Time to upgrade your business credit card? Here's how to decide
Can a new card get you better rewards, a lower APR and a higher credit limit? Time to find out
Making complex credit topics simple
In business, loyalty is everything. But what about when it comes to your credit card?
According to a recent CreditCards.com poll, 4 in 10 Americans say they haven’t switched credit cards in over a decade. If that’s true of your business credit card, it might be time to reconsider.
“When businesses are loyal to one credit card, it’s often the first card they acquired,” says Jeffrey Bumbales, marketing director for Credibly, a company that provides loans for small business. But, this can be limiting.
“In theory, the point at which you opened the account should be the point when your business was the smallest,” says Bumbales. “Since then, you’ve likely improved your reputation as a borrower and can qualify for cards with more purchasing power and sweeter rewards.”
If you’re considering an upgrade, here’s how to decide if swapping out your old business credit card for something new makes sense.
Upgrading your business credit card upgrade: A checklist
- Review your spending. You might benefit from a higher credit limit or fee-free employee cards.
- Explore savings opportunities with travel rewards. Sign-up and spend bonuses can both offset travel costs.
- Consider perks. Find a card that offers benefits you can afford and could help you save.
- Check your interest rate if you're carrying a balance. Look for 0 percent intro offers and fee-free balance transfer cards.
- Look for incentives where you bank. Your institution might have rewards programs specifically geared toward small businesses.
- Think big picture if you're upgrading. Lay out your goals first and plan your upgrading strategy accordingly.
Review your spending
Changing things up with your business credit card may be a necessity if your business is thriving.
Anayet Chowdhury, co-founder of ArgoPrep, a leading provider of supplemental educational products and service, stuck with the SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express for the first 18 months he was in business. He eventually had to branch out his card options as company spending increased.
“As our business expanded, we needed a higher credit limit,” says Chowdhury. “Even with a $25,000 limit from American Express, we needed greater purchasing power.”
He now uses multiple credit cards to maximize purchasing power.
Making a card switch could also make sense if growing your business means increasing your staff, and you’re conscious of the bottom line.
Explore savings opportunities with travel rewards
“If you’re putting meaningful spend in a wide range of categories on your card, your credit card rewards program can be a real boost to your bottom line,” says Dye. Ask yourself whether you could be getting a higher return on spending elsewhere.
In Chowdhury’s case, it became necessary to introduce a travel rewards credit card into the mix, as he and his two business partners increasingly found themselves attending tech-related and business events.
Rather than choosing a basic card, he opted for the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express, which offers 2 miles per dollar spent on direct Delta purchases and 1 mile per dollar spent on everything else.
The card delivered what Chowdhury was looking for:
- Premium travel rewards with a reasonable annual fee ($95, waived the first year).
- A generous introductory sign-up bonus – currently, 30,000 bonus miles if you spend $1,000 in the first three months, plus a $50 statement credit if you make a Delta purchase in the first three months.
“We were able to redeem one round-trip ticket from New York City to San Francisco right after meeting the spending limit required to get the bonus points,” saving them several hundred dollars on a flight right away.
Consider perks that could cut costs
While earning more points, miles or cash back may be a priority, Bumbales says you shouldn’t overlook the additional travel perks you could enjoy by upgrading.
- The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN, for instance, includes airline lounge access, annual airline fee credits and status upgrades in the Starwood Preferred Guest and Hilton Honors programs.
- If you don’t need all those extras (and are not interested in a $450 annual fee) you can still get great travel benefits by upgrading to a different business card.
- The Chase Ink Business Preferred card has a $95 annual fee, with 3 points per dollar spent on up to $150,000 in travel and select business categories spending each year.
- The card also comes with an introductory bonus (if you can meet the minimum spending requirement) that’s worth $1,000 in travel rewards when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
“When choosing a premium travel card, be sure to explore the full features of each option,” says Bumbales. “If you can’t identify a serious gain from opening the new account, it probably isn’t worthwhile.”
Check the timing if you’re considering upgrading your business card to land a large sign-up bonus, too.
Bumbales says you may want to hold off on opening a new account until you’re ready to book a large trip you know you’ll be taking so you can easily meet the bonus spending requirement.
See related: How to earn more points booking business travel
Check your interest rate if you’re carrying a balance
If you have a balance on your current card, transferring it to a new card could yield a more favorable interest rate.
Chowdhury says he’s spent over half a million dollars on business credit cards and avoided paying interest by taking advantage of 0 percent APR options. He’s only run into a snag once when transferring a balance:
- He opened a Ink Business Cash Credit Card card.
- By the end of the introductory period, the card had a balance of nearly $25,000.
- He contacted Chase to ask about transferring the balance to another Chase card but learned that was something Chase doesn’t allow.
- In the end, he had to pay off the entire balance to avoid interest charges once the promotional rate ended.
That taught him the importance of planning ahead. “Make sure the new credit card will accept your existing balance,” says Chowdhury.
He also offers another important tip if you’re considering an upgrade to take advantage of a balance transfer offer. “Go for a card that offers a 0 percent transfer fee.”
Business cards that offer fee-free balance transfers include the Capital One Spark Miles for Business and the Spark Cash for Business cards.
See related: Balance transfer from personal to business cards
Look for incentives where you bank
Upgrading to a business credit card at the same bank where you have your business checking and savings account could open the door to added benefits.
“It’s important to take a moment to check if you qualify for a business banking rewards program,” says Kevin Condon, senior vice president, relationship products and operations for Bank of America.
- Bank of America’s recently launched Business Advantage Relationship Rewards program, for example, rewards eligible business clients with valuable perks, including a rewards bonus of up to 75 percent on eligible business credit cards and cash rewards on merchant services processing.
- The Bank of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard credit card and the Bank of America Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard credit card are both eligible for the program.
- Both cards offer tiered cash back and travel rewards respectively, with no annual fee.
If you bank somewhere other than Bank of America, ask about a linked relationship rewards program for business credit card holders.
It may be worth it to consider your current bank’s card offerings if you’re able to compound cash back rewards or points or take advantage of special discounts or interest rate bonuses on deposit accounts.
Think big picture if you’re upgrading
Bumbales says to start with your goals before upgrading your business credit card.
“Are you looking to increase your credit line, improve your credit profile, gain better rewards or finance something specific? Once you nail down exactly what you’re trying to do, you can start figuring out the best option for your needs,” he says.
- For example, if you’re hoping to finance a large-scale growth project and rewards aren’t that important, a loan or a business line of credit could be a more appropriate choice.
- If you always pay your balance off each month and you just want to upgrade your perks, a charge card could be more appealing than a credit card.
- Don’t think you have to make a huge leap all at once to upgrade your card either.
“If you’re not ready for a premium card but want travel perks, you might be better off getting a specific airline’s card and growing into a super-premium card down the road,” says Bumbales.
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