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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.

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

Ink Business Preferred

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 80,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points after spending $5,000. This bonus offer is worth $1,000 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.

The signup bonus is $500 bonus cash after spending $3,000 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.

Both of the flagship Capital One Spark business credit cards have limited-time offers:

  • Earn 200,000 bonus miles ($2,000 in award travel) with the Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business by spending $5,000 in the first 3 months to earn 50,000 bonus miles ($500 in award travel), then spend $50,000 in the first 6 months of account opening to earn the final 150,000 bonus miles ($1500 in award travel)
  • Earn $2,000 bonus cash with the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business by spending $5,000 in the first 3 months to earn a $500 cash bonus, then spend $50,000 in the first 6 months of account opening to earn the final $1500 bonus cash

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 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

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. You earn 2x Membership Rewards per $1 on the first $50,000 spent annually, then 1x point per $1. Your points are worth 1 cent each when booking award flights on AmexTravel.com or redeeming for gift cards. You can also transfer them to the Membership Rewards airline and hotel transfer partners.

For cash rewards, the American Express® Blue Business Cash Card earns 2% cash back on 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.

Learn more: American Express Blue Business credit cards review

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 hotels booked on AmexTravel. All purchases larger than $5,000 earn 1.5x points. Non-bonus spending earns 1x point per $1 spent.

To earn the 75k welcome offer, you’ll first have to spend $10,000 on qualifying purchases within the first 3 months of card membership, which will earn you 50,000 points. Then, spend an extra $10,000 on qualifying purchases during the same 3 months to earn the additional 25,000 points.

This means you’ll need to spend $20,000 on qualifying purchases in the first 3 months of account opening in order to earn the 75,000 points.

This card also includes these benefits:

  • $200 airline fee credit
  • Global Lounge Collection membership (includes Priority Pass, Centurion, and Delta Sky Club)
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit
  • One year of free Platinum Global Access from WeWork (must register by December 31, 2019)
  • Get 35% points back on qualifying award flights bookings (up to 500,000 points back per year)
  • Transfer points to Membership Rewards airline and hotel partners
  • Up to $200 in annual Dell statement credits (enrollment required)
  • Free vendor pay basic plan from Bill.com

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

You can also compare the Capital One Spark vs .Ink Business Preferred if you are still unsure of which card may be best.

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.

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® Premier 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. You will also get 70,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months.

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. However, Southwest Rapid Rewards are changing, so you may want to make a move on this card sooner rather than later.

Learn more: Airline Credit Cards

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.

FAQs

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.

Josh Patoka

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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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