Best Credit Cards to Pay for Advertising and Shipping [2019]

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Management may guide a business to big profits, but advertising is the growth engine that drives those profits, and shipping drops the product into your customer's lap. Advertising and shipping make up two of the biggest expenses for many businesses. Companies should seize any opportunity they can to maximize the points earned on advertising and shipping spend. And, luckily for business owners, there are small business credit cards that offer bonus points on advertising and shipping.

Online and social advertising
Online advertising and shipping are fast growing spending categories making the Ink Business Preferred℠‎ Credit Card's spending categories a smart choice.

Advertising has changed significantly over the last decade. The rise of online search engines, social media, CPC advertising, and big data, has pushed the majority of advertising spend away from traditional media such as TV, print, and radio, moving it online to sites like Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and LinkedIn. And credit card companies are responding.

American Express offers two small business cards that provide advertising as a bonus spending category. And, just recently, Chase’s Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card launched with advertising as one of its bonus categories, in addition to perks that place it squarely in the sights of SME’s and online entrepreneurs. Likewise, the same three cards listed also offer bonus points on shipping, making these cards the perfect companions for small business owners in the U.S.

Amex and Chase have different definitions of what transactions will code as advertising or shipping for bonus categories and also operate different earning structures to max the bonus categories out.

Credit Cards That Earn Bonus Points on Advertising and Shipping

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 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
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Redeem points for travel, cash back, gift cards and more - your points don't expire as long as your account is open
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
  • $95 Annual Fee

The Ink Preferred is the second card Chase launched in 2016 with a gigantic signup bonus and well thought through bonus categories. The 80,000-point bonus could provide substantially more than $1,000 in value if transferred out to Chase’s travel partners and redeemed for high-value travel. The combination of social and search advertising with shipping, phone, and travel, should cover the majority of small business owners for bonus categories. It also offers the potential to earn close to half a million Ultimate Rewards points if maxing out the bonus categories.

If you maximize the bonus categories to the $150K cap, you’ll earn 450,000 Ultimate Rewards, or a return of roughly 6% depending on how you value your points — 300K more than the base 1 point/$1 base.

When you consider that the 50,000 point bonus on the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is attached to a hefty $450 annual fee, the signup offer on the new Ink Preferred would easily top the Sapphire Reserve as the best ratio of bonus:annual fee for Chase cards, or for any credit card with an annual fee for that matter.

American Express® Business Gold Card

American Express® Business Gold Card

  • Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Gold Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • MORE REWARDS: Get 4X Membership Rewards® points on the 2 select categories where your business spent the most each month
  • 4X points apply to the first $150,000 in combined purchases from these 2 categories each calendar year.
  • AIRLINE BONUS: Get 25% points back after you use points for all or part of an eligible flight booked with Amex Travel, up to 250,000 points back per calendar year.
  • EXCLUSIVE OFFERS: Get up to 1 year free on subscriptions to both G Suite Basic for up to 3 users and ZipRecruiter Standard, a combined value up to $3,200.
  • PAY OVER TIME OPTION: A flexible payment option to help manage cash flow on purchases of $100 or more.
  • EXPENSE MANAGEMENT TOOLS: Connect to Quickbooks, access SpendManager℠, receive a Year-End Summary, and more.
  • Terms Apply
  • Rates & Fees

The Business Amex Gold card is a go-to card for small business owners wanting to benefit from advertising spend. As a charge card, it benefits from no interest charges because you pay your balance in full each month. The kicker with this card: Earn 4X Membership Rewards points on the 2 select categories where your business spent the most each month. 4X points apply to the first $150,000 in combined purchases from these 2 categories each calendar year. Categories include:

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

Amex's definition of ‘advertising’ on the Business Amex Gold is a touch broader than the Ink Preferred‘s, incorporating online, television, and radio advertising.

The cap for all bonus categories is $150K before purchases revert to 1 point/$1 spent. Equivalent to the Ink Preferred and you don't need to pick a category — whichever category you spend the most, that is your 4x category for the month!

SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express

SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express
  • Special offer: save on interest with a 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; after that your APR will be a variable rate, currently 14.49% - 21.49%
  • No annual fee
  • Reinvest in your business with automatic cash back in the form of a monthly statement credit. Plus take control by choosing the 3% category that best fits your business
  • Earn 5% cash back on the first $50,000 spent at wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. office supply stores.
  • Earn 3% cash back on the first $50,000 spent in the category of your choice from a list of eight and 1% cash back on other purchases
  • With Expanded Buying Power you can spend beyond your credit limit* to make bigger purchases for your business plus earn cash back on those purchases too
  • *The amount you can spend above your credit limit is not unlimited. It adjusts with your use of the Card, your payment history, credit record, financial resources known to us, and other factors
  • Terms apply
  • Rates & Fees

Rather than earning rewards points like the two cards above, the Amex SimplyCash Plus is strictly a cash back card. Bonus earnings are capped to the first $50K per calendar year on the combined category spend, which, although smaller than the other two cards, is fantastic for a card with no annual fee. Again, like the Business Amex Gold card, you can only select one of eight categories to receive 3% cash back on. The list includes:

  • Airfare purchased directly from airlines
  • Hotel rooms purchased directly from hotels
  • Car rentals purchased from select car rental companies
  • U.S. gas stations
  • U.S. restaurants
  • U.S. purchases for advertising in select media
  • U.S. purchases for shipping
  • U.S. computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers

Important to note with the Amex SimplyCash Plus is that it allows you to spend over your credit limit (within reason) without any penalty. This could be a handy feature if you have a big purchase to make that will stretch your credit limit — just be sure to pay that balance in full when due to avoid any interest charges.

Final Thoughts

All three credit cards have attractive features, and if you spend heavily on advertising and shipping, you may need to have them all on your radar. If the majority of advertising spend is online or you’ll spread an even mix of spending across different categories, the Ink Preferred comes out ahead on points earning potential.

If on the other hand you only spend a small amount on advertising and want a card with no annual fee, you can’t go past the SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express, a great all-around small business card.

If you're in a position to spend a significant amount on advertising, you might look at multiple cards to ensure you're getting the most out of every dollar you spend.

For rates and fees of the cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links: American Express® Business Gold Card (Rates & Fees), and SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express (Rates & Fees)

Best Credit Cards to Pay for Advertising and Shipping [2019]
5 (100%) 9 votes
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  • Would you recommend getting CSR as well to get the most value out of the points? How difficult is it to obtain business credit cards?

    • Personally, that is exactly my plan to max things out. I honestly think it is foolish to have a bunch of Ultimate Rewards and not have the Sapphire Reserve — the 20% instant bump in point value makes it well worth it for any significant balances.

      As far as the difficulty — keep in mind the card falls under 5/24, but Chase wants small businesses to engage with them. Just like with a personal card that requires you prove your creditworthiness with solid credit history, enough income and expenses, you’ll need to do the same with a business card. Keep in mind, you don’t need an EIN to have a business credit card. For many years I operated solely as a Sole Proprietorship and then finally incorporated for a few reasons … none of which so I could get credit cards.

  • Is the Chase ink under the 5/24 rule?

  • Hello. I currently have a Chase Ink Visa for the cash back benefit.

    However, their consumer protection has be realllllly lacking.

    I spent $232,251 on my Chase Ink card and now I’m thinking of switching to Amex Gold for the consumer protection.

    I like the cash, cash is king.

    Any thoughts?


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