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.
The Bank of America content was last updated on April 1, 2022.
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% 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 this card 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 a 0% 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 travel – 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% introductory APR offer.
American Express Blue Business Cash Card: Best for 0% APR
Why we picked it: The American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card gives new cardholders 12 months of 0% interest on purchases (followed by a 13.99% to 21.99% variable APR), as well as a welcome offer of $250 after making $3,000 in purchases within three months. This gives startups the ability to cover expensive costs (and meet the minimum spend for the welcome offer) while having some flexibility to pay them off over the first year without interest. You’ll earn 2% cash back on eligible purchases on up to $50,000 each year, then 1%. This card 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% cash back (up to $50,000 each year, then 1%)
- No annual fee
- Introductory 0% APR on purchases for 12 months (then 13.99% to 21.99% variable APR)
- Missing strong travel benefits
- Rewards drop to just 1% cash back after reaching spending cap
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.
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 travel credits and luxury travel benefits.
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 $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% cash back on every purchase you make and receive a $200 annual bonus after charging at least $200,000 that year. You can distribute credit cards to employees at no charge, and there are no foreign transaction fees. This is a charge card, so you can spend on just about anything without hitting a limit.
- Exceptional sign-up bonus worth up to $1,000
- $200 bonus cash back annually
- 2% flat-rate rate cash back rewards on all purchases
- $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 this option. If you’re sure you’ll have the means to satisfy the entire balance when the bill arrives in 30 days, this card is for you.
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 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% cash back in categories of your choice, including gas stations, office supply stores, travel, computer services or business consulting services, as well as television, telecom and wireless bills. You’ll earn 2% cash back on annual dining purchases for the first $50,000 in combined choice category/dining charges, then 1% after that and on everything else.
If you have a Bank of America business checking account you can earn up to 75% more cash back on every purchase. The rewards will be issued as a statement credit, a mailed check or deposited into your checking or savings account. It 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% APR on purchases for the first nine billing cycles (followed by 12.49% to 22.49% variable APR)
- Elevated rewards rate requires Bank of America checking account
- Can’t transfer rewards to airlines and other loyalty programs
Who should apply: This is best for frequent spenders in the 3% cash back categories, especially if you have a Bank of America business account, since you can rack up 5.25% on those common business expenditures.
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.
Compare the best cards for startups
|Rewards||Annual Fee||Intro 0% APR||Welcome bonus|
|Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card||$95||No||100,000 points|
|American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card||$0||12 months||$250|
|Capital One Spark Cash Plus||$150||No||Up to $1,000|
|Bank of America Business Advantage Customized Cash Rewards Mastercard®||$0||9 billing cycles||$300|
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
- Rewards that 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
- How to apply and get approved for a business credit card
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’ 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.
- You don’t need to finance your startup with your own funds.
- Business loans typically require a lengthy business history, while business credit cards do not.
- You 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 the qualification requirements for business credit cards right away.
- With high or no preset limits, it can be easy to get into unaffordable debt.
- If you carry long-term debt, accrued interest will add to your costs.
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.