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By definition, a nonprofit organization is a business that has received tax-exempt status from the IRS. But when you look below the surface, you see a group of people who believe strongly enough in a particular cause or ideal that they’re willing to work hard for little pay and even less praise. Regardless of where their profit ends up, nonprofits often still need to secure business financing to keep championing their cause. That’s where finding the right business credit card for nonprofit organizations comes into play.
Even organizations that don’t operate for profit need to spend money to operate, and no financing tool gives you greater flexibility than a business credit card. Nonprofits with an especially tight budget may want to focus on cards that have no annual fee and offer cash back incentives to supplement your budget. If you need to travel frequently for your organization, a card that allows you to maximize the amount of miles or points you earn would be an ideal way to capitalize on savings. And if you’ve been more focused on your cause than your personal finances, look into cards that accept lower credit scores, and that can help you build your score back up.
The right business credit cards for nonprofit organizations will work (almost) as hard as you do. Here are our top picks.
Let’s say your nonprofit organization is still getting its sea legs, or hasn’t yet gotten the traction it needs to lure in big donations. A cash back business credit card will help you increase your bottom line as much as possible, so you can then increase your ability to help those that you serve.
On nearly every list of the best business credit cards, you’ll find one of Chase’s Ink Business cards. There’s a good reason for this—all of Chase’s business-specific credit cards boast quite a few attractive attributes. But in particular, nonprofit organizations might want to consider the Chase Ink Business Cash credit card for its no annual fee and generous tiered rewards program, which incentivizes spending on typical business purchases.
Here’s a more detailed look at the Chase Ink Business Cash card’s major features:
Aside from cash, rewards can be redeemed for gift cards, travel, and other product and services. Employee cards are also available, either with equal spending power or set spending limits.
And if you need extra time to pay down a large purchase—maybe you’re planning a sizable fundraising campaign, for instance— you can take advantage of the Chase Ink Business Cash’s 12-month-long 0% intro APR period. During this time, you won’t need to pay any interest on your balance, so you can essentially treat this as a year-long business loan. Just be aware that after these 12 months, your APR will set in at a rate that will vary with the market prime rate, so be sure to see the issuer’s terms and conditions for the latest APR information.
Like Chase, Capital One has multiple business credit cards on their docket. But with a straightforward cash bonus and no annual fee, the Capital One Spark Cash Select for Business is an especially attractive business credit card for nonprofit organizations.
More specifically, you’ll earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, with no minimum to redeem. That takes the guesswork out of occasionally complicated rewards systems, so you can spend less time decoding your credit card and more time working on your cause.
On top of its standard (and foolproof) cash back rewards system, you’ll earn a one-time $200 cash bonus once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months after opening your account.
Just as there are more nonprofit organizations than we can name in one article, it seems that there are more American Express business credit cards than we can list. But if you’re looking for a cash back option in particular, look toward the American Express SimplyCash Plus Business card.
Amex SimplyCash earns cardholders tiered cash back rewards for typical business spending. Earn 5%, 3%, or 1% cash back on categories like office supply stores, telephone services, airfare, and U.S. gas stations (and no annual fee).
But where this card really stands out is its 15-month-long 0% intro APR period, which is among the two longest on the market right now. But after your 15 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.
A few other perks include:
The Bank of America® Business Advantage Cash Rewards credit card makes the list for its easy-to-reach signup bonus: All you have to do is spend $3,000 within the first three months of opening your account, and you’ll earn a $300 statement credit. That makes this card ideal for nonprofits who just can’t reach the high spending thresholds that other signup bonuses have.
And if you need options on how you can earn cash back for your spend, this may be a good bet for you. Your ongoing rewards with this card include:
You can redeem your rewards once you’ve earned just $25. Bank of America also offers account management tools, travel and emergency services, fraud monitoring, and zero liability fraud protection for unauthorized transactions.
Plus, if you’re enrolled in the bank’s Business Advantage Relationship Rewards program, you can earn even greater rewards on your card—B of A loyalists earn an added 25%-75% rewards bonus on every eligible purchase.
If your organization requires a lot of travel, or if you’d like to offer gift certificates as incentives to donate to your cause, you might want to take advantage of the added flexibility of rewards points or miles over cash back.
The Capital One Spark Miles Select for Business credit card is the rewards counterpart to the Capital One Spark Cash Select for Business card mentioned above. So, if your nonprofit requires constant travel (which may be true if your organization addresses overseas issues)—but you like Capital One Spark’s no-fuss rewards program and no annual fee—look into their Miles Select card instead.
With this card, you’ll get a flat rate of 1.5x miles back per dollar on every purchase, with no limit to the amount of miles you can earn. Plus, you’ll get a one-time signup bonus of 20,000 miles, which equals $200 in travel, after you’ve spent $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account. And since this is a travel-friendly card, you won’t need to pay a foreign transaction fee. Employee cards are also available at no additional cost, enabling you to earn rewards for purchases made on their cards.
If you liked the sound of the American Express SimplyCash Plus Business credit card but prefer to earn points over cash back, then the American Express Blue Business Plus credit card may fit the bill.
With this card, you’ll earn 2x points per $1 spent on everyday business purchases up to $50,000, with no category restrictions. Then, you’ll earn 1 point per $1 on all purchases after $50,000—all for no annual fee. Redeem your points for a range of rewards, like gift cards, Amazon purchases, cash back, and travel. (You’ll just need to figure out how you’ll earn the most value from your redemptions.)
This card also features a 12-month 0% intro APR period, which, along with SimplyCash, is one of the longest introductory grace periods you’ll find in a business credit card. But after those 12 months are through, a variable interest rate will kick in according to your creditworthiness. Check with your card issuer for details.
If your credit score isn’t the greatest—perhaps that’s because you’ve poured all your attention and resources into your business and those it serves, rather than your own finances—look for a credit card with a low minimum credit score requirement. Using these cards responsibly can help you build your credit back up, so you can then graduate onto a card with even better benefits.
Another option from the Capital One Spark roster, the Capital One Spark Classic for Business credit card has no welcome offers. But at about 580+, it features one of the lowest credit-score eligibility requirements on an unsecured business credit card. And if you use this card responsibly (like repaying your bill in full and on time every month, and spending well below your credit limit), it will do exactly what you need it to do—help you build a healthy credit score, offer a consistent 1% cash back on every purchase you make for your business with no purchase limit, and require no annual fee.
If you have a less-than-ideal credit score and you can’t yet qualify for an unsecured credit card, you can start out with a secured business credit card instead. The Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card accepts businesses with very little or no credit history, and it’s one of the few secured business credit cards you’ll find (most secured cards are personal).
Although the Wells Fargo Business Secured card does have a small annual fee ($25), you’ll actually earn 1.5x cash back, which is rare for a secured credit card. And the ability to receive cash back automatically as a credit to your account, as opposed to having to wait to redeem it, is definitely a perk.
Also, don’t think that you’re limited to a secured credit card forever. Wells Fargo will review your account regularly, and if they deem you eligible then they’ll automatically upgrade you to a traditional, unsecured credit card.
Whether you choose a card that offers cash back to aid your cash flow as much as possible, or a card that offers rewards points or miles to help your nonprofit organization as it goes about its daily business, know that you’re taking important steps to make a credit card work for you. Every dollar that you earn in cash back or reward points means that even more of your focus can be where it should be—on supporting your cause.