Best Startup Business Credit Cards [2020]

Let's talk about the top small business credit cards for startups, and how to figure out which of these credit cards can give your new business a boost.
Last updated Nov 19, 2020 | By Laura Bostwick
business credit card benefits

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Business credit cards can help you save money, earn rewards, and make life as a business owner easier, but here's the thing — they're not one-size-fits-all. And if you're a brand-new entrepreneur looking for the best startup business credit cards, you may find all the options overwhelming. From corporate cards to charge cards, there are a lot of financial products out there.

We're going to help you simplify the process of running your business. Finding the right card just depends on your needs and spending habits, but if you’re making business-related purchases, you should be reaping the benefits. Beyond the huge rewards potential, separating business and personal expenses is a smart long-term move.

Best startup business credit cards of 2020

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Best startup business credit cards [2020]

Best overall: Ink Business Preferred

The Ink Business Preferred Credit Card offers generous rewards and ample flexibility, making it a favorable choice to use on any core business expense. You can also add employee cards at no additional cost, get primary rental car insurance, and pay no foreign transaction fees. It's a good card if you find yourself incurring rideshare costs in particular.

Bonus offer: Earn 100,000 points after spending $15,000 in the first 3 months

Annual fee: $95

What's great about it:

  • 5X points on Lyft rides; 3X points on the first $150,000 spent each year on travel, shipping, internet, cable, or phone services, and advertising purchases with social media and search engines; and 1X points per $1 on everything else
  • Cell phone insurance benefit — Get up to $600 in protection against theft/damage for up to 3 claims per year with a $100 deductible, when you use your card to pay your cell phone bill
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem them for airfare, hotels, car rentals, and cruises through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal

Hot Sign-up Bonus

Benefits

  • 100,000 point sign-up bonus
  • 3X points on travel and common business spending categories
  • Flexible redemption options
  • Additional employee cards at no extra cost

Best for choosing your own rewards category: American Express Business Gold Card

Often seen as a go-to card, the American Express Business Gold Card gives you the power to choose your own rewards categories. You can earn bonus points in two chosen categories where you spend the most for your business each month, up to the first $150,000 in combined purchases per calendar year. You can also access Amex’s Expense Management Tools to help track and organize expenses efficiently.

Annual fee: $295

What's great about it:

  • 4X Membership Rewards points for the first $150,000 spent in two select categories each year, and 1 point per $1 spent on other purchases
  • Redeem and/or transfer points through the Membership Rewards program to book high-end travel, purchase gift cards to reward employees, and book dinners for entertaining clients.

High Rewards in Categories You Select

Benefits

  • 35,000 point welcome offer
  • 4X Membership Rewards points in selected categories
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Terms apply

Best for airfare and airport lounge access: The Business Platinum Card from American Express

The extensive air travel benefits and perks offered by The Business Platinum Card from American Express helps this premium metal card stand above the rest when it comes to travel. Unlike regular credit cards, the Amex Business Platinum allows you to carry a balance for certain charges, but not for all of them. You'll want to familiarize yourself with the eligible charges under the Pay Over Time option if you plan to carry a balance on this card. On the plus side, along with a $200 annual airline fee credit, you also get a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit, and access to top-rated lounges across the globe.

Welcome bonus: Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $15,000 on purchases within the first 3 months

Annual fee: $595

What's great about it:

  • 5X points on flights and prepaid hotels on Amextravel.com, 1.5X points on eligible purchases of $5,000 or more, and 1X points per $1 spent on other purchases
  • Enjoy access to Centurion Lounges and Priority Pass Lounges, as well as Delta Sky Clubs when you’re flying Delta

Premium Business Rewards

Benefits

  • 75,000 point welcome offer
  • 5X points on qualifying flight and hotel purchases
  • 1.5X points on eligible purchases of $5,000 or more
  • Up to $200 statement credit per year for airline incidental fees
  • Terms apply

Best for cashback rewards: Capital One Spark Cash for Business

Straightforward and easy to remember, the high, flat rewards rate offered by the Capital One Spark Cash for Business is a good fit for the business owner who wants to carry a single card that earns cash back on everyday business spending, but that doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles.

Early spend bonus: Earn a $500 cash bonus after spending $4,500 in the first 3 months

Annual fee: $95 (waived first year)

What's great about it:

  • 2% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • The break-even point on the annual fee for this card is about $4,750. If you plan to spend less, you may want to consider the no-annual-fee version (or another card altogether) instead.

Unlimited Cash Back

Benefits

  • $500 cash welcome bonus
  • 2% unlimited cash back
  • Free employee cards
  • No foreign transaction fee

Best for no annual fee: Ink Business Cash

Offering several cashback opportunities, no annual fee, and 0% introductory APR on purchases for 12 months, the Ink Business Cash is a dream come true for many business owners. Along with zero liability protection, fraud and purchase protection, and extended warranty protection, you can also add employee cards at no additional cost. Just remember that once the introductory interest rate ends, your remaining balance will become subject to the regular variable rate.

Bonus offer: Earn $750 bonus cash back after spending $7,500 in the first 3 months

Annual fee: $0

What's great about it:

  • 5% cash back at office supply stores and on internet, cable, or phone services (up to $25,000 combined annually); 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants (up to $25,000 combined annually); and 1% cash back on everything else
  • 0% APR on purchases for 12 months after account opening
  • Redeem rewards for cash back, gift cards, travel, and more through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal
  • Cashback rewards never expire as long as your account is open

Up to 5% Cash Back

Benefits

  • New Offer: $750 cash back sign-up bonus
  • No annual fee
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months
  • Up to 5% cash back

Best for a brand-new business: Ink Business Unlimited

When you’re starting a new business, capital can be hard to come by. The Ink Business Unlimited offers a generous cashback bonus, unlimited rewards, and a $0 annual fee. This card also offers a 0% APR on purchases for 12 months. Again, just make sure to plan to pay the regular APR on any remaining balance once this intro APR ends.

Bonus offer: Earn $750 bonus cash back after spending $7,500 in the first 3 months

Annual fee: $0

What's great about it:

  • 1.5% cash back on all spending
  • 0% APR on purchases for 12 months after account opening
  • Redeem rewards for cash back, gift cards, travel, and more through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal
  • Cashback rewards never expire as long as your account is open

Unlimited Cash Back

Benefits

  • New Offer: $750 cash back sign-up offer
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all spending
  • 0% APR for 12 months on purchases
  • No annual fee

Best for simple travel rewards: Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express

The American Express Blue Business Plus Card is a great option for businesses expecting a lot of big purchases. With this card, you will have a 0% APR for 12 months on purchases.

Annual fee: $0

What's great about it:

  • 2X Membership Rewards points on business purchases up to $50,000 each year, and 1X points on purchases after that. 
  • 0% APR on purchases for the first 12 months of card membership
  • Points are American Express Membership Rewards, which can be transferred to a variety of Amex travel partners
  • Rental car insurance and access to the Global Assist Hotline in case things go awry while you are on the road

Simplified Earnings for Small Business Owners

Benefits

  • 0% intro APR on purchases
  • 2X Membership Rewards Points on first $50,000 each year
  • Global Assist hotline
  • No annual fee
  • Terms apply

Best for simple cash back: Blue Business Cash Card from American Express

If earning cash to put back into your business is as much of a priority as saving interest on purchases, the American Express Blue Business Cash Card may be a better fit for your needs. This card will give you a 0% APR for 12 months on purchases. 

Bonus offer: 0% intro APR on purchases

Annual fee: $0

What's great about it:

  • Earn 2% cash back on the first $50,000 in eligible purchases each year, then 1% after that
  • 0% APR on purchases for the first 12 months of card membership
  • Rental car insurance and access to the Global Assist Hotline

Get 2% Back Automatically

Benefits

  • Earn 2% cash back on the first $50,000 spent each year
  • 0% intro APR on purchases
  • No annual fee
  • Terms apply

Best for fair credit: Capital One Spark Classic for Business

The Capital One Spark Classic for Business is a useful option for small business owners with average or fair credit. It’s not going to bowl you over with high-level perks, but it does enough to stand out among other business credit cards for people with little to no credit.

Annual fee: $0

What's great about it:

  • 1% unlimited cash back on every purchase for your business
  • Responsible use could help you improve your creditworthiness

No annual fee

Benefits

  • 1% cash back on every business purchase
  • Protection on eligible items within 90 days of purchase
  • No annual fee

Benefits of business credit cards

Business credit cards provide business owners and entrepreneurs with easy and convenient access to a revolving line of credit to make purchases and withdraw cash to support their business endeavors. Much like a personal credit card, business credit cards have a set credit limit and carry interest charges if the balance isn’t paid in full each billing cycle. 37% of small business owners report using business credit cards to finance short-term needs and help increase their company’s purchasing power.

Business credit cards offer a slew of key benefits worth noting, including:

Instant capital

Having access to instant capital can help fund initial startup costs for equipment and advertising, while also assisting in managing cash flow and operating capital. If your business requires machinery, furniture, or electrical equipment, a business credit card can be used to purchase the equipment upfront — so there’s no delay in earning income — and can be paid off over time.

Business and personal assets remain separate

Keeping business and personal assets separate from each other is smart for any business owner. Not only does it help ensure that you, your family, and business partners remain protected from business liabilities, it also lessens the risk of endangering your limited liability protection. Without the limited liability protection gained from operating your business as a corporation or LLC, your personal assets may be at risk.

Bookkeeping/account features

Many business credit cards include useful expense management tools and features as added perks to cardholders. Some of these benefits may include minute-by-minute usage reports on cards across the account, capabilities to easily set spending limits or make adjustments on employee cards, cancel or pause cards, review transactions, filter expenses into categories, and access bookkeeping on a mobile device.

Tax benefits

The main tax benefits of using business credit cards are: simplifying taxes and easily being able to maximize tax deductions. By taking advantage of a business credit cards in-depth free reporting tools and accounting features, business owners can more easily determine which tax benefits they qualify for and can maximize.

Rewards

Many business credit cards are also generous rewards cards that can earn you cash back, points, or miles on select business expenses. When using your card to cover expenses for advertising, office supplies, internet, etc, why not earn rewards towards booking a free vacation or some grand getaway? Alternatively you could redeem your rewards in the form of statement credits to help cover your everyday business expenses.

How to choose the best business credit card for you 

Finding the best business credit cards that fit your needs comes down to assessing a few key factors of the card and determining your specific business needs, as well as your personal finances. For instance, consider the rewards, interest rates (both the intro rate and the subsequent ongoing variable APR), credit limit, and fees associated with the card.

Then, consider where most of your business expenses might come from. Do you travel a lot? What percentage of your monthly costs are used for advertising? Do you deal with irregular payments? Answering these questions can help narrow down your choices. Once you've considered how your business will spend and what your business will benefit from, you'll have an easier time picking the best new card for you.

FAQs about startup business credit cards

Do I qualify for a business credit card?

Business credit cards should be used to make business-related purchases. So, whether you’re running a hobby business as a sole proprietor, working as a freelancer, navigating your first business as an entrepreneur, or heading towards building a Fortune 500 empire, you can apply for a business credit card. 

It's best to first apply for your Employer Identification Number (or EIN) before you apply for a business card. This is a federally issued number, similar to a Social Security number, that helps the government identify your business as an entity. 

How many business credit cards should I have?

There’s no golden number of business credit cards to keep in your wallet, but there are a few benefits for opening more than one card. One obvious benefit — more credit cards equals a bigger credit line in the event that you need it. And, depending on your business’ spending needs, you can earn more rewards. That said, some credit card issuers will have limits on how many accounts you can have open with them, and you should only have as many lines of credit open as you can responsibly handle.

Can business credit cards be used for personal expenses?

While it’s possible to charge personal expenses to a business credit card, you really shouldn’t. Doing so can complicate your business expenses when tax season rolls around and potentially cause problems if your business gets audited. To be safe, it’s best practice to keep your business and personal expenses separate.

Do business credit cards affect your personal credit score?

It depends on the card. While most business credit cards require personal guarantees, only some report account activity to the three consumer credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian). Other business cards report account activity to both business and consumer credit bureaus. So whether or not your business card activity will impact your personal credit history will depend on the card you choose. Keep in mind that you may want a card that reports to the business bureaus so that you can start building your business credit score.

Can you get a business credit card with bad credit?

Financing options for business owners with bad credit are more limited but they do exist, albeit with higher ongoing APR and penalty fees. In the short-term, you may want to consider applying for a card that could help rebuild your credit and work on improving your credit history. Then, once you’ve boosted your score, apply for the business card that fits your needs. Having an excellent credit score will improve your odds of qualifying for the more rewarding small business credit cards.


Methodology

Team FBZ selects the best credit cards in each category based on overall consumer value. Some of the factors we evaluate include fees, promotional and ongoing APRs, and signup bonuses. For rewards credit cards, we also consider earning and redemption rates, redemption options, and redemption difficulty. Cards are eligible to be chosen in multiple business categories. 

Get 2% Back Automatically

Benefits

  • Earn 2% cash back on the first $50,000 spent each year
  • 0% intro APR on purchases
  • No annual fee
  • Terms apply