Like consumer credit cards, small business cards come with varying perks, benefits and (potentially) costs. Here are some of the business credit cards we’ve found with no annual fee.
Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been in business for a while, the plethora of no-annual-fee business cards available today can make choosing the right one a daunting task.
That said, getting a business credit card offers several advantages like building business credit, softening the pain of tax season and providing valuable fringe benefits that let you focus on running (and hopefully growing) your venture.
Here’s a quick look at a few of our favorite no-annual-fee business credit cards, plus tips on how to pick the best card for your business needs.
Best credit cards for small business owners
Brex 30 Card: Best for startups
The Brex 30 Card is a rare business credit card that doesn’t require a personal guarantee, so business owners do not need to put their assets – like a home or retirement account – on the line to qualify.
Brex doesn’t rely on credit scores during the underwriting process. Instead, it makes approval decisions and determines credit limits based on other factors, such as your company’s cash flow and spending patterns, making it a good option for startup founders without an established business credit score.
Substantial ongoing rewards tailored to common startup expenses and generous discounts in the first 12 months (40% off one year of QuickBooks, for instance) are icing on the cake.
Be aware, however, that the Brex 30 card is a charge card, so you must pay the balance in full every month; cardholders cannot carry balances from one month to the next.
American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card: Best for small- to medium-size businesses
Business owners who want a set-it-and-forget-it approach to amassing rewards will likely appreciate American Express Blue Business Cash Card’s 2% cash back on every eligible purchase (up to $50,000 per year then 1%). Since earnings cap out at $50,000 in spending per calendar year, this card is an excellent choice for small- to medium-size businesses with smaller budgets than larger firms.
And for a bit more capital to help establish or expand your company, the Blue Business Cash comes with flexible credit limits and a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from account opening (13.24% – 19.24% variable APR thereafter).
Furthermore, Amex grants cardholders access to Working Capital Terms. This program allows eligible business owners with short-term cash-flow needs to apply for up to $150,000 in financing to pay their vendors on time.
Ink Business Cash® Credit Card: Best for companies with physical office space
Although demand for office space has dwindled during the Covid-19 pandemic, many businesses have maintained a physical presence and/or intend to return to the office.
If you have plans to use office space for your company, the Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card – which has a high 5% cash-back rate on office supplies and telecom services (on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases each year) – is a lucrative choice.
The card’s 2% cash-back rate at gas stations and restaurants (on up to $25,000 in combined purchases each year) means frequent travelers and people who regularly entertain clients are also likely to benefit. And with no annual fee, there’s little reason not to apply if your business expenses align with the 5% cash-back rate, even if you end up using a separate card to pay for business travel and client dinners.
Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card: Best for rewards maximizers
With unlimited 1.5% cash back on everything you buy for your business, the Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card provides a hassle-free way to earn rewards. And the card’s $750 welcome bonus (equivalent to 75,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) when you spend $7,500 in your first three months of membership ain’t half bad, either.
But this no-annual-fee business card is even better for business owners who also hold a premium Chase Ultimate Rewards card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
When you transfer your Ink Business Unlimited rewards to one of those cards, you can redeem them for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, one of the most popular credit card rewards programs around. Depending on which premium card you have, this can snag you a redemption bonus of up to 50%.
Juggling multiple rewards cards requires a bit more legwork, though, so business owners who don’t have the time or desire may want to stick with a card that has a rewards rate higher than the Ink Business Unlimited’s.
Capital One Spark Miles Select for Business: Best for frequent travelers
With a 20,000-mile sign-up bonus (worth up to $200 in free travel when you spend $3,000 in the first three months), the Capital One Spark Miles Select for Business* offers a jump start on earnings, and 1.5 miles per dollar spent on every purchase makes it easy to stockpile rewards for future business travel.
You can collect miles even faster by swiping the Spark Miles Select for all of your business expenses and distributing free employee cards to earn rewards for their purchases, too.
Unlike other travel credit cards, many of which also charge annual fees, this card doesn’t limit you to booking award flights and hotel stays in the Capital One Travel portal – you can shop around to get the absolute best value for your points, then use Capital One’s Purchase Eraser tool to cover the cost within 90 days of when the transaction posts to your account. (Other types of purchases also qualify, including car rentals and Uber rides, although what counts as travel is based on the merchant category code assigned to the business.)
The Spark Miles Select for Business could be a great choice for business owners who want a low-maintenance way to save money on travel costs.
Comparing no-annual-fee business cards
|Credit card||Rewards rate||Best for|
|Brex 30 Card|
|American Express Blue Business Cash Card||2% cash back on every eligible purchase (on up to $50,000 in purchases per calendar year, then 1%)|
|Ink Business Cash Credit Card|
|Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card||1.5% cash back on every business purchase|
|Capital One Spark Miles Select for Business||1.5X miles on every purchases|
How to choose the best no-annual-fee business card for you
If the idea of earning rewards as you build your business sounds appealing, here’s what to consider before you apply for a no-annual-fee business card.
The type of rewards you want
Deciding whether you want cash back, points or miles is the first place to start. Overall, the most flexible rewards currency available is cash back.
Redemptions such as statement credits, paper checks and direct deposits put money right back in your pocket, and you won’t have to do any complicated math to determine how much your rewards are worth. Plus, you can simplify things even further by opting for a flat-rate cash-back card, which eliminates the need to opt in to rotating bonus categories or worry about using the right card for a particular purchase.
That said, points and miles can sometimes be more lucrative than cash back, particularly if you plan to redeem them for travel and don’t mind being a little more hands-on with the card to maximize your earnings.
The type of rewards that are best for you will depend on your current needs, future goals and your business’s financial health, among other factors.
Your spending habits
Think about your business’s day-to-day expenses. If you rarely find yourself in an Uber or Lyft, for example, the Brex 30 Card’s high rewards rate on rideshares won’t benefit your points balance very much. Similarly, startup founders who don’t spend a lot on pens and paper are unlikely to be wowed by the Ink Business Cash Credit Card’s 5% cash-back rate at office supply stores.
Businesses with purchases that don’t fit neatly into any one category may do better with the American Express® Business Gold Card, which offers 4X points for purchases on two select categories where your business spends the most such as U.S. restaurants and U.S. gas stations (on up $150,000 in combined purchases per calendar year, then 1X).
Your financing needs
If you’re about to make a large purchase or like having access to additional capital when needed, a card with favorable financing terms might be what you’re looking for.
Today’s best no-annual-fee business credit cards offer solutions for cash flow struggles through promotional interest rates (like the Capital One Spark Miles Select) or extended credit limits (like Amex Blue Business Cash card’s Expanded Buying Power). Whatever your financing needs are, there’s likely a no-annual-fee business credit card with a perk that meets them.
In addition to spending rewards, many business credit cards come with helpful added features that hold broad appeal for many business owners, including automatic receipt-matching, quarterly and year-end summaries, accounting integrations and spend-management software.
When evaluating your options, identify the perks that add long-term value to the card by checking out the terms and conditions to find out what you’ll need to do actually to take advantage of them. If a benefit doesn’t require opting in, you’re likelier to use it – for some people, having to jump through hoops just to save a few bucks isn’t worth the time.
So, which is the best no-annual-fee business credit card? Well, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to that question.
If you run a home-based online business, you probably don’t travel or entertain clients regularly. So the Ink Business Cash card’s dining and gas rewards are less attractive than the Ink Business Preferred’s 3X points on online advertising and shipping purchases (on up to $150,000 spent each year).
Regardless of the card you pick, the same credit rules of thumb apply: Keep an eye on your expenditures (and those of your employees), always pay your bill on time and avoid unnecessary spending for the sake of earning more rewards. And if you have to carry a balance temporarily, have a plan for debt repayment to limit any interest costs that could cut into your rewards balance.
*All information about the Capital One Spark Miles Select for Business has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.