Whether you're in the market for a new business credit card or switching from your current one, this guide will help you understand the best card options, features to look for, credit card rewards, and more.
For growing businesses, access to credit is a key component of unlocking growth.
But with so many options and radically different terms from card to card, it can be hard to figure out which business credit card option might be right for you. Do you want cash back or perks? Intro offers or low interest rates? The list of considerations goes on.
And if you’re new to the business scene, you might have some fundamental questions around building business credit, qualifying for credit, and whether or not company cards affect personal credit.
To help both seasoned business owners better understand their card options and first-time founders understand the lay of the land, we’ve put together this guide to business credit cards. Here you’ll find articles that explain:
First up, we’ll dive into 5 popular business credit card options and lay out their perks, benefits, features, and more.
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. 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
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
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
$250 upon approval, no minimum spend required
More features are coming soon, including a mobile app
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.
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 credit card 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 the first year (does not apply to balance transfers)
APR: 13.24%-19.24% variable
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®.
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.
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 credit score won’t be good for your company.
Introductory APR: 0% for 12 months
APR: 13.24%-19.24% variable
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
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.
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.
Intro 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.)
Welcome offer: Spend $4,500 in the first 3 months and get $500 bonus cash back
Rewards: 1.5% cash back rewards on everything. You can set your points to auto-redeem as cash back, apply them to previous purchases, or use them for gift cards, business travel rewards such as airline miles, and other purchases.
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:
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 make ideal small business credit cards for new businesses and startups 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.
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
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 purchases
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%
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 business 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)
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 how credit card rewards work.
Ramp: Simplify spending and spend management at the same time
Ramp is a Visa® 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
Welcome offer: $250 upon approval, no minimum spend required
Rewards: 1.5% cashback on everything.
Fees: None, ever.
Spend control capabilities: Our main value proposition is the spend control features that you can implement once you distribute employee cards, 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, business 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.