When you’re starting a company, capital can be hard to come by.
If you don’t have a long credit history or three to five years’ worth of sales records, you might find that banks are less willing to offer business loans.
Business credit cards are an excellent financing option for new businesses, offering flexible loan amounts, alternatives to business credit scores, and sometimes rewards and perks.
We’ll break down the top four business credit cards for when you’re just starting your entrepreneurial journey. But first, we’ll answer a common question about business credit cards.
If you have a new business, you probably don’t have a business credit history—the commercial equivalent of your personal credit history.
Without a business credit history, you have to personally guarantee your credit cards—this means you, as the cardholder, are on the hook if you default on the business credit card. On the plus side, it means you can leverage your personal credit history to secure a line of credit.
Now, whether the business credit card impacts your personal credit score long-term is a thornier question.
Most banks report your business credit card use to the commercial credit bureaus; the card activity goes into your company’s credit history. However, not all go to trouble of reporting to personal credit bureaus, and that impacts your own ability to qualify for loans and good interest rates. Some banks almost always report to personal bureaus, others almost never do, and still more only report if you’re seriously delinquent on your account.
If you don’t think you’ll carry a balance on the account (or at least keep your debt-to-credit ratio low) and if you’re confident you won’t miss payments or default, you can consider a card from a bank that reports to personal credit bureaus.
If you’re worried about dinging your own score, though, you should go with a bank that won’t. Since starting a business is a dicey proposition, all but one of the cards we’ve highlighted below do not report to personal credit bureaus.
First on the list of the best business credit cards for new businesses is the SimplyCash Plus from American Express.
The Amex SimplyCash’s name tells it all: no annual fees, no employee card fees, straight-up cash back, no fuss.
It earns 5% cash back on office supply stores and wireless telephone services (up to $50,000 spent annually); 3% cash back on one of eight spending categories including restaurants, advertising, and gas (up to $50,000 spent annually); and an unlimited 1% cash back elsewhere. Plus, if you need to furnish your office or otherwise make a big purchase, the SimplyCash offers a 0% introductory APR for the first nine months.
If you want to pair rewards with low interest, the SimplyCash is an excellent option. Plus, American Express doesn’t report to personal credit bureaus, so you don’t have to worry about high balances or an occasional slip-up impacting your non-work life.
The Chase Ink Business Cash is also one of the best business credit cards for new businesses and startups.
This card offers a one-two punch of zero APR and cash back: It has 0% interest on purchases and transfers for the first 12 months, making it an attractive alternative to bank loans if you can pay off your balance during the intro period.
It also offers 5% cash back on office supplies and phone, internet, and cable services (up to a combined $25,000 spent annually); 2% cash back on gas and restaurants (up to a combined $25,000 spent annually); and an unlimited 1% cash back elsewhere. It has no annual fee, and if your business takes off, you can rest easy knowing there’s no additional charges for employee cards.
Finally, Chase doesn’t report to personal bureaus unless your account is seriously delinquent.
The Chase Ink Business Preferred is a best business credit card for new businesses as it offers higher rewards and better travel offers than its cash-back counterpart.
To start, it offers a signup bonus of 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points if you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months of cardmembership. Its ongoing rewards aren’t too shabby either: 3 points per $1 spent on travel, shipping, advertising, and internet, cable, and phone services; plus 1 point per $1 elsewhere.
Ultimate Rewards Points are worth 1.25 cents each when you redeem for travel booked through Chase (so your signup bonus is worth $1,000), but by strategically transferring your points to Chase’s airline and hotel partners, such as United and British Airways, you can get a value of 5 cents or even higher. The Ink Business Preferred is the only Chase business credit card that lets you transfer your points to a partner, so take advantage of the great redemption rates.
The card has a $95 annual fee (waived the first year), but there’s no additional charge for employee cards or foreign transactions.
Between a strong signup bonus, great travel redemption options, and solid ongoing rewards, the Ink Business Preferred is our top choice for those just getting on the business travel circuit.
Capital One’s Spark Classic is a fantastic business credit card for new businesses (and business owners) with average credit.
Unlike many other offers for fair credit, it charges no annual fee, and even gives rewards—to the tune of an unlimited 1% cash back on all purchases.
Like all Capital One business credit cards, it has no foreign transaction fee, and it lets you build up a strong credit history so you can graduate to higher-rewards offers like the Spark® Cash for Business.
Unfortunately, Capital One does report your spending to personal credit bureaus—be careful about not running a large balance or missing payments, especially if you’re about to take out a mortgage or other large loan.
However, it’s one of the best offers out there for average credit, so we’re setting it at the top of the best business credit cards for new businesses with less-than-stellar credit scores.
Starting a business is never easy, but with a good business credit card in your wallet, you can rest easy knowing you’ll earn rewards and have flexible financing at the ready.
Are you prepared to take the next financing step for your business?