December 22, 2021
Insights

The best business credit cards in 2022—and what they're missing

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If you're looking for a new credit card, keep this in mind: the most well-known business credit cards don’t always have your best interests at heart. They promise complex rewards, often in exchange for annual fees, and incentivize higher spending because every dollar you carry on your balance means more profit for them. While the “free” rewards may seem great, many people end up spending more on fees than they receive in points or cashback.


Thankfully, more options—like Ramp—have emerged over the past few years. There are now three major types of corporate cards that businesses can choose from:

  • Legacy credit cards, which operate like high-powered versions of consumer credit cards
  • Startup charge cards, which can give founders and CEOs higher limits without a personal guarantee
  • Spend management cards, which come with software to help you take control of your company’s spending

Moving away from the traditional credit card model means innovative approaches to credit that are a better fit for most companies. Before starting on any credit card applications, consider whether the legacy or startup card you’re looking at is made for helping your business save time and money. We might be biased, but it’s likely your company’s needs are better met by a spend management card.

Popular corporate cards for 2022: a head-to-head comparison

Card
Intro APR/APR
Intro offer
Rewards
Watch out for
Chase Ink Business Cash
0% for 12 mos, then 13.24-19.24% variable
Spend $7500, get $750 back
1-5% cashback on select business purchases, depending on category and subject to caps
Cashback bonus categories don't match most companies' spending patterns
American Express Blue Business Cash
0% for 12 mos, then 13.24-19.24% variable
Spend $3,000, get 15,000 bonus points
1-2% cashback, depending on category and subject to caps
Expanded Buying Power is likely to result in you carrying a balance and paying high interest rates
Capital One Spark 1.5% Cash Select
0% for 12 mos, then 13.24-23.99% variable
Spend $4,500, get $500 back
1.5% cashback
Limited automation, requiring manual card management
Brex
n/a, balance is always paid in full
Spend $3,000, get 10,000 bonus points; link a payroll or e-commerce platform for an additional 20,000 points
1x - 8x points, depending on business type, category, and how often you pay
Credit limits are often cut with no warning
Ramp Visa® Charge Card
n/a, balance is always paid in full
Spend $1,000, get $500 back
1.5% cashback
More features are coming soon, including a mobile app and better T&E management

Let's break down these cards in detail.

Legacy business cards expect big spend but offer few useful perks

With only each other for competition, big lenders like American Express, Capital One, and Chase have settled into a comfortable lack of innovation. While they might tout their cards’ individual rewards structures, all of these cards have an identical goal: to entice you into spending more with the promise of perks you might never redeem. They offer little to help you plan and control your spending, despite this being a necessity for any successful business.

Source

Chase Ink Business Cash®: Sometimes, the rewards just don’t add up

The Chase Ink Business Cash is the perfect example of how a business rewards program can turn into spend more, get less. Though you can earn up to 5% cashback on some purchases, how much do you really need from Staples? Unless your business purchases are heavily weighted toward office supplies or restaurants, you’ll largely be in the 1% cashback tier. You’d be better off with a card that offers a higher base percentage of cashback with no special bonuses.

Introductory APR: 0% for 12 months (does not apply to balance transfers)

APR: 13.24%-19.24% variable

Rewards: 1-5%

Welcome offer: Spend $7,500 in the first three months and get $750 bonus cash back

Rewards: 1% on all purchases, with additional bonuses for certain spending categories:

  • 5% on eligible purchases made at office supply stores or internet, cable, and phone bills (capped at $25,000 each account anniversary year)
  • 2% on eligible purchases made at gas stations and restaurants (capped at $25,000 each account anniversary year)

Rewards points can be transferred to other Chase cards, redeemed as cashback, or used for purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Fees:

  • Foreign transactions: 3%
  • Cash advance: Greater of 5% or $15
  • Balance transfer: Greater of 5% or $15
  • Late payment: $40
  • Returned payment: $40

Spend control capabilities: Chase only offers basic spend controls. The cardholder can:

  • Track employee spend online or on monthly statements
  • Set a limit for each employee
  • Receive account alerts

Other features: Chase also offers very little to help your business function day-to-day. Its biggest standout here is the Chase Ink mobile app, through which you can collect and file receipts so your accountants don’t have to waste time tracking them down later.

Source

American Express Blue Business® Plus: Perks for you...or for your card issuer?

American Express brags its Expanded Buying Power feature helps businesses by allowing flexible spending above their credit limit. However, exceeding your credit limit may mean carrying a significant balance on your card. The associated interest payments and decrease in your credit score won’t be good for your company.

Introductory APR: 0% for 12 months

APR: 13.24%-19.24% variable

Rewards: 1-2%

Welcome offer: Spend $3,000 in the 3 months of card membership and get 15,000 Membership Rewards® points


Rewards: 2x points on the first $50,000 spent each calendar year, then 1x thereafter


Fees:

  • Foreign transactions: 2.7%
  • Balance transfer: Greater of 3% or $5
  • Late payment: up to $39
  • Returned payment: up to $39

Spend control capabilities: American Express helps share the burden by introducing minor automation and allowing non-owners to help:

  • Account manager role allows someone from your finance team to oversee cards
  • Set a spending limit for each employee (minimum $200) and pre-approve spending in 9 categories
  • Receive account alerts

However, your team still has to manually track spending and deal with unapproved purchases.

Other features: The free basic bill.com account (for one user) is a hint of what a good card partner program could offer, but your company may not need this perk. Likewise, your American Express card integrates with QuickBooks to save your team the hassle of categorizing purchases—unless you don’t use QuickBooks.


Source

Capital One Spark 1.5% Cash Select: Could offer smart banking…in a few years

Capital One offers the Eno smart assistant, which automates basic tasks to help with spend control. There’s potential here, but Eno is a shadow of what newer cards offer. Accordingly, it’s more of a fun perk than a useful core feature.

Introductory APR: 0% for 12 months

APR: 13.24%-19.24% variable (for the “Excellent Credit” card; there’s an almost identical “Good Credit” card with a higher variable APR range.)

Rewards: 1.5%

Welcome offer: Spend $4,500 in the first 3 months and get $500 bonus cash back


Rewards: 1.5% cashback on everything. You can set your points to auto-redeem as cashback, apply them to previous purchases, or use them for gift cards, airline miles, and other purchases.


Fees:

  • Cash advance: Greater of 3% or $10
  • Late payment: up to $39

Spend control capabilities: The Capital One Spark card has the best spend control policies of any legacy card thanks to Eno. Its alert-based system can tell you about:

  • Upcoming recurring expenses, the end of free trials, and more
  • Identical charges or overly large tips
  • Higher than normal in-app purchases
  • Increases in recurring charges

However, alerts mean you’ll still be doing a lot of the work to fix problems on your own. To help with that, Capital One also offers an Account Manager Role, a personalized spend tracker for each card, and the ability to modify spend limits at any point in the billing cycle.

Other features: Capital One also seems to understand business needs better than its competitors: It offers year-end spending summaries for multiple popular accounting programs, including Quickbooks, Excel, and Quicken. The Capital One Spring program offers discounts on other common business services—though any small business can register for these perks, no card necessary.


Startup charge cards offer higher limits but lack modern controls

The credit card landscape changed with the introduction of the startup charge cards. So far, it’s a small market segment, but one that’s poised to grow. These cards are attractive to small business owners and entrepreneurs for two big reasons. First, they come with higher limits than a legacy credit card offers; second, you don’t need a personal guarantee or credit check to back them up.


However, most startup cards are still trying to compete on the terms set by legacy credit cards, comparing rewards and credit limits instead of offering useful features. You may get a higher limit, but you won’t receive tools to help you spend that money wisely.

Charge cards vs credit cards
The main difference between charge cards and credit cards is that the former offer you a line of credit that must be paid off in full every cycle, while the latter allow you to carry a balance from month to month. With charge cards, you won’t ever end up paying hefty interest fees when your company is already in the red (late fees may still apply). Charge cards also offer greater flexibility and higher spending limits because they base creditworthiness on your company’s cash flow rather than your personal credit history.

Source

Brex: Looks high-tech because legacy cards are so lacking

While Brex won customers on its promise of higher credit limits, no personal guarantee, and a ‘Financial OS,’ it doesn't always live up to the promise. Some past users note their credit limits were cut without notice, sometimes to $0. Others complain about its software’s poor user experience and limited features.

Introductory APR: N/A

APR: N/A

Rewards: 1.5%

Welcome offer: Spend $3,000 in the first 3 months and get 10,000 points. Get an additional 20,000 points when you link your payroll or an e-commerce account to your Brex account within the first 3 months of account opening.


Rewards: 1% on all purchases, with additional bonuses for certain categories:

  • 8%* on rideshare
  • 5%* on Brex travel
  • 4%* on restaurants
  • 3%* on Apple (via Brex rewards)
  • 1.5%* on ads

* Customers that make monthly, rather than daily, payments earn 1% less in most spend categories, with a minimum of 1%


Fees:

  • Instant Revenue Program: 1-1.5%

Spend control capabilities: While Brex offers more in the way of spend control and expense management than any legacy credit card, most of its features are tied to Brex Premium—the software it locks behind a paywall. At the free level, you can:

  • Create different cards for each vendor, to keep all your spending in one place
  • Set annual, quarterly, or monthly spending limits on each card
  • Create custom expense rules
  • Change card limits at any time in the billing cycle
  • Receive and approve employee expense requests
  • See real-time spending reports sorted by employee, merchant, or other options
  • Receive alerts for unusual spend, duplicate subscriptions, or increases in recurring costs

Other features: Brex offers an easier way to move and handle money than most legacy cards, with features including:

  • Instant access to e-commerce sales
  • A Brex Cash account that allows you to keep all your money in one place
  • Free ACH payments and wires (even internationally)
  • Automated bill pay (with a Brex Cash account)
  • Integration with accounting software including QuickBooks, Xero, and others

Spend management cards incentivize savings with automation and in-depth data

A spend management card marries the charge card model popularized by startup cards with tools that help you see where your money is going. These cards, like startup cards, aren’t made to finance your debt. The difference is that spend management cards proactively give you tools to help you avoid debt by reducing unnecessary spending. Their data-driven approach gives you the information you need to make good spending decisions rather than leaving you to be driven by rewards.

Ramp Visa® Charge Card: Simplify spending and spend management at the same time

Ramp is a charge card with fully integrated finance automation software that leverages AI to analyze where your money is going and how you can cut down on unnecessary spending. Legacy cards can’t compare to its capabilities, and it equals or even outperforms many newer options like Brex and Airbase.

Introductory APR: N/A

APR: N/A

Rewards: 1.5%

Welcome offer: Spend $1,000 in the first 3 months and get $500 bonus cashback

Rewards: 1.5% cashback on everything.

Fees: None, ever.

Spend control capabilities: Our main value proposition is our spend control features, so covering them all would be an article of its own. Some of its most useful capabilities include:

  • A real-time expense dashboard that allows advanced sorting and filtering, so you can make sense of your company’s spend
  • Digitized expense policies that are enforced by the software, not by your team
  • Custom spend workflows that allow you to automate a multi-level approvals process
  • Card limits based on dollar amount, expense category, or vendor/merchant
  • Card templates for common expenses (monthly team lunch, wellness benefit)
  • Savings insights to help you find and cut unnecessary spend

Other features: Because our software does so much financial heavy lifting, it can help your team automate expense reporting, reimbursements, and budget reconciliation. Its AI-powered invoice processing makes it easy to pay vendors via card, check, or ACH. Ramp also integrates with over 100 common applications, ranging from accounting software like QuickBooks, Xero, and Sage to HRIS platforms like Justworks and Rippling.

No credit checks or founder guarantee, with 10-20x higher limits.
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The Ramp team

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FAQs
Do I need a business credit card?

Yes. Business owners should never use a personal credit card for business expenses. Doing so makes it hard to untangle your personal and business finances during tax season. Additionally, you run the risk of being held personally liable for any debt your business can’t pay off. That means your credit score could plummet and your personal assets (and co-owned property) could be seized if your company is sued. It’s too high a risk to take when there are other options.

What is the easiest credit card for a small or medium business to get?

Getting a new business credit card can be difficult if you have no or little business credit. In this situation, you’re more likely to qualify for a charge card like Ramp or Brex than a traditional credit card. Among legacy credit card issuers, Capital One created the Spark® Classic card for startups with limited credit history and has two tiers of the Spark® 1.5% Cash Select, one of which only requires good, rather than excellent, credit. The downside of these cards is their higher-than-average APR, which is to be expected when an issuer can’t guarantee your company will pay on time.


Can I apply for a business credit card without decreasing my personal credit score?

Business credit card issuers have varying policies regarding reporting, but most cards that require a personal guarantee will make a hard credit inquiry against your personal credit. One inquiry may only drop your credit score by a few points; multiple inquiries can have a larger effect. If you’re looking for a card issuer that doesn’t require a personal credit check, Ramp and Brex are your best bets. For any other card, if you have to put in your social security number as part of the application, the inquiry will likely show up on your credit report.

How do I build business credit?

If you don’t have business credit, you could apply for a card that requires a personal guarantee. However, this means your credit can be affected by your business’ performance. It’s generally smarter to find a card meant to help your business build credit. Brex, Capital One, and Ramp all have suitable options that won’t jeopardize your personal finances.

How can I tell if a rewards card is worth it?

Most companies get the best value from a card that offers cashback rewards at a standard rate across all categories. Why? It’s simple: It takes a lot of time and effort to get the most out of a complex rewards card. If you want to know whether the benefits of a business credit card are worth it, ask yourself:

  • Does the card require a fee, and if so, will I be paying more than I’m cashing out?
  • Are the rewards locked to a certain type of spending (such as office supply stores or restaurants)? How much of my company’s spending falls into these categories?
  • If the rewards aren’t straightforward cashback, will I actually use them? (1 in 3 Americans don’t.)
  • How much are rewards points worth? Would I get more by opting for cashback?
  • Are travel rewards tied to a certain hotel, airline, or booking site that might not always be the cheapest option?

Don’t miss these
The best business credit cards for startups go far beyond points and low APRs
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Meet our customers

How UpEquity streamlined its finance stack

How we helped Squared Away find extra savings automatically

How we helped Brigit get a customer-centric corporate card solution

How we helped Mode track spend in real-time

How we helped Eight Sleep automate their accounting

How we helped WayUp put expense reports on auto-pilot

How we help Red Antler centralize its company spend

Learn more about Ramp

Streamline approvals.
Review requests, pre-approve expenses, and issue general expense cards in a few clicks – or directly in Slack. Delegate approvals and empower your team leads to spend on the things they need and control their team’s expenses.
Learn more
Issue instant cards.
Unlimited virtual and physical cards with built-in spend limits, instantly available for everyone in your team. Define spend rules and let your smart cards enforce your policies automatically. No more surprises or under-the-radar spending.
Learn more
See spend as it happens.
Stop waiting on monthly statements or manual spreadsheets. Find, browse, and download real-time transactions from any employee, department, or merchant – on any device.
Learn more
Close your books 5x faster.
An accounting experience by finance teams, built for speed and efficiency. Automate manual processes and start enjoying instant reconciliation – Ramp does all the heavy lifting.
Learn more
Trim wasteful spend.
Ramp analyses every transaction and identifies hundreds of actionable ways your company can cut expenses and alerts your team via email, SMS, or Slack. It’s like having a second finance team, laser-focused on cutting costs.
Learn more
Consolidate reimbursements.
Ramp makes it easy to reimburse your employees for any incidental out-of-pocket expenses. Review, approve, and pay employees back for anything that didn’t make it onto a card with the rest of your Ramp transactions.
Learn more