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Launching a new business can be one of the most exciting times of your life. You may also have a lot of one-time expenses to build inventory and attract your first customers. The best credit cards for startups make it easy to earn travel and cash rewards from your many business purchases.

What are some of the best credit cards for startups? Photo by Startup Stock Photos from Pexels

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

The Ink Business Preferred Credit Card can be a good option if travel, shipping, and advertising are some of your most significant purchases. You earn 3x Ultimate Rewards points on the first $150,000 in combined spending on these purchases:

  • Travel
  • Shipping purchases
  • Internet, cable, and phone services
  • Social media and search engine advertising purchases

All non-bonus spending earns 1 point per $1 spent.

Your points are most valuable when redeemed for travel. Award travel booked on the Chase travel portal makes each point worth 1.25 cents each. You can also transfer them to 1:1 airline and hotel partners like United, Southwest Airlines, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, and World of Hyatt. This is why it’s one of the best credit cards for travel miles.

Your points are only worth 1 cent each when redeemed for cash or gift card rewards.

The Ink Business Preferred has a $95 annual fee. The signup bonus is 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points after spending $15,000. This bonus offer is worth $1,250 in award travel.

Learn more: How hard is it to get the Chase Ink Business Preferred?

Ink Business Unlimited

Earn unlimited 1.5% back on all purchases and never pay an annual fee with the Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card. A flat-rate rewards credit card is a better option if your normal purchases don’t align with a tiered rewards credit card.

If you already own the Chase Ink Business Preferred, the Ink Business Unlimited earns 50% more on your non-bonus purchases. Your points are worth 1 cent each for award travel, cash, and gift cards.

Additionally, cardholders may redeem rewards for cash back, gift cards, travel, and more through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. Employers can set individual spending limits for greater control and earn rewards faster with employee cards that come at no extra cost. Fraud protection is also included with the card as well as zero fraud liability. Cardholders won’t be held responsible for unauthorized charges made with their card or with their account information.

The signup bonus is $750 bonus cash after spending $7500 in the first 3 months. This is also one of the best Chase business credit card options.

Capital One Spark Miles for Business

You can earn unlimited 2 miles per $1 with the Capital One Spark Miles for Business. If you prefer cash rewards, the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business lets you redeem your purchase rewards for cash instead of award travel.

With the Capital One Spark Miles for Business, you earn 2x miles on all purchases and 5x miles on Capital One Travel Center hotel and rental car purchases. You also get a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit, up to $100. Your miles are worth 1 cent each when redeemed for travel statement credits or booking upcoming travel.

A third redemption option is transferring your miles to the Capital One airline transfer partners like JetBlue.

The Capital One Spark Cash for Business earns an unlimited 2% back on all purchases. You can redeem your points for cash statement credits or a mailed paper check.

The annual fee for either card is $0 for the first year then $95.

Learn more: Capital One Spark business cards approval odds

The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express is one of the best flat-rate rewards credit cards for startups, with no annual fee (See Rates & Fees). You earn 2x Membership Rewards per $1 on the first $50,000 spent annually on everyday business purchases, then 1x point per $1. Your points are worth 1 cent each when booking award flights on or redeeming for gift cards. You can also transfer them to the Membership Rewards airline and hotel transfer partners.

Additionally, cardholders can also enjoy more flexibility to use their card for more purchases and rewards when buying above their credit limit. While this amount is not unlimited, it does adjust with card use, payment history, credit record, financial reasons known to AMEX, and other factors. Expanded Buying Power gives businesses more ways to earn points and maximize their card.

American Express Blue Business Cash Card

For cash rewards, the American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card earns 2% cash back on up to the first $50,000 in annual purchases. You will continue to earn 1% back on all spending above $50,000 until your next card anniversary.

It also comes with Expanded Buying Power which gives cardholders the ability to spend beyond their credit limit. While the amount you are able to spend is not unlimited, it can be improved should you need it. The amount will adjust with card usage, payment history, credit record, and financial resources that American Express is able to review, and other factors.

This card doesn’t have an annual fee (See Rates & Fees).

Learn more: American Express Blue Business credit cards review

The Business Platinum Card from American Express

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express is great if you travel often or make large purchases. Earn 5x Membership Rewards on airfare and prepaid hotels booked on AmexTravel. All purchases larger than $5,000 earn 1.5x points, up to one million points annually. Non-bonus spending earns 1x point per $1 spent.

Additionally, cardholders can get a 35% airline bonus when using their points to pay for all or part of a flight with a qualifying airline booked on, up to 500,000 bonus points annually.

This card also includes these benefits:

  • Up to $200 annual airline fee credit (in the form of statement credits) for incidental fees at one select qualifying airline
  • Global Lounge Collection membership (includes Priority Pass, Centurion, and Delta Sky Club)
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit
  • Transfer points to Membership Rewards airline and hotel partners

Another business perk you may appreciate is a Dell Small Business statement credit. To get the credit, cardholders must enroll to get up to $200 in annual Dell statement credits (cardholders get up to $100 semi-annually for U.S. Dell purchases – terms apply).

New The Business Platinum Card® from American Express cardholders have the opportunity to earn 100,000 Membership Rewards as part of the welcome offer. To earn the 100,000 bonus points, they need to spend $15,000 on eligible purchases on their card in the first 3 months of Card Membership.

This is one of the best small business cards for travel rewards. The annual fee is $595 (See Rates & Fees), so you will need to use these benefits to justify the cost.

Brex for Startups Credit Card

Catering itself as “the first corporate credit card for startups,” the Brex for Startups Credit Card earns up to 7% back on purchases:

  • 7x points on rideshare
  • 4x points on Brex Travel purchases (includes plane tickets, hotels, and Airbnb)
  • 3x points on restaurants
  • 2x points on recurring software
  • 1x points on everything else

Your points are redeemable for cash or travel rewards. Plus, they never expire. Plus, the current Brex for Startups Credit Card signup bonus is the ability to earn 50,000 Brex Rewards points when you sign up before January 31, 2020, and you spend $1,000 with Brex. However, you must have a minimum of $100,000 in your bank balance to qualify.

You will also be able to save money with curated partner offers for many startup-friendly companies. Some of the partners include Google Ads, Amazon Web Services, Zendesk, and WeWork.

The Brex for Startups Credit Card doesn’t charge an annual fee or foreign transaction fee. It’s issued by Mastercard so it has near-universal acceptance.

What makes this card unique is Brex doesn’t require a personal guarantee like most business credit cards. This means you don’t need to use personal assets to pay your balance if your business assets can’t. However, you will need an employer identification number (EIN) to apply. Don’t worry. You can get one for free from the IRS. However, note that sole proprietors aren’t eligible for the corporate card.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card

If you live near a Southwest Airlines hub, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card is one of the best airline credit cards.

  • Earn 3x Rapid Rewards points on Southwest Airlines purchases
  • Earn 2x Rapid Rewards points on search engine advertising, internet, phone and cable services
  • All non-bonus purchases earn 1 point per $1
  • 4 Upgraded Bookings per year (when available)
  • In-flight WiFi credits (up to 365 day passes per year)
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit
  • 9,000 bonus points each card anniversary

The annual fee is $199 and there is no foreign transaction fee.

New Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card cardmembers can earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. 

As you can purchase a round-trip award ticket for approximately 20,000 Rapid Rewards points to Hawaii, this bonus can be more valuable than you realize.

Summary of Best Credit Cards for Startups

Launching your startup can be expensive. These best credit cards for startups can help you maximize your purchases so you can get more points back as cash or travel rewards. The additional benefits many of these cards offer can also help you save money.


What credit score is needed for a business credit card?

Most business credit cards require a personal credit score of 650 or above. The cards with the highest purchase rewards or most benefits usually require a 740+ credit score. However, these most exclusive cards (i.e., Amex Business Platinum, Chase Ink Business Preferred, and Capital One Spark) sometimes accept applicants with personal credit scores in the low 700s.

Be sure to include as much business income and personal income to improve your odds. Applying with an Employee Identification Number (EIN) can also help because the credit card company can use your business credit score too.

How do you apply for a business credit card?

The business credit card application process is similar to applying for a personal credit card. One difference is that the application asks for your business information and income details plus your personal information. Even though you are applying for a business credit card, most applications will perform a hard inquiry on your personal credit report as well.

Make sure your personal credit reports are error-free and your existing card balances are as low as possible to have the best approval odds.

Also, some banks may decline your card application if you have recently opened multiple personal cards. For instance, Chase will most likely decline your application if 5 or more credit card accounts have been added to your credit report in the last 24 months.

Do I need an EIN to get a small business credit card?

Not always. Most major banks like American Express, Chase, and Capital One let you apply with either an Employee Identification Number (EIN) or a Social Security Number (SSN). But, applying with an EIN may improve your approval odds if the application accepts either number.

The Brex corporate cards only let you apply if you have an EIN.

For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.

For rates and fees of the American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card, please click here.

For rates and fees of The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express, please click here.

Josh Patoka

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.

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