Instant purchasing power, access to a high credit limit, establishing a business credit score, separating your personal and business finances… these are a few of our favorite things—about using a business credit card, that is. And easily earning rewards with every swipe, tap, or dip is probably your favorite thing about your business credit card. Not so straightforward, though, is figuring out how to find the best business credit card rewards type for your company.
Just like with personal credit cards, not every business credit card offers the same rewards or follows the same rewards structure. For instance, some cards offer a tiered rewards program, so some type of spending earns more rewards than others. Others stick to a flat-rate structure, which offers cardholders a consistent rewards rate on all of their purchases. And then there’s the matter of which type of rewards you want: cash, points, or miles? For such an easy-to-use product, business credit card rewards and perks can be surprisingly tricky to navigate.
Finding the best business credit card rewards doesn’t actually need to be so tricky, though. Just ask yourself these five crucial questions. Your answers will lead you to the best business credit card rewards type for your particular business, as well as our top business credit card suggestion in that category.
Every successful financial decision starts with a thoughtful game plan. And even though it’s notoriously easy to apply for a business credit card online, you should still be deliberate about which card to choose for you and your employees.
The type of rewards you’ll earn on that card is just one aspect of that decision. Choosing a business credit card with the right rewards type is a major asset to your financial arsenal; choosing a business credit card with the wrong rewards type for your business is a wasted opportunity.
So, before you hit the “apply” button on any business credit card hawking major rewards (tempting, we know), ask yourself some questions about your business and your spending habits. That way, you’ll settle in with the card that actually suits both.
Obviously, one of the greatest things about a credit card is that it gives you immediate access to credit. Not so great, though, is that you owe the credit you’ve used every month.
But some business credit cards offer rewards programs that give you even more than your standard 21 to 30 days to pay down your debt with no added interest—for a limited time, that is. If you plan on making an extra-large purchase during that “limited time” window (many, smaller purchases could work, too), apply for a 0% intro APR period business credit card.
During that long 0% intro APR period, which kicks in right when you activate your card, you don’t need to pay interest on the balance you carry.
Of course, “no interest” doesn’t mean “free credit.” But those introductory months give you a long time, usually a year or more, to pay for your business expenses, all without worrying about exorbitant APRs.
In particular, we like the American Express Blue Business Plus for its 12-month 0% intro APR period. After your 12 interest-free months are up a variable APR sets in at a rate depending on your creditworthiness. This rate will also vary with the market, so check the issuer’s terms and conditions for the latest APR information.
You won’t reap rewards only during your first 12 months of card ownership, though. Over the life of your card, you’ll earn 2x points on every dollar you spend on your first $50,000 every year. After that first $50,000, you’ll earn 1x point for every dollar you spend. All that for no annual fee.
You don’t always need to use your business credit card on travel purchases to reap travel rewards. Well, sometimes you do—with the American Express Business Rewards Gold Card, for instance, users earn 3 points per $1 spent on airfare (among other categories), and they can redeem all those points for airfare. That’s a pretty great deal—assuming you often spend money on airfare.
But what about the business owners who aren’t necessarily paying for travel expenses right now but want the option to do so in the future?
In that case, go for a business credit card that earns you travel rewards on every dollar you spend, not just the dollars you spend in airports and train stations.
Start by checking out the Capital One Spark Miles for Business credit card, which offers one of the most straightforward travel-rewards programs you’ll find. With this card, you’ll earn 2x miles on every single dollar you spend, plain and simple. And there’s no cap on how many miles you can earn.
You can choose how to redeem your miles, too. Either book your trip directly through Capital One and use your miles to pay for your trip, or book your travel elsewhere (and pay with your Capital One Spark Miles for Business, of course), and then use the company’s Purchase Eraser® tool to redeem your miles and receive a statement credit.
If you want access to perks but you don’t have your eye on anything in particular, then points are probably the best business credit card reward for you. One month you might need help paying down your train ticket, the next you might want a statement credit to lessen the blow of a big expense, another month you might want to reward your employees with an Amazon gift card… or something else entirely.
With the right points card, you can indulge all those whims.
When you’re looking for a business credit card with a flexible points system, don’t overlook the Chase Ink Business Preferred card—its reward system caters specifically to small businesses.
With this card, you’ll earn 3x points for every dollar you spend on typical business expenses—like shipping, travel, internet services, and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines—for the first $150,000 you spend each year. You’ll also earn 1x point on every dollar you spend once you’ve surpassed that threshold, and on purchases outside those spending categories.
This card has a generous, welcome offer you can unlock, too.
Then, redeem your points for a whole bunch of rewards: Shop on Amazon, receive cash back in the form of a statement credit, choose among gift cards, or earn luxury travel perks.
Points are ideal for card users who want the freedom to pick and choose where and how they earn perks, and who don’t mind (or even enjoy) cracking tricky points systems. But if you want to spend your time and energy on the countless other tasks that require both in spades, you can’t go wrong with a cash back business credit card.
Not every business owner needs or wants gift cards or travel perks, but it’s safe to say that every business owner both wants and needs a cash infusion—which is just what a cash back card can do for you, effortlessly.
Some cash back cards offer a tiered rewards program. If you know your business spending well and most of yours slot nicely into the top tiers, you can really maximize your cash back.
If you want to think even less about your card’s rewards potential, go for a flat-rate cash back card with no spending caps on its rewards. The Chase Ink Business Unlimited card, for instance, earns you 1.5% cash back on every single purchase, and your rewards potential isn’t capped at a dollar limit. The Chase Ink Business Unlimited card doesn’t carry an annual fee, either, so that’s one less expense you need to worry about cutting into your cash flow.
If a business credit card has a tiered rewards program, it’ll likely reserve the top tier (the 5% in a 5/3/1 structure, for instance) for common business expenses. But what counts as “business expenses” are typically pretty traditional; think office supply stores, shipping costs, and internet/cable/phone services.
But if your business’s major expenses don’t align with that top tier, then you’re not getting the most out of your business credit card—which means you didn’t choose the right rewards type for your business!
Instead, look again to a flat-rate business credit card. True to its name, flat-rate cards reward users with a single rewards rate, be it a cash-back percentage or rewards point, across all spending categories. It’s a foolproof way to earn every time you spend, even if you’re spending on pretty weird things.
Take a look at the Capital One Spark Cash for Business card. Like its miles-rewards counterpart, the Spark Cash card offers a flat-rate rewards structure. Instead of miles, though, this card will fetch you a consistent 2% cash back on every dollar you spend, with no cap on the amount of cash back you can earn.
You should know that this card does have a $95 annual fee. But that’s waived during your first year of card ownership, as a part of that nice signup bonus.
When you’re card shopping, scoping out rewards programs is likely one of your top priorities. Rightfully so! With the right rewards program, your business credit card is more than an easy way to pay for your business expenses online or at the point of sale; it can actually make your expenses less, well, expensive.
To best choose which business credit card rewards type to go for, hone your focus. Think about your spending habits and preferences, and how your business credit card can patch up some of your financial issues or augment your growth.
Ultimately, there is no one, “best” business credit card rewards type—every business owner will assign that superlative to a different rewards category. It all depends on who they are as a business owner and credit holder, and what they want out of their business credit card.
Caroline Goldstein is a contributing writer for Fundera.
Caroline is a freelance writer and editor, specializing in small business and finance. She has covered topics such as lending, credit cards, marketing, and starting a business for Fundera. Her work has appeared in JPMorgan Chase, Prevention, Refinery29, Bustle, Men’s Health, and more.