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Entrepreneurs are in prime position to take advantage of credit card rewards. Many entrepreneurs spend lots of money on categories like travel, advertising, and telecommunications, which means they can quickly rack up a ton of bonus points. In addition, entrepreneurs often have to travel and points can be used to scale down the cost of airfare, hotels, and other small business expenses.
Here are some of the top options if you’re in search of the best credit card for entrepreneurs and startups.
You might also want to see my tips for getting approved for business credit cards.
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The 9 Best Credit Cards for Entrepreneurs and Startups
1. The Chase Ink Business Preferred
One of the best business credit cards for advertising and travel.
The Chase Ink Business Preferred is one of the best business credit cards for travel and advertising and thus it’s absolutely perfect for entrepreneurs.
The Ink Preferred comes with one of the most valuable sign-up bonuses at 80,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months! At a valuation of 2 cents per point, that’s $1,600 worth of rewards. Even if you only redeemed these for a statement credit, that’s still an $800 rebate!
The Ink Preferred earns 3X on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on:
- Shipping purchases
- Internet, cable and phone services
- Advertising purchases with social media sites and search engines
These categories are important to many startups, especially travel and advertising purchases. If you’ve been pouring funds into social media advertising campaigns with no bonus rewards, then you should seriously consider this card. 3X on all of those categories will have you earning rewards in a hurry.
You can then transfer those points (called Ultimate Rewards) to several Chase transfer partners. If your startup company requires you to travel around the US you are set because you can transfer points to United Airlines and Southwest at a 1:1 ratio. You can also transfer your points to British Airways, which you can then use to book flights on oneworld partner American Airlines (often for much cheaper award prices).
And then you’re probably going to need to cover hotel stays. The Chase Ink Preferred can transfer points to the best hotel loyalty programs including Hyatt, Marriott (and now SPG), Ritz-Carlton, and IHG. I personally recommend transferring points to Hyatt for the most value.
The Chase Ink Preferred also comes with two additional perks that are very noteworthy. You’ll get primary rental car insurance when traveling on business so you won’t have to worry about paying extra for coverage (and this can save your monthly premium from rising).
The second perk is that when you use your Chase Ink Preferred to pay your cell phone bill, you’ll get cell phone insurance. You’ll be covered up to $600 per claim in cell phone protection against covered theft or damage for you and your employees listed on your monthly cell phone bill.
This card is subject to the 5/24 rule.
2. The Chase Ink Business Cash
One of the best small business credit cards with no annual fee.
The Chase Ink Business Cash is the little brother of the Ink Preferred. This card comes with no annual fee but still packs a heavy punch with a sign-up bonus worth $500 after you spend $3,000 in the first three months.
It also comes with benefits like primary rental car coverage and fantastic bonus categories which include:
5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases each account anniversary year on:
- Office supply stores
- Internet, cable and phone services
2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases each account anniversary year on:
- At gas stations
- At restaurants
Which version of the Ink is better for you depends on the spending habits of your startup. If you’re heavy into online marketing, it’s really hard to turn down the 3X of the Ink Preferred. However, the 5% back from office supply stores can come in handy, especially if you utilize gift cards. And if you’re going to be paying for internet, cable, and phone services you might as well get 5% back on those bills.
The major drawback to the Ink Cash is that you can’t transfer your points earned to travel partners, unless you have a premium Chase card like the Ink Preferred or non-business credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
But if you have no desire to utilize the travel perks, then just getting cash back on these categories will probably be good enough for you.
3. Amex Blue Business Plus
Great for everyday spend and a 0% APR intro period.
The Amex Blue Business Plus is a great card many new start ups. The card earns 2X Membership Rewards back on all purchases up to $50,000 per year and comes with no annual fee.
What I think makes it the best for small businesses is that it also comes with a 0% intro APR period. Many new start ups need to make large purchases or at least a lot of purchases to get their business off the ground. With this card you can make one of those large purchases and just pay off that balance while not getting burned on interest.
Since the Amex Blue Business Plus is a credit card and the Business Gold Rewards Card is a charge card you can actually apply for both of these at the same time. Together, the two would make a lucrative duo that would provide you with all-around great bonus earning potential since you would pick up 2X on all purchases and up to 3X on select bonus categories. You can read more about the Amex application rules here.
There have been welcome offers for this card at 25,000 before but those offers have been pretty rare and usually disappear really quickly. Because of the 2X Membership Rewards on every single purchase, the Business Blue Plus is worth it even when it doesn’t have a sign-up bonus.
American Express Business Gold
The American Express Business Gold is the newly revamped gold card from American Express. It stands out with its bonus earning potential, which covers a lot of categories that businesses will need to make purchases in.
With this card, you earn 4X Membership Rewards points on the 2 categories where your business spent the most each billing cycle from the list below:
- Airfare purchased directly from airlines
- U.S. purchases for advertising in select media (online, TV, radio)
- U.S. purchases made directly from select technology providers of computer hardware, software, and cloud solutions
- U.S. purchases at gas stations
- U.S. purchases at restaurants
- U.S. purchases for shipping
4X points applies to the first $150,000 in combined purchases from these 2 categories each calendar year then earn 1 point per dollar.
Here are a couple of the additional features of the card:
- Get up to 1 year free of G Suite Basic for 3 users and up to 1 year of ZipRecruiter Standard in the form of statement credits for purchases on the Card in your first 12 months of Card Membership
- Get 25% points back, after you book a flight using Pay with Points
- $295 Annual Fee
The big thing to note about this card is that earns Membership Rewards and not just straight cash back. This means that your points will be better used on some of the Amex travel partners like Delta, ANA, Aeroplan, or others.
Another feature to note about this card is that it is a charge card and not a traditional credit card. This means that the balance must be paid off each month and that you don’t have a set credit limit (although that doesn’t mean that it’s unlimited). This is why it’s a great business card for those who need high credit limits.
5. The Business Platinum Card from American Express
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN comes with a limited-time offer sign-up bonus where you can earn you earn 50,000 Membership Rewards after spending $10,000 in the first 3 months and then an additional 50,000 Membership Rewards after you spend $15,000 more in the first 3 months.
But in addition to the sign-up bonus, this card comes with some solid perks.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and eligible hotels on amextravel.com
- 1.5 points per dollar on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more (that’s an extra half point per dollar). Up to 1 million additional points per year
- $200 airline credit
- Centurion Lounge access
- Priority Pass airport lounge access
- Book any First or Business Class flight and get 35% of those Membership Rewards® points back later, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year.
- You can receive one Global Entry ($100) statement credit or one TSA Pre✓® ($85) statement credit every 4 years
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN is another one of the great high limit business credit cards. It’s a charge card like the Business Gold card but it comes with additional bonus spending categories. It earns a very strong 5X on airfare so if you’re going to be doing a fair amount of flying, this can be very lucrative.
The card also comes with a $200 airline credit that you receive each calendar year. By using those credits twice, you can knock down the effective annual fee to only $150. The 35% rebate on points is great since it allows you to book certain flights at 1.54 cents per point which is very good.
The Business Platinum Card will give you hotel elite status including: Starwood Preferred Guest Gold Status and Hilton Honors Gold status. SPG Gold isn’t going to be quite so lucrative in the future since before it would get you Marriott Gold which would get you free breakfasts and lounge access.
However, Hilton Gold is still a very solid mid-tier hotel elite status, which will get you free breakfasts, upgrades, late check-out and sometimes even executive lounge access.
And finally, this card provides you and two guests with Amex Centurion Lounge access, which are some very nice lounges popping up around the country. (This card also gets you Priority Pass which will get you give you access to lounges all around the world.)
6. The Chase Ink Unlimited
Great credit card for everyday spend.
The Chase Ink Business Unlimited is the newest Chase card that just came out. It’s a hot credit card given all of the perks it comes with, which include the following:
- $500 sign-up bonus after you spend $3,000 in the first three months
- 1.5% cash back on all purchases
- 0% intro APR for 12 months from account opening on purchases.
- No annual fee!
- Subject to 5/24
- Primary rental car coverage
It’s rare to see a card with no annual fee and a high $500 sign-up bonus. And it’s really rare to see a card with no annual fee and primary rental car coverage (when traveling on business). If those two features weren’t enough, the card earns 1.5% cash back on every purchase and comes with a 0% APR period of 12 months. So again, if you need to do some upfront spending to get your start-up in motion, you’ve got yet another option to go with.
And if you have a premium Chase card like a Sapphire Reserve or Sapphire Preferred, you can transfer the Ultimate Rewards earned on this card out to Chase travel partners which makes that 1.5% back equate to a return that could be much higher with the right redemption.
7. Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business Credit Card
A great 2% cash back business card.
The Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business Credit Card is a very simple cash back credit card that earns 2% back on all purchases. This is ideal for an entrepreneur who just needs a simplified rewards system. With this card you don’t have to worry about special bonus categories and all of those complicated award systems.
It also comes with a pretty hefty early spend bonus of $500 after you spend $4,500 on purchases within the first 3 months of being approved. And the annual fee is waived the first year and only $95 after that.
8. Southwest Rapid Rewards Business Credit Card
A fantastic option to cut down your travel expenses.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Business Credit Card is probably one of the most-prized credit cards right now. That’s because Chase recently prevented applicants from picking up two personal Southwest credit cards which made obtaining the Southwest Companion Pass more difficult. But with this business card’s all-time high 60,000 point sign-up bonus after you spend $3,000 in the first three months you can earn the Companion Pass quick.
What is the Companion Pass?
It allows a companion to fly for free with you for up to two years. So if you are a duo starting up a business this can be an extremely cost-efficient way to get about the US, Mexico, and the Caribbean (and soon Hawaii).
Since Southwest has such an expansive point-to-point network, I’d check the Southwest route map to see if they fly to cities where you would be flying in and out of. If that’s the case then the Southwest Rapid Rewards Business Credit Card could make a lot of sense for your business.
9. United Explorer Business Card
Nice benefits for those who will be flying United.
- 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
- 2 miles per $1 spent on purchases at restaurants, gas stations, and office supply stores
- 2 miles per $1 spent on tickets purchased from United
- Free Checked Bag
- Two United Club one-time passes
- Priority boarding
- Miles Don’t Expire
- MileagePlus Premier members and traveling on an award ticket can receive Premier Upgrades
- No foreign transaction fees
- $95 annual fee (waived)
The United MileagePlus Explorer Business Card is a solid option because it comes with a solid sign-up bonus of 50,000 points and the annual fee is waived for the first year. The extra points on restaurants, gas stations, and office supply store is a nice plus, too.
If you think you’ll be flying out of United hubs like I do then you’ll probably appreciate having the perks from this card which also offer United Lounge Club access. These United lounges are improving at a lot of airports and they are (slowly) becoming some of the nicest lounges in the US.
It’s also nice getting priority boarding and a free checked bag. The free checked bag could provide your start up with some decent savings if you’re going to be flying United.
Final word on the best credit card for entrepreneurs and startups
The best credit card for your entrepreneurial journey is going to be a card that suits your spending needs. If you are heavy on spending with social media advertising and even do a moderate amount of travel the Chase Ink Preferred is a terrific option. However, if you constantly spend money on specific business categories or need a high limit business credit card then the Amex charge cards could be best.
My advice is to breakdown or project what your spending and travel needs will be over the course of a year, and you’ll quickly start to see which small business credit card is best for you.
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H-Town based Attorney turned credit card rewards expert. Founder of UponArriving.com.