Brex for Startups Review: No Need for Personal Guarantees [2020]

You no longer have to hand over your SSN to get the cash flow you need for your business to thrive.
Last updated Mar 17, 2020 | By Sarah Li Cain

FinanceBuzz is reader-supported. We may receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

Trying to get a business card that doesn’t look at your personal credit as part of the application process is not exactly easy. But think about it — as excited as you are about your business idea, do you want to personally guarantee the associated debt in case things go south, to the point where your personal assets are at stake?

Well, now you’re in luck because the Brex for Startups Card doesn’t use traditional underwriting methods to issue cards. Instead, it focuses on your business itself — including cash flow and funding sources. You don’t even apply with your Social Security number — your EIN will do.

In addition, Brex claims to be able to approve card applications quickly and offer you higher credit limits than average. So is the Brex for Startups Card worth the hype? Let’s take a look at this card, including who it’s best suited for.

No Personal Liability, Lots of Rewards Potential

Benefits

  • No credit check, no personal liability, and no security deposit required
  • 7X points on rideshare and 3X points on restaurants
  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fee

Drawbacks

  • Payments automatically withdrawn from your business bank account
  • $100,000 balance required in your business bank account


Who should get this card?

The Brex for Startups Card is an excellent choice for startups with plenty of funding and founders who don’t want the added risk of a personal guarantee should the company go out of business. This card is also a good fit for startup companies without an established credit profile. The Brex Card for Startups card can help you build that business credit. It’s also great for those who have quite a bit of company expenditures but who typically don’t carry a balance.

If you’re okay with Brex having access to view your business bank account and other financials, then this card is a great choice, and you’ll be able to reap the benefits of its rewards program.

On the other hand, if you’re a sole proprietor, a gig economy worker, or a freelancer, then this card might not be for you. Same goes for any businesses that don’t have a high cash flow. If your business has established credit or you’re willing to supply your Social Security number, then you may be better off with other business credit cards.

Card basics

Annual Fee $0
Intro Bonus 30,000 Brex Rewards points upon sign-up
Recommended Credit Score No personal credit check required
Foreign Transaction Fee None

Top card benefits

  • Reward earnings tailored for startups: Earn rewards toward cash back, statement credits, and travel by maximizing your spending in earnings categories such as rideshares, travel, restaurants, and software subscriptions.
  • No annual fee: Get perks like no foreign transaction fees, partner discounts and rewards earnings all without paying a dime.
  • Doesn’t require a personal guarantee: You don’t need to put your personal assets at risk since the Brex Card for Startups doesn’t require a personal guarantee in case your company folds.
  • Offers a larger credit limit: According to Brex, once approved, your spending limit can be 10 to 20 times higher than its competitors can offer you. That said, your limit can change from month to month depending on your company’s cash balance and spending patterns.
  • Stops you from paying interest: Since Brex automatically deducts your card balance from your linked business bank account each month, you don’t have to worry about forgetting payments.

Earning & redeeming

Best ways to earn

Cardholders can earn points for products and services that a startup would typically spend a good amount on, but only if you join the Brex Exclusive program. You’ll be automatically signed up for a trial period of the Brex Exclusive program when you’re approved for the card. After two months, you’ll continue to qualify for the program if you have an account in good standing and commit to using your Brex card for all your company-related purchases.

Below are the reward earnings rates for the Brex Exclusive program members:

Categories Rewards rate
Rideshares 7X
Travel booked through Brex 4X
Restaurants 3X
Software subscriptions 2X
All other purchases 1X

If you’re not in the Brex Exclusive program, you’ll earn only 1x for each category. But in addition to these money-saving spending categories, Brex offers credits and discounts for business services such as Google Ads, SendGrid, WeWork, and Zendesk.

Maximizing your redemptions

You can redeem your points for a statement credit or cash back. However, the most valuable option is to redeem your rewards for business travel via Brex Travel. This is the hub where you can transfer your points to redeem them for things like Airbnb, flights, and hotels.

According to Brex, you may save up to 60% on travel bookings when you go through its portal because you get access to rates that are usually only available to enterprise companies. You’ll also have the option to transfer points to travel partners such as JetBlue, Singapore Airlines, and Cathay Pacific.

Common questions

Is Brex for Startups a credit card?

While the card is issued through the Mastercard network, it’s not a credit card. The Brex cards are charge cards. That means you can’t carry a balance, and your entire balance is due at the end of each billing cycle.

The good news is that if you don’t want to pay interest, you won’t have to. However, you only have 30 days to be able to come up with the cash to pay off your balance, so unless you have sufficient cash flow, the Brex for Startups Card may not be for you.

If having more time to pay is valuable to you, the Brex for Ecommerce Card gives you 60 days to pay. So if you qualify for that card, it could be a better choice if you want more flexible payment terms.

How do I qualify for Brex Exclusive rewards?

To qualify, you first need to be approved for the Brex for Startups card. For your first two months as an account holder, you’ll be automatically enrolled. After that, you can remain in the program as long as your account is in good standing and you use the Brex for Startups Card exclusively for all your business purchases.

Who is eligible for the Brex for Startups Card?

To qualify, you need to have a U.S. based company with an Employer Identification Number (EIN). You’ll also need to have at least $50,000 in your bank account balance and allow Brex to take a look at where your funding comes from as well as your spending patterns.

According to the company, businesses that have at least $100,000 in their bank account and are backed by venture capital firms at the time of application are typically approved.

How does Brex underwrite the Brex for Startups Card?

Brex will use the total cash balance in your business bank accounts to underwrite your business. Linking your bank account to Brex means it can examine factors such as your spending patterns to set your credit limit. It will also look at who your investors are.

Is there an annual fee for the Brex for Startups Card?

Nope, zilch, nada. In other words, you pay $0 in annual fees. You also get your first five employee cards free; additional cards are $5 per month. There’s also no limit to the number of cards you can get, though there’s a cap on how much your employees can spend.

Other cards to consider

If you feel the Brex for Startups Card isn’t the right fit, there are plenty of business credit card alternatives out there. Here are two that might be a good fit for you and your company:

With the Business Platinum Card from American Express — also a charge card — you’re going to pay a $595 annual fee. But the rewards you earn could make up for it, especially if you have high monthly cash flow. With this card, you’ll earn 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. You’ll also get perks like a $200 airline credit and access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection.

Want your business to earn you points for travel? The Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card offers flexible redemption options through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program — you can move points to transfer partners such as airlines and hotels. This card also has a healthy sign-up bonus — you can earn 100,000 points after spending $15,000 in the first 3 months. Plus, you’ll enjoy travel perks like trip cancellation and interruption insurance — and more.

No Personal Liability, Lots of Rewards Potential

Special Offer

30,000 Brex Rewards points upon sign-up

See how these cards compare:

The Business Platinum Card from American Express
The Business Platinum Card from American Express
  • 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
Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
  • 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