As the founder of a budding new company, there are plenty of good reasons for you to consider using a business credit card. Not only can it help you keep personal and business finances separate, it can come in handy covering cash flow, building your credit history, and saving money through various perks and rewards. But what are the best business credit cards for startups?
Not all cards are created equal. You’ll want to choose one that best fits the needs of your new business. If you’re required to travel often, for example, you might want to go with a card that offers great airfare and hotel rewards. If you’re looking to transfer existing debt from a high cost loan or credit card, you’ll want to choose a card with a low or zero balance transfer fee. Others who plan to carry a balance might choose one with a low interest rate.
Why would I use a business credit card for my new business instead of my personal credit card?
Well, glad you asked. Here are three serious advantages to using a business credit card for business purchases:
- Having a business credit card allows you to keep your personal and business expenses separate. You’ll be able to track business expenses more easily, making tax time, as well as maintaining a company budget, much less of a headache.
- By getting a card in the name of your business you’ll start to establish a business credit score separate from your personal one. That means that if you have to make a late payment, your business credit will take the hit instead of your personal credit (there are exceptions—read about which business credit cards report to personal credit bureaus here).
- As you start to establish a business credit profile, you’ll build your business’s credibility. When it comes time to apply for other business financing, solid business credit scores can help you qualify for more financing at better rates.
Let’s take a closer look at a few business credit cards for new businesses that might help you take your company to the next level.
The Best Business Credit Cards for Startups
Here’s a quick overview of the card categories we’ll cover:
- Best for fair credit: The Capital One Spark Classic for Business
- Best rewards card: Ink Business Cash Credit Card
- Best for travelers: Capital One Spark Miles for Business
- Best 0% promotional financing offer: The Blue for Business Plus Card from American Express OPEN
- Best for controlling spending: The Business Gold and Green Rewards Cards from American Express OPEN
Best for fair credit: The Capital One Spark Classic for Business
- Credit needed: fair (625 personal credit score)
- annual fee
- No foreign transaction fees
- High interest: APR
- Late payment fee
The Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business card allows cardholders to earn rewards with no annual fee, and you don’t need an excellent personal credit scores to qualify. As a huge bonus, business owners who make on time payments and keep their balances low can build business credit. It’s worth noting, however, that Capital One may report your business payment history to personal credit reporting agencies, thus your personal credit scores could be affected by your business spending.
Best rewards card: Ink Business Cash Credit Card
*Note: Applying for a business credit card can affect your personal credit score. Sign up for a free Nav account to see if you’re likely to qualify before you apply.
- Generous rewards program:
- Low APR:
- annual fee
- Steep penalties for late payments
- Requires great credit
With the Ink Business Cash Credit Card, cardholders canon the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases each ear on cell, landline, Internet and cable TV services. You’ll earn an additional 2% on the first $25,000 in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants, and 1% on everything else.
Best for travelers:
- Generous rewards:
- Bonus offer:
- Annual fee:
- Requires great credit.
The Capital One Spark Miles for has a very basic travel rewards structure. Unlike many business credit cards for travel, you don’t need to spend money on travel related expenses to rack up the rewards with this card—you can earn a healthy amount of miles with everyday purchases. This makes it a great business credit card for new businesses where the nature of what you spend on is unpredictable, but you do want to earn reward miles.
Best promotional financing offer:
- Long 0% APR period:
- Annual Fee
- Solid rewards:
- Foreign transaction fee:
The Blue Business Plus card from American Express is a great, flexible card for startups with a 0% APR introductory offer of 15 months. This means that if you need to make larger purchases on the card that you don’t yet have the cash flow to pay for, you could put them on this card without worrying about the cost of carrying a balance. As a bonus this card offers generous rewards for everyday purchases.
Business charge cards: A solid option for startups to control their spending
Some entrepreneurs may be hesitant to use credit because they are afraid they will be tempted to run up debt. Thus, a charge card can be the best business credit card option for some new businesses. Charge cards must be paid in full each month, making it a good alternative to business credit cards for startups which allow you to carry a balance from month to month. Here are some charge card options.
The Business Green Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
- Flexible charge card with rewards for business owners:
- Lower annual fee than other charge cards:
- The rewards structure is not as strong as other charge cards and there is a foreign transaction fee
Business Green Rewards Card from American Express OPEN allows you to earn. You can choose rewards from over 500 leading brands in travel, gift cards, merchandise or entertainment.
The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
- Generous rewards program compared to many charge cards:
- Great welcome offer for a charge card:
- Annual fee:
The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN allows you to earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. The catch is the fees—there’s a high annual fee and a hefty late payment fee at $38 or 2.99% of the past due amount, whichever is greater.
The National Small Business Association conducted a survey in 2012 that showed business credit cards to be the second most popular source of financing for small businesses. Carefully determine which type of business credit card you need, and join the ranks of entrepreneurs whose mastery of this important resource plays a continuing and vital role in their success.
This article was written in December 2016 and updated in May 2018.
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