June 5, 2013
If you are a business owner, its worth looking at the many perks offered by small-business credit cards. If you are not a business owner, some of these perks might just be tempting enough to get you started!
Note: Regarding card offers and benefits described here, terms & conditions apply.
Sign up bonuses
Some of the best credit card signup bonuses are offered only for business cards. For example, the Chase Ink Plus, Chase Ink Bold, and Amex Business Gold Rewards cards currently offer 50,000 points after $5K spend. Further, American Express often offers businesses even better offers through direct mailings.
In some cases, banks offer business cards that are virtually identical to their non-business counterparts. A good example is the American Express Starwood card which comes in both a personal and business flavors. Even though the signup bonuses don’t tend to be higher for business cards in this situation, you can apply for both the business and personal cards in order to get both signup bonuses.
All American Express small business cards are part of the OPEN Savings program in which you can automatically earn cash back (as statement credits) at various specific merchants. Be sure to read the fine print about what qualifies. Details can be found here: OPEN Savings.
Similar to the American Express OPEN Savings program, MasterCard has a program for MasterCard small business cards. Unlike American Express’ program, you do need to register your MasterCard to qualify. Details can be found here: MasterCard Easy Savings.
Terrific point earnings
The Chase Ink cards, in particular, have terrific earning rates for your business expenditures. In particular, they offer:
- 5X for purchases made at office supply stores
- 5X for phone (landline & cellular), internet, and cable charges
- 2X for gas
- 2X for hotels (Ink Bold, Ink Plus, and Ink Classic)
- 2X for restaurants (Ink Cash only)
American Express also has some goodies. The Business Gold Rewards card, for example, offers:
- 3X for airfare
- 2X for gas
- 2X for advertising in select media
- 2X for shipping
Another good choice is the Capital One Spark business card that offers 2% cash back for all purchases.
Business cards often (but not always) come with the same perks often found in consumer cards such as extended warranties, return protection, etc. I’ve heard especially good things about American Express’ extended warranties. It’s worth reading the fine print to get to know what your cards offer. Here are a few perks of the Chase Ink Bold and Ink Plus cards that you may not be aware of:
- Primary auto rental collision damage waivers: This includes reimbursement for damage due to collision or theft, loss-of-use charges, and towing charges. (note: no benefit is provided for vehicles rented in Israel, Jamaica, or Ireland)
- Lounge Club: Airport lounge access (2 free visits per year).
- Travel Insurance: Including travel accident insurance, trip cancellation / interruption insurance, trip delay reimbursement, lost luggage reimbursement, and baggage delay reimbursement.
- Ink Insiders Program: Chase has a special program for Ink cardholders in which you can qualify for all of the following benefits: $150 in Adwords Express credit; Avis faster rewards & up to 30% off; Expedia business rewards; and more. Details here.
Qualifying for business cards
To qualify for a business credit card, you do need to own a business. Examples of valid businesses include (but are not limited to): lawn/gardening services, housekeeping, sales (online or in-person), blogging, etc. If you are just starting out with your business you might not have a business tax ID, and that’s OK. You can describe your business as a sole proprietorship and use your social security number as the tax ID. Also, you might not yet have much (or any) business revenue. That’s OK too. Be honest on your application. If your business has earned nothing, then report $0 in revenue/sales. You can report income from all sources (not just your new business) in the field for “Gross annual income”.
Whether you have a long established business or are just starting out, business credit cards offer many ways to earn points and save money. For example, suppose you need to travel for business, here is an example of how you can use your business cards for maximal savings and point earnings:
- Airfare 3X: Pay with the Amex Business Gold Rewards card.
- Car rental 5% back: At Avis or Budget, you’ll get 5% cash back if you pay with your business MasterCard (such as a Chase Ink card) once it is registered with the Easy Savings program. Further, with Chase’s Ink Insiders program you’ll earn Avis rewards twice as fast and save up to 30% off rentals! At Hertz, if you pay with your Amex business card you’ll earn 5% cash back for each dollar spent above $500 per calendar year, and 10% cash back for each dollar spent above $2500. Clearly the latter is only good if you spend a lot at Hertz!
- Gas 2X: Both the Amex Business Gold Rewards card and the Chase Ink cards offer 2 points per dollar at gas stations. At certain gas stations in the Fuelman network you’ll also get 1% cash back when using your MasterCard registered with the Easy Savings program.
- Hotels 5% back and/or 2X: At Hyatt (in the US) hotels, pay with your Amex business card for 5% cash back. At Wyndham hotels, pay with your MasterCard registered to the Easy Savings program for 5% back. At any hotel, if you pay with your Ink Bold, Ink Plus, or Ink Classic you’ll earn 2 points per dollar.
- Dining 2X and/or 5%: Use the Chase Ink Cash MasterCard to get 2 points per dollar at any restaurant. If your card is registered to the MasterCard Easy Savings program you can also get 5% cash back at Maggiano’s restaurants.
Note that there are some cases where you can do better with personal cards. Please see “Best Category Bonuses” for details. Also, with either business or personal cards, you can increase point earning or cash back by booking your travel through online point earning or cash back portals. And, signup your credit cards with your favorite Rewards Network program in order to automatically get more points at certain restaurants.