Best business credit cards: Winter 2017

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In a wave of hotel data breaches, be on alert for card fraud

 

 In a wave of hotel data breaches, be on alert for card fraud

 

The rewards offered by business credit cards are becoming increasingly generous as more lenders advertise extra large sign-up bonuses and plump rewards on everyday expenses. Business credit cards, though, often come with hefty fees in exchange for those plum bonuses and rewards.

To help you pick the best business card for your company or small business, CreditCards.com evaluated some of the top-rated cards in the business card category and asked a panel of judges to rate the CreditCards.com staff’s top three picks. Judges for the Best Business Credit Cards of Winter 2017 were business consultant Barry Moltz, financial planner Harriet J. Brackey, Money magazine staff writer Taylor Tepper, CreditCards.com Editor-in-Chief Daniel P. Ray and CreditCards.com senior industry analyst Matt Schulz.

All three of our best business credit cards combine business-friendly benefits with generous rewards that you can use to capitalize on your everyday expenses.

FIRST PLACE: The newcomer Chase Ink Business Preferred card, introduced in October 2016 with a lucrative sign-up bonus and plentiful points on common expenses, edged out competitors to finish first among business credit cards. 

 

#1 THE CHASE INK BUSINESS PREFERRED CARD
Best card
  • 3 points/dollar on travel, shipping, internet, cable, phone services and advertising purchases
  • 1 point/dollar on other purchases
  • 80,000 bonus points if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months
  • $95 annual fee (waived first year if you apply at a Chase bank)
  • APR: 16.49-21.49% (variable)

Other features: No foreign transaction fees, free employee cards, $600 cellphone protection, primary car rental insurance, baggage insurance, purchase protections

Editor's rating:
star-rating4.2/5
Read our review

 

#1 THE CHASE INK BUSINESS PREFERRED CARD

Best card

  • 3 points/dollar on travel, shipping, internet, cable, phone services and advertising purchases
  • 1 point/dollar on other purchases
  • 80,000 bonus points if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months
  • $95 annual fee (waived first year if you apply at a Chase bank)
  • APR: 16.49-21.49% (variable)

Other features: No foreign transaction fees, free employee cards, $600 cellphone protection, primary car rental insurance, baggage insurance, purchase protections

Editor's rating:
star-rating
4.2/5
Read our review

Our judges particularly liked the Chase Ink Business Preferred card’s expansive rewards program and hefty sign-up bonus, which they say more than makes up for its $95 annual fee. 

The relatively new Chase Ink Preferred can be so valuable, especially considering the plush sign-up bonus, that any small business should check it out first before moving on to other options.

— Taylor Tepper
Staff Writer, Money Magazine 

“I like to have choices,” says financial planner Harriet Bracket. With the Ink Business Preferred card, “you can redeem points for a wide range of rewards, not just travel.” 

For example, the Chase card offers triple points on a bevy of business-related expenses,  such as shipping expenses, Internet, phone and cable services and travel. The card also offers three points for every dollar spent on social media and search engine advertising – a unique benefit for businesses that are spending more resources on the web.  

The Chase Ink Business Preferred’s super generous sign-up bonus also helped it land atop the best business card category. Cardholders are awarded 80,000 bonus points – worth up to $1,000 in travel – if they spend $5,000 in the card’s first three months.

“The best business rewards credit card for you really depends on what you’re looking to come away with,” says personal finance journalist Taylor Tepper. “That being said, the relatively new Chase Ink Preferred can be so valuable, especially considering the plush sign-up bonus, that any small business should check it out first before moving on to other options.”

The Chase Ink Business Preferred also offers a host of business-centric benefits, including no foreign transaction fees and a 1:1 points transfer with a wide variety of airline and hotel loyalty programs.

Drawbacks: Business owners with less-than-pristine credit scores may have a harder time attaining an affordable interest rate with this card. Chase offers cardholders with the best credit scores a relatively high rate of 16.49 percent. The average business card, by contrast, charges a 13.41 percent interest rate, while the average rewards card charges 15.57 percent, according to CreditCards.com data.  Meanwhile, business owners with lower scores could get hit with a 21.49 percent interest rate.

SECOND PLACE: The Capital One Spark Cash for Business card, with its generous 2 percent cash back on every purchase and hassle-free rewards program, finished a close second for best business card. Spark Cash finished first in our inaugural best business credit cards competition.

 

#2 CAPITAL ONE SPARK CASH FOR BUSINESS CARD
Capital One Spark Cash for Business card
  • 2% unlimited cash back on every purchase
  • $500 bonus if you spend $4,500 in first 3 months
  • $59 annual fee (waived first year)
  • APR: 17.49% (variable)

Other features: No foreign transaction fees, free employee cards, quarterly and year-end summaries, premium travel benefits

Editor's rating:
star-rating
4.5/5
Read our review

 

#2 CAPITAL ONE SPARK CASH FOR BUSINESS CARD

Capital One Spark Cash for Business card

  • 2% unlimited cash back on every purchase
  • $500 bonus if you spend $4,500 in first 3 months
  • $59 annual fee (waived first year)
  • APR: 17.49% (variable)

Other features: No foreign transaction fees, free employee cards, quarterly and year-end summaries, premium travel benefits

Editor's rating:
star-rating
4.5/5
Read our review

“For the busy business owner on Main Street, plowing every ounce of energy into making his or her business succeed, I have to go with the Capital One Spark Cash for Business card as the overall best business card,” says CreditCards.com Editor-in-Chief Daniel P. Ray. “Being able to count on a 2 percent discount on everything you buy is a savings that drops directly to the bottom line.”

The card’s flat rewards rate also saves precious time that business owners might otherwise have to spend learning how to navigate a card’s complicated rewards program – a big perk for time-crunched business leaders.

“Businesspeople are incredibly busy. They don't want to think much about their credit cards,” says CreditCards.com’s senior industry analyst Matt Schulz. “That's why the Spark card works so well: It simply offers 2 percent cash back on everything and a low annual fee.” 

The Spark Cash card also offers a relatively generous $500 sign-up bonus for $4,500 in spending in the first three months, business-friendly benefits such as free employee cards, downloadable purchase records and no foreign transaction fees.

Another plus: Spark cardholders who don’t want to think about their rewards or put time into redeeming them can opt for automatic redemption, which is another big plus for time-strapped business owners.

“If you are spending 10, 12 or more hours a day making your business a success, having the ability to set up automatic deposits is one less thing to worry about,” says Ray.

Worth noting: While the Spark card’s $59 annual fee is substantially lower than the annual fees charged by business cards with comparable rewards, the Spark card’s flat APR of 17.49 percent is high – particularly for business owners with perfect credit.

THIRD PLACE: The Starwood Preferred Guest Business card from American Express, a favorite in travel and rewards circles for its generously priced rewards points, placed third in our best business card contest. 

 

#3 STARWOOD PREFERRED BUSINESS CREDIT CARD
Best card
  • 2 points/$1 on eligible Starwood purchases
  • 1 point/$1 on regular purchases
  • 25,000 bonus points if you spend $5,000 in first 3 months
  • 10,000 extra points if you spend additional $3,000 in first 3 months (offer ends 4/5/17)
  • $95 annual fee (waived first year)
  • APR: 15.49-17.49% (variable)

Other features: Free Sheraton lounge access, elite status upgrades, no foreign transaction fees, free employee cards, business expense tools, designate an account manager, set individual limits on employee cards, OPEN savings benefits, premium travel benefits

Editor's rating:
star-rating
4.5/5
Read our review

 

#3 STARWOOD PREFERRED BUSINESS CREDIT CARD

Best card

  • 2 points/$1 on eligible Starwood purchases
  • 1 point/$1 on regular purchases
  • 25,000 bonus points if you spend $5,000 in first 3 months
  • 10,000 extra points if you spend additional $3,000 in first 3 months (offer ends 4/5/17)
  • $95 annual fee (waived first year)
  • APR: 15.49-17.49% (variable)

Other features: Free Sheraton lounge access, elite status upgrades, no foreign transaction fees, free employee cards, business expense tools, designate an account manager, set individual limits on employee cards, OPEN savings benefits, premium travel benefits

Editor's rating:
star-rating
4.5/5
Read our review

While the Starwood business card doesn’t offer as many earning opportunities as other business rewards cards – for example, it offers a maximum of 5 points on SPG hotel stays, 2 points on Marriott hotel stays and just 1 point on other purchases – Starpoints tend to be valued significantly higher than the average card rewards point. This means Starwood cardholders get more buying power with their rewards.

Starwood also has boosted the value of its rewards points by offering 1:1 point transfers with a wide range of travel partners and with a 5,000-point bonus when you transfer your points.

The Starwood Preferred Guest Business card has a healthy 25,000-point sign-up bonus if you charge $5,000 in the card’s first three months and an additional 10,000-point sign-up bonus if you charge another $3,000 in the card’s first six months. This 35,000-point sign-up bonus offer is good only until April 5.

“As with consumer cards, the business card that will be best depends on your spending and your lifestyle,” says Ray. “For the businessperson who is a road warrior, the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express is the clear winner. The valuable and versatile Starpoints, and the generous sign-up bonus, give it the edge to frequently traveling businesspeople.”

The Starwood card costs $95 a year after the card’s first year, but its APR of 15.74 percent to 19.74 percent is more affordable than the APRs charged by some of its competitors.

The Starwood card also offers a number of premium travel perks that make the card a good value for frequent travelers. For example, travelers are offered free Boingo Wi-Fi, free in-room Internet access and free access to Sheraton club lounges at select hotels.

“Now is the time to get this card especially with Marriott buying Starwood, which opens up a large choice of hotels,” says business consultant Barry Moltz. “This card has benefits that are important to every business owner and traveler: free Sheraton lounge access, no foreign transaction fees, free hotel Internet, no fee for employee cards, easy to manage business receipts and expenses, and set individual employee card limits.”

This is the second year that CreditCards.com has held a contest for best cards in their class. To help choose the best cards for each category, the CreditCards.com staff consulted credit card and personal finance experts who picked the top three cards as finalists. CreditCards.com staff also rates cards through our credit card reviews program.

A panel of five judges – including business and personal finance experts and two members of the CreditCards.com staff – were asked to independently judge the three finalists and rank them in order of preference. The cards with the best average rank were chosen as the winners. 

See related: 7 things to know about business credit cards, Supercharge rewards with a business credit card, Financing your business without relying on personal credit

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About this Award

CreditCards.com’s Best Credit Cards awards program brings together prominent industry experts and journalists to choose the best credit card within a monthly category. Our editorial staff nominates cards based on a set of objective criteria. CreditCards.com is not compensated for any of the nominations or awards.



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Meet the judges