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Managing your finances as a freelancer—whether you’re a sole proprietor or a freelance LLC—is all about equipping yourself with the right tools. One resource that everyone working on their own needs to help them spend intelligently is a business credit card. The best business credit cards for freelancers are even more useful than you might imagine.
Though, as a whole, freelancers are a diverse demographic, they all tend to face similar hurdles due to the independent, invoice-based nature of their work. And business credit cards for freelancers can really help with a lot of these shared challenges—they’re actually a crucial part of a solopreneur’s finances.
We’ll explain why, and show you three of the very best freelance business credit cards on the market. Here’s how to make the most out of all that business credit cards have to offer.
Among the most common questions we hear freelancers ask is whether or not they should get a business credit card. The answer, almost 100% of the time, is yes.
Just because you’re a freelancer doesn’t mean you don’t have credit needs—you do! And that’s why business credit cards for freelancers exist. But don’t just trust us (well, do—but you know what we mean). Trust this list of reasons why every freelancer needs a business credit card.
We’re sure you’ll see at least one of your major needs in these top reasons why you need to do your freelancing spending on a business credit card:
No freelancer likes tax season (no one we know, at least). If you don’t separate your business and personal expenses, you and your accountant will have to spend hours together distinguishing between personal and business expenses. And not only is that annoying, but if you’re paying your accountant on an hourly basis, that’s expensive, too.
One of the most important reasons to get a business credit card for freelancers is to keep your business and personal expenses separate. By getting a business credit card for your freelance costs, you won’t have to put office supplies on the same card as your family’s groceries.
Keeping all of your freelance costs on one business credit card means you’ll just need a copy of your card statements to total your business expenses for the year.
With a freelance business credit card, you won’t have to waste hours sorting through credit card statements, documents, and paper receipts highlighting to your accountant which expense are business expenses and which aren’t. That’ll help you quickly figure out your profits and taxable income.
If you went through all of the paperwork and time to set up your freelance business as an LLC—which we highly recommend you do—you want to make certain that you actually get that “limited liability.”
Part of the reason you establish an LLC (aka limited liability corporation) is to protect your personal assets in the case of any unforeseen small business lawsuit. But if you don’t actually separate your finances—splitting up your spending on a business credit card and keeping your business money in a business bank account, for instance—you’re actually forfeiting all of that legal protection. And that’s just nuts!
That’s enough to make you go apply for a business credit card right this second, isn’t it?
When you’re new to the freelance world, it’s easy to overlook costs that typically go into running a business. And being new to a freelance career can be especially tricky, because most freelancers experience payment droughts—even if your work is steady. You can’t be sure your clients are going to be diligent about paying you.
If you spend responsibly, you’ll be able to use a business credit card to invest in resources that will help your freelance business grow even when you may not have the necessary cash on hand.
The credit line that a freelance business credit card gives you access to can help you smooth over cash shortfalls and see you through gaps in projects.
Every freelancer needs a budget. In fact, budgeting tends to be especially important for freelancers because potentially unpredictable income cycles.
Generally speaking, freelancers need to figure out how to save for the “valley” times and for long-term needs, like putting money away for retirement and their kids’ college tuitions.
Having a business credit card can help track your expenses by itemizing your spending on your statements and letting you see what you’re investing in your business each month. And, in turn, budget more effectively.
Plus, you’ll be able to keep an eye on your expenses as often as you need to make sure you’re not going over your budget. Over your time with a business credit card, you’ll be able to track cyclicality in your business expenses and get a better sense for when you may need more cushion to support your business.
Your business credit is different than your personal credit, and you’ll need it to get a business loan if you decide to scale down the line. Banks can look at your personal income and credit during the underwriting process, but it’s harder to land large capital for your business with just your personal financial information.
Banks in particular look at business credit when evaluating applications for business funding. And they typically want to see a track record of business credit history and on-time payments before extending their largest and most affordable loans.
Spending responsibly on a business credit card for your freelance career will help you build up business credit history and ultimately improve your future business funding options.
If your freelance career entails a working partnership or having contractors working for you, you can add them to your freelance business credit card account. This means they’ll get access to your business credit line and can charge project expenses on your business card.
Additionally, you can get the card in the other person’s name so you know who’s spending what. With this supplementary information, you can track spending and spot any problems that may arise.
→TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read): Using a business credit card for freelancers will help you during tax season, maintain legal protections if you filed for an LLC, help you get through a cash crunch, allow you to budget effectively, and work with contractors and collaborators, too.
The next step to getting a business credit card for freelancers is choosing the right one for you.
And though the biggest reasons for getting freelance business credit cards are built into the design of any unsecured business credit card, there are also some additional perks that will vary depending on which business credit card you choose.
There are three top business credit cards that can address particular needs particular to freelancing:
If you’re looking for even more spending wiggle room than your typical business credit card can offer, then the American Express Blue Business Plus will be the best freelance business credit card for you.
That’s because the Blue Business Plus offers one of the longest 0% intro APR period on the market. For your 15 months with this freelance business credit card, you’ll be able to carry an interest-free balance from month-to-month as long as you make your monthly minimum payment on time every month.
After that intro period, your APR will set in at a rate that will depend on your creditworthiness and the market prime rate, so be sure to see the issuer’s terms and conditions for the latest APR information.
Even after this 15-month intro period, though, you’ll be able to outspend your credit limit without penalty, as long as you pay off your balance in full on time. Of course, the amount you spend above your Blue Business Plus credit limit isn’t unlimited, but Amex will be less stringent with limiting your freelance spending on the Blue Business Plus than other issuers will be.
→TL;DR: The Blue Business Plus’s 15-month 0% intro APR period will smooth out the financial peaks and valleys of freelancing even more than a typical business credit card.
More on the Blue Business Plus
If you’re looking for a more sustained buffer from your business credit card than the Blue Business Plus provides, then your best business credit card for freelancers will be the Capital One Spark Cash.
To start off your card membership, this card has a welcome offer of $500 cash back if you spend $5,000 during your first three months with the card.
Plus, as a limited time offer, earn $1,500 when you spend $50,000 in the first 6 months.
But the main draw of spending with the Spark Cash will be the solid, unlimited 2% cash back you’ll earn for every single dollar you spend. No matter what your freelancing expenses end up being, you’ll be earning 2% of every dollar you spend back.
Be sure to note that after you first year, the Spark Cash will have an annual fee of $95, but your first year with the card will be completely free.
→TL;DR: The flat-rate, unlimited 2% cash back rewards you get with the Spark Cash will reward your freelance spending and provide a buffer for any shortfalls you might experience.
More on the Spark Cash
The American Express Plum Charge Card rounds out our list of the very best business credit cards for freelancers. This card is a really solid pick for freelancers who have an unpredictable income schedule becomes of its incomparable payment and rewards flexibility.
For every statement balance you carry with the Plum Card, you’ll have a payment grace period of 60 days. Alternatively, if you’re able to pay off your statement balance early—within 10 days of the statement closing date—then you’ll receive a 1.5% discount on your statement.
The Plum Card comes with a $250 annual fee that will set in after your first year as a cardholder, but the flexibility and the flat-rate rewards that this card offers could make this card more than worth its annual fee.
→TL;DR: The 60-day grace period that the Plum Card provides allows for unparalleled payment flexibility. Freelancers can avoid late fees when customers delay in paying them and earn 1.5% cash back when they’re able to make early payments.
More on the Plum Card
We don’t often make blanket statements, but we’ll make an exception here. We feel very strongly that all freelancers need some form of business credit card. There are too many benefits to leave on the table if you don’t have one—you don’t know the way your business is going to grow, so set yourself up for all of the possible potential with a business credit card for freelancers.
Whether you apply for a freelance business credit card with cash back, travel rewards, a hefty signing bonus, or even no rewards at all, just be sure you get your hands on one so you can reap the benefits.