Best Business Credit Cards of 2021 – Save & Budget on Business Expenses

A photo to accompany a story about the best business credit cards Courtesy of American Express, Chase, Capital One

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Small business owners have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic

While federal aid and PPP loan programs have helped many small businesses and self-employed workers through lockdowns and the recession, most business owners remain concerned about their business’ finances and even the future of their business, according to a recent study by MetLife and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

When you’re trying to stay afloat, every dollar counts. That’s why it’s important to maximize each expense your business incurs, take savings where you can, and protect your own finances by keeping business and personal spending separate. No matter how much cash flow you have or what industry you operate in, the right business credit card can help you streamline your budget and simplify your accounting.

Business credit cards aren’t just for traditional small businesses with brick-and-mortar locations and employees — you can get approved for a business card as a sole proprietor or freelance worker. These cards offer a variety of benefits at varying price points, and some will serve your credit needs better than others. Here are our picks for the best business credit cards to help you decide:

Before You Start

Just like a consumer credit card, it’s important to practice good credit habits with your business credit card. Your payments and any debt balances may affect both your personal credit and business credit score. Plus, business credit cards carry high variable APRs and other fees. Don’t charge more than you can afford to pay off on time and in full each month to avoid taking on high debt balances.

Best Business Credit Cards for 2021

Capital One Spark Cash for Business
Good for Cash Back
Capital One Spark Cash for Business
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Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Good for Welcome Bonus
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
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Capital One Spark Miles for Business
Good for Business Travelers
Capital One Spark Miles for Business
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American Express® Business Gold Card
Good for Flexible Rewards
American Express® Business Gold Card
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Ink Business Cash® Credit Card
Good for No Annual Fee
Ink Business Cash® Credit Card
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The Business Platinum® Card from American Express
Good for Premium Rewards
The Business Platinum® Card from American Express
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Capital One Spark Cash for Business
Good for Cash Back

Capital One Spark Cash for Business

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Rewards rate:

Earn unlimited 2% cash back for your business on every purchase, everywhere, no limits or category restrictions.

  • Intro bonus: $500
  • Annual fee: $0 intro for first year; $95 after that
  • Regular APR: 20.99% (Variable)
  • Recommended credit score: 670-850 (Good to Excellent)

Overview

With Capital One Spark Cash*, you’ll earn 2% cash back on every purchase, regardless of category. You’ll also score a one-time $500 cash bonus after you spend $4,500 within the first three months of account opening. You can redeem your cash back at any time, with no minimums.

Spark Cash offers a few more benefits, too, like free additional cards for employees, travel and purchase protections, and purchase summaries and integration for your year-end accounting. This card has a 20.99% variable APR and does carry a $95 annual fee, but it’s waived the first year. 

Why we chose this card

If you’re looking for a simple way to maximize your business spending, the Spark Cash card is a great option. Its 2% flat cash back rewards on every purchase means you don’t have to worry about categories, tracking spending caps, or choosing redemption options. This can be an especially good option for freelancers or other small business owners whose business expenses don’t fall into typical categories like travel or office supplies. 

Straightforward 2% cash back on each purchase isn’t just easy; you can also earn big savings for your business depending on how much you spend. It’s waived the first year, but to outpace Spark Cash’s $95 annual fee in cash back, you’ll need to spend at least $4,800 annually (about $400 each month). 

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Good for Welcome Bonus

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

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Rewards rate:

Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases–with no limit to the amount you can earn.

  • Intro bonus: 100,000 points
  • Annual fee: $95
  • Regular APR: 15.99% to 20.99% Variable
  • Recommended credit score: 670-850 (Good to Excellent)

Overview

Earn 3x points on the first $150,000 in combined annual spending in select categories:

  • Shipping purchases
  • Advertising purchases with social media sites and search engines
  • Internet, cable, and phone services
  • Travel

If you spend at least $15,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening, you’ll also get a 100,000-point welcome bonus. The Ink Business Preferred earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which you can redeem for cash back, use to book travel, transfer to partners, and more. The 100,000-point bonus is worth $1,000 in cash back or $1,250 when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

You’ll also get fraud protection benefits, additional employee cards for no cost, travel and purchase protections, business insights, and no foreign transaction fees.

There’s a 15.99%-20.99% variable APR and $95 annual fee.

Why we chose this card

This card’s most valuable feature is its strong welcome bonus. You’ll need to spend a lot upfront to score it — $15,000 within the first three months — but if that falls in line with your regular business expenses or you have a large purchase coming up, 100,000 bonus points is tough to beat.

For even more value, this card earns a 25% boost for travel redemptions through Chase Ultimate Rewards. While you can redeem your 100,000-point bonus for $1,000 cash back, they’ll be worth up to $1,250 when you book future travel through Chase.

This card also offers some flexibility in how you can earn points, which makes it a good option for different types of businesses. Review your business expenses to make sure your most frequent spending falls into the Ink Preferred card’s rewards categories. If you’re able to max out the annual spending cap for 3x points rewards, that’s a total 450,000 points annually, in addition to any extra points you earn beyond the bonus categories.

Capital One Spark Miles for Business
Good for Business Travelers

Capital One Spark Miles for Business

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Rewards rate:

Earn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, everywhere, no limits or category restrictions, and miles won’t expire for the life of the account.

  • Intro bonus: 50,000 miles
  • Annual fee: $0 intro for first year; $95 after that
  • Regular APR: 20.99% (Variable)
  • Recommended credit score: 670-850 (Good to Excellent)

Overview

Capital One Spark Miles earns unlimited 2x miles on every purchase you make. When you’re ready to redeem, you can use your miles toward flights, hotels, and more through Capital One’s travel portal; transfer miles to a travel partner; or use miles to erase any travel-related expenses within 90 days using Capital One’s Purchase Eraser.

You can also earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending at least $4,500 within three months of account opening, and get extra benefits including travel and purchase protections, free employee cards, no foreign transaction fees, up to $100 credit toward Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.

This card charges a 20.99% variable APR and has a $95 annual fee, though it’s waived the first year.

Why we chose this card

We like this card for frequent business travelers because you can earn rewards on daily spending to use toward future travel, no matter how frequently you’re in the air. Like a flat cash back card, the Spark Miles’ unlimited 2x earn in any category makes a great option if your most frequent spending doesn’t fall into a common category, or often changes.

Plus, it’s a great option for racking up points on everyday expenses now, even if you’re not traveling much, if you expect your business will require more time away in the future. Through April 2021, you can redeem your miles for restaurant takeout and delivery, streaming services, and wireless telephone services through Capital One’s Cover Your Purchases.

American Express® Business Gold Card
Good for Flexible Rewards

American Express® Business Gold Card

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Rewards rate:

Get 4X Membership Rewards® points on the 2 select categories where your business spent the most each month. 1X is earned for other purchases. **

  • Intro bonus: 70,000 points
  • Annual fee: $295
  • Regular APR: 14.24% – 22.24% Variable
  • Recommended credit score: 670-850 (Good to Excellent)

Overview

Amex Business Gold rewards your most frequent spending categories with automatic 4x Membership Rewards points on purchases in the two select categories your business spends most each month (up to $150,000 in combined annual spending, then 1x points). Categories include:

  • Airfare purchased directly from airlines
  • U.S. purchases for advertising in select media (online, TV, radio)
  • U.S. purchases directly from select technology providers of computer hardware, software, and cloud solutions
  • U.S. purchases at gas stations
  • U.S. purchases at restaurants, including takeout and delivery
  • U.S. shipping purchases

You can also earn 70,000 bonus points after spending $10,000 within the first three months of account opening. Plus, through April 7, 2021, get up to $150 back in statement credits on U.S. advertising in select media and U.S. shipping purchases (up to $300 total) within the first three months of account opening. And when you use your points to book flights through Amex Travel, you’ll get 25% of those points back (up to 250,000 points back per calendar year). 

Extra benefits include free employee cards, travel and purchase protections, expense management tools, no foreign transaction fees, access to the Hotel Collection (and $100 credit for qualifying activities when you stay), and more. You’ll pay a $295 annual fee, and any balances you carry incur a 14.24%-22.24% variable APR.

Why we chose this card

This card is one of the best options available for business travelers who prefer to earn rewards on regular spending and redeem for travel. You don’t have to worry about choosing your category or changing your choices each month — Amex automatically rewards the two bonus categories you spend most. As long as your regular spending falls somewhere within the bonus categories, you can easily earn Membership Rewards points to put toward your future travel.

This card is best suited for business travelers, though. You’ll get the best value for your points with flight redemptions or by transferring to Amex travel partners. If you can max out the $150,000 spending cap to earn 4x Membership Rewards totals 600,000 annually, you can get up to $6,000 toward flights booked with Amex Travel. 

Ink Business Cash® Credit Card
Good for No Annual Fee

Ink Business Cash® Credit Card

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Rewards rate:

Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year. Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year. Earn 1% cash back on all other card purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn.

  • Intro bonus: $750
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 13.24% – 19.24% Variable
  • Recommended credit score: 670-850 (Good to Excellent)

Overview

Earn 5% cash back on your first $25,000 in combined spending at office supply stores and on internet, cable, and phone services annually; earn 2% cash back on your first $25,000 in combined spending at gas stations and restaurants; earn 1% cash back on everything else.

After spending $7,500 within three months of account opening, you can also get a $750 cash back bonus. Beyond cash back rewards, Ink Business Cash offers employee cards at no extra cost, travel and purchase protections, business spending reports, and fraud protection.

There’s a 0% interest introductory period for purchases made within the first 12 months, after which you’ll pay a variable 13.24%-19.24% APR on any revolving balance, and no annual fee.

Why we chose this card

For a no annual fee card, Ink Business Cash packs a big rewards punch. If you’re able to max out both rewards spending caps (total $50,000 annual spend in bonus categories), you can earn $1,750 in cash back annually — and if you can score the welcome bonus, that brings your first-year rewards total to $2,500.

This card’s bonus categories are pretty broad, and even though there isn’t an annual fee, you should evaluate your regular business expenses before applying to make sure they align with those categories, whether you frequently purchase supplies for your business’ office or headquarters, or you spend several days per week driving to site visits.

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express
Good for Premium Rewards

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express

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Rewards rate:

Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com. 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.

  • Intro bonus: 85,000 points
  • Annual fee: $595
  • Regular APR: 14.24% – 22.24% Variable
  • Recommended credit score: 670-850 (Good to Excellent)

Overview

Earn 5x points on flights and prepaid hotels on AmexTravel.com, 1.5x points on eligible purchases of $5,000 or more (up to 1 million additional points per year), and 1x points on other purchases. You’ll also get an 80,000-point welcome bonus after spending $15,000 within the first three months of account opening and earn 5X points on eligible U.S. purchases on shipping; wireless telephone services; advertising in select media; office supplies; and gas stations over the first three months (up to 80,000 points per category).

This card offers a host of additional benefits, including up to a $200 annual Dell Technologies statement credit, Amex Global Lounge Collection and Fine Hotels + Resorts Program access, credit toward Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fees, no foreign transaction fees, Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite and Hilton Honors Gold status, travel and purchase protections, Business Platinum Concierge service, expense management tools, and more. And when you redeem points for flights through Amex Travel, you’ll get a 35% points back bonus (up to 500,000 points back per calendar year).

The Business Platinum carries a 14.24%-22.24% variable APR and a $595 annual fee.

Why we chose this card

This card offers premium rewards for business travelers. If your business requires you to spend many of your working hours on a plane or in a hotel, the Business Platinum card can not only help maximize the value of your travel spending, but make your experience easier with benefits like hotel elite status, airport lounge access, and more.

You’ll also get added value on your other business expenses — especially if you regularly spend large amounts at a time — with 1.5x points on purchases over $5,000 and a 5x points welcome bonus on everyday business spending categories. 

This card offers some great benefits, but make sure your business travel is demanding enough to maximize its value and make up for that hefty $595 annual fee without taking on more spending than you can afford. This card is best for business owners with large budgets, busy calendars, and responsible credit habits.

Best Business Credit Cards of 2021 Summary

Capital One Spark Cash for Business

Good for: Cash Back

Earn unlimited 2% cash back on every purchase, plus a $500 welcome bonus after spending at least $4,500 within the first three months of account opening. There’s a $95 annual fee, but it’s waived the first year.

Chase Ink Business Preferred Card

Good for: Welcome Bonus

Earn 3x points rewards in select business categories, up to $150,000 in combined annual spending: shipping purchases; advertising purchases with social media sites and search engines; internet, cable, and phone services; and travel. Earn 100,000 bonus points after spending $15,000 within the first three months of account opening. The Ink Business Preferred charges a $95 annual fee.

Capital One Spark Miles for Business

Good for: Business Travelers

Earn unlimited 2x miles on every purchase. You can get 50,000 bonus miles after spending $4,500 within three months of account opening, plus benefits like credit towards Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. Spark Miles’ $95 annual fee is waived for your first year. 

American Express Business Gold Card

Good for: Flexible Rewards

Earn 4x Membership Rewards points automatically in the two categories you spend most each month (up to combined $150,000 in annual spending, then 1x points). Categories include: 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, including takeout and delivery; and U.S. shipping purchases. You’ll also get 70,000 bonus points after spending $10,000 within three months of account opening. Amex Business Gold costs $295 annually.

Chase Ink Business Cash credit card

Good for: No Annual Fee

Earn 5% cash back on your first $25,000 in combined spending at office supply stores and on internet, cable, and phone services annually; 2% cash back on your first $25,000 in combined spending at gas stations and restaurants; and 1% cash back on everything else. You can get $750 bonus cash back after spending $7,500 within three months of account opening. This card charges no annual fee.

The Business Platinum Card from American Express

Good for: Premium Rewards

Earn 5x points on flights and prepaid hotels on AmexTravel.com, 1.5x points on eligible purchases of $5,000 or more, and 1x points on other purchases. You’ll also get an 85,000-point welcome bonus after spending $15,000 within the first three months of account opening, plus benefits including Global Lounge Collection access, Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors Gold status, fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, and more. The Business Platinum card costs $595 annually.

CardWelcome BonusRewardsAnnual Fee
Capital One Spark Cash for Business$500 cash bonus after spending $4,500 within 3 months of account opening2% cash back on every purchase$95 (waived the first year)
Chase Ink Business Preferred100,000 bonus points after spending $15,000 within 3 months of account opening3x points on the first $150,000 in combined annual spending in select categories and 1x points on other purchases: 

• Shipping purchases

• Advertising purchases with social media sites and search engines

• Internet, cable, and phone services

• Travel
$95
Capital One Spark Miles for Business50,000 bonus miles after spending $4,500 within 3 months of account opening2x miles on every purchase$95 (waived the first year)
American Express Business Gold Card70,000 bonus points after spending $10,000 within 3 months of account opening4x points on the first $150,000 in combined annual spending in the 2 categories you spend most each month (then 1x points) and 1 point per dollar on other purchases: 

• 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, including takeout and delivery

• U.S. shipping purchases
$295
Chase Ink Business Cash credit card$750 cash bonus after spending $7,500 within 3 months of account opening• 5% cash back on your first $25,000 in combined spending at office supply stores and on internet, cable, and phone services annually 

• 2% cash back on your first $25,000 in combined spending at gas stations and restaurants

• 1% cash back on everything else.
$0
The Business Platinum Card from American Express85,000 bonus points after spending $15,000 within 3 months of account opening• 5x points on flights and prepaid hotels booked through AmexTravel.com

• 1.5x points on eligible purchases over $5,000

• 1x points on other purchases
$595

Understanding Business Credit Cards

One of the most practical uses of business credit cards is to keep your business expenses separate from your personal spending. This can be especially helpful for new business owners or sole proprietors for whom the lines between business and personal spending can easily blur. 

Business credit cards work much like personal consumer cards. Charge purchases to your card, and pay them off when your statement balance is due each month or begin accruing interest on the remaining balance.

These cards can give you some flexibility in your business’ cash flow. If you know your invoices are typically paid at the end of the month, for example, but you incur costs throughout the month, charging them to a business card may simplify the payment process. 

But just like a personal credit card, it’s important to maintain good credit habits, like spending only what you can afford to pay down each month, keeping a low credit utilization rate, and paying your bills on time.  

Because these cards are designed for small business owners, you must submit information about your business on the card application. That also means they offer business-related rewards and benefits. Rewards categories like internet and phone services, office supplies, and online advertising may add much more value to your business than rewards grocery or dining rewards typically offered by traditional consumer cards.

A business credit card can also help you improve your business credit score, making it easier to qualify for future lending and even business partnership opportunities.

Can You Apply for a Business Credit Card?

You don’t have to be a traditional business owner to apply for a business credit card, but you do have to have some type of business.

If your business is structured as a corporation or an LLC, (maybe you’re a local restaurant owner or you run an accounting practice, for example) you can use your business information and any existing business credit history when you apply.

But a “business” is defined much more broadly for card applicants. If you’re self-employed in any capacity, you can likely qualify for a business card. This includes everything from a sole proprietorship for your full-time freelance work to part-time gig work and even side hustles. When you apply, you’ll need to include your personal information on the application. For example, you can use your Social Security number in place of an Employer Identification Number.

No matter what type of business you have, you’ll likely need to ensure your small business credit card with your own personal credit. This means that your personal credit score may be used to determine your approval, and your payment history as well as any debt you take on using the card may affect both your personal credit and business credit. Check your specific card agreement or reach out to your issuer to ask whether your payments are reported to consumer credit bureaus, business credit bureaus, or both.

How to Choose a Business Credit Card

To choose the best business card, consider how a credit card fits with your business’ budget and regular expenses. 

If you’re just looking for a simple way to separate your business expenses from your personal spending, or your expenses don’t fall into specific categories month to month, a cash back card with flexible rewards may be the best choice.

Also take your regular business activities into account. Business cards can be especially valuable for business travelers, with high-value rewards programs and benefits. But if your business doesn’t require frequent travel, you likely won’t be able to maximize a travel-focused card’s benefits.

It’s also important to evaluate just how much you spend each month. Some business cards cap bonus rewards after a certain amount each month or year. If your spending far exceeds these caps, a card with unlimited rewards (even at a lower rewards rate) may make a better choice. On the other hand, if your business expenses are relatively low, you should be careful to ensure that any rewards you earn outweigh the cost of the card’s annual fee.

How to Compare Business Credit Cards

Here are a few card details you should consider before applying for a new business credit card:

  • Annual Fee: Despite the cost, a business card with an annual fee may better maximize your spending and more easily outpace the fee with rewards, especially if you have a lot of expenses or you travel frequently. Always make sure the card’s rewards and benefits are enough to at least cover the annual fee cost each year.
  • Rewards Structure: Business credit card rewards can range from office supply and gas station bonus categories to travel and advertising. Review your expense reports and past purchases to determine which rewards categories will help you gain the biggest return on your spending — or if a flat rewards structure works best for you.
  • Introductory APR: 0% interest introductory periods aren’t the most common feature on business credit cards, but they can be a valuable tool. If your business has taken on high-interest debt that you’re looking to pay down or you have a large upcoming expense you’d like some flexibility to pay off, an introductory APR on balance transfers or purchases can help.
  • Ongoing APR: The ongoing variable APR your business card charges will affect how much debt you’ll take on if you need to carry a balance. While it’s good practice to pay your balance in full and on time with both personal and business cards, you should be aware of your card’s assigned interest rate.
  • Cards for Employees: If you’d like to designate cards to employees for business-related expenses (an office manager who stocks up on supplies, or a client-facing employee who often drives off-site, for example), look for business cards that offer additional employee cards on your main account. Even if you pay an annual fee, these additional cards should carry no cost.
  • Expense Management Tools: Business cards are great for separating your personal spending from business expenses, and many issuers offer budgeting or expense management tools to make your year-end accounting even easier. This may include year-end summaries, employee card spending and account alerts, integration with software like Quickbooks, and more.
  • Perks: Basic travel and purchase protections, expense management tools, and employee cards are standard perks among business credit cards. Look into other benefits, such as welcome bonus, annual statement credits, partner discounts, and more to further maximize your card’s value.  

Getting the Most Out of Your Business Credit Card

Get the most out of your business credit card by using it for any business expenses that fall within rewards categories, and using your rewards to offset future business costs. 

Plan your spending and budget so you can qualify for any welcome bonus offers, and calculate your potential rewards before applying to ensure you spend enough to outpace the card’s annual fee each year. If your card offers any added benefits like savings on certain products, travel perks, or expense management tools, take advantage of those regularly — as long as they don’t require you to overspend on purchases you weren’t already planning.

Continue to make the most of your card by practicing good credit habits and using it to establish and build your business credit history. Always pay your balances off in full and on time, charge only what you can afford, and make sure any employees you entrust with card access make smart spending choices.

Methodology

EDITORIAL INDEPENDENCE

As with all of our credit card reviews, our analysis is not influenced by any partnerships or advertising relationships.

To determine the best business credit cards, we evaluate cards for small business owners available from major issuers on the market today. These cards are designed to suit a number of different business types across different industries, so we focus on the cards that can add the most value for a wide range of businesses. High-value rewards and redemptions are the primary factor in our card picks, but other card details we consider include annual fee, added benefits and perks, business-related benefits (employee cards, expense management, etc.), ongoing APR, welcome bonus, and more.

*All information about the Capital One Spark Cash for Business and Capital One Spark Miles for Business, has been collected independently by NextAdvisor and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

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