The Best Credit Cards for Consultants

The Best Credit Cards for Consultants

The Best Credit Cards for Consultants

If you’re a consultant, whether you work in marketing, management, finance, or design, you may be a one-person operation. That means you’ve got to do everything from answer the phone to buy printer paper…and everything in between.

What might help you is a business credit card, especially a rewards credit card. By having access to a credit card, you ensure you can always cover expenses related to your consulting business. In this article, we highlight what we think are the best credit cards for consultants.

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. Business credit cards can be that stopgap between invoices.

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 for things you’d buy anyway, 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’d pay high interest rates for a card like this, know that many business credit cards offer a 0% intro APR for the first calendar year upon account opening, which means you pay nothing to use the card. After that, of course, you’ll want to pay off your balance to avoid those fees.

Credit Card Rewards That Consultants Can Benefit From

  • 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 when you sign up. You can also find cards that give you points after you spend a certain amount in the first few months.
  • Travel perks. You can get things like free lounge access, free checked bags, free upgrades, and bonus points on airfare purchases. Some cards also offer a statement credit when you sign up for TSA Precheck or Global Entry.

Extra rewards. Some cards don’t charge a foreign transaction fee and offer low (or 0%) interest on balance transfers.

Best Credit Cards for Consultants

We’ve vetted the following credit cards for consultants, including those with the best rewards programs, to help you save time choosing the right card for your business.

Divvy Smart Credit Card for Business

As a consultant, expense reports are likely a key (and frustrating) part of your business. That’s why we like the Divvy Smart Credit Card for Business 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 Blue Business Cash™ Card

Cash flow can be a challenge for consultants, so cash back is always a popular reward. That’s why 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 16.24% - 24.24% 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 16.24% - 24.24% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors at account opening.

American Express® Business Gold Card

The American Express® Business Gold Card is a popular rewards card. Get 4X Membership Rewards® points on the 2 select categories where your business spent the most each month. 1X is earned for other purchases. 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 $295 worth it. The APR is 17.24% - 25.24% 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 70,000 Bonus Miles after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer ends 11/9/22.
  • Ongoing rewards: Earn 2 Miles on every dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with Delta, on every dollar spent on eligible U.S. purchases for advertising in select media, on every dollar spent on eligible U.S. shipping purchases, on every eligible dollar spent at restaurants. .
  • 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 $99. The APR is 18.74% - 27.74% Variable.

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 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • Ongoing rewards: 6x points 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 18.74% - 27.74% 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 in the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Ongoing rewards: 12X at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio, 6X at US gas stations, on US purchases for shipping, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from US service providers, on flights booked directly with airlines or with Amex Travel, on car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies, and at US 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 18.74% - 27.74% 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 18.24% (Variable)

Amazon Business Prime American Express Card

Amazon shoppers will want to consider the Amazon Business Prime American Express Card. 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.

  • Eligible Prime Members get a $125 Amazon Gift Card upon approval for the Amazon Business Prime American Express Card.
  • Take advantage of 5% Back or 90 Day Terms on U.S. purchases at Amazon.com, Amazon Business, AWS and Whole Foods Market with an eligible Prime membership. You will earn 5% Back on the first $120,000 in purchases each calendar year, 1% Back thereafter. 2% Back at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, and on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers. 1% Back on other purchases. 

The interest rate on this card is 17.24% - 25.24% Variable and the annual fee is $0

Personal Credit Cards for Consultants

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

If you are looking for a personal credit card, be sure to consider Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. It’s a popular travel reward card due to its generous and flexible travel rewards. Rewards include:

  • Welcome offer: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Ongoing rewards: Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.

The APR for this card is 18.24% - 25.24% Variable and the annual fee is 18.24% - 25.24% Variable

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’d be approved or not.

In 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, tax ID number, and its annual revenues. 

Because you’ll be personally guaranteeing 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. You’ll be provided with your interest rate and fine print, so be sure you read it carefully.

Business vs. Personal Credit Cards for Consultants

You may be deciding 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. 

The biggest consideration is that a personal credit card can’t help you build business credit — 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, building 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 purchases will simplify your bookkeeping. This separation will make tax season much smoother.

Other Financing Options for Consultants

Even with great rewards programs, business credit cards can come with high annual fees and interest rates, so they may not 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 line of credit is perfect. You only pay back what you borrow, and once you replenish that line, you can borrow from it again.

Equipment Loan

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.

This article was originally written on July 22, 2021 and updated on September 27, 2022.

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