Best Business Rewards Credit Cards

Your small business is likely going to have to spend money to make money. Business owners who use business rewards credit cards to pay for purchases can earn rewards like cash back, free or discounted travel, gift cards or more. Rewards can add up quickly and provide significant value. Here’s how to choose and use business rewards credit cards to your advantage.

Pros and cons of business rewards credit cards

While business rewards cards can benefit most small businesses, there are pros and cons you need to consider:

Pros:

  • Business credit cards can be good for improving cash flow. They offer short-term financing and are often startup friendly.
  • Perks can add up, depending on the rewards you choose.
  • Putting expenses on a business credit card can make bookkeeping easier and help ensure you don’t forget to deduct eligible expenses.
  • Credit cards offer superior fraud protection when compared to other payment methods.
  • Business credit cards often help build business credit.

Cons:

  • Business credit cards aren’t covered by the same regulations as personal credit cards, so it’s important to pay close attention to payment due dates and terms.
  • Many card issuers will check the owner’s personal credit report and require good to excellent personal credit to qualify. A personal guarantee is commonly required.

Best Business Rewards Credit Cards

  • The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
  • American Express® Business Gold Card
  • Divvy Smart Credit Card for Business
  • Amazon Business Prime American Express Card
  • Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card
  • Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express: Best for Big Spenders Who Travel

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express often holds a spot in “best business credit card” lists, and with good reason.  The card typically boasts a strong welcome offer; industry leading rewards earning potential; and a bevy of travel perks, including airline credits.

Welcome Offer: Earn 120,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with your Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com. Plus you can get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That’s an extra half point per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year. And there’s a 35% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year when you book on amextravel.com. It’s also worth noting that Amex has some noteworthy airline partners, including Delta, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, and ANA.

With a $595 (10/14-1/12/22) annual fee, this card is really designed for businesses with significant expenditures, especially when it comes to travel.  However, when all perks, rewards, and statement credits are factored in, it certainly remains a top contender.

American Express® Business Gold Card: Most Flexible Rewards Program

The American Express® Business Gold Card has a lot to offer, and with a much lower annual fee. 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..

With the American Express® Business Gold Card you have a simplified but potentially lucrative points system. Get 4X Membership Rewards® points on the 2 select categories where your business spent the most each month. 1X is earned for other purchases.. These categories are revolving and will change monthly based on your spending patterns. Points, therefore, are earned retroactively. This is really a boon to business owners who won’t benefit from a single earning category, especially if spending needs change from month to month.

With the American Express® Business Gold Card, you have a simplified but potentially lucrative points system. Get 4X Membership Rewards® points on the 2 select categories where your business spent the most each month. 1X is earned for other purchases. These categories are revolving and will change monthly based on your spending patterns. Points, therefore, are earned retroactively. This is really a boon to business owners who won’t benefit from a single earning category, especially if spending needs change from month to month. 

Though cardholders will need to pay a $295 annual fee, there are no foreign transaction fees, and there are other perks, like Roadside Assistance, Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance, and Travel Accident coverage.

Divvy Smart Credit Card for Business: High Rewards Plus Expense Management Tools

Divvy is best known for top notch expense management tools but it also offers rewards: Up to 7% points, based on payment settings.. Pay faster to earn the highest level of rewards. With Divvy, you can eliminate expense reports, build your business credit, and never go over budget again

Amazon Business Prime American Express Card: Solid Rewards for Amazon Purchases

If your business will be regularly shopping on Amazon, AWS or Whole Foods check out the Amazon Business Prime American Express Card.

Eligible purchases offer the choice of extra time to pay when cash flow is tight, or a high cash back rate when you pay quickly. 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..

Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card : Best Hotel Rewards Credit Card

As with most co-branded hotel cards, the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card allows you to earn the most points on eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy properties. 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy(TM) program. 4x points at U.S. restaurants, 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..

As with most co-branded hotel cards, the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card allows you to earn the most points on eligible purchases at participating Marriot Bonvoy properties. Earn 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy(TM) program. 4x points at U.S. restaurants, 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.

Welcome Offer: Earn 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership..

There’s also a pretty long list of additional perks, including an annual free night award, complimentary silver elite status, and premium on-property internet access and Boingo Wi-Fi. Plus, you can also transfer points to over 40 airline frequent flyer miles. 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.

Though this card does not carry a foreign transaction fee, there is a $125 annual fee.  However, if you’re a Marriot, SPG, or Ritz-Carton loyalist, then this card really makes up for it in both rewards and travel perks.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card: Excellent Rewards for Delta Flyers

Delta frequent fliers should seriously consider a Delta co-branded credit card, which offers cardmembers the opportunity to earn points toward flights, priority boarding, free checked bags and more. While there are several options to choose from, if it’s a generous welcome offer you’re looking for, the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card is an excellent choice.

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If you’re willing to pay a higher annual fee, consider the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card for even more rewards.

Types of small business credit card rewards

Broadly, rewards fall into three categories:

  • Cash back
  • Travel perks
  • Purchase rewards

We will go into these perks in more detail in a moment. If you have good to excellent personal credit, you will likely be able to pick and choose the card that offers the rewards best suited to your business needs.

How to choose a business rewards credit card

The key to choosing the best business credit card for your business will be choosing the card that complements the way you do business and offers the types of benefits you will most likely be able to use. Questions to ask yourself when choosing a rewards card:

  • How much do you anticipate spending on your card? This may determine whether you want to look for a card with no limit on rewards you can earn.
  • Do you spend heavily in one or two categories (gas or office supply stores for example)? If so, it may make sense to get a card with higher rewards for spending in bonus categories.
  • Is there a sign up bonus or welcome offer?
  • If there is an intro APR or reduced annual fee the first year? What is the cost after that?
  • Can you earn more rewards with employee cards? If so, will you be charged an annual fee for each employee card?
  • Does your business involve a lot of travel by car or truck? If so, a business gas card may help you save on fuel purchases.

Cash Back Rewards

Cash back rewards are consistently popular because every business owner can use more cash! Read the terms carefully. Some cards will offer a specific cash back reward rate for all spending, while others will offer higher cash back rates in specific spending categories.

Others may combine a fixed reward rate with a bonus at the end of the first year. With the Discover IT® Business Credit Card, for example, you can earn 1.5% cash back on every business purchase and Discover will match it all at the end of your first year.

*All information about the Discover IT® Business Credit Card has been collected independently by Nav. This card is not currently available through Nav. To see what business credit cards are available, please visit the Nav Credit Card Marketplace.

Travel Rewards

Travel rewards are appealing for those who do a lot of business travel or just want to do more travelling in general. In addition to miles or points that can be used for airfare or hotel rooms, there are many other perks that make these cards popular.

Questions to ask yourself when choosing a travel rewards card:

  • Am I loyal to a particular airline or hotel brand?
  • Can I earn bonus miles? Is there a strong welcome offer?
  • What is the annual fee and will the benefits make it worth it?

If you prefer to fly a specific airline or or stay in a particular brand of hotel (Hilton, Marriott, etc.), consider getting a co-branded card. (A co-branded card will carry the logo of that brand but will also carry an American Express, MasterCard or Visa logo.) This will allow you to earn perks with the provider you use most, and you will earn points both from travel and from card purchases.

In addition to points or miles, airline reward cards may offer priority boarding, free checked bags, and airport lounge access on premium cards. Hotel reward cards may offer elite status and upgrades in addition to points toward free rooms.

If you are a bargain shopper, though, then a general travel reward card will be more appealing as you can earn rewards that can be redeemed for travel through various travel providers. These cards may also offer airport lounge access or coverage for rental cars in addition to other rewards.

How to apply for a business rewards credit card

  1. Know your credit. Know your credit. Your personal credit history and credit scores are a main determining factor behind which cards you will qualify for. Lenders may check personal credit reports and/or credit scores with Equifax, Experian and/or Transunion so it’s a good idea to check all three if you’re shopping for a credit card.
  2. Know your annual income. You’ll be asked for your personal income on your business credit card application. This means any source of income, not just income you’re making from your business.
  3. Narrow down your options. Nav’s best business credit cards list can help you narrow down your choices based on what’s most important to you.
  4. Review costs. Business credit cards offer comparable APRs to that of personal credit cards, but APRs do vary by card and are influenced by your credit scores and income. If you are applying for a business charge card, make sure you understand the fees.
  5. Know the eligibility requirements for the card you select. Card issuers don’t reveal all their criteria, but tools like Nav’s Matchfactor can help you choose cards based on your qualifications.
  6. Apply for the business credit card. You may be asked for your Social Security Number (SSN) as well as your Taxpayer Identification number (TIN) or Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your business if you have one. If you apply online, you’ll usually get a decision right away.

What does it take to qualify for a business rewards credit card?

Compared to a a small business loan, it’s generally relatively easy to apply for a small business credit card. If you have good to excellent personal credit, most credit card providers will welcome your business. If you have fair credit, there may still be options though they will be more limited. The basic requirements include:

  • A business of some kind (including independent contractors, gig workers and sole proprietors).
  • A business name and address. You can operate your business out of your home and use a home address if you choose.
  • Good or excellent credit. The better your personal credit score the better the rewards cards that will be available to you. You should expect to have a personal credit score of 640 on the low end and 720 or above for top-tier business credit cards. High credit scores can also help you earn high credit limits.

How to get the most out of your business rewards credit card

Maximizing rewards means taking a careful look at all the available cards and selecting the one best suited for your specific needs. It may make sense to have more than one business credit card. One could offer cash back and be used for general purchases, for example, while the other could be a travel rewards card used primarily for travel purchases. Or you get a card to use just for purchases you need more time to pay off. (A card with a low introductory APR could be a good option. Most credit cards carry a variable APR that is based at least in part on your credit history.)

Use your card for business spending whenever possible to earn rewards. Keep track of rewards rates that are higher for certain spending categories so you know which card to use when.

Try to use your personal card for personal expenses and vice versa. Co-minging business and personal spending on the same card is not a good business practice. Savvy business owners may even use a personal credit card and business credit card from the same credit card issuer in order to maximize travel rewards earned.

Finally, review the credit cards you carry each year to make sure you are still using the best card for your business needs. (That’s also a good time to review welcome bonuses if you’re considering getting a new card. You may be able to get a significant number of bonus points or cash back when you sign up and spend a certain amount within the first few months of account opening.)

Are business credit card rewards taxable?

Earning rewards can certainly save you money but are you responsible for paying taxes once you’ve redeemed them.  Generally, the rules governing rewards earned through a business credit card are similar to those earned through personal credit cards.  

For the most part, the use of miles, points, and cash back is considered as a discount and not taxable income. Therefore, there is no specific tax liability associated with most of the basic rewards programs available.

However, there are some considerations that should be made when it comes to dedications.  Typically, if you’re using rewards to cover all or a portion of a purchase, you should avoid writing it off as a business expense.

That said, there is one instance in which your rewards may become taxable. If you didn’t have to do anything to receive the reward, e.g., spend $3,000 in sixty days, then taxes may apply.

The best bet? Be diligent when it comes to recording your expenses and rewards redemptions, and when tax time comes, speak to your accountant so that they can offer the best advice for your specific situation.