- As 2019 moves along, we’ve looked at all the new and existing credit cards available this year, and picked a few of our favorites.
- If you own a small business — whether it’s a personal side gig, a sole proprietorship, or something with multiple employees — it’s important to keep your business and personal expenses separate from each other.
- Our top picks include points-earning cards like the Business Platinum® Card from American Express as well as cash-back options like the Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card.
- Take a look below at our picks for best small business credit cards of 2019, and don’t miss our guide to the best personal credit cards of 2019.
Whether you’re a freelancer, someone with a side gig, or you run a business with 15 employees, an HR team, and a brick-and-mortar store or office, keeping your personal and business finances separate is vital. Even if you’re a sole proprietor using your personal checking account, things can get muddy quickly when you’re cutting personal and business checks from the same account, or charging drinks with friends and your monthly Microsoft Office subscription to the same credit card.
To make your own day-to-day life easier, and to save yourself a tremendous number of headaches when it comes time to file taxes, you’re best keeping business purchases separate — I learned this quickly when I started to do some freelance work on the side.
Why you need a business credit card
There are a few other reasons to use a business card, though.
Your personal card might not facilitate the kind of spending your company does. Business cards can have higher credit limits, and in most cases, the activity on a business card won’t affect your personal credit report (although if you default on the business card, the card issuer can still come after you personally).
If you’re a “sole proprietor” business, where you work solo and work under your own name and social security number (rather than a business name), getting a business card is more about the convenience of keeping your expenses separate, and protecting your own credit profile and assets — even the smallest of businesses are eligible, such as freelancers, individuals with side gigs, or even people who resell things on eBay.
If you’re a bigger business, though — or aspire to grow into one, with employees and more resources, having a business card is a must — not only to separate expenses, but also to establish business credit, so that you have flexibility later on with loans and leases. Plus, you can get additional authorized cards for employees as needed.
These are the best business credit cards to open in 2019
- Ink Business Preferred Credit Card: Best for sign-up bonus
- The Business Platinum Card from American Express: Best for premium business travel benefits
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express: Best for points earning with no annual fee
- Capital One Spark Miles for Business: Best for flexible redemption options with a reasonable annual fee
- Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card: Best for a flat earning rate when paired with another Chase card
- American Express® Business Gold Card: Best for 4x bonus categories
- Ink Business Cash Credit Card: Best for cash-back bonus categories
- Capital One Spark Cash for Business: Best for simplicity
- Brex Corporate Card for Startups and the Brex Corporate Card for Ecommerce: Best if you only use one business credit card
- Airline business credit cards: Best for frequent business travel if you’re loyal to one airline
- Hotel business credit cards: Best if you’re loyal to one hotel
Welcome offer: 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $5,000 on the card in the first three months.
Annual fee: $95
Earning rates: 3 points per dollar on the first $150,000 your business spends on combined purchases each cardmember year on travel, shipping, internet/cable/phone, and advertising on social media sites or with search engines. Purchases after you reach $150,000, or in any other category, earn 1 point per dollar.
Standout benefits: Cell phone protection, primary car rental insurance
If you’re looking to earn valuable, flexible rewards points on your small business spending, the Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) ecosystem is among the best options. If you already have one of Chase’s popular personal rewards cards — like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve — the Ink Business Preferred is an ideal business card companion.
Like those cards, the Ink Preferred earns UR points, and while you can keep them on that card and separate from the rest of your stash, you can also combine them with the rest of your points. These points can be traded for cash back, transferred to frequent flyer and hotel loyalty partners, or used to purchase travel with a 25% bonus (or a 50% bonus if you move your points over to your Chase Sapphire Reserve).
The Ink Business Preferred card also earns bonus points in some of the most common expense categories for businesses, from travel to shipping to advertising on social media sites like Facebook and search engines such as Google Ads. That earning rate, plus the card’s 80,000 point sign-up bonus — the highest bonus currently offered by Chase — should make for a nice stash of Ultimate Reward points.
Among other benefits, the Ink Business Preferred offers cell phone protections. When you use the Ink Preferred to pay your cell phone bill, you’re covered for up to $600 for damage, loss, or theft of your cell phone — or your employees’ work-provided phones, if you provide them. You’re limited to three claims per rolling 12-month period, but this can save you a fortune. That insurance alone makes up for the $95 annual fee.
Welcome offer: Up to 100,000 Membership Rewards points (50,000 points after you spend $10,000 in the first three months, and another 50,000 if you spend an additional $15,000 in that same time frame). This limited-time offer is available until December 4.
Annual fee: $595
Earning rates: 5 points per dollar on flights and prepaid hotels booked at amextravel.com, 1.5 points per dollar on purchases of $5,000 or more (up to 1 million additional points per year), 1 point per dollar on everything else
- $200 annual airline fee credit
- Access to airport lounges include Centurion lounges, Priority Pass lounges, and Delta Sky Clubs (when you’re flying Delta)
- Up to $200 in Dell statement credits annually (divided into up to $100 between January and June and up to $100 between July and December)
- One year of WeWork Platinum Global Access if you enroll by December 31, 2019
- Get 35% of your points back when you use Pay With Points to book an economy flight with your selected airline or a business- or first-class flight with any airline
The small business version of American Express’s famed Platinum Card used to be our pick for the top business card, but in the past year the annual fee has increased and it’s become a bit more of a niche product — potentially useful for mid-sized businesses that spend a lot on flights and travel, but less valuable for sole proprieters and very small operations.
Card holders can now receive a complimentary year of WeWork Platinum Global Access, allowing them to use any of WeWork’s 300-plus facilities, which are spread across more than 75 cities throughout the world. The benefit is worth $2,700, according to Amex.
Business Platinum card holders also get up to $200 of annual statement credits to use when shopping at Dell and $200 in airline fee credits each calendar year, essentially rebating part of the annual fee. Plus, because the airline fee credit is valid each calendar year, not cardmember year, you could get it twice in your first 12 months of having the card.
Other travel benefits include access to more than 1,200 airport lounges, 10 complimentary Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi passes each year, and complimentary Gold elite status with Hilton and Marriott.
Welcome offer: N/A
Annual fee: $0
Earning rates: 2 Amex Membership Rewards points per dollar on the first $50,000 in spending every year (after that, it’s 1x point).
Standout benefits: No annual fee, 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months (then a variable rate of 15.24%-21.24%)
The Blue Business Plus Card doesn’t usually have a welcome offer, and that might be enough to turn many people away from it. However, it’s the rare points-earning business card that doesn’t charge an annual fee; you’ll earn 2 points per dollar on the first $50,000 you spend each year, with no bonus categories to keep track of. According to travel website The Points Guy, Amex points are worth 2 cents apiece, so you’re getting a 4% return on all your business spending up to $50,000 each year.
There’s also a 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers. While funding your startup with a credit card may not be the best idea, the introductory APR can help if you have a few larger purchases coming up and are still working to get cash flow regular.
Welcome offer: 50,000 miles after you spend $4,500 in the first three months
Annual fee: $0 the first year; $95 after that
Earning rate: 2x miles on all purchases
Standout benefits: Transfer miles to Capital One’s airline partners including Air Canada and Emirates or redeem miles to cover travel purchases on your statement, up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
The Spark Miles for Business is a great option if you want choices in how you redeem your miles. You can transfer them to more than 10 airline partners or you can use miles to “wipe” your business’ travel expenses from your credit card statement. Beyond that, you can redeem miles for cash back or gift cards. So if you don’t want to be locked into just one way to use your rewards, this card could make sense.
You’ll earn 2 miles per dollar on all purchases with no cap. Transferring miles to airline partners like Air Canada, Avianca, and Singapore Airlines will usually get you the most value, but you’ll have to do a bit of work to uncover the best uses with each program.
Welcome offer: $500 (or 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points) after you spend $3,000 in the first three months
Annual fee: $0
Earning rate: 1.5% cash back on all purchases
Standout benefits: If you also have a card that earns Ultimate Rewards points, you can redeem cash back as points with travel partners and get more than 1.5% back per, 0% introductory APR on purchases for the first 12 months (then a variable rate of 15.49%-21.49%)
However, just like the consumer Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited cards, the Ink Business Unlimited has a trick up its sleeve. Although the card is marketed as “cash back,” it actually earns Ultimate Rewards points that you can redeem for cash (1 point = $0.01).
That means that you can combine the points earned from the Ink Business Unlimited with the ones you earn from cards like the Ink Preferred, or the personal Sapphire Reserve, and either earn a bonus when you redeem them for travel through Chase, or transfer them to travel partners. Combined with an Ink Preferred, you’ll get a guaranteed 1.5–3 points per dollar spent.
The card offers a 0% introductory APR for 12 months and has no annual fee, making it a no-brainer for every small business owner, freelancer, or side-gig hustler.
Welcome offer: Earn up to $500 back as statement credits by purchasing qualifying services at FedEx within the first three months. This is only available until November 6, 2019.
Annual fee: $295
Earning rates: 4x points on your top two spending categories each billing cycle on up to $150,000 in combined purchases each year from the following list: airfare purchased directly from airlines, US purchases for advertising in select media, US purchases at gas stations, US purchases made directly from select technology providers, US purchase at restaurants, and US purchases for shipping; 1x point on everything else
Standout benefits: 25% of your points back when you pay with points to book first or business-class airfare with American Express Travel (or any class of flight with your selected qualifying airline), up to 250,000 points back per calendar year.
If you don’t want to pay the higher annual fee of the Business Platinum Card, the Business Gold Card is a good alternative. And depending on your spending habits, the Business Gold could actually be a more rewarding choice, thanks to the ability to earn 4x points on popular business spending categories.
And if you spend a lot at FedEx, now’s a perfect time to open the card, since you can get up to $500 back on qualifying FedEx purchases made in the first three months. Just note that this welcome offer is only available until November 6, 2019.
Welcome offer: $500 (or 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points) after you spend $3,000 in the first three months
Annual fee: $0
Earning rates: 5% cash back (or 5x points) on the first $25,000 in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable, and phone services each card holder year, 2% back (or 2x points) on the first $25,000 in purchases at gas stations and restaurants each year, and 1% (or 1x point) on everything else with no cap.
Standout benefits: If you also have a card that earns Ultimate Rewards points, you can redeem cash back as points with travel partners and get a higher return on your spending, 0% introductory APR on purchases for the first 12 months (then a variable rate of 15.49%-21.49%)
The Ink Cash is another solid Chase entry, and just like with the Ink Unlimited, you can pool the “cash” you earn with points from a points-earning card, effectively converting your cash into (potentially) more valuable points.
The Ink Cash is an especially good option if you can maximize its bonus categories, including office supply stores, internet, cable, and restaurants, among others.
Welcome offer: $500 after you spend $4,500 in the first three months
Annual fee: $0 for the first year; $95 after that
Earning rate: 2% on all purchases
Standout benefits: Free employee cards that also earn 2% back on everything,
This is probably the easiest-to-use card on this list, but simple doesn’t mean bad — this can be a fantastically rewarding card.
The Capital One Spark Cash earns unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases. That’s it. No categories, no points values or conversions, no redemption minimums. Rewards won’t expire for the life of the account, and you can redeem any amount of cash back. The card has a $95 annual fee, waived the first year.
At first glance, the Amex Blue Business Plus might seem like a better option, since it earns 2x points and doesn’t have an annual fee. However, keep in mind that while 2x points may be more valuable than 2% cash if you redeem strategically for travel by transferring to partners, Membership Rewards points can’t be redeemed outright for cash. You can redeem them for a statement credit, but they’ll only be worth 0.6 cents each. That means that effectively, the Amex card only offers 1.2% “cash” back, compared to the no-strings-attached 2% from the Capital One Spark Cash.
9. Brex Corporate Card
Welcome offer: 75,000 Brex points upon sign-up (available until October 31)
Brex offers two versions of its unique business credit card: the Brex Corporate Card for Startups, and the Brex Corporate Card for Ecommerce. The card stands out because it doesn’t require any personal guarantees, and it offers strong rewards for customers who make Brex their exclusive corporate card (7x points on rideshare and 3x points at restaurants and coffee shops, for example).
The Brex Corporate Card for Ecommerce offers a credit limit of 5o% to 100% of your projected monthly sales, up to $5 million, while Brex says the Brex Corporate Card for Startups offers up to 20 times higher credit limits than competing cards.
You can transfer Brex points to seven airline partners, including JetBlue, which was the most recent addition.
10. Airline business credit cards
Welcome offer: Varies
If you fly often for work, and you’re loyal to one particular airline, then it could be worth getting an airline’s business credit card. In addition to earning frequent flyer miles on every purchase, you’ll get a variety of perks like free checked bags and priority boarding.
Each airline card’s terms and benefits are slightly different, but these are some of the best options to consider for your business.
- Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express
- Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express
- Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card
- CitiBusiness /AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard
- Alaska Airlines Visa Business credit card
11. Hotel business credit cards
Welcome offer: Varies
If you frequently travel for business, a hotel business credit card could also make sense. You’ll earn hotel points on all your spending, and some cards offer complimentary elite status and annual free reward nights.
The benefits and bonuses vary, but here are some top options to consider:
More credit card coverage
- What’s the best airline credit card?
- The best cash-back credit cards
- Southwest credit card review
- Best credit card reward programs