Whether you’re looking for a travel card to help make business trips a little more comfortable or a cash back card to help cover costs, we have a list of the best cards to help you get your startup off the ground.
The Bank of America content was last updated on April 3, 2023.
When you launch your business, it’s smart to have the right financial tools at your disposal. A good business credit card can help you pay for some of your venture’s initial costs, as well as ongoing expenses, without relying too heavily on your personal capital. In addition to immediate borrowing power, these credit cards also come with rewards and benefits.
But which card is right for you and your emerging company? We’ve assembled a list of the best business credit cards for startups. The right business card for you depends on your needs. A travel card can make your business trips cost-effective and enjoyable, while cash back cards can add to your net worth, even as you’re spending. Each offers a unique array of perks.
Here is how to choose the best business credit card for your startup, what it takes to get accepted and how to get the most from your account.
Ink Business Preferred Credit Card: Best for business travel
Why we picked it: Chase’s Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card offers an impressive 100,000 point sign-up bonus. To get it you will need to meet the $15,000 minimum spend within the first three months. This card is geared toward the traveler who wants plenty of airline and hotel options. It offers a 25 percent discount when you book through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards loyalty program. There are no foreign transaction fees so you won’t be charged extra when making transactions in international destinations.
Since the Chase Ink Business Preferred is not affiliated with a specific airline or hotel chain, it also provides plenty of flexibility. As a startup, you may not know where you’re going at any given time, so this freedom can be especially attractive. It also offers free employee cards, and you’ll be alerted instantly when they make any charges.
- Low annual fee of $95 compared to the rewards potential
- 3X points on travel, shipping, internet, cable, phone services and advertising (on up to $150,000 in combined annual purchases)
- Flexible point redemption options, including travel, statement credits, Amazon.com purchases and gift cards
- High minimum spend requirement for the bonus
- Does not offer 0 percent introductory APR
Who should apply: A great choice if you’ll be giving your card a workout in the first three months, and especially useful if you book flights or accommodations with Chase’s airline and hotel partners since you can transfer your points at a 1:1 ratio.
Who should skip: If you won’t be traveling much — or you want premium travel perks, such as airport lounge access when you do fly — you might want to consider another option. It’s also not right for you if you want to pay off large purchases or transferred balances over time, since it doesn’t come with a 0 percent introductory APR offer.
American Express Blue Business Cash Card: Best for 0 percent intro APR
Why we picked it: The The American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card gives new cardholders an intro 12 months from account opening of 0 percent interest on purchases (followed by a 17.99 percent to 25.99 percent variable APR), as well as a welcome offer of $250 after making $3,000 in purchases within three months. This gives your startup the ability to cover expensive costs (and meet the minimum spend for the welcome offer) while providing some flexibility to pay them off over the first year without interest.
You’ll earn 2 percent cash back on eligible purchases on up to $50,000 each year, then 1 percent. The Amex Blue Business Cash also comes with the American Express Expanded Buying Power program, which, in some circumstances, allows you to exceed the credit limit without paying a fee.
- 2 percent cash back (up to $50,000 each year, then 1 percent)
- No annual fee
- Intro 0 percent APR on purchases for 12 months (then 17.99 percent to 25.99 percent variable thereafter)
- Lacks strong travel benefits
- Bonus cash back capped at $50,000 per year
Who should apply: If you know a year of heavy spending is in your future and you want to pay off balances over time without interest, all while earning straightforward cash back, this could be a good choice. It’s also great for startups that spend around or below $50,000 a year.
Who should skip: This is a basic cash back card without robust travel perks. It won’t be right for you if you’re looking for something more travel-oriented. Startup businesses that spend quite a lot (over the $50,000 spend cap) should skip this card as well.
Capital One Spark Cash Plus: Best for cash back
Why we picked it: The Capital One Spark Cash Plus is all about cash rewards. An astonishing $1,000 bonus can be yours: You’ll get $500 after charging $5,000 in the first three months of opening the account, then another $500 when you charge $50,000 in the first six months. Even with the $150 annual fee, you’ll come out ahead as long as you pay your balance in full by the due date.
You’ll earn an unlimited 2 percent cash back on every purchase you make and 5 percent on any hotels or rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. The card also gives you a $200 annual bonus if you charge at least $200,000 in a year. This is a charge card, so you must pay off your full balance each month.
- Exceptional sign-up bonus worth up to $1,000
- $200 annual bonus, when you spend $200,000 in one year
- Free employee cards
- No foreign transaction fees
- $150 annual fee
- High minimum spend required to get the biggest bonus
Who should apply: Big-spending cash back reward seekers who know they’ll be charging heavily, especially in the first year in business, will like the Capital One Spark Cash Plus. If you’re sure your startup will have the means to satisfy the entire balance when the bill arrives in 30 days, this card is for you. Thanks to its access to Capital One Travel and 5 percent bonus rate, it’s also good for businesses that occasionally demand travel — to visit investors, vendors or the like.
Who should skip: It’s not ideal if your initial costs are low, you don’t need a card with an unspecified credit limit or you can’t meet all the spend thresholds for the cash back rewards.
Bank of America Business Advantage Customized Cash Rewards Mastercard credit card: Best for category cash back
Why we picked it: The Bank of America® Business Advantage Customized Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card allows you to earn 3 percent cash back in a category of your choice, including gas stations, office supply stores, travel, computer services or business consulting services, as well as television, telecom and wireless bills. On dining purchases, you’ll get 2 percent cash back and on everything else, 1 percent cash back. We should note that on combined choice category and dining charges, you earn the bonus cash back rates on up to $50,000 a year.
If you also have a Bank of America business checking account you can earn up to 75 percent more cash back on every purchase, thanks to the Preferred Rewards for Business program. The rewards will be issued as a statement credit, a mailed check or deposited into your checking or savings account. The card also offers a $300 statement credit bonus after you charge $3,000 in the first 90 days.
- No annual fee
- Potential for very high cash back rewards
- 0 percent APR on purchases for the first nine billing cycles (followed by 16.99 percent to 26.99 percent variable APR)
- Elevated rewards rate requires Bank of America checking account
- Can’t transfer rewards to airlines and other loyalty programs
- $50,000 annual cap on bonus rewards
Who should apply: This is best for frequent spenders in the 3 percent cash back categories, especially if you have a Bank of America business account, since you can rack up 5.25 percent on those common business expenditures. The Bank of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards also suits startup businesses that must spend in different categories depending on the season, since you can change your choice category up to once a month.
Who should skip: If your startup is consuming a large portion of your time, and you don’t want to think about strategizing credit card rewards, this may not be the account for you.
Comparing the best cards for startups
|Card||Rewards||Annual Fee||Intro 0% APR||Welcome bonus|
|Ink Business Preferred Credit Card||$95||N/A||100,000 points if you spend $15,000 in 3 months|
|American Express Blue Business Cash Card||$0||12 months from account opening (then 17.99%-25.99% variable)||$250 statement credit if you spend $3,000 in 3 months|
|Capital One Spark Cash Plus||$150||N/A||Up to $1,000: $500 if you spend $5,000 in 3 months and another $500 if you spend $50,000 in 6 months|
|Bank of America Business Advantage Customized Cash Rewards Mastercard||$0||9 billing cycles (then 16.99%-26.99% variable)||$300 statement credit if you spend $3,000 in 90 days|
How to choose a card for startups
As a startup, you will want to choose a business card that fits your needs, now and into the future. Before applying, make sure it has:
- Enough of a credit line for your initial expenses
- Rewards that are tailored to your business needs and provide more value than any annual fee
- The ability to revolve balances without financing fees, if necessary
- Flexible payment arrangements, if you think you need it
Most business cards require good to excellent credit. You don’t need to have an established business to open a business credit card, though, since qualification is based on your personal credit history.
Before applying, check your credit reports and dispute any errors. If they show accurate but negative information, such as late payments and a high credit utilization ratio, take steps to rectify these issues. While you can’t remove delinquencies before they drop off your credit report in seven years, you can get all future payments on time. Pay down revolving balances so that they are well under the credit limit. Both of these actions will help your scores rise.
To apply, you will need to provide your business’s name, phone number and mailing address. You may apply as a sole proprietor, but if the business is incorporated or you have a partnership, you’ll add that information, too. Be prepared to list your business’s industry, annual revenue (from any income source), number of employees, years in operation and estimated monthly spending. If you don’t have an employer identification number, you can use your Social Security number.
Pros and cons of using startup business credit cards
Any business credit card you get should work for and not against you. Here are the pros and cons of using one for your startup.
- Don’t need to finance your startup with your own funds
- Business credit cards don’t require lengthy business history, business loans do
- Can keep financing fees to a minimum as long as you manage the account responsibly
- Most business cards offer valuable rewards so you can profit from your spending
- If your personal credit is damaged, you may not meet qualification requirements for business credit cards right away
- With high or no preset limits it’s easy to get into unaffordable debt
- Carry long-term debt and accrued interest will add to your costs
Frequently asked questions
Do you need good personal credit to get a business credit card?
Whether or not your business credit is well established, a lender will run hard pulls on your personal credit report to ensure you’re capable of paying back the debt in case your business cannot. If so, your personal credit score must be in decent shape to withstand the scrutiny from the lender.
Can you use an EIN to get a credit card?
Almost all business credit cards ask for your Social Security number during the application because they require your personal guarantee to cover all expenses, in case your business cannot. Although some cards out there don’t require an SSN and allow you to provide an Employer Identification Number only, they’re rare.
Can you get a business credit card with no revenue?
The business credit card application will inevitably ask for your business’s revenue. If your business is still new and hasn’t quite begun to earn a steady stream of money, you can put $0 in the “business revenue” field. Instead, you should provide your personal income further down in the application, if possible.
As a startup, you’ll want to have the right credit card at your fingertips. These products are perfect for making those purchases that you know you can pay off within a short period of time. As you do, you’ll enjoy the many benefits of business card ownership.
CreditCards.com’s editors considered dozens of cards on the market and weighed a variety of factors to determine the best business credit cards for startups. Among them were the rewards potential, subtracted by any annual fees, as well as popular business categories that earned bonus rates. We also looked at the welcome bonuses, introductory and regular APRs and additional card benefits that may suit specific types of business owners.