle.
If you’re a big spender, there may be better options than getting a Blue Business Plus Credit Card. You’ll only earn 2X points on the first $50,000 you spend each year (except for rental cars booked through Amex Travel), and your rewards rate will drop down to 1X points thereafter. Although you can switch to another card when you hit the rewards cap, you may want to avoid the hassle of dealing with multiple credit cards.
But this is a great card to add to your arsenal if you’re a small-business owner who wants to rack up rewards without worrying about rewards categories. It has an interest-free period, no annual fee and expanded buying power that will give you the capital you need to grow your business. You can also squeeze out fantastic long-term value since the Blue Business Plus has the potential to pair nicely with other premium Amex cards once you’ve upgraded your business’ suite of cards.
For rates and fees of the Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express Blue Business Cash card, please click here.
Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by Amex Assurance Company.
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