7 Top Business Credit Cards for Travel in 2019

There are plenty of excellent cards to choose from, but the right one for you depends on your expenses and preferences.
10/3/19 | By Ben Luthi
Business woman walking with a suitcase

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A good business credit card can make a big difference for entrepreneurs. Not only can it help you build a business credit history and separate your business and personal expenses but it can also provide a lot of value in the form of rewards and perks.

If you want those features to translate into free travel, the best business credit cards for travel can make it happen. These cards provide a lot of potential for business trips and vacation experiences at a fraction of the cost.

7 best business credit cards for travel

There’s no single best travel credit card out there, so it’s important to know what you want to find the right one for you. Among our top picks are cards that offer lucrative rewards, valuable perks and trip protections, no foreign transaction fees, or all of the above. Here are our top choices.

Business card Annual fee Best for...
Amex Business Platinum Card $595 Premium perks
Amex Business Gold Card $295 Flexible rewards
Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business $95 (waived first year)  Lucrative rewards on everything
Ink Business Preferred $95 Flexible redemption
Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card $125 Hotel stays
Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business $99 Domestic flights
United Explorer Business Card $95 International flights

7 top business cards for travel

As you review each card, consider your top priorities to narrow down the selection to the best fit for you and your business.

1. Business Platinum Card from American Express

Annual fee: $595

Welcome offer: Earn up to 75,000 Membership Rewards points: 50,000 points after you spend $10,000, then another 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 on purchases within the first 3 months.

Rewards rate: The card offers five points per dollar on flights and prepaid hotels booked through AmexTravel.com, 1.5 points per dollar on purchases of $5,000 or more, and one point per dollar on everything else.

When redeeming your rewards, you’ll get 35% of your points back (up to 500,000 per year) when you use them to cover some or all of an eligible flight ticket.

Travel perks: The Business Platinum Card from American Express is a charge card that comes with a suite of premium travel benefits. Cardholders will get $200 in annual airline fee credits and a fee credit for application for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.

You’ll also get elite status with Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors, as well as complimentary benefits when you book a hotel stay through Fine Hotels & Resorts. Membership in premium rental car programs that provide discounts and free upgrades is also included.

When you fly, you’ll get complimentary access to several airport lounge networks around the world, including the Centurion Lounge, International American Express lounges, Delta Sky Club, Priority Pass, Airspace, and Escape. You’ll also receive 10 complimentary single-flight segment passes for Gogo in-flight WiFi each year.

The card allows you to transfer your points to several airline and hotel partners to potentially get more value out of your rewards.

Additional benefits: If the travel perks aren’t enough, the card also provides members who apply by the end of 2019 with a one-year membership to Platinum Global Access from WeWork. There are also various trip protections available, including rental car insurance (secondary coverage), roadside assistance, lost luggage insurance, and travel accident insurance.

2. American Express Business Gold Card

Annual fee: $295

Welcome offer: Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months

Rewards rate: The card’s main value lies in its flexible rewards. You’ll receive four points per dollar on the first $150,000 spent each year in the two select categories that you spend the most on each month. Categories include:

  • Airfare purchased directly from airlines
  • U.S. purchases for advertising in select media (online, TV, radio)
  • U.S. purchases made directly from select technology providers of computer hardware, software, and cloud solutions
  • U.S. purchases at gas stations
  • U.S. purchases at restaurants
  • U.S. purchases for shipping

All other purchases will net you one point per dollar. If you redeem your rewards for flights, you’ll get 25% of them back, up to a total of 250,000 points per year.

Travel perks: The American Express Business Gold Card doesn’t provide any major travel benefits, but you can transfer your points to several travel partners, including airlines and hotel brands. If you’re earning four points per dollar on a good chunk of your expenses, you could start earning free flights and hotel stays fast with this charge card.

There are some travel benefits of note, however, including complimentary benefits when you book The Hotel Collection, a global assist hotline, travel discounts and amenities, roadside assistance, lost luggage insurance, travel accident insurance, and rental car insurance (secondary coverage).

Additional benefits: In addition to a valuable welcome bonus and rewards program, the card also offers up to one year free of G Suite Basic for up to three users and up to one year free of ZipRecruiter Standard. Amex estimates the value of these offers to be $3,200, which could make a big difference if you rely on those services for your business.

3. Capital One Spark Miles for Business

Annual fee: $95 (waived first year) (waived first year)

Welcome offer: Earn 50,000 miles after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months and earn another 150,000 miles after spending $50,000 in the first 6 months

Rewards rate: The card offers a flat two miles per dollar on every purchase, making it a solid choice for business owners who don’t spend a lot in any one expense category.

Travel perks: The Capital One Spark Miles for Business focuses more on its rewards program than travel perks. However, you’ll get an application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. You’ll also have the opportunity to transfer your hard-earned miles to one of 15 airline partners to potentially squeeze more value out of them.

Additional benefits: Beyond the travel features, the card doesn’t provide a lot of other major benefits. You will, however, get protections like rental car insurance (secondary coverage), price protection, purchase protection, extended warranty protection, travel and emergency assistance, lost luggage reimbursement, and travel accident insurance.

4. Ink Business Preferred

Annual fee: $95

Welcome offer: Earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months.

Rewards rate: You’ll earn three points per dollar on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel; shipping purchases; internet, cable and phone services; and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year. You’ll receive one point per dollar on every other purchase.

Travel perks: The biggest benefit of having the Ink Business Preferred is its flexible rewards. If you redeem your points for travel, you’ll get 25% more value than if you redeem them for cash back or gift cards. What’s more, you could get more value by transferring your points to one of Chase’s airline or hotel partners.

The card also offers primary rental car insurance when you rent a car for business purposes. This coverage is different than the secondary coverage most credit cards provide and doesn’t require you to file a claim with your auto insurance company before it kicks in.

Additional benefits: Cardholders will also get trip cancellation and interruption insurance, roadside dispatch, purchase protection, and extended warranty protection. If you use the card to pay your cell phone bill, you’ll get coverage of up to $600 per claim for you and any employees listed on your plan, up to three claims per year.

5. Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card

Annual fee: $125

Welcome offer: Earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points when you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months.

Rewards rate: Cardholders will get six points per dollar spent at participating Marriott hotels and four points per dollar at U.S. restaurants and U.S. gas stations as well as on U.S. shipping purchases and wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers. All other purchases will net you two points per dollar.

Travel perks: The primary benefit of having a hotel credit card is the brand-specific perks that come with it. On that front, the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card doesn’t disappoint. It offers complimentary Silver Elite status with the chance to earn Gold Elite status after you spend $35,000 in a calendar year.

The card also provides one free-night award worth up to 35,000 points every year when you renew your card and pay the annual fee, plus another free-night award when you spend $60,000 in a calendar year.

You’ll also receive 15 elite night credits per year, which can help you qualify for a higher status in Marriott’s loyalty program.

Additional benefits: Cardholders will also get purchase and extended warranty protection, as well as access to various expense management tools that come with all American Express business credit cards.

6. Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card

Annual fee: $99

Welcome offer: Earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

Rewards rate: You’ll get two points per dollar on Southwest Airlines purchases and one point per dollar on everything else.

Travel perks: The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business card’s main value proposition is the chance to earn valuable rewards with one of the best domestic airlines in the industry. While not specific to the card, Southwest Airlines passengers get two free checked bags on each flight and don’t have to pay a fee to change their flight reservation.

As a cardholder, however, you’ll earn 6,000 bonus points each year when you renew the card, which could be enough to make up for its annual fee.

Additional benefits: The card also comes with purchase and extended warranty protection, lost luggage reimbursement, and baggage delay insurance.

7. United Explorer Business Card

Annual fee: $95

Welcome offer: Earn up to 100,000 bonus miles: 50,000 bonus miles when you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months, plus an additional 50,000 miles after spending $25,000 on purchases in the first 6 months.

Rewards rate: United Explorer Business cardholders will get two miles per dollar on United purchases, as well as at restaurants, gas stations, and office supply stores. All other purchases will net you just one mile per dollar.

Travel perks: United Airlines has a wide network, both domestically and internationally. What’s more, it belongs to the Star Alliance, which includes several international airline partners that you can use your United miles with to book flights overseas.

Free flights aren’t the only reason to get the card, though. It also offers priority boarding, the first checked bag free for you and a travel companion, and two one-time passes to the United Club airport lounge each year.

Additional benefits: Cardholders will have access to several trip protections, including primary rental car insurance when renting for business purposes, baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, trip delay reimbursement, and purchase and extended warranty protection.

Bottom line

There are a lot of solid credit cards out there, but the best business credit card for travel really depends on your typical business expenses and what you want in a credit card. Be sure to compare these and other top business credit cards to get a better idea of what you’re looking for and which card is the best fit for your needs.

Before you apply, check out our guide for business credit card application best practices. Also make sure your credit score is in good shape to improve your chances of getting approved.

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