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Best business credit card for startups and new businesses 2021

Don't just choose the first credit card you can find for your new business. Choose the one that matches your company's exact needs.

As a new business owner, it's good to invest a little bit of time into finding the perfect credit for your business because there are certainly a lot of options on the market. To help, we've outlined the credit cards we believe have the most to offer for startups and new businesses. 

Ink Business Preferred® credit card by Chase

100,000 bonus points if you spend $15,000 in the first three months.

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Shutterstock

Chase's Ink Business Preferred Credit Card is a solid card to have for your business if you're looking to stock up on points. Spend $15,000 in the first three months, and you'll be rewarded with 100,000 bonus points. This is the equivalent of getting either $1,000 cashback or $1,250 in travel rewards. 

Cardholders also get 3 points for every $1 spent on the first $150,000 each year for money spent on shipping purchases, internet, cable, travel, phone services, and advertising. For all other purchases, members get one point for every $1 spent. 

Use your points for traveling, and you'll get 25% with travel redemption. For example, get the 100,000 point bonus, and you'll have $1,250 to apply towards your next travel destination. 

If you need employees to have their own card, you can receive as many as you need at zero cost. Set each card with its own spending limit while continuing to earn points on all of their purchases. 

Last but not least, the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card comes with free fraud protection, personalized account alerts, and purchase protection. 


Pros:

  • 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 in the first three months

  • 3X points on shipping and other business categories

  • Free fraud and purchase protection

  • Free employee cards

  • No foreign transaction fees

Cons:

  • Charges a $95 annual fee

  • Does not offer a 0% intro APR period

  • APR between 15.99% and 20.99% depending on your creditworthiness


The Plum Card® from American Express

A card with flexible payments and early payment bonuses.

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Shutterstock

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

If your company has sporadic cash flow, then The Plum Card® by American Express may help. With The Plum Card®, you can take up to 60 days to make a payment interest free, or you can pay 10 days early and get a 1.5% early bonus applied to your next statement. The catch is that there is no interest rate because your entire balance is due by the bill due date. 

There is no annual fee in your first year, but starting your second year, there is a $250  fee. However, if you pay your bill early enough each month, it's quite easy to make up for this amount. 

To decide whether this card is right for you depends on which aspect appeals to you. If you're doing it for the flexible spending dates, then this is a great card to have if your business is still working on managing its cash flow. If the 1.5% bonus each month has caught your eye, consider that many cards have sign up bonuses starting at $300 and that you get 0% interest already if you pay off your balance in full each month.  


Pros:

  • No caps on points

  • No foreign transaction fees while traveling

  • 1.5% early-pay discount if you pay your bill 10 days before it's due

  • Have up to 60 days to pay without interest accruing

Cons:

  • $250 annual fee after the first year

  • Zero sign up rewards


For rates and fees of  The Plum Card® by American Expressclick here.

U.S. Bank Business Platinum Card

0% APR for the first 18 months.

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U.S Bank

The U.S. Bank Business Platinum credit card gives new card members 0% APR for the first 18 months. After 18 months the interest may be between 11.99% and 20.99%. If you have a large balance on another card, the U.S. Bank Business Platinum card is a great option to get you out of debt and start saving money. 

If your aim is to use the card to transfer a balance, just keep in mind that there is a 3% balance transfer fee. For example, if you have a $5,000 balance, you'll pay a $150 balance transfer fee.

Unfortunately, U.S. Bank Business Platinum doesn't offer any bonuses. However, 18 months of 0% APR should be enough of a reason to put this card on your radar if you plan on making any big purchases in the coming months.   


Pros:

  • $0 annual fee

  • APR between 11.99% and 20.99%

  • 0% intro APR for the first 18 months

Cons:

  • Zero rewards

  • 3% balance transfer fee

  • $0 intro bonus


American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card

2% cashback on qualifying purchases.

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American Express

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

The American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card is almost the best of two worlds. It comes with a 0% APR period for 12 months and 2% cashback on eligible purchases up to $50,000. After $50,000, the points go down to 1%. All cash you earn is applied to your statement, as is the $500 bonus. Spend $5,000 within the first six months, and you'll get a $500 statement credit applied to your account as well. 

A unique thing about the American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card is that it comes with what American Express calls Expanded Buying Power. With Expanded Buying Power, you can make purchases beyond your credit limit. The amount you can go past your credit limit isn't unlimited, nor is there any amount of great detail outlined on American Express's site. If it is an important purchase, we recommend speaking with an American Express Agent about your needs. 

All card members get car rental loss and damage insurance as an added bonus. Each time you rent a car, pay the entire balance with your American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card and decline the optional insurance with the rental company, and you'll get free rental insurance.


Pros:

  • 2% cashback

  • $0 annual fee

  • 0% intro APR for the first 12 months

  • 13.24%-19.24% APR

  • $500 statement credit if you spend $5,000 in the first 6 months

  • Spend beyond your credit limit

Cons:

  • Cashback is capped at $50,000


For rates and fees of the American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card, click here.

Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business

Great for borrowers with low or limited credit

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Capital One

Coming with unlimited 1% cashback, Spark Classic doesn't set limits on the amount you can receive cashback on, but perhaps its greatest strength rests with its business management tools. Get year-end summaries, purchase records, and set up account managers for select employees, all with ease. 

Spark Class for Business from Capital One also comes with $0 fraud liability. This means that if someone steals your card, you are not responsible for any amount they charge. With credit card fraud on the rise, this is a great feature to have.

One drawback to the Spark Classic for Business from Capital One is that it comes with a 26.99% interest rate, which is high compared to other cards. However, it is a great starter card while you're building up your credit score.  


Pros:

  • Unlimited 1% cashback on all purchases

  • $0 annual fee

  • No expiration on any rewards

  • $0 fraud liability

Cons:

  • 26.99% variable APR 


How did we choose these products?

We looked for cards that had the best advantages for card members. Be it extended 0% introductory APR periods, no annual fees, or a strong rewards program; we kept an eye on the cards that would give business owners a unique advantage in running their companies. 

Which one is right for you?

To choose the best credit card for you, take a look at your credit score. Each credit card we discussed states what type of credit score you need to qualify. If your score is just under their recommendation, consider working on your credit score before you apply. 

Next, identify what trait would best suit your business. Would 0% APR help you get out of debt sooner? Or are you looking to rack up some points to pay for your next flight to meet a client? Both are great regardless of what you need, but the key is to identify which one your company needs the most to gain a competitive edge. 

Once you have narrowed down what you need, compare similar cards. Does one have a longer 0% APR period? Are the rewards greater with one card but don't actually match up with your company's spending needs? It may be to your advantage to settle for unlimited 1% cashback, for example, if you never spend money on traditional high dollar cash back items.  

Finally, compare APRs and fees. Don't assume you'll be able to pay off the balance each month. There may be a month where you're awaiting payment for a large order. Also, don't assume two cards come with the same set of fees. Cards that appear quite similar often have disparate fees. 

Here's a breakdown of the cards above:


0% intro APR

Rewards 

Annual Fee

APR

Bonus Cash/ Bonus points

Flexible payment date

Ink Business Preferred Credit Card by Chase

No

3X on select categories

$95

15.99%- 20.99%

100,000 points

No

Plum Card by American Express

No

1.5% early payment discount 

$250 after the first year

Balance due on bill due date

No

Yes

US Bank Business Platinum

18 months

No

$0

11.99%- 20.99%

No

No

American Express Blue Business Cash Card

12 months

2% cash back

$0

13.24%-19.24% 

$500

No

Spark Class for Business from Capital One

No

1% cash back

$0

26.99%

No

No

The best business credit cards for startups and new businesses FAQ

Do you have to be an LLC to get a business credit card?

No, you don't. You can qualify for a business credit card as a sole proprietor if you want. 

If I am a sole proprietor, what do I use when asked for an employer identification number?

When asked for an employer identification number, you can use your social security number if you are the sole proprietor.

If my business doesn't have a credit score, how will I get approved for a business credit card?

It's fairly common for new businesses not to have an established credit history. When this is the case, credit card companies will often use the owner's credit score to approve or decline a credit request.  

Are there alternatives worth considering?

There are a few cards worth considering that didn't make our list. 

Brex Business Credit Card

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Brex

Brex Business Credit Card has a great rewards system. Here's a breakdown:

  • 8X on rideshare

  • 5X on Brex Travel

  • 4X on restaurants

  • 3X on recurring software

  • 1X on everything else. 

To receive Brex Travel points, account holders need to book their travel through Brex's portal. The company reports that account holders that do this typically save around 30%. 

Each account comes with an unlimited amount of cards you can distribute to your employees. Easily track their spending and set custom spending limits for each cardholder. 

Brex also comes with fraud protection and zero liability. This means you will not be financially responsible for any spending that is not yours. 


Pros:

  • No annual fee

  • No foreign transaction fees

  • Made for applicants with a limited or low credit score

  • Free online money management tools

  • Earn up to 8X point

Cons:

  • No intro APR period


Business Platinum Card® from American Express

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American Express

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

The Business Platinum Card® has a pretty strong rewards program, but it is geared more towards travelers than it is anything else. 

Here is a breakdown of how the bonus points work:

  • Book your travel through amextravel.com and receive 5X points

  • 1.5 points for all qualifying purchases over $5,000

  • 1X points for all other qualifying purchases 

Use your points to pay for all of your airfare, and you'll get 35% of the points back. You can do this up to 500,000 points per year.

Cardholders also get $100 in statement credit when they use their card for purchases made with Dell Technologies between January and June and another $100 between July and December. In total, that's a potential of $200 in statement credits.

All balances under $100 must be paid in full each month. Account balances over $100 may be paid for over time. Just remember that if you go this route, you will be paying interest on all of your purchases. 


Pros:

  • 1-5X rewards

  • 120,000 membership rewards points

  • 14.24% - 22.24% APR

Cons:

  • $595 annual fee

  • Need good to excellent credit


For rates and fees of the Business Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.

Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card

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If business means you frequently stay at hotels throughout the year, then you should consider getting the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card. With this card, you will:

  • Earn 6X points for purchases made at eligible hotels

  • 4X points for restaurants, gas stations, and cell phone services

  • 2X points on all other eligible purchases

Other benefits include 1 free night award every year after your one year anniversary with the card, complimentary late checkout, and 15 Elite Night Credits each year.

You don't just have to stay at Marriott hotels to make this card useful. There are over 7,000 eligible hotels in 131 countries worldwide where you can receive 6X rewards points. 


Pros:

  • 75,000  bonus points

  • $150 back in statement credits

  • If you frequently 15.74% - 24.74% APR

Cons:

  • $125 annual fee