Most contractors drive around a full-size pickup truck with hundreds of pounds, and often use thousands of dollars of construction equipment. Yet one of their most important tools can be a few grams of plastic in their wallet. The right small business credit card can help contractors track business expenses, finance materials, and even earn valuable rewards.
How a Credit Card Can Benefit Construction Contractors
There are several ways that a credit card can help you to achieve your business goals:
Improve Cash Flow
One of the most important benefits of business credit cards for contractors is the way they improve cash flow. The best business credit cards offer you a line of credit that gives you extra time to pay for purchases.
If you pay your credit card off in full each month, you’ll avoid interest charges and can enjoy the benefits of these cards at no extra cost. Some cards even offer introductory APRs of 0% for anywhere from six months to a year or more. That interest-free period can be valuable if you need to make a large purchase and pay for it over time.
In addition, rewards programs can be very lucrative. Put the materials you purchase in your business on a rewards credit card and you can often earn thousands of dollars in cash back or reward points. (Sign-up bonuses or welcome offers can also help you boost those rewards significantly.)
Having a business credit card means that you can keep your business charges separate from your personal accounts.
What to Consider When Choosing a Credit Card for Your Construction or Contracting Business
There are several things you want to consider when choosing a business credit card:
Types of Rewards
If your business is construction, your first priority may not be travel rewards often offered with small business cards, including airport business lounge access, rental car coverage, and other travel perks. (If you enjoy travel, whether for pleasure or business though, travel rewards can be very valuable, including Amex Membership Rewards points and Chase Ultimate Rewards points.)
You may find cash back rewards to be a better fit. If so, make sure you carefully evaluate the card’s rewards rate. Do you earn a flat cash back rate (or points) for all business purchases or will you earn higher rewards in certain bonus categories? If the latter, make sure you choose a card that gives bonus points for the type of purchases you typically make. And ideally, contractors will look for a card that offers 2x or 3x points or cash back for the kinds of purchases that they make the most, such as gas or hardware purchases.
Business Card Features
For small business owners who need to issue employee cards, look for employee spending controls and expense tracking. You can also look for cards that offer free employee cards, along with spending controls. On the other hand, it’s unlikely that contractors will make business purchases outside the United States, so you won’t have to worry if your credit card has foreign transaction fees.
Build Business Credit
It’s also important to understand how your business credit card will impact your credit history. A few credit card issuers report all activity to the owner’s personal credit, most report to business credit (which can help build good business credit scores) and some report to both. If you know you’ll be carrying a balance frequently, for example, you may want to choose a card that will not appear on your personal credit reports, as those balances could impact your personal credit scores and impact your creditworthiness.
Enjoy Introductory Financing
Finally, if you know you will carry a balance from time to time make sure you understand the interest rates you may be charged for purchases and balance transfers. Some business credit cards offer intro 0% APR financing for several months to more than a year. This can be very valuable for financing a larger purchase or for preserving cash flow during a seasonal slowdown.
If you choose a card with a low intro APR, be sure to make a note on your calendar of when it expires, and try to pay off the balance before that happens. Otherwise, your cost can increase significantly.
Best Small Business Credit Cards for Contractors
Here are 9 of the best small business credit cards that construction contractors will find valuable in their business:
Theoffers valuable discounts at Lowe’s home improvement stores, but also offers rewards for other purchases. Earn Points can only be redeemed for select gift cards or used to cover specific, eligible statement charges on your account for a statement credit. When you use your points for eligible charges on your account, you can use points only toward the entire amount of an eligible charge.
The purchase APR is.
As with other American Express cards, you’ll receive expense management tools to help you track expenses and manage your account. There’s a annual fee for this card.
provides outstanding rewards to contractors who open new accounts and continues to offer strong value every year. When you need to finance a job, you can take up to 60 days to pay your statement with no interest charges. Cash flow fine?
This card has no preset spending limit and comes with American Express’s full suite of expense management tools. There is aannual fee.
Another solid choice from American Express iswhich gives you the power to use your card beyond its credit limit* with Expanded Buying Power. This can be very helpful when jobs require unexpected additional expenses to complete. (Note: The amount you can spend above your credit limit is not unlimited. It adjusts with your use of the card, your payment history, credit record, financial resources known to American Express, and other factors.) It has an appealing welcome offer: .
Expense reports and expense management can be a huge pain point for contractors. With theyou’ll eliminate expense reports, build your business credit, and never go over budget again. If you have employees or contractors who need to make purchases, you’ll love the fact that Divvy gives admins complete control over employee spending with enforceable budgets (that can be adjusted in seconds). On Divvy’s mobile app or desktop platform, you’ll see every transaction as it happens, bringing all your spend into one place.
. There are rewards as well:
Theoffers cardholders a competitive welcome bonus:
The reward program is solid, though contractors may see more benefit from higher rewards in other spending categories..
With a very generous welcome offer, your business can find this card quite valuable.
And you can take advantage of the tiered reward structure to earn significant rewards.
Thecredit card provides outstanding rewards to contractors who open new accounts and continues to offer strong value every year. .
You’ll also earn solid cash back rewards on an ongoing basis. EarnThere is annual fee.
If cash slow is a concern this card will allow you to get a generous. And the annual fee is . While there is no welcome bonus currently, the ongoing rewards are solid:
If you’re putting vehicles on the road to get to job sites, you no doubt already know that Costco can be a great place to save on fuel. With this card, rewards will get you even more value.
Checklist For Getting The Best Business Credits Card For Contractors Or Construction Businesses
Here’s a list of questions that will allow you to choose the best business credit card offer for your contractor or construction business needs:
|Question to Ask||Why This Matters||Your Notes|
|How much do you spend annually?||Compare spending to cost of the annual fee to determine whether rewards outweigh the fee.|
|How much will you spend in the next 3-4 months?||Consider a card with a healthy welcome bonus for spending in the first 3-6 months after account opening.|
|Do you need to finance purchases over time?||Look for a card with a 0% intro APR and/or a card with a low ongoing interest rate.|
|What are your main spending categories?||Reward cards may offer higher rewards in certain spending categories.|
|Do you prefer cash back rewards or travel points?||If you prefer cash back, you’ll get more value from a cash back card than a card with points or miles that can be converted to cash.|
|Do you have good personal credit?||If not, consider a card that doesn’t require a personal credit check. Note that you will need business revenues to qualify.|
|Do you want to build business credit?||Check which cards help build business credit here.|
|Do you make purchases outside the US?||Choose a card with no foreign transaction fee.|
How to Qualify for a Credit Card as a Construction Contractor
Most small business credit cards require you to qualify based primarily on your personal credit score. There are some, though, that won’t require a personal credit check or a personal guarantee. Those cards typically require at least two years in business and strong business revenues. (They will also likely require the business to operate as an LLC or corporation rather than a sole proprietorship.)
You’ll also need to provide information about your business. Make sure you have the following information handy when you apply:
- The legal names, addresses and Social Security numbers for all owners or the business.
- Your legal business name, address and business tax ID number (TIN) or Employer Identification number (EIN).
Alternative Financing Options for Construction Contractors
A business credit card can provide fast and flexible financing but there are times when you need larger financing amounts or a longer-term loan. A construction business loan provides working capital to start or run a construction firm. It can be used for equipment, overhead, or labor.
Here are other business contractor loan options to consider:
If you need financing for a specific project that doesn’t require short-term financing. A term loan may be a good choice. You’ll borrow a fixed amount of money for a specific period of time. Some SBA guaranteed loans are term loans, and term loans are also offered by banks and online lenders.
If you need heavy equipment for your business, equipment leasing or financing may be an excellent option. The cost can be affordable and qualifications may be flexible since the equipment serves as collateral for the loan. Leasing may also offer tax advantages.
If you regularly purchase supplies from specific suppliers, you may be able to secure those supplies with no money upfront. This is referred to as vendor or supplier financing. For example, with net-30 terms you’ll have 30 days to pay. With strong business credit and a good payment history you may be able to get even longer terms, such as net-45 or net-60 terms.