Whether you’re looking for a travel card to help make business trips a little more comfortable or a corporate card to issue to your new employees, we have a list of the best cards to help you get your startup off the ground.
If you want to start a business, you’re going to need a startup business credit card. While many entrepreneurs fund the initial phases of their small business out of pocket, taking out a credit card for startups proves that you mean business.
But which card is right for your growing company? We’ve got a list of the best business credit cards for startups that meet a variety of business needs – whether you’re looking for a travel card to help make business trips a little more comfortable or a corporate card to issue to your new employees. We’ve also got tips on how to choose, how to increase your odds of getting accepted and how to make the most of your new card once you’ve got it.
Brex 30 Card
Our rating: 4.4 out of 5
Score required: Excellent
Type of card: Corporate travel
Spending categories: Rideshares, travel, restaurants, software subscriptions
Why it’s the best startup business credit card with no personal guarantee
If your startup business is at the point where you have a significant revenue stream and an office full of employees, you might be ready for a corporate card. Unlike your typical business credit card, which can be used by small business owners of any size (including solopreneurs and freelancers), corporate cards are designed to meet the needs of growing corporations.
In this case, that means no-cap rewards on four major spending categories – 8X Brex Rewards points on rideshares, 5X on Brex travel, 4X on restaurants and 3X on software subscriptions depending on whether you make your card payments every 30 days or on a daily basis with Brex cash – as well as 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. Your startup will also be eligible for discounts on popular services, such as Amazon Web Services, Zoom and Dropbox, as well as a 50,000-point sign-up bonus.
Plus, it only takes a few minutes to get approved for the Brex Corporate Card. All you need to do is provide basic information about your business and link your corporate account. There’s no personal guarantee required, though you do need a minimum of $100,000 in your corporate bank account to be eligible for this card. The Brex 30 Card has no annual fee and you’ll get five employee cards at no cost, but it’ll cost you $5 per month for each additional employee card beyond that.
Capital One Spark Classic for Business
|Our rating: 2.6 out of 5|
Score required: Fair to good
Type of card: Cash back
Spending categories: N/A
Why it’s the best startup business credit card for fair credit
Your credit score shouldn’t hold you back from small business success – so don’t let your less-than-perfect credit prevent you from taking advantage of all the benefits a small business credit card can provide. Use the Capital One Spark Classic for Business credit card to help you build your business and your credit at the same time.
When you use the Spark Classic for Business, you’ll earn 1% cash back on every purchase. That’s a little lower than what you might earn with the best business credit cards, but if you practice responsible credit habits like making on-time payments and maintaining a low credit utilization ratio, your score should improve month-over-month – which means you might be eligible for an even better business credit card before you know it.
American Express Blue Business Cash Card
Our rating: 3.8 out of 5
Score required: Good to excellent
Type of card: Cash back
Spending categories: N/A
Why it’s the best startup business credit card for large purchases
Startups often come with startup costs – which means you’re going to want a credit card that rewards big spending. The American Express Blue Business Cash Card is one of the top business cash back cards on the market, offering 2% cash back on up to $50,000 in purchases per calendar year and 1% cash back on all additional purchases.
This isn’t the only reason why you’ll want to use the Blue Business Cash Card to help you finance your startup costs. You’ll also get access to a flexible credit limit, making it possible to fund extra purchases during those months when you really need to invest in your business. (Be aware that you’ll need to cover both your minimum payment and your above-limit spending at the end of your billing cycle.) Plus, once you’ve had your Blue Business Cash Card for six months, you’ll be able to apply for Working Capital Terms, a feature in which Amex will pay your vendors upfront, and you’ll pay off the costs in 30, 60 or 90 days.
Capital One Spark Cash Plus
Our rating: 4.2 out of 5
Score required: Good to excellent
Type of card: Cash back
Spending categories: N/A
Why it’s the best startup business credit card for cash back
If you want to earn as much cash back on your purchases as possible, consider the Capital One Spark Cash Plus card. Like the Blue Business Cash Card, the Spark Cash Plus offers 2% cash back – but unlike the Blue Business Cash Card, those cash back rewards don’t end once you spend $50,000 in a calendar year. Instead, you get an unlimited 2% cash back on every purchase.
You also get a hefty welcome bonus – if you spend $5,000 in your first three months as a cardholder, you’ll earn a $500 cash bonus. Then, you can earn another $500 cash back if you spend $500,000 total in the first six months. Just think about how you could use that money to grow your business (or to pay off your credit card balance).
However, the Spark Cash Plus credit card includes a $150 annual fee – but don’t forget that business credit card fees are tax-deductible.
The Business Platinum Card from American Express
Our rating: 4.5 out of 5
Score required: Good to Excellent
Type of card: Travel
Spending categories: Flights, hotels
Why it’s the best startup business card for travel
If your startup business requires you to spend a lot of time working out of hotel rooms, you’re going to want a card that rewards travel spending. The Business Platinum Card for American Express is ready to help get you where you need to go.
Earn 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar when you purchase flights and prepaid hotel rooms through amextravel.com and 1 point per dollar on other purchases – unless you make a purchase of $5,000 or more or an eligible purchase in a key business category, in which case you’ll earn 1.5 points per dollar (on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year). You’ll also be able to access an incredible welcome bonus in your first three months of membership: 120,000 points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases in the first three months.
Want to maximize those Membership Rewards points after you’ve earned them? We’ve got a guide to help you get started, but here’s one tip: Use Membership Rewards Pay with Points to book a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of your points back (for up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year).
The Business Platinum credit card also gets you access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection and up to a $200 airline fee statement credit, among other perks. Be prepared to pay a $595 annual fee for the privilege of using this card – but if you travel often enough, it’ll be more than worth it.
Compare top startup business credit cards
|Brex 30 Card||$0|
|Capital One Spark Classic for Business||1% cash back on every purchase||$0|
|American Express Blue Business Cash Card||$0|
|Capital One Spark Cash Plus||$150|
|The Business Platinum Card from American Express||$595|
How to choose the best startup business credit card
Ask these questions before choosing which business credit card might be best for your growing startup:
How will you use it?
If you need a startup business credit card with a high limit to finance a large purchase, look for a card with a long 0% introductory APR period. That way, you can maximize the time you have to pay off your purchase without paying anything extra in interest.
If you’re just going to use it for day-to-day expenses, think about what those expenses are. Look for a card that will reward your everyday purchases – like travel, office supplies or utilities – at a boosted rate.
Lastly, think about who will be using the card. If you want your employees to be authorized users, look for a card that offers free employee cards or custom spending limits.
What kind of rewards do you want?
Are you hoping to earn some cash back on your everyday purchases, or are you shooting for rewards-funded travel? If you’re searching for a travel rewards card, it’s important to consider additional perks and benefits, like rental car insurance and airport lounge access.
What is your credit score?
Your personal credit will probably be pulled when you apply for a business credit card. If your score isn’t great, apply for a card that’s within your range. Otherwise, it’s a good idea to work on building your credit before you apply.
Getting a line of credit in your business’s name can also be useful if you’re going to take out a business loan in the near future. Your business has a credit score, too, and a positive borrowing history can contribute to a good business credit score, giving you a lower interest rate when you apply for business loans. If that’s important to you, make sure the card you’re applying for reports to at least one – or all three – of the dominant business credit bureaus.
How to apply and get approved for a business credit card
Applying for a business credit card is a lot like applying for a personal credit card. You’ll need to provide basic personal information, such as your name, address and income. You’ll also need to provide basic startup business information, such as your business’s name, address and revenue. Once you’ve filled out the application, expect a hard pull on your credit as the credit card issuer determines whether you are eligible for the card.
If you want to increase your odds of getting approved for a startup business credit card, here are a few tips:
- Check your credit score to learn where you stand. If you don’t already have access to your credit score, use a free service to learn whether your credit is fair, good, excellent or needs work – and then use that information to find credit cards designed for people with your credit score.
- Build your personal credit score before applying for a startup business credit card. Lenders check your personal credit history before issuing business credit cards, so consider doing some basic maintenance on your credit score before applying. Disputing errors on your credit report, paying off revolving balances and requesting credit limit increases can all improve your score and make you eligible for more business credit cards.
- Use our CardMatch service to quickly identify which credit cards might be right for you. There’s no impact to your credit score, and you might receive special offers and pre-qualified matches.
Pros and cons of using startup business credit cards
There are a lot of advantages (as well as some disadvantages) to using a credit card to help fund your startup:
Pros of startup business credit cards
- Credit card financing is easily obtainable if you already have good credit and credit cards in your name.
- You can cover business expenses during periods of low cash flow or finance a large purchase that will help you attract more customers and grow your revenue.
- You can also earn rewards on everyday expenses or earn points that you can put toward business travel – both of which can save your business money in the long run.
- With timely payments, you can build a credit history for your new business.
- You can use credit card purchase and travel protections to insure purchases for your business.
- Many business cards offer valuable perks for small business owners, such as airport lounge access, discounts on business purchases or credits toward commonly purchased items.
- Credit cards can make expense tracking easier. Many allow you and your employees to upload and track your receipts from your mobile phone and to download your expenses to Quickbooks and other accounting software.
- You can automate repeating purchases, such as software licenses.
Cons of startup business credit cards
- For financing a business, a small business loan might offer lower interest rates than a business credit card.
- Likewise, using crowdfunding to get seed money (and customer buy-in) before launching a new product might be a better option than putting all your expenses on credit.
- If the card requires a personal guarantee, your business credit card could affect your personal credit score.
- Credit cards have high interest rates. Unless your business credit card for startups comes with a 0% offer for new purchases, it can be expensive to carry a balance on it.
- Credit cards can foster sloppy financial habits if you’re not disciplined about paying off your balance each month.
- Overall, since they’re usually linked to your personal credit history and charge high interest, credit cards can be a risky means of funding a startup.
Getting a credit card is an important part of growing a small business. For many small business owners, it’s one of the first steps in separating your personal finances from your business finances. When it’s time to apply for a business card for your startup, think about which problems you’d like your card to solve – and then look for cards that provide the solution you’re looking for. Think of it as writing a job description and finding the candidate that’s the best fit.
As your startup continues to grow, start thinking beyond business credit cards. The next step might be a small business loan, a crowdfunding project or a group of investors. Business credit cards for startups are excellent tools to help you cover day-to-day expenses while earning rewards, but they aren’t the only way to finance a startup – and you’ll know when it’s time to start exploring other options.
*All information about the Capital One Spark Classic for Business has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer.