Using a rewards credit card for business expenses is an easy way to pile up money-saving miles, points or cash back. Combine it with these tools to maximize savings.
In business, you’ve got to spend money to make money.
According to the National Federation of Independent Business, 29 percent of business owners planned to increase their spending in 2018.
Using a rewards credit card for business expenses is an easy way to pile up money-saving miles, points or cash back.
Here’s how to maximize rewards and savings for essential business expenses.
Multiply rewards on business expenses
1. Use cash back portals for online shopping
Buying online is convenient when pressed for time and online shopping portals can be a boon for your business.
Ben Luthi, credit card expert at Student Loan Hero, recommends checking sites like Ebates and Swagbucks, both of which offer cash back when you shop selected merchants through the portal.
Some of the business spending-related deals featured recently on Ebates include:
- 8 percent cash back at HP.com
- 3 percent cash back at Office Max and Office Depot
- 5 percent cash back at Needink
- 5 percent cash back at FedEx Office
With Swagbucks, you earn points by shopping online, watching videos and taking surveys. Those points can be redeemed for gift cards to Amazon, Staples and other retailers.
See related: How to stack rewards to save big on purchases
The key when stacking rewards with these portals is using the right cash back card.
If you’re taking advantage of a 3 percent cash back offer at Office Depot through Ebates, for example. you’d want to pay with something like the Ink Business Cash Credit Card, which offers 5 percent back at office supply stores, internet, cable and phone services (up to $25,000 in purchases combined every year).
2. Shop your credit card’s online portal
“Credit card shopping portals can be beneficial,” says Luthi, “because a lot of the offers they have are tailored to business owners.”
- For example, say you run a cleaning business and you regularly buy supplies from Sam’s Club. If you have the Discover it® Cash Back card, you could enroll and earn 5 percent back on those purchases as part of rotating categories for Q4 2018 (up to $1,500 in purchases, then 1%).
- You can also use a offer comparison site such as Cash Back Monitor to review deals across different credit card shopping portals.
- The Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, for example, is at the top of the list for earning additional rewards on Sam’s Club purchases, according to the site.
- By clicking through the portal to shop Chase Ultimate Rewards, you’d earn 2 points per dollar on Sam’s Club purchases. Normally, those purchases would earn 1 point per dollar.
Paul Davis, founder of PD Insure in Northridge, California, frequents shopping online portals to meet the minimum spending requirement each time he opens a new credit card account with an sign-up bonus.
“I use Chase Ultimate Rewards for most purchases, especially for office supplies,” says Davis. He’s used this strategy to qualify for bonuses with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card and the Ink Business Cash card.
3. Save with card-linked offers
Card-linked offers sound complicated but they’re not; it’s simply a deal you can take advantage of by linking your card to a rewards or savings program.
- Groupon and Yelp Cash Back feature card-linked offers on dining for Visa and Mastercard users, which is great if you regularly entertain clients.
- If you’ve got a card like the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card, you’re already getting 2 percent cash back on dining (up to $25,000 in combined gas and dining purchases annually).
- You can earn up to an additional 10 percent cash back using card-linked offers with Yelp; Groupon offers can be valued up to 30 percent cash back.
- United Airlines, Delta Airlines and American Airlines all offer card-linked programs for dining, as do IHG Rewards and Hilton Honors.
- Visa and Mastercard offer card-linked savings programs specifically for business credit card users. Their programs – Visa SavingsEdge and Mastercard Easy Savings – let you rack up savings automatically via rebates at partner merchants.
- The SavingsEdge program also has special Activate Offers that are available for a limited time.
Depending on which program you enroll in, you can save money on gas, hotels, car rentals, dining and business services, including advertising, web hosting, phone service and shipping. See “Small business card perk: Mastercard Easy Savings vs. Visa SavingsEdge” for more details about both programs.
See related: Entertaining clients on a business credit card: Tips to do it right
4. Hack your travel booking for rewards
Stacking rewards can pay off if travel is a big part of your business budget.
Allen Walton, CEO of SpyGuy.com, a company that sells surveillance equipment, routinely maxes out rewards when booking travel with his Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express. (This offer is no longer available.)
He gives an example of how to make this strategy work.
- Say you’re booking a $7,000 business class ticket to Japan aboard British Airways that costs 67,500 Avios, plus another $25 in award ticket fees. You’d get roughly 10.4 cents per point value.
- Assume that you charge a $16,000 advertising expense to your Business Gold Rewards card, earning 3 points per dollar.
- You then can transfer the Membership Rewards points you’ve earned to Avios, taking advantage of some of the 40 percent transfer bonus American Express sometimes offers.
- If your $16,000 ad investment returns four times that amount in points, you’ve effectively increased your points value to around 43 cents per dollar.
“And you got a free $7,000 business class flight out of it,” says Walton.
Walton’s example is very specific, but the key takeaway lies in knowing what value you can get by transferring miles or points when there’s a bonus offer available with your rewards card.
Chase Ink Business Preferred offers a rewards bonus when you book through Ultimate Rewards; points are worth 1.25 cents apiece when used for travel. But, their value can go even higher when you transfer them to a hotel or airline partner.
A word of caution, however, if you’re trying cash in on a rewards bonus through a third-party booking platform.
“Some credit card companies, like American Express, only award points for travel bookings if you go through their internal travel site,” says Priyanka Prakash, a financial writer at Fundera, while others prefer certain booking platforms. “Other credit card issuers award extra rewards if you book directly with the airline, rather than through a third-party booking site.”
5. Nail your stacking game with the right card
If you’re opening a new rewards card for your business, consider how you plan to use it and how long you’ll have it, says Luthi.
“Think about your business’s typical expenses and which card would give you the best rewards on those cards,” he says. “Getting a big sign-up bonus is nice, but if you get a mediocre rewards rate on most of your purchases, you could be missing out.”
Consider other card features and terms too. “Getting a rewards card with a high APR might not be worth it if you plan to carry a balance,” says Luthi. “You might get more value by picking a low-APR card.”