September 28, 2021
Insights

The best business credit cards for startups go far beyond points and low APRs

,

On the hunt for a new business credit card for your startup? Don't just look for credit card rewards, low APRs, and high limits. Sure, travel points and gift cards as rewards are enticing, but what do they do for your bottom line? Your startup needs a corporate card that will help you drive growth.

The best corporate cards for startups are the ones that comes with built-in finance automation to save you time, reduce wasted spend, and increase visibility into your business expenses.

Here at Ramp, our corporate card is used by fast-growing startups everywhere, so clearly we have a strong view on this topic. But in this article we'll help you draw your own conclusions. We'll go over the latest card innovations that are helping businesses grow and show how different business credit cards for startups (not just our own) stack up against each other.

Time-saving features

Employees typically spend 20 minutes, on average, to complete a single expense report. And that’s if they report correctly the first time. Unfortunately, according to the same study, almost one in five expense reports has an error, which requires time from the accounting team to identify the error and from the employee to fix it.

Modern corporate cards help companies eliminate out-of-pocket spending and error-prone expense reports altogether with software that makes it easy for employees to request corporate cards. When evaluating corporate cards options, look for these features: 

  • Multi-step approval flows to ensure that card requests are aligned with business needs
  • Virtual cards that can be issued in minutes upon approval, for employees to use instantly
  • Integration with tools like Slack so everyone can request, review, and issue spend easily
  • Automated receipt collection to erase the need for the Great Receipt Search at the end of the month

For example, you might generate cards to allow dev teams to purchase tools or sales teams to travel for customer meetings. Employees should get prompted via SMS or email to provide memos and upload receipt images at the point of purchase. Advanced card technology can automatically match receipts to the corresponding expense. No more sifting through wallets and purses to find receipts and nagging employees to submit their expenses—saving everyone time.

Ramp’s automated reminder to submit a receipt

Advanced spend controls

Another aspect you'll want to evaluate is the spend control features on your card. This is an area where modern corporate cards have a huge advantage over traditional business credit cards.

When employees spend, you want peace of mind that company finances are being used on the right things. A spend insights report from Oversight found expense violations up more than 200% during 2020 due to unclear expense policies and fraud.

Spend control features allow you to empower employees to get their work done while ensuring there are guardrails in place to prevent unapproved spending. Embedded card controls like the following help you enforce your expense policy and put your finance team at ease: 

  • Category and merchant restrictions to limit where cards can be used
  • Card auto-locking once a date is reached to prevent surprise charges
  • Limits on the number of times cards can be used—one-time, daily, weekly, monthly, or annually
  • Spend limits at the card and transaction level to prevent overages

No more awkward conversations about whether the chicken statue with the top hat is a business expense—the purchase will be denied before it even happens.

Traditional business credit cards are simply not built with the goal of helping businesses save money. They make you sift through transactions at the end of the month to catch unapproved spending. In contrast, modern corporate cards help you block out-of-policy expenses in real-time.

Built-in spend controls to help you enforce your expense policy

Automated savings insights

In a startup, projects move quickly, so it’s easy for duplicate spending and unused subscriptions to go unnoticed.

Thankfully, modern corporate cards come with spend management software that automatically analyzes vendor data and surface opportunities to save. They help you reduce wasted spend by detecting: 

  • Redundant vendors, like multiple project management tools
  • Duplicate subscriptions that can be consolidated to lower costs
  • Sudden increase in vendor charges
  • Ways to lower pricing, e.g. switch to an annual subscription

As your organization grows, leverage this kind of finance automation to make every dollar count.

Ramp's automated savings insights

Real-time expense reporting

Great corporate cards give you real-time visibility into your cash flow. It’s easy for employee spend data to get lost in credit card statements and expense reports your finance team can’t access. Cards that come with robust accounting integrations feed your startup’s card purchases directly into your accounting system so you can monitor your company’s cash flow.

Because these integrations happen in real-time, your accounting teams can create smart alerts to know when an anticipated purchase happens. Some platforms let you set smart rules that map transactions to ledger accounts and custom fields or set up automatic notifications through Slack, so these alerts become part of your team’s normal workflow. No more needing to log in to a different system to see what’s happening with expenses.

Ramp's NetSuite integration

Flexible underwriting, no personal guarantees

Applying for a traditional business credit card can take months, a couple years' worth of financials, and require you to personally guarantee your expenses.

In contrast, modern card companies take an entirely different approach. Oftentimes, they look at a wider range of financial health factors, such as your company’s cash balance and cash flows, to set your company’s business limit.

For instance, Ramp simply requires corporations and LLCs to be registered in the US, have at least $75,000 in cash in a US business bank account, and have most of your operations and corporate spend in the US, among other factors. Spend limits are generally set based on available cash in your bank account.


The best corporate cards for startups: how they compare

Now you're up to speed on the automation features that the best card companies provide and how they can help your startup. Let's take a look at the cards that regularly make the list of top credit cards for new businesses and see how they compare.

Card
Ramp
American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card
Capital One Spark Cash Plus
Ink Business Cash® Credit Card
Brex
Instant virtual cards
✓ (limited)
X
✓ (limit 10)
Spend approval workflow
X
X
X
X
Automated receipt collection
X
X
X
Category controls
X
X
X
X
Customizable spend limits
X
X
X
✓ (limited)
Auto-locking
X
X
X
X
Accounting integrations
✓ (basic)
✓ (basic)
X
✓ (basic)
Automated savings insights
X
X
X
X

Finance automation case studies

How WayUp saved hours

The accounting team at WayUp, a job search platform, struggled with expense reports before switching to Ramp. The team spent almost an entire workday each month reviewing employee expense reports, not to mention the time it took to get them from employees in the first place.

"I used to spend more than six hours per month reviewing expense reports. After setting up Ramp, it takes me less than an hour." - Jose Ramon-Batista, Staff Accountant, WayUp

How Red Antler cut down unnecessary spending

For leading brand management agency Red Antler, expenses were bottlenecked with its three creative producers. Some expenses weren’t being submitted because of lost receipts and forgotten charges. Unauthorized expenses were going unnoticed because of hard-to-read statements and processes no one had time for.

Ramp was able to decentralize spending by quickly providing corporate cards with easy-to-manage approvals for all creative employees, eliminating bottlenecks, and increasing control over employee spend.

"Expense management is no longer an end-of-the-month nightmare, and the team now has better real-time control and visibility over their purchases" - Christina Cooksey, Head of Creative Production, Red Antler

How real-time insights helped Mode

For analytics company Mode, manually uploading expenses from its corporate cards to its accounting software slowed down its ability to pull insights about the company’s finances. As an analytics company, it knew how important real-time data is to identify trends.

By switching to Ramp, Mode’s leadership team could clearly see the changes in employee spending through its corporate cards. That visibility allowed it to proactively control spend and mitigate risk. Teo Evanick, Financial Controller at Mode, saw this soon after her team started using Ramp’s financial automation tools.

"With Ramp, people are no longer hiding behind their expenses. Everyone can log in and see every transaction the instant it happens, forecast spend, and correct wasteful behavior. What a relief." - Teo Evanick, Financial Controller, Mode

Level up your startup’s corporate card

Don’t just settle for corporate cards with enticing perks. Along with having an easy-to-use rewards program, your corporate card should have finance automation tools to modernize your spend management. These tools aren’t just convenient—they strengthen your bottom line. You’ll have more time and more control over your company’s finances, so you can focus on growing your business.

Ready to level up your corporate cards with finance automation? Check out our savings calculator to see how much your company can save with Ramp.


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The best business credit cards for startups go far beyond points and low APRs

September 28, 2021
by
The Ramp team
,

On the hunt for a new business credit card for your startup? Don't just look for credit card rewards, low APRs, and high limits. Sure, travel points and gift cards as rewards are enticing, but what do they do for your bottom line? Your startup needs a corporate card that will help you drive growth.

The best corporate cards for startups are the ones that comes with built-in finance automation to save you time, reduce wasted spend, and increase visibility into your business expenses.

Here at Ramp, our corporate card is used by fast-growing startups everywhere, so clearly we have a strong view on this topic. But in this article we'll help you draw your own conclusions. We'll go over the latest card innovations that are helping businesses grow and show how different business credit cards for startups (not just our own) stack up against each other.

Time-saving features

Employees typically spend 20 minutes, on average, to complete a single expense report. And that’s if they report correctly the first time. Unfortunately, according to the same study, almost one in five expense reports has an error, which requires time from the accounting team to identify the error and from the employee to fix it.

Modern corporate cards help companies eliminate out-of-pocket spending and error-prone expense reports altogether with software that makes it easy for employees to request corporate cards. When evaluating corporate cards options, look for these features: 

  • Multi-step approval flows to ensure that card requests are aligned with business needs
  • Virtual cards that can be issued in minutes upon approval, for employees to use instantly
  • Integration with tools like Slack so everyone can request, review, and issue spend easily
  • Automated receipt collection to erase the need for the Great Receipt Search at the end of the month

For example, you might generate cards to allow dev teams to purchase tools or sales teams to travel for customer meetings. Employees should get prompted via SMS or email to provide memos and upload receipt images at the point of purchase. Advanced card technology can automatically match receipts to the corresponding expense. No more sifting through wallets and purses to find receipts and nagging employees to submit their expenses—saving everyone time.

Ramp’s automated reminder to submit a receipt

Advanced spend controls

Another aspect you'll want to evaluate is the spend control features on your card. This is an area where modern corporate cards have a huge advantage over traditional business credit cards.

When employees spend, you want peace of mind that company finances are being used on the right things. A spend insights report from Oversight found expense violations up more than 200% during 2020 due to unclear expense policies and fraud.

Spend control features allow you to empower employees to get their work done while ensuring there are guardrails in place to prevent unapproved spending. Embedded card controls like the following help you enforce your expense policy and put your finance team at ease: 

  • Category and merchant restrictions to limit where cards can be used
  • Card auto-locking once a date is reached to prevent surprise charges
  • Limits on the number of times cards can be used—one-time, daily, weekly, monthly, or annually
  • Spend limits at the card and transaction level to prevent overages

No more awkward conversations about whether the chicken statue with the top hat is a business expense—the purchase will be denied before it even happens.

Traditional business credit cards are simply not built with the goal of helping businesses save money. They make you sift through transactions at the end of the month to catch unapproved spending. In contrast, modern corporate cards help you block out-of-policy expenses in real-time.

Built-in spend controls to help you enforce your expense policy

Automated savings insights

In a startup, projects move quickly, so it’s easy for duplicate spending and unused subscriptions to go unnoticed.

Thankfully, modern corporate cards come with spend management software that automatically analyzes vendor data and surface opportunities to save. They help you reduce wasted spend by detecting: 

  • Redundant vendors, like multiple project management tools
  • Duplicate subscriptions that can be consolidated to lower costs
  • Sudden increase in vendor charges
  • Ways to lower pricing, e.g. switch to an annual subscription

As your organization grows, leverage this kind of finance automation to make every dollar count.

Ramp's automated savings insights

Real-time expense reporting

Great corporate cards give you real-time visibility into your cash flow. It’s easy for employee spend data to get lost in credit card statements and expense reports your finance team can’t access. Cards that come with robust accounting integrations feed your startup’s card purchases directly into your accounting system so you can monitor your company’s cash flow.

Because these integrations happen in real-time, your accounting teams can create smart alerts to know when an anticipated purchase happens. Some platforms let you set smart rules that map transactions to ledger accounts and custom fields or set up automatic notifications through Slack, so these alerts become part of your team’s normal workflow. No more needing to log in to a different system to see what’s happening with expenses.

Ramp's NetSuite integration

Flexible underwriting, no personal guarantees

Applying for a traditional business credit card can take months, a couple years' worth of financials, and require you to personally guarantee your expenses.

In contrast, modern card companies take an entirely different approach. Oftentimes, they look at a wider range of financial health factors, such as your company’s cash balance and cash flows, to set your company’s business limit.

For instance, Ramp simply requires corporations and LLCs to be registered in the US, have at least $75,000 in cash in a US business bank account, and have most of your operations and corporate spend in the US, among other factors. Spend limits are generally set based on available cash in your bank account.


The best corporate cards for startups: how they compare

Now you're up to speed on the automation features that the best card companies provide and how they can help your startup. Let's take a look at the cards that regularly make the list of top credit cards for new businesses and see how they compare.

Card
Ramp
American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card
Capital One Spark Cash Plus
Ink Business Cash® Credit Card
Brex
Instant virtual cards
✓ (limited)
X
✓ (limit 10)
Spend approval workflow
X
X
X
X
Automated receipt collection
X
X
X
Category controls
X
X
X
X
Customizable spend limits
X
X
X
✓ (limited)
Auto-locking
X
X
X
X
Accounting integrations
✓ (basic)
✓ (basic)
X
✓ (basic)
Automated savings insights
X
X
X
X

Finance automation case studies

How WayUp saved hours

The accounting team at WayUp, a job search platform, struggled with expense reports before switching to Ramp. The team spent almost an entire workday each month reviewing employee expense reports, not to mention the time it took to get them from employees in the first place.

"I used to spend more than six hours per month reviewing expense reports. After setting up Ramp, it takes me less than an hour." - Jose Ramon-Batista, Staff Accountant, WayUp

How Red Antler cut down unnecessary spending

For leading brand management agency Red Antler, expenses were bottlenecked with its three creative producers. Some expenses weren’t being submitted because of lost receipts and forgotten charges. Unauthorized expenses were going unnoticed because of hard-to-read statements and processes no one had time for.

Ramp was able to decentralize spending by quickly providing corporate cards with easy-to-manage approvals for all creative employees, eliminating bottlenecks, and increasing control over employee spend.

"Expense management is no longer an end-of-the-month nightmare, and the team now has better real-time control and visibility over their purchases" - Christina Cooksey, Head of Creative Production, Red Antler

How real-time insights helped Mode

For analytics company Mode, manually uploading expenses from its corporate cards to its accounting software slowed down its ability to pull insights about the company’s finances. As an analytics company, it knew how important real-time data is to identify trends.

By switching to Ramp, Mode’s leadership team could clearly see the changes in employee spending through its corporate cards. That visibility allowed it to proactively control spend and mitigate risk. Teo Evanick, Financial Controller at Mode, saw this soon after her team started using Ramp’s financial automation tools.

"With Ramp, people are no longer hiding behind their expenses. Everyone can log in and see every transaction the instant it happens, forecast spend, and correct wasteful behavior. What a relief." - Teo Evanick, Financial Controller, Mode

Level up your startup’s corporate card

Don’t just settle for corporate cards with enticing perks. Along with having an easy-to-use rewards program, your corporate card should have finance automation tools to modernize your spend management. These tools aren’t just convenient—they strengthen your bottom line. You’ll have more time and more control over your company’s finances, so you can focus on growing your business.

Ready to level up your corporate cards with finance automation? Check out our savings calculator to see how much your company can save with Ramp.


Don’t miss these
The 6 benefits of business credit cards to look for, if you want to bolster your bottom line
Why startup finance leaders should give every employee a corporate card
Business credit card reward comparison guide
Meet our customers

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

How we helped Shortcut close their books 5x faster

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