Business Credit Cards

Business credit cards are useful tools for saving thousands every year. You can get more out of your business expenses by using a credit card with rewards like hotel stays, cash back, and valuable discounts. We analyzed 368 business credit cards to find you the best offers – here are the best business credit cards from our partners.

Business credit cards are useful tools for saving thousands every year. You can get more out of your business expenses by using a credit card with rewards like hotel stays, cash back, and valuable discounts. We analyzed 368 business credit cards to find you the best offers – here are the best business credit cards from our partners.

Summary

Creditcards.com’s Best Business Credit Cards

  • Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card by Citi : Best for everyday cash back
  • CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® : Best for business travel
  • Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business: Best for flat-rate cash back
  • Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business: Best for no expiration on rewards
  • Ink Business UnlimitedSM Credit Card: Best for boosted rewards
  • Ink Business CashSM Credit Card: Best for cash back on office supplies
  • Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card: Best for sign-up bonus
  • American Express® Blue Business Cash Card: Best for no annual fee
  • The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express: Best for long 0% APR period
See Rates & Fees, Terms Apply

Good to Excellent

Credit Recommended (670-850)

Rewards Rate

2%
Earn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1%.
1%
1% cash back on all eligible purchases after spending $50,000 per calendar year.

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
No current offer
Annual Fee
No annual fee
Regular APR
13.24% - 19.24% variable
See Rates & Fees, Terms Apply

Good to Excellent

Credit Recommended (670-850)

Rewards Rate

2X
Earn 2X Membership Rewards® points on everyday business purchases such as office supplies or client dinners.
1X
2X applies to the first $50,000 in purchases per year, 1 point per dollar thereafter.

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
No current offer
Annual Fee
No annual fee
Regular APR
13.24% - 19.24% variable

No Credit History

Apply Now

Rewards Rate

This card doesn't offer cash back, miles, or points

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
No current offer
Annual Fee
$4-12/month per card (First 6 months waived).
Regular APR
N/A

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Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by CreditCards.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank's website for the most current information.

All information about Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business, Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business, Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business, Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business, Ink Business UnlimitedSM Credit Card, Ink Business CashSM Credit Card, Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card, and The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express, US Bank Credit Cards, have been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer.


Comparing Business Credit Card Offers

Updated: May 21, 2020

If you’re a small-business owner, you probably don’t feel you have time to sort through a laundry list of business cards and complicated rewards schemes. But if you’re looking for the right card for your business in 2020 and beyond, it pays to sweat the details.

A good business card can help you invest more in your company, smooth out fluctuations in your monthly cash flow and build a better credit score for your business. It can also help you organize your expenses and monitor your employees’ spending.

Even better, many of the best business credit cards nowadays come packed with generous rewards that help you trim expenses and enjoy exclusive benefits. Here, we look at:


best business credit cards of 2020

Best Business Credit Cards

Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card by Citi

Why it’s the best business credit card for everyday cash back

Offering 4% cash back on eligible gas purchases (for the first $7,000 in purchases annually, then 1% after that), 3% on restaurants and eligible travel, 2% on Costco purchases, and 1% on general purchases, this is an easy choice for business owners who are already Costco members.

Pros

There’s no cap on rewards earnings and no annual fee with a paid ($60) Costco membership.

Cons

The cash back rewards are only issued once a year in February and are only redeemable at Costco. The 3% is pretty great, although it has its limits with current restrictions on travel and dining in restaurants.

CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®

Why it’s the best business credit card for business travel

This card is packed with travel rewards perks for frequent American Airlines flyers, including 2x AAdvantage® miles on eligible purchases at American Airlines, telecommunications merchants, cable and satellite providers, car rental merchants and gas stations.

Pros

The welcome bonus is one of the most generous among business credit cards: For a limited time, earn 70,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles when you spend $4,000 in eligible purchases within the first 4 months of account opening.

Cons

This card only makes sense for those who plan to fly American Airlines frequently. Also, there is an annual fee, $99, waived for first 12 months .

Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business

Why it’s the best business credit card for flat-rate cash back

It’s a great combination of value and simplicity: You’ll earn unlimited 2% back on all purchases without tracking spending, transferring rewards or juggling bonus categories.

Pros

Earn a one-time $500 cash bonus once you spend $4,500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening. This is accompanied by very strong rewards of 2% unlimited cash back on all your purchases, which could add up to huge savings for any business.

Cons

There is a $0 intro for first year; $95 after that. Also, the regular APR of 20.99% (Variable) is relatively high.

Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business

Why it’s the best business credit card for no expiration on rewards

Your rewards won’t expire for the life of the account, and you can set up automatic redemption and redeem cash back in any amount, anytime.

Pros

This card’s 1.5% cash back on all purchases rivals that of other flat-rate cash back business credit cards, and it has no annual fee. Also, the cash back is unlimited, unlike some cards which have maximum cash back limits.

Cons

The Capital One Spark Cash Select’s sign-up bonus is only $200 after a $3,000 spending within the first 3 months. Several other credit cards for businesses provide higher sign-up bonuses.

Ink Business UnlimitedSM Credit Card

Why it’s the best business credit card for boosted rewards

Not only will you earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, but you can also transfer your rewards to a qualifying Chase Ultimate Rewards card and boost their value by 25% when you redeem for travel.

Pros

Even with no annual fee, the Ink Business Unlimited has a nice sign-up bonus of $500 after a $3,000 spend within the first 3 months of card membership. You can also get a 0% intro APR for 12 months on purchases – it’s 14.74% - 20.74% Variable after that.

Cons

At 1.5% back on all purchases, you can get better rewards on everyday business expenses with The Blue Business Plus. Also, there’s no 0% intro APR for balance transfers.

Ink Business CashSM Credit Card

Why it’s the best business credit card for cash back on office supplies

It’s one of the only cards that includes a bonus on office supply spending, offering 5% cash back on your first $25,000 in combined purchases at office supply stores, as well as internet, cable and phone services each anniversary year. If you’re working from home for the foreseeable future, this cash back reward can be a great benefit for providing your employees the services they need to stay productive online.

Pros

This card has a sign-up bonus of $500 after a $3,000 spend within the first 3 months of card membership. Also, the tiered categories offer excellent variety.

Cons

After your first $25,000 in combined bonus category purchases, you’ll only earn 1% cash back.

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Why it’s the best business credit card for sign-up bonus

A hefty sign-up bonus of 100,000 points after a $15,000 spend within the first 3 months makes this a stellar business card. And those 100,000 points are worth $1,250 toward future travel when you book through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Pros

If your business spending lines up with this card’s bonus categories, you could really rack up rewards: You’ll earn 3X points on all travel, shipping, internet, cable, phone services and advertising purchases with social media and search engines on your first $150,000 in combined purchases each year.

Cons

It doesn’t offer a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers or new purchases, so it’s not the best choice if you’re hoping to do a balance transfer to your business card or finance large expenses over time. And unless you spend heavily in the Ink Business Preferred’s bonus categories, you’ll likely be better off with a card that offers a higher rewards rate on general purchases

American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card

Why it’s the best business credit card for no annual fee

Not many business cards let you earn cash back at such a high rate on all purchases without paying an annual fee.

Pros

This flat-rate cash back card offers some unique features, such as the possibility of spending beyond your credit limit and even earning cash back in those cases. Also, with enrollment, you can get your vendors paid upfront, then make payments for up to 90 days. The cash back on this product is also pretty good, although there’s a cap on the 2% cash back offer of $50,000 each calendar year.

Cons

Though the on-going rewards structure is solid, this card does not have a welcome offer. Other credit cards in this category have welcome offers of up to 50,000 points or miles (and sometimes more) after reseaching a certain spending threshold – an easy way to rack up rewards when choosing a new business card.

The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express

Why it’s the best business credit card for a long 0% APR period

The card offers a 0% introductory APR on new purchases for 12 months (13.24% - 19.24% Variable thereafter), making it useful if you need to finance a large purchase.

Pros

This card allows you to earn 2X points for up to $50,000 a year on business expenses like office supplies and client dinners, and 1 point per dollar thereafter. Also, the Blue Business Plus allows trusted partners or employees to manage your account and allows you to add receipts and notes to your transactions.

Cons

There’s a limit to how much you can earn with 2X points, up to $50,000. Also, there’s no introductory bonus.

Comparing the best business credit cards offers:

Business Credit Card Best For: Rewards Rate Annual Fee CreditCards.com Rating
Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card by Citi Everyday cash back 1% unlimited $0 2.6 / 5
CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® Business travel 2 AAdvantage® mile on eligible American Airlines purchases $99, waived for first 12 months 3.8 / 5
Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business Flat-rate cash back 2% unlimited $0 intro for first year; $95 after that 4.1 / 5
Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business No expiration on rewards 1.5% unlimited $0 3.5 / 5
Ink Business UnlimitedSM Credit Card Boosted rewards 1.5% unlimited $0 3.5 / 5
Ink Business CashSM Credit Card Cash back with high rewards rate on office supplies 5% on office supplies, internet $0 3.3 / 5
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card Sign-up bonus and high rewards on select business categories 3X on travel, select business categories $95 3.8 / 5
American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card No annual fee 2% (up to $50k in annual spend, then 1%) $0 3.9 / 5
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express Long intro APR period 2X (up to $50k in annual spend, then 1X) $0 4.2 / 5

Research methodology: what we considered

Business credit cards analyzed: 368

Criteria used: Rewards categories, rewards rates, redemption options and flexibility, sign-up bonus, customer service, small business perks, annual fee, other rates and fees, security, credit needed, ease of application

Of the 368 business credit cards we analyzed, we hand-picked 40 cards for in-depth individual reviews. Some 28 out of these 40 business cards in our reviews database include a points- or miles-based rewards program – 4 for airline miles, 3 for hotel points, and 21 are general rewards cards. Cash back cards constitute 12 out of the 40 business credit cards.

As far as bonus categories for spending go, “travel and transportation” is by far the most common bonus category among the cards in our review set, with 17 of 40. Flat-rate rewards cards are also very common, constituting 13 out of the 40 cards in our review set.

How business credit cards work

Business credit cards are simply credit cards designed for business use rather than personal use. While business credit cards function almost exactly like personal credit cards, they are unique in a few ways.

One major difference to keep in mind is that many small business credit card issuers report your business credit activity to both consumer and commercial credit bureaus. Additionally, unlike consumer cards, business credit cards aren’t protected under the Credit CARD Act of 2009. This means that consumer protections technically don’t apply to business cards, so your APR could change without notice or you could be charged high fees for minor infractions.

Business cards also tend to come with higher credit limits than personal cards and are more likely to offer rewards in business-related spending categories, like office supplies and phone and internet expenses.

Business credit cards are often used to build a company’s credit history, improve its cashflow and keep business expenses separate from personal charges. They can help you organize expenses, earn rewards and save on interest payments, so even if your business’s spending is modest, choosing the right business credit card can save you large sums of money each fiscal year.

How to choose the best credit card for your business

Credit cards are among the most popular forms of credit for business owners – in fact, it is the most popular among those not applying for a line of credit. Some 47% say they regularly use cards (up from 44%), with the second most common being a loan or line of credit at 42%, according to the Federal Reserve’s 2019 Small Business Credit Survey.

There’s no one-size-fits-all business credit card. Businesses’ credit needs can vary greatly, and business credit cards vary along with those needs. “Choosing the right business credit card depends on what you’re looking for (cash back, free travel, low interest, etc.),” says Ted Rossman, our industry analyst. “There are lucrative sign-up bonuses to be had, and rewards on spending categories tailored for businesses (such as travel, technology, internet, phone, shipping and online advertising purchases).” Here’s what you need to consider in choosing the best card for your needs:

Factors to consider

What types of rewards are you interested in?

The next step is to figure out your preference for rewards. With fiscal year 2020 underway, you should think about what the year holds in terms of business spending. Will you be furnishing your home office? What about jumping into online advertising?

  • Did you or your employees travel often for business, and were you loyal to a particular airline or hotel? You might consider signing up for a co-branded airline or hotel card, which can be extremely rewarding for dedicated customers.
  • Or, if you want more flexible redemption options, you might consider a flexible points card, such as the Chase Ink Business Preferred card.
  • If you’re looking for simplicity, a cash back card is probably your best bet – you can redeem your cash back as a statement credit or have it deposited into a bank account without having to worry about how to use rewards points.

What types of spending do you do?

Once you’ve settled on the type of rewards that you prefer, you should look at how your business allocates its spending, to decide which card will be most rewarding for you:

  • If you spend a lot at office supply stores, you might look at Ink Business Cash , which offers 5% on the first $25,000 spent at office supply stores and internet.
  • If you were a frequent traveler and you’re thinking ahead to your future plans, you should look at a card like The Business Platinum Card® from American Express which offers 5X points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
  • Or, you may earn a higher rewards rate by choosing a flat-rate card that offers the same rewards rate on every purchase.

Your business credit score

Whether your business is just getting started or it’s been operating for years, applying for a business credit card can be an immensely helpful tool in growing your business. When applying, don’t be surprised if your bank or issuer asks to view your personal credit score or your business’s income. Whether or not you get approved for a business card in general can be widely based on your creditworthiness — so before you apply, it’s a good idea to conduct a personal audit of your financial health. Most issuers will require a good credit score (670 and above), while others may even require an excellent score (740 and above). Although there are a small number of cards that require fair credit (580-669), just like a personal card, you may increase your chances of getting approved for a business card with a higher credit score.

Spending limits

Unlike personal credit cards, many business credit cards carry a much higher spending limit. Running a business can, at times, be a costly endeavor and business owners can charge more to their card than consumers with a personal credit line. In fact, the average monthly payments for business owners sits around $2,000, while the average consumer is less than half of that.

Interest rates

The variable interest rate of your business credit card is based on your creditworthiness, just as your personal credit card is. If you have good credit, your interest rate will reflect that. The higher your credit score, the lower your interest rate could be. Similar to personal cards, the interest rates will fall and rise with the Federal Reserve’s prime rate. Due to the current state of our nation’s economy, rate reductions have lowered, which can be welcome news to those who tend to carry a balance from month to month. However, interest is still interest, and the if left to accrue, could become difficult to pay down and could be potentially harmful to your business credit score.

How to compare two business credit cards

Here, we dive a little deeper, comparing the Capital One Spark Cash with the Chase Ink Business Cash. First, we look at rewards value, then at other features.

Comparing rewards values

Your first step is to calculate the rewards value for the two cards. Basically, you need to estimate how much you’re likely to spend in each of the card’s bonus categories over the year, multiply that amount by the rewards value (don’t forget to figure in the value of points if it’s a points or miles card), add in the sign-up bonus and subtract the annual fee. You should use the following formula:

Rewards value = (Spend in category 1 x Rewards rate x Point value) + (Spend in category 2 x Rewards rate x Point value), etc. + Sign-up bonus – Annual fee

For example, in the following table, we calculate the rewards earnings for a cardholder who spends $48,000 on a card in a year with the Chase Ink Business Cash, with 6 percent of their spending allocated to office supplies, internet, cable and phone services ($2,880); 12 percent to dining out ($5,280); 11 percent to gas station purchases ($5,760); and 71 percent to other types of purchases ($34,080).

For this particular cardholder, the Capital One Spark Cash card – though it doesn’t offer any bonus categories — comes out ahead, thanks to its high rate of 2 percent cash back on every purchase:

Rewards value in the first year ($48,000 spend)

Capital One Spark Cash Chase Ink Business Cash
2% x $48,000 + $500 sign-up bonus – $0 annual fee (waived first year) = $1,460 (5% x $2,880) + (2% x $5,280) + (2% x $5,760) + (1% x $34,080) + $500 sign-up bonus – $0 annual fee = $1,205.60

Over the long term, the Capital One Spark Cash card proves to be the better value. Even when we add in the annual fee in the second year, our model cardholder still earns a larger amount of cash back with the Capital One Spark Cash card:

Rewards value in the second year ($48,000 spend)

Capital One Spark Cash Chase Ink Business Cash
2% x $48,000 – $95 annual fee = $865 (5% x $2,880) + (2% x $5,280) + (2% x $5,760) + (1% x $34,080) – $0 annual fee = $705.60

Comparing other features

You should also take a look at the cards’ other features before you decide which one to go with. For instance, you need to consider how easy it is to earn and redeem rewards with the cards:

Comparing redemption flexibility

Capital One Spark Cash Chase Ink Business Cash
  • Do my rewards expire for the life of the account? No
  • Redemption options: Cash back, gift cards, donations
  • Limits on cash back? No
  • Minimum redemption amount: Redeem any amount of cash back at any time (and set thresholds to automatically redeem your cash back)
  • Do awards expire? No
  • Redemption options: Cash back, travel, gift cards, Amazon points, experiences
  • Limits on cash back? $25,000 purchase limit for each bonus category
  • Minimum redemption amount: $20

When you look at the cards’ features, you can see that the Chase Ink Business Cash card, while it does have similar account management features to the Capital One Spark Cash card, doesn’t have the same depth of travel and purchase protections. Of course, the Capital One Spark Cash card comes with a $95 annual fee. Basically, you’re paying a premium for all the extra features:

Comparing benefits

Capital One Spark Cash Chase Ink Business Cash
  • No fee for employee cards
  • Quarterly and year-end summaries
  • Mobile app sends you alerts and helps you manage spending on the go
  • Integrates with QuickBooks, Quicken and Excel
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty
  • Price protection
  • Car rental insurance
  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Travel accident insurance
  • Travel and emergency assistance
  • Roadside dispatch
  • VIP access and special events
  • Emergency card services
  • No fee for employee cards
  • Set individual limits on employee cards
  • Mobile app sends you alerts and lets you snap and tag receipts on the go
  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty
  • Car rental insurance
  • Travel and emergency assistance

As you can see from our example, a card with an annual fee can often be a great value, depending on your spending habits and whether you’re likely to use all the features. But who says you have to choose just one business rewards card? Signing up for multiple rewards cards and juggling them to earn extra points in the cards’ bonus categories can be a great way to maximize your rewards.

How to apply for a business credit card

You may assume that you have to be the owner of a business with multiple employees and an office or storefront to apply for a business credit card, but that simply isn’t true. Anyone who owns a side business – such as baby-sitting, yard maintenance, blogging or consulting – that makes money (or possibly doesn’t even have an income yet) can potentially qualify for a business card.

What you’ll be asked when you apply for a business credit card

An EIN or SSN

You’ll need to supply your EIN – the number issued by the IRS to people who have a business located in the United States or U.S. territories. If you’re an individual proprietor without an EIN, you can use your Social Security number instead to apply.

Your business information

You’ll need to supply some basic information about your business: The name of your business (or your personal name, if you’re a freelancer), the type of business (partnership, corporation or sole proprietorship), your role in the business, your business address and phone number, how long you’ve been in business, your number of employees, your annual business revenue and your estimated monthly spend.

Your personal information

You’ll need to include your personal details on the application as well, including name, address, contact information, Social Security number, birthdate, mother’s maiden name and household income.

A personal guarantee

Unless you own a substantially sized business (and sometimes even when you do), you’ll probably be asked to make a personal guarantee on your business credit card application, stating that you are personally responsible for repaying your card debt. This means that, if you stop making payments on the card because the business fails, the bank can come after you personally to recover the debt.

Boosting your odds of being approved

Having a well-established business, of course, helps your odds, but you may be able to qualify by just supplying the above information. Here are a few other things you can do to boost your chances of qualifying:

Pay down debt

Pay down your existing card debt about 30 days before applying for a new card.

List all of your income

When applying, be sure to list income before taxes, and include income such as pension, alimony and rental income.

Build up your personal credit score first

Having a good personal credit history is the main factor for getting accepted for a business credit card. If your credit score isn’t good, you need to work on building your personal credit before you apply.

Be honest on your application

Don’t make up fake revenue for your business hoping to push your application through. If the bank double checks on your application and finds your application isn’t accurate, you could get rejected.

Start a relationship with the bank

If you already have a relationship with the bank, you have a greater chance of getting accepted for one of their business cards. Start a checking account for your business with the bank and then try applying for one of their cards.

How to get the most out of a business credit card

A business credit card can be a powerful tool for increasing your purchasing power and building your business credit history, but it can also come with serious liabilities. Here are some tips to help you avoid the pitfalls:

Read your card’s terms and conditions

Since business cards aren’t regulated by the CARD Act, you should take a close look at your card’s terms and conditions and monitor any changes to terms and conditions that come in your email. Keep an eye out for changes in interest rates, due dates or fees.

Only use your card for business expenses

Don’t put your personal spending on your business credit card, in part because card issuers discourage it. Also, mingling your expenses makes it harder to track your business spending. Plus, it can make you personally liable if someone sues your company. Finally, if you do happen to incur interest from carrying a balance on a business credit card, be sure to note it on your tax form – it counts as a business expense.

Track your spending carefully

Make 2020 the year to get a handle on business expenses. Use your credit card’s expense reporting features to keep close tabs on your spending. Look for opportunities to cut expenses. Keep in mind that business cards come with high credit limits – usually of $50,000 or higher – which makes them ideal for making large purchases. Some cards, such as the American Express Blue Business Cash Card, even allow you to exceed your credit limit when you need to make a large purchase.

Plan how you’ll pay

Figure out ahead of time what your cash flow is going to be through the month. See if you can negotiate your due date with your credit card issuer so that it falls on a date where you will have funds to pay off your balance. Make large purchases right after your statement closes so you have plenty of time to repay the balance.

Make sure you have a plan in place to repay the amount that you borrow against your credit line, so you can pay it off quickly and avoid high interest fees, penalties or possibly incurring a debt you can’t afford to repay. Avoid carrying a balance past the due date if you can, since the interest can be very costly.

Find new ways to earn and save

Many business credit cards include programs such as VisaSavings Edge, Mastercard Easy Savings and American Express that give you a small discount with a select list of merchants. The number and variety of merchants vary greatly by program. You can get significant savings if you happen to shop frequently with a merchant.

Also, you can use online shopping portals such as Ebates and Swagbucks to earn extra cash back on top of your card rewards. You can also earn bonus rewards through an issuer’s shopping portal, such as the Chase Ultimate Rewards mall.

Manage employees’ cards

Business credit frequently allows you to issue cards from your account to your employees – usually for free, but sometimes for a fee – and to set up individual limits for each card along with account alerts to help you keep a close eye on your employees’ card use. If you or your employees traveled a lot for your business and you’re thinking about future travel plans, you may be able to make good future use of the travel protections that frequently come on business credit cards. Travel protections often include trip cancellation insurance, travel accident trip delay insurance, insurance for lost and delayed baggage and car rental insurance. Once we’re able to start taking business trips again, these perks are worth considering to give you and your employees peace of mind while traveling.

Use your account management features

Take advantage of all the features your issuer offers to simplify your account management. Set up automatic alerts for your card and your employees’ cards, set up autopay to make sure you meet your payment due date and link your account to your accounting software so you can easily download all your expenses. Most business credit cards come with expense-tracking features, such as apps that allow you to snap photos of your receipts and file them on the go, spending reports, yearly summaries and the ability to designate an account manager to manage it all for you.

Understanding and building business credit

There are some differences between personal and business credit, which we go into on this page. Here are some tips on how to build business, understanding what is a good rating, and more.

How to build business credit

To build a credit history for your business, you need to establish that your business is a separate entity from yourself and take steps to make sure that your business’ spending activity is being tracked by business credit bureaus. Here are some steps you can take to create a credit history for your business:

  • A business checking account will help you establish your business as a financial entity.
  • Register for a DUN number through Dun and Bradstreet to establish a credit history with them. For Experian and Equifax, establish an LLC so you can get an EIN and set up a phone line with a listed number.
  • If some of your vendor accounts are not making it onto your credit report, you can use D&B’s Credit Builder service to provide positive payment information to your credit report. You can provide D&B with your vendors’ contact information, then D&B will contact them to verify your payment history.
  • Building your personal credit score is one of the first steps to building a credit history for your business. A good personal credit score can help you acquire your first lines of business credit.
  • Apply for a small-business credit card.
  • So that you make your own payments on time (and minimize your need for cash flow), make sure your own customers are paying you in a timely manner.
  • Request credit line increases on your existing accounts – this will improve your credit-to-debt ratio and thus your overall credit score.

What is a good credit rating for a business?

Credit scoring for businesses is a bit different (and more complicated) than scoring for consumers. Personal FICO scores range from 300 to 850 while business credit scores use different scales. There are three primary business credit score bureaus and they all structure their ratings differently.

You can find your business credit score by visiting the Dun & Bradstreet, Equifax and Experian websites. You can check your business credit history at no cost, but you will have to pay a fee to see your credit scores.

  • Dun & Bradstreet offers 3 scores: the Paydex score, the commercial credit score, and the financial stress score. The Paydex has a range of zero to 100, with 100 as the best. A score above 80 indicates that payments are being made on time.
  • Equifax offers 4 scores: credit information, payment index, commercial delinquency and business failure.
  • Experian provides a comprehensive score: the business credit score, which rates from zero to 100. A score higher than 50 is considered good.

Can you get a business credit card with fair credit?

Though most business credit cards require good to excellent credit, there are a small number of business cards available for people with fair credit. These cards usually lack the hefty sign-up bonuses and travel perks of other business cards, but they can be useful as stepping stones to better credit and more lucrative business rewards cards down the line.

Currently, your best bet is the Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business, a flat-rate cash back card offering 1% cash back on every purchase. While the card has its shortcomings, including a variable APR of 24.49%, which is much higher than that of the average business card, it comes with a number of useful business perks.

You may also consider paying for business expenses with a consumer card designed for people with fair credit.

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

While business credit cards that don’t require a personal guarantee do exist, they often carry a number of other requirements and limitations. In place of a personal guarantee, you may have to put up business assets as collateral or prove that your company has millions of dollars in revenue or cash reserves.

If you’d rather avoid a personal guarantee, one option is the Brex Corporate Card for Startups. Not only is no personal guarantee required to be approved for the card, you don’t even need to go through a personal credit check. Instead, you supply your EIN and link your corporate bank account to the card as a security deposit (you’ll need at least $100,000 in your corporate account to qualify for the card). Brex then sets credit limits dynamically based on the amount of capital you’ve raised, equity in your company and your company’s spending patterns.

Business credit cards vs. business charge cards

Business credit cards and business charge cards are very similar to one another – you can use either type of card to make purchases against a line of credit, which has to be paid either partially or in full by the end of the month, depending on the type of card. Here are the key differences between the two:

  • Credit cards have a preset spending limit, which you are not allowed to go over without being penalized or having your card declined.
  • Charge cards don’t have a preset spending limit. This gives businesses the flexibility to make a large purchase without having to request a credit increase. (Issuers may still impose an overall cap on how much you spend, however.)
  • Credit cards allow you to carry a balance month to month. You are charged interest on your balance if you don’t pay it in full starting from the end of your grace period, and you could owe a penalty if you don’t make a minimum payment on your balance.
  • You will be penalized sharply if you don’t pay off the bill on your charge card at the end of the month – around 3% of the total balance. Also, your issuer may suspend your credit.

A charge card in some cases could be the better way to go for your business, since they offer more spending flexibility and they have less impact on your credit score, because there isn’t a debt-to-credit ratio. However, they can also be more difficult to qualify for. A business credit card may be the better option if you need a card with a lower barrier to entry and also if there’s a possibility you might carry a balance from month to month.

Major business programs

Whether you are on the watch for business loans or travel business cards, the major banks’ business programs are worth a look.

Chase

Chase features an array of among the most robust business products through its cards, loans, banking, and merchant services.

The 3 Chase Ink cards are the stars of the Chase business products, with bonus points or cash back and rich ongoing rewards. Rewards can be used toward cash back, travel, gift cards, and so on. There are also partner small-business cards with such airlines as Southwest and United, both with bonuses and ongoing points or miles. For example, Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card offers 6,000 points every anniversary.

Also offered are checking, merchant services and business lending. Available products, depending on your area, include Chase Total, Chase Performance and Chase Platinum. You can earn $200 back with qualifying activities. Not only does Chase make sure you can accept payments online, through mobile and everything in between, but the bank also offers the latest in security. Business lending offerings include business lines of credit, business term loans, SBA financing, commercial real estate financing and equipment financing.

American Express

Small business and corporate cards abound with this brand, allowing you to earn rewards both from your own expenses and those of your employees. Manage expenses with the American Express® Business App and sync transactions with Connect to QuickBooks.

There are also funding opportunities for cardmembers and merchants that accept the cards. For example, get merchant financing with fixed-fee, no-interest loans with funding up to $2 million. You can also request funding to pay vendors through Working Capital Terms, and get approved for collateral-free funding within minutes at fixed rates for up to $50,000.

Capital One

The small business options are endless with Capital One. There’s Business Unlimited or Basic Checking; Business Advantage Savings; commercial real estate loans and more. There’s also Escrow Express, 401(k) solutions for your business and, of course, cards.

The Spark cards offer a host of travel and purchase benefits, including purchase security; extended protection; travel and emergency assistance; and auto rental collision damage waiver. Also, get a quarterly and year-end summary; employee cards at no additional cost; downloadable purchase records; and no foreign transaction fees.

Bank of America Business Advantage

Business Advantage offers a plethora of business tools and options, including checking; credit cards; merchant services; and Merrill Edge for business and personal retirement planning.

There are 5 business credit cards with this bank, including 3 travel business cards and a cash rewards card. You can earn a statement credit, cash back, points, or get a rock bottom variable APR for your balance transfers. For example, the Business Advantage Travel Rewards Mastercard offers 30,000 bonus points (when you spend $3,000 in net purchases within 90 days of your account opening).

BofA offers merchant services by partnering with the Clover suite of point-of-sale devices. A wide variety of Clover point of sale products is available, such as Clover Go for food trucks, farmer’s markets and other businesses without a storefront, or Clover Station for merchants who need business management solutions in addition to payment processing such as restaurants and retail.


CreditCards.com Poll: Cardholders crave business credit cards for rewards, not financing purchases

Small-business cardholders love using their business credit cards for rewards by far, with cash back rewards leading the pack, our February 2020 poll on business credit cards found.

Polling small-business owners and executives, we found that 46% turn to their small-business cards for rewards, with 28% favoring cash back rewards and 18% wanting the card for travel rewards.

We dug a little deeper, asking which categories are used most, and we came up with some card recommendations to boot.

On which categories do you spend the most money?…

  • Travel expenses
  • 22%
  • Internet/phone/cable bills
  • 15%
  • Office supplies
  • 13%
  • Supplies/equipment
  • 11%
  • Advertising
  • 10%
  • Shipping expenses
  • 6%
  • Restaurants/food expenses
  • 4%

Source: CreditCards.com Feb. 2020 Small-Business Credit Card Poll

“The best way to maximize rewards is to sign up for credit cards that emphasize the areas where your business spends the most money. Also consider what you want to get out of the card – for instance, travel is usually the most lucrative reward, but cash back is more straightforward and universal,” says CreditCards.com Industry Analyst Ted Rossman.

Which business credit cards do we recommend?

So, how can you take full advantage of those well-earned rewards? Here, we look at 4 business cards and the categories they offer:

  • Chase Ink Business Cash – 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet/cable/phone bills each account anniversary year.
  • Chase Ink Business Preferred – 3 points per dollar on the first $150,000 spent in travel, shipping, internet/cable/phone services and social media/search engine advertising.

Small businesses that want to keep it simple could also go with a flat 2% cash back card such as Capital One Spark Cash for Business.

You’ll also want to consider the welcome bonus when looking at business cards, which can be more generous than those of consumer cards. The Ink Business Preferred®, for example, has an 100,000-point bonus (after spending $15,000 in the first 3 months) worth at least $1,250 when booking travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. And if you are looking for a business card with no annual fee, the Ink Business Cash offers a $500 cash bonus after you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months.

Why should you get a business credit card?

Perhaps most telling were the small-business influencers who opted out of holding a business credit card: Of small-business influencers with no business credit card, 34% said that their businesses were too small to qualify for a business card, while another 11% said they didn’t think they would qualify.

“There’s no such thing as too small,” says Rossman. “You can even qualify as a sole proprietor, freelancer or side hustler using your Social Security number. The sign-up bonus and rewards are well worth it, and it’s a convenient way to separate work and personal expenses.”

But the fact remains that a full 70% of small-business influencers have at least one business credit card.

And why do small-business owners and executives like their cards? In addition to cash back and travel rewards, other reasons given included convenience (20%); low interest rate (7%); and ability to finance purchases over time (5%).

“It’s smart that so many small businesses are using credit cards to earn rewards and not carrying debt,” says Rossman. “We interviewed one small-business owner who earned so much cash back that he was able to provide free health insurance to his employees.”

Construction at top of industries polled

When we polled our small-business influencers, we found that more than 20% were either in construction (52) or they were in wholesale/retail trade (51).

Which industry is your business in?…

  • Construction
  • 52
  • Wholesale/retail trade
  • 51
  • Media/arts/entertainment
  • 46
  • Finance/accounting/insurance
  • 44
  • Manufacturing
  • 42

Source: CreditCards.com Feb. 2020 Small-Business Poll

While the polling samples for these industries were quite small for analysis, we did find that more small businesses in research/engineering/IT related had business credit cards (85%) than the average of 70%. Also higher were wholesale/retail trade (82%) and real estate/maintenance/repair (80%). At the bottom were transportation/warehousing at 50% and media/arts/entertainment/recreation at 51%.

Methodology: CreditCards.com commissioned YouGov Plc to conduct the survey. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 500 U.S. adults who are senior decision makers at companies with 1-100 employees. Fieldwork was undertaken between February 11-18, 2020. The survey was carried out online and meets rigorous quality standards. It employed a non-probability-based sample using both quotas upfront during collection and then a weighting scheme on the back end designed and proven to provide representative results.


More in-depth reviews

Our business credit card reviews can help you compare offers to find the one that best suits your needs.


Laura Mohammad is an editor and writer at CreditCards.com. She regularly covers the best credit cards and works to bring you the most up-to-date analysis and advice. You can reach Laura at laura.mohammad@creditcards.com.


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