As a consultant your job is to help your clients find the right solutions for their business. But what about your business needs? When it comes to finding the right business credit card you may wish you had a consultant to help you choose the right card.
You’re in luck. We’ve sorted through lots of business credit card options to identify ones that will be a great fit consultants. And we’ll help you understand how to make the most of the card or cards you decide to get.
How a Business Credit Card Can Help Consultants
Most consultants send clients invoices, which means they might not get paid for weeks, or even months. In the meantime, they (and you) still have purchases to make, like that office supply run for printer paper or the bill for the conference you attended to learn and network. Business credit cards can be that stopgap between money coming in and money going out.
But that’s not all a Mastercard, Visa, American Express or other card is good for. When you have a card that lets you earn rewards points for purchases, you can get some pretty fantastic perks (which we’ll discuss in the next section).
Bottom line: you can earn points or cash back, like filling up at gas stations or on hotel stays. And over time, you can build enough points to get free nights at your favorite hotel, elite status on your preferred airline, discounts on rental cars, gift cards, and other things that save you money as a consultant!
And before you assume that you’ll pay high interest rates for a card like this, know that some business credit cards offer a 0% intro APR for several billing cycles or even a year or more after account opening, which means you pay nothing to finance purchases during that time.
Credit Card Rewards That Consultants Can Benefit From
Here’s a summary of the main perks offered on rewards credit cards:
- Points or miles. Typically, rewards cards give cardholders 1 point per dollar they spend, with some categories of spending (like travel purchases, gas, restaurants) earning 2x miles or points.
- Sign-up bonus. Many of these cards offer welcome bonus miles or points, or bonus cash, when you sign up and meet the minimum spending requirement in the first few months.
- Travel perks. You may get free airport lounge access, free checked bags, free upgrades, and bonus points on airline purchases. Some cards also offer a statement credit when you sign up for TSA Precheck or Global Entry.
- Extra perks. Some cards don’t charge a foreign transaction fee or offer low (or 0%) interest on balance transfers.
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Best Credit Cards for Consultants
Here we feature some of the best credit cards for consultants, including those with the best rewards programs, to help you save time choosing the right card for your business.
Nav can help you find credit cards based on your business qualifications. Get started here.
The American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card
Cash flow can be a challenge for consultants, so cash back is always a popular reward. That’s why the The American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card can be an appealing card. Earn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1%. There’s also an introductory offer of 0% on purchases for 12 months from date of account opening (after that, the variable rate is 18.49% - 26.49% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors as determined at the time of account opening.) The annual fee is $0.
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
If you entertain clients or make everyday business purchases such as office supplies, check out the The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express. Earn 2X Membership Rewards® points on everyday business purchases such as office supplies or client dinners. 2X applies to the first $50,000 in purchases per year, 1 point per dollar thereafter. The annual fee is $0 and 0% on purchases for 12 months from date of account opening. After that, there is a purchase APR of 18.49% - 26.49% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors at account opening.
Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card
If you’re looking for a card to help ease cash flow, you’ll get a generous 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 12 months. The welcome offer can earn you additional cash: Earn $900 bonus cash back after you spend $6,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.. Ongoing rewards are simple but solid. Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase made for your business.. All that for an annual fee of $0.
BILL Divvy Corporate Card
As a consultant, expense reports are likely a key (and frustrating) part of your business. That’s why we like the BILL Divvy Corporate Card as a good option for consultants. Divvy streamlines spend management by combining corporate cards with free expense management software. You can also earn rewards: Up to 7% points, based on payment settings.
It’s a great option for businesses trying to manage expenses both easily and cheaply. If you have employees, Divvy gives admins complete control over employee spending with enforceable budgets. With Divvy, you’ll eliminate expense reports, build your business credit, and never go over budget again. All charges made on this charge card are due and payable when you receive your periodic statement The annual fee is $0.
American Express® Business Gold Card
The American Express® Business Gold Card is a popular rewards card. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points on the 2 categories where your business spends the most each billing cycle from 6 eligible categories. Plus, you can take advantage of the Welcome Offer: Earn 70,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Gold Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.*. Those rewards, along with other benefits, can easily make the annual fee of $375 worth it. The APR is 19.49% - 27.49% Variable.
When cash flow is tight, you may take advantage of the Pay Over Time Option, a flexible payment option with interest to help manage cash flow on purchases of $100 or more.
Best Travel Credit Cards for Consultants
Consultants who are road warriors will appreciate cards that offer travel benefits ranging from hotel credits to airline miles to Priority Pass and other airport lounge access. Here are several to consider:
Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card
Consultants who fly Delta frequently will want to check out the Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 80,000 Bonus Miles after spending $6,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Offer Ends 3/27/24.
- Ongoing rewards: Earn 2 Miles on every dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with Delta and on every eligible dollar spent at restaurants. Earn 1 Mile on every eligible dollar spent on other purchases.
- Additionally, take $100 off your next Delta flight – after you spend $10,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you will earn a $100 Delta Flight Credit to use toward future travel.
- First Checked Bag Free + Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding
There is $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $150. The APR is 20.99% - 29.99% Variable.
Capital One Spark Miles for Business
If you’re not loyal to specific airlines or hotels, a flexible card like this one can be a good choice. You can earn 50,000 Miles once you spend $4,500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, and redeem miles for a wide variety of travel purchases. On an ongoing basis, you’ll earn 2 Miles per $1 on every purchase, everywhere.. This card has an annual fee of $0 intro for first year; $95 after that.
Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card
If Marriott properties are your first choice for business travel, check out the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card. This card features:
- Welcome offer: Limited Time Offer: Earn five Free Night Awards after you use your new Card to make $8,000 in eligible purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
- Ongoing rewards: 6x Marriott Bonvoy points on each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program. 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping. 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
- Enjoy complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status with your Card. Plus, earn Gold Elite status after making $35,000 in eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year.
- Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program. Certain hotels have resort fees.
The annual fee for this card is $125 and the APR is 20.99% - 29.99% Variable.
The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
If you’re looking for rewards for stays at Hilton properties, you’ll want to consider the The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card.
- Welcome Offer: Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors Business Card within the first three months of Card Membership.
- Ongoing rewards: 12X directly with hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio, 6X at U.S. gas stations, on U.S. purchases for shipping, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers, on flights booked directly with airlines or with Amex Travel, on car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies, and at U.S. restaurants, 3X on all other eligible purchases.
- Enjoy complimentary Gold Status with your Hilton Honors Business Card
- Earn a Weekend Night Award from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year
This card has an APR of 20.99% - 29.99% Variable and an annual fee of $95.
Best Shopping Credit Cards for Consultants
If you’re a frequent shopper at Costco or Amazon, consider one of these cards.
Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card by Citi
Regular Costco shoppers may want to consider Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card by Citi. It’s the only business credit card designed exclusively for Costco members. Rewards include: 4% cash back on eligible gas and EV charging purchases for the first $7,000 per year and then 1% thereafter. 3% cash back on restaurants and eligible travel purchases. 2% cash back on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com. 1% cash back on all other purchases. You’ll also receive an annual credit card reward certificate, which is redeemable for cash or merchandise at U.S. Costco warehouses, including Puerto Rico
The annual fee is $0 and the APR is 20.49% (Variable)
Amazon shoppers will want to consider the . It offers a choice between generous rewards or extended time to pay. With rewards that don’t expire, you choose when to redeem. Redeem rewards on millions of items during checkout at Amazon.com and Amazon Business (U.S.) or apply towards a purchase on your statement.
The interest rate on this card is and the annual fee is .
What To Consider When Choosing a Small Business Credit Card
When you’re looking for the best credit card for consultants, there are three main factors you’ll want to consider:
Let’s start with costs. When it comes to the cost of the card, think through whether you plan to pay your card in full each month or if you will carry a balance.
If you plan to pay your balance in full, your main cost will often be the annual fee, which can range from $0 to several hundred dollars. Higher annual fees are typical on cards with premium rewards and perks.
If you plan to carry a balance, you may want to consider a credit card with a 0% introductory APR offer. These are helpful to new businesses looking for startup financing as well as established businesses looking for a low-cost short-term loan.
Another important cost to consider is foreign transaction fees, which usually range from 2-3% of the purchase amount. This fee can be charged when you make purchases while traveling outside the US, or when making purchases from other businesses outside the US.
How To Maximize Rewards And Manage Expenses
If your goal is to earn a lot of rewards, use your business card for as many business purchases as possible. Pay your statement balance in full to avoid interest charges.
Pay attention to bonus categories for rewards, and if you can, time your purchases to take advantage of them. Some cards, for example, might offer rotating quarterly spending categories that offer additional cash back rewards for purchases made in those certain categories. Others will provide the highest level of rewards for purchases in your top spending categories. Timing your purchase to qualify for bonus cash may be worth it.
Most business credit card issuers offer spend management tools that make it easy to view your business spending at a glance, and then to import that information into your accounting software such as Quickbooks or FreshBooks. Your business credit card then becomes another way to help manage the financial health of your business.
Additional Perks and Benefits To Be on the Look-Out For
Other popular perks that can be valuable to your business include:
- Free employee cards. Many also offer spending controls to help manage employee spending.
- Cell phone protection. Your card may save you money by providing free cell phone coverage, so you don’t have to buy it separately.
- Free rental car coverage. Get protection when you rent your next car using your card that offers this benefit.
- Flexible spending limits. If your spending needs vary a lot, a card with no preset credit limit can be useful.
- Purchase protection and extended warranties. Often offered on premium cards, this additional perk can be useful for offering extended protection for qualified purchases.
Why Consultants May Want To Consider a Personal Credit Card and Which Ones To Choose
You may be trying to decide between using a personal credit card or applying for a card specifically for business. While it’s possible to use a personal credit card for business purposes, there are a few downsides.
One big consideration is that a personal credit card can’t help you build a business credit history— but many business credit cards can. If you think you might need to apply for a business loan or other financing to expand your business in the future, establishing business credit is one of the best ways to help you qualify.
Another thing to think about is that having a separate account for all your business spending will simplify your bookkeeping. This separation of business expenses and personal expenses will make tax season run much smoother.
If you are looking for a personal credit card, be sure to consider . It’s a popular travel reward card due to its generous and flexible travel rewards. Rewards include:
- Welcome offer:
- Ongoing rewards:
The APR for this card is and the annual fee is
Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card
This card offers a very generous 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases. Plus the welcome offer is $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.. And for rewards, you’ll earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice, 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs for the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases, and 1% cash back on all other purchases.. The annual fee is $0.
How to Choose the Best Credit Card for Your Consulting Business
When you’re looking for the best credit card for consultants, first consider the type of card that would suit you the best — a general credit card or a more focused travel- or shopping-specific card. Also, look into the categories that cardholders are rewarded for, like travel, dining, entertainment, or office supplies. Maximize your rewards by choosing a card that gives rewards for the items you spend the most on to run your consulting business.
Then think about what extras would help you most, like benefits that make travel more relaxing or getting a killer welcome offer that would maximize your cash back. Don’t forget to consider things like interest rates and annual fees, as well as other charges like foreign transaction fees.
How to Qualify for a Credit Card as a Consultant
Each of the credit cards we’ll discuss in the next section will have their own criteria to apply, but generally, you can expect that card issuers will look at your personal income (from all sources – not just business revenues) and your personal credit scores. Some may check business credit scores but most card issuers rely heavily on the applicant’s personal credit scores to qualify. The good news is these cards are often available for startups as well as established businesses.
How to Apply for a Credit Card as a Consultant
You may receive credit card offers in the mail saying you’re prequalified, but really, until you provide some basic information in an application for a credit card, you can’t know whether you will be approved.
On the application, you’ll be asked details about your business, including what its business structure is (Sole proprietorship? Corporation? LLC?), how long it’s been in business, Employer Identification Number (EIN) if available, and annual revenues.
Because you’ll typically personally guarantee purchases made with your card, you’ll also need to fill out details about yourself, including your name, address, Social Security number, and annual income.
Once you submit your application, you may get an instant response, or you may hear back in the mail after a week or two. Your interest rate will be disclosed and you’ll receive the full disclosure of your card terms. It’s not the most fun reading but it is important.
Other Financing Options for Consultants
Even with great rewards programs, some business credit cards can come with high annual fees and interest rates, so they may not always be the best solution for you. You have other options when it comes to financing for consulting companies.
Long- and Short-Term Loans
There are many lenders eager to provide you with small business loans that will help you grow your consulting business. The better your credit, the more favorable the terms. Banks and credit unions offer long-term loans and SBA loans, and online lenders provide short-term loans to those who don’t have great credit.
Lines of Credit
If you’re looking for access to cash to borrow when you need it, a business line of credit may be perfect. You only pay back what you borrow, and once you replenish that line, you can borrow from it again.
If you are looking for capital to buy a computer or company vehicle, know that there are specific loans for equipment. Because the equipment you’re buying acts as collateral, the loans tend to have lower interest rates.
If you’re looking for access to cash or simply having the freedom to make purchases with a business credit card while earning rewards as a consultant, Nav can help. See what options you qualify for today.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Business Credit Cards for Consultants
Can You Get a Business Credit Card as a Consultant?
Yes, business credit cards are available to consultants as well as other small business owners who qualify. Most credit card issuers require applicants who have good or excellent personal credit scores, and sufficient income from all sources (but not necessarily the business).
Can I Get a Business Credit Card With a 625 Credit Score?
Most business credit card issuers require good to excellent personal credit scores, which means scores of at least 650 or higher. There are a few issuers that offer business credit cards for bad credit.
Are Business Credit Cards a Good Idea for Freelancers?
A business credit card can offer freelancers an excellent way to separate their business and personal finances, and to build business credit.
Does an LLC Have a Credit Score?
How Do I Get a Business Credit Card For a 1099 Business?
A 1099 is an IRS form used to report certain payments, including non-employee income. If you operate your business as a sole proprietor, consultant or freelancer, you may receive one or more 1099. Business owners with this type of income can apply for most business credit cards. (A few card issuers require that applicants operate their business as an LLC or corporation, but most do not.)
This article was originally written on July 22, 2021 and updated on May 30, 2023.
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