Q: Is it possible to apply without a personal guarantee?
A: Unfortunately not if you're a newer business. Advanta was the only major issuer which offered business credit cards without personal guarantee, but they went bankrupt during the recession. At this time all major issuers require your Social Security number as a personal guarantee. In order to qualify under a federal tax ID alone, typically the company must already have a strong credit history, annual cash flow in the millions, and 3+ years in business.
Best Business Credit Cards With Rewards 2013
Below is our sponsored ranking of the best offers with rewards. This list is re-evaluated/updated on a weekly basis.
The Business Gold Rewards Card® from American Express OPEN
Year after year this remains to be AmEx's most popular business credit card. I have used it going back several years for another business of mine and have a great deal of praise for it. You will rack up rewards quickly since you will earn 3X points on airfare purchased from airlines and 2x at US gas stations. Up to $100,000 in each category per year, then it's 1x points on those categories. 1x points on other purchases too (terms and limitations apply). The most unique benefit is that you can transfer points to frequent flyer miles on nearly a dozen airlines, almost always on a 1 point = 1 mile conversion. Because of this your points are much more valuable! If you're going to apply, now is definitely the time to do it because they're running a limited-time promo where you can earn 50,000 bonus points after making $5k in purchases within the first 3 months (that's an average spend of $1,667 per month). Plus you get your annual fee waived for the first year, then it's $175 per year.
For one week only, from June 16th thru 22nd 2013, Chase is offering larger than normal signup offers on their 3 versions of the Ink card as a promotion for Small Business Week. These are the largest offers I've ever seen on these, so don't miss this opportunity! Use the links below to get these limited-time offers.
Chase Ink Plus® - 60,000 Bonus Points Offer
As the founder of this site, I can personally attest to caliber of this card since I'm using it myself. The rewards are generous: 5 points per dollar at office supply stores and on cell phone, landline, internet and cable TV on the first $50,000 spent annually. 2 points per dollar at gas stations and hotel accommodations on the first $50,000 spent annually. You get 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. Redeem for cash back (100 pts = $1.00) or transfer points to participating airline and hotel frequent travel programs on a 1 for 1 basis. This includes United MileagePlus, Southwest Rapid Rewards, British Airways Executive Club, Marriott Rewards, Priority Club Rewards, Amtrak Guest Rewards and others. Right now this has the most lucrative bonus ever: 60,000 bonus points after spending $5k in the first 3 months. That's worth $600 cash back or redeem for travel and get even more value. $0 intro annual fee for the first year, after that it's $95.
Chase Ink Bold® - 60,000 Bonus Points Offer
This version is identical to the one above, except this one is a charge card. That means you are required to pay your balance in full every month. Except for that, it's the same card as above. You get the same great 5x points in select business categories, 1:1 transfer of points to hotel and frequent flyer programs, and the same ridiculously generous signup offer of 60,000 bonus points for spending $5k within the first 3 months. $0 intro annual fee for the first year, after that it's $95. Whether you want the Ink Plus or Ink Bold, I would strongly urge everyone to apply for at least one of these offers (just as I have) because it's the first time they've offered this generous of a bonus. Get it while you can!
Chase Ink Cash®
This version of Ink has no annual fee but given that the others have a larger bonus and $0 intro annual fee for the first year, I would strongly recommend you go with one of them. This one offers 5% cash back at office supply stores, cell phone, landline, internet, and cable TV services on the first $25,000 spent annually at those places. 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on the first $25,000 spent annually at those places. 1% cash back on all other purchases. You get all that with no annual fee. And right now when you apply you will get a 0% intro APR for the first 6 months on purchases and balance transfers (and after that it's only 13.24% Variable). Best of all using the link below, you will get a $250 bonus for spending $3k within the first 3 months.
Capital One® Spark℠ Cash for Business
Previously, the AmEx Plum (below) was the top business credit card for cash back because it gave 1.5%. But that crown was lost to Capital One's Spark Cash; it's the king since it gives you an unlimited 2% cash back and has a significantly lower annual fee of only $59 ($0 intro for first year) compared to the $250 for Plum. Best of all with the following promotion, you have the opportunity to get a $100 cash bonus - just spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months. Plus get a $50 bonus for adding one or more employee cards (at no additional cost). Combined, that's $150 in bonuses!
Capital One® Spark℠ Miles for Business
This card is similar to the Spark Cash mentioned above, except you will be earning travel rewards. Unlike airline frequent flyer miles, with this program your miles have a straight value of 1 cent each (good towards any travel purchase). You earn 2 miles per dollar which essentially means your spending is earning rewards worth 2%. Right now the Spark Miles has a $0 intro annual fee for the 1st year & $59 after that. For spending $1k on purchases in the first 3 months you get 10,000 bonus miles. Add one or more employee cards & get 5,000 bonus miles.
SimplyCash® Business Card from American Express
This is another card I can personally vouch for since I have been using it 5 years, primarily for gas and office supplies. You get 5% at US office supply stores & on wireless phone services purchased directly from US service providers. 3% at US gas stations. Purchases above $12,000 in each 5% and 3% category per rebate year will earn 1% cash back, as will your other purchases. The built-in benefits include purchase protection, extended warranty coverage, and an array of insurance coverages. Terms and limitations apply. For many this will be the best business credit card out there with no annual fee. And if you apply right now you can get an intro 0% rate on purchases.
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN
Do you travel so much that you feel like George Clooney's character from Up in the Air? If so this card is a must have! But even if you don't, there are so many benefits it's worthwhile even for the occasional traveler. Why? Because you get up to $200 in airline fee credits each year, first-class airport lounge access, no foreign transaction fee, the ability to convert your points to miles with over a dozen airlines, room upgrades/late checkouts/meals at over 600 hotels, companion airfare when flying internationally (either first or business class) on over 20 airlines, roadside assistance and much, much more. Even though the card's annual membership fee is $450, as you see it can pay for itself many times over!
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Card from American Express
I'm sure you've seen the commercials for Delta touting all their credit card benefits... and it's true! If you regularly fly with them then I would strongly advise considering the SkyMiles Gold for business. You receive a number of benefits when you fly Delta, including priority boarding and a 20% savings on eligible in-flight purchases. You get a $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95. To earn the bonus you only need to spend $500 in the first 3 months.
Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Card from American Express
With an annual fee of only $65 it's is a tremendous value, especially considering that it gives you a benefit that none of the other business credit cards can – the ability to transfer points to almost 30 partner airlines, usually on a 1 for 1 basis. This is made possible through the Star Alliance and only the Starwood card can do this. Right now you can also earn a bonus of up to 25,000 Starpoints: Receive 10K after your first purchase, and another 15K when you spend $5,000 in 6 months-enough for up to 6 free nights at a Category 1 or 2 hotel. Plus your annual fee is waived for the 1st year.
The Plum Card® from American Express OPEN
If you always pay your balance in full and are looking for a card that will give you an extremely high, straightforward cash rebate, then the Plum Card is for you. The annual fee is $250 but it's waived for the first year. Limited Time Offer: Get a 2% Discount consisting of a 1.5% Early Pay Discount plus, for the first 6 months, get an extra 0.5% on all purchases, up to $250,000.
What is the best choice for you?
There is no “one size” fits all answer. Which of these qualities are most important to you?
- Rewards: Did you know that the rewards offered on business cards are actually more generous than regular cards? They typically give you more cash back, points, and miles.
- Low Interest: If you anticipate carrying a balance, then of course low interest cards are what you want. Unfortunately, low rates disappeared during “The Great Recession” and have yet to return. However, some still offer good introductory rates.
- Annual Fee: There are plenty of no annual fee cards to apply for. However those which are affiliated with an airline or hotel, as well as the premium charge cards, usually have an annual fee.
- Benefits: Many business credit cards include perks such as extra travel benefits, discounts programs, and detailed billing (which can be a lifesaver for accounting and taxes).
- Customer Service: Being a business owner is stressful enough as it is, so the last thing you want is the stress of a customer service rep in India! Issuers like AmEx and Chase almost always use American based call centers for their business cardholders.
A: Assuming you have qualifying personal credit, any of the above can be candidates for you. However it’s important to remember that you will be personally responsible for any debts incurred (just like you would with a normal credit card). So please keep that in mind.
Q: How about newer small business with more than one employee?
A:Unfortunately a personal guarantee will still be required, so your options remain the same. However, you will probably want one that offers additional cards for free (to give to authorized users). Most include this as a free option, with the exception of the premium cards that have annual fees.
Q: What kind of information will the application ask for?
A: If you’ve never filled out a business credit card application before, you may be surprised to see the information they ask is not much different than a personal card. In addition to your personal information, you will be asked for your business name and phone number. If you are a well-established, profitable company applying under the business federal tax ID alone, then you will need to supply that on the application.
Q: How long do the applications take to process?
A: If applying normally under your Social Security number, the time it takes to process your application is similar to what it would be for a normal credit card. When you submit application using only a business tax ID, the processing time will likely be longer (with how conservative banks are these days, expect them to go over everything with a fine-tooth comb).
Q: Which business credit cards have the best customer service?
A: The offers listed in the sponsored rankings and reviews above are known for delivering exceptional customer service (and if your experience differs, please let us know on our message board). That being said, American Express and Chase are two which are known to especially stand out from the crowd.
Reviewed and rated by Michael Dolen