From day-to-day spending to acquiring capital, credit cards have become such integral parts of our daily business lives that it is hard to imagine a time without them. But with hundreds of little plastic rectangles flooding the market, finding the right small business credit card can seem like a daunting task. With frequent sky-high credit rates and no protection from the 2009 Credit Card Act, there is good reason to proceed with caution. When push comes to shove, how do you know which one is right for you? The answer unfortunately may not be so simple, for it all depends on the specific needs of your business. Thus, whether you’re looking for low interest rates or the best rewards, here is a guide to some of the best small business credit cards of 2012.
The Best Small Business Credit Cards: September 2012
SimplyCash Business Card American Express
Of the “rewards cards”, SimplyCash is probably the most practical of small business credit cards for this purpose, as it helps small businesses actually buy the things they use most. Not only are there no annual membership fees, minimum spend thresholds or rebate minimums but cardholders also get 5% cash back on both office supplies and wireless services, as well as 3% cash back on gas purchases. Cardholders also receive an additional 1% cash back on every other purchase—thereby helping you save a lot of money each year. As amazing as it sounds, there is indeed one caveat, for the 5% and 3% rewards are only valid for the first $12,000 spent on each category, at which time they both drop down to the standard 1%. There remains no limit on the amount of cash back to be earned and you are even able to automatically credit it into your statement at the end of the month. With no extra cost for additional cards and the ability to configure individual spending limits on each one, employees can easily be added to your account and they can generate the same cash back rewards for your business. Furthermore, through American Express OPEN Savings system, by using your AmEx card, you will automatically receive discounts of 3% to 10% at such organizations as FedEx, Hertz, OfficeMax, hpdirect, Epson, Microsoft Store, Barnes&Noble, Hyatt and Marriot. In addition, you will receive automatic insurance and protection for rental cars (so no need to pay that extra damage waiver next time), 24/7 medical, legal, financial and emergency support and even round the clock roadside assistance for those unexpected car troubles. You will be granted purchase protection and flexible payments options, so that you can choose to pay either in full or over time (with interest of course)—just in case you need more time to pay your business’ expenses. Also, it is good to note that, while the APR for this card varies from 12.24% to 19.24% depending on your credit score, you are able to receive 0% financing for up to 12 months. Although there are indeed a lot of positives regarding the card, it must be pointed out that American Express is not accepted everywhere and thus can be a bit limiting at times. All in all though, SimplyCash by American Express is one of the great, free small business credit cards that have moderate spending and seek practical, instant rewards.
• No annual fees
• 0% APR for 6 to 12 months
• Automatic discounts at various retail partners
• Practical no-limit cash back rewards system of 5%-3%-1%
• Flexible payment options
Chase Ink Cash Card
Deemed the best overall of small business credit cards by the team at NerdWallet is the Chase Ink Cash. With no annual fees, a signing bonus worth $250 ($100 dollars after your first purchase and then an additional $150 after spending $5000 in the first 3 months), and 0% APR for 6 months on purchases and balance transfers, the Chase Ink Cash definitely has an array of appealing features from the outset. As well, the Chase Ink Cash has a limitless reward system very much like that of its American Express counterpart —having 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent annually at office supply stores, on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services, 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent each year at both gas stations and restaurants and 1% cash back on all other purchases. Whereas SimplyCash gives 3% on gas, Ink Cash provides only 2%, supplementing it instead by including restaurants in the mix as well—ultimately meaning you can start wining and dining your clients at a discount. Furthermore, like American Express, Chase offers free employee credit cards with set spending limits, so you can continuously monitor your employees’ expense.
If you happen to do a lot of overnight traveling, the Ink Classic might be good to look into, having almost identical features as the Ink Cash, but substituting hotel rewards for dining. If, on the other hand, you’re by chance a big spender (over $50,000 a year) and a frequent overseas traveler, it might be a good idea to check out the Ink Bold, with no international transaction fees and a pretty sweet signup bonus. Regardless, the Ink Cash is one of the great all around small business credit cards for those seeking similar cash rewards as the Amex SimplyCash but with some dining points thrown in.
• No Annual Fee
• 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent annually at office supplies, and on cellular phone, landline, internet, and cable TV services
• 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent annually at gas stations and restaurants
• 1% cash back on all other card purchases
• 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 6 months
• No cash reward limit
Capital One Spark Cash Business
With 2% cash back on all purchases and no limit to the amount of rewards you can earn, the Capital One Spark Cash Business Card is one of the small business credit cards that can save you a great deal of money, depending on your type of spending. If the majority of your budget goes toward gas, dining, telecommunications or office supplies, you may be better off sticking with one of the two cards listed above— both of which give better rewards on these particular goods and services (at least to a certain point). While only free for one year, Capital One does in fact require an annual fee of $59 after that—which isn’t too steep considering it also comes with Capital One’s J.D. Power ranked, award winning customer service. This alone could be worth its weight in gold, for, if you ever had a problem with one of your credit cards, you’ll know why. In terms of bonuses, you can receive $100 if you spend $1000 in the first 3 months and an extra $50 if you sign up for free employee cards. With this, there is a 13.9% variable APR on both purchases and transferred balances, as well as $0 Fraud Liability Protection, in case your card is lost or stolen. If you happen to be the seasoned business traveler, who would rather redeem miles instead of cash, Capital One Spark Miles might be one of the small business credit cards to consider—offering essentially the same exact rewards system as Spark Cash, but geared much more towards travel.
• No annual fee for one year; $59 after that
• 2% cash back on every purchase, redeemable any time
• No limit on cash rewards
• 13.9% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 6 months
• Award winning customer service
Bank of America Platinum Plus for Business
If you want low interest rates when looking at small business credit cards, look no further than the Bank of America Platinum Plus card. While indeed lacking in rewards or cash back programs, the Bank of America MasterCard has a minimum APR as low as 9.24% (after 6 months of an introductory 0% rate). Because the 0% financing rate for Platinum Plus lasts about half as long as that of Chase Ink, you should only go with the Platinum if you plan to keep it for the long haul. At the same time, Bank of America has put a lot of work into its extra services and it definitely shows. In combination with its convenient online banking and extensive ATM services, you are given the ability to automatically download your transactions directly onto QuickBooks for easy account management. You can also link the card to your business checking account to save you from those dreaded overdraft fees. While the Platinum Plus’ other features are very similar to the small business credit cards above, if you value low financing fees above all else, then this card might be the one for you.
• No annual fees
• No Rewards
• 9.24% to 20.24% variable APR
• 0% APR for the first 6 months
• Download your transactions directly onto QuickBooks
• Network of 18,000 ATMs
This post was written by Arie Hefter.