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It’s a rookie mistake to assume you can’t earn business rewards just because you don’t have a storefront or employees. The economy is changing—and so have the criteria for getting a business rewards card.
From gig workers and freelancers to side hustlers and solo entrepreneurs. If you generate income from an activity that is not part of a direct employer/employee relationship, there's a good chance you qualify for a small business card.
In this post, we walk you through what you need to know about small business cards:
What Qualifies as a Business?
Whether you own a rental property, sell items for profit, work as a contractor, or perform a service that generates taxable income, you are operating a business.
Essentially, if you are generating a profit (or intend to) from an ongoing enterprise, it's likely you are eligible for a small business card. Alongside traditional business models, eligible business activities can include:
- freelance roles like writing, consulting, design, or web development
- doing gig work or running an Airbnb as a side hustle
- selling goods on eBay, Amazon, or Etsy
- working as a musician, artist, or independent contractor
Top Rewards Cards for Small Business
Business rewards cards offer an easy way to separate your business and personal expenses. By charging business expenses to a business card, it's easier to track your expenses and allows you to earn rewards points on every business purchase.
It also doubles the playing field of cards from which you can earn a welcome bonus. Even better, business cards are typically not recorded on your personal credit report. And that means the new account won't count against your 5/24 status.
Here are some of the most lucrative welcome offers currently available. These include record-high offers on the three Chase Ink Business cards:
- Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card — Earn 100,000 bonus points (Full review)
- Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card — Earn $750 bonus cash back (Full review)
- Ink Business Cash® Credit Card — Earn $750 bonus cash back (Full review)
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express — Earn 85,000 Membership Reward® points (Full review)
- Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card — Earn 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points
- CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® — Earn 65,000 bonus AAdvantage miles (Full review)
- New Offer! Earn 100k bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,250 toward travel when redeemed 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
- 3X points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year
- 1X point per $1 on all other purchases
Why You Want a Business Credit Card
- Isolate your business expenses — Even the most organized people need a hand keeping personal and business expenses separate. Logistically, a separate card account makes managing expense for you and your bookkeeper or accountant infinitely easier
- Specific rewards & bonus categories — Your personal rewards card may earn you points with your favorite hotel program, but doesn't provide any bonuses on a big business expense like advertising. There are several cards that offer bonuses when you spend on advertising to help grow your business
- Build or grow your business — Credit cards help with cash flow. While we'd never recommend you carry a balance, they're there to help provide a cushion when needed. At a minimum, by using a credit card instead of a check/debit payment you're giving yourself 20+ days — depending on when your statement closes and when your bill is due. If you're looking for extra time to pay a bill, perhaps check out The Plum Card® from American Express. This card provides up to 60 days to make a payment on select charges.
- You're looking for additional rewards — Let's face it, one of the best reasons to use credit cards is for the rewards. The more you spend, the more you get. Finding the right rewards program to earn with for your business is a part of deciding which card is best for you.
- You want protection/insurance services — Business credit cards come with different insurance and protection services than personal credit cards. While many perks overlap, you may find different coverage available. For example, get cellular phone coverage available with the Ink Preferred.
Truths & Myths About Business Rewards Cards
There are plenty of myths about credit cards, but here are some truths and myths specifically about business cards.
- Myth: You need a Federal EIN or Tax ID to get a business rewards card. In fact, a sole proprietorship, where you use your Social Security Number is perfectly acceptable to use on a business rewards card application.
- Myth: You need to have multiple employees and a storefront to be eligible for a business card. No, you don't. A single person business that wants to manage expenses and rewards is perfectly suitable.
- Myth: The business must be your primary form of income to be eligible for a business card. Completely false. Many small businesses start off as a hobby or side project and grow into a labor of love and passion.
- Truth: Business credit cards will help you build a financial profile for your business in case you need a bank loan. Regular use of your business credit cards show that you have the financial wherewithal and stability to take and manage credit/debt.
- Truth: If a credit card issuer has both a personal and business card, you can receive both and receive the bonuses on both. You need to think of business and personal credit cards as separate businesses within the business of a credit card issuer. Yes, they've both credit cards, but different business units issue and manage personally issued and business-issued card products.
- Truth: Credit card issuers want to recruit new small businesses. Just as card issuers want their card to be the first one out of your wallet for your personal expenses, they want the same for your business expenses. If you have a personal credit card, perhaps look to that issuer for a complimentary business card product. If you can earn rewards in the same program; bonus!
Really, Almost Anyone can get a Business Rewards Card?
Yes, small businesses are everywhere. According to the U.S. Small Business Association, in 2019 there were 30.7 million small businesses in the U.S., making up 99% of all businesses. Just because your business is new, you're the only person working in it, or you don't have a “real” office space, this doesn't mean you're not eligible to obtain a business credit card.
Take a look at how you're managing your small business or side project expenses and see if there is a way for you to grow your business and ramp up the rewards you're earning.
Do you have any small business credit cards? Which are your favorites? Share with us in the comments.
- Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
- 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
- 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases
- Employee cards at no additional cost
- No Annual Fee
- 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
- 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year
- 1% cash back on all other card purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn
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