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Best startup credit card 2021: Top 12 business cards

Wondering which credit card is right for your new business? Check out ZDNet’s startup business credit cards with ratings from NerdWallet.

There are so many things to think about when starting up a brand new business venture, and trying to get funding should not be one. A business credit card is a great way to get your small business off the ground while gaining a business credit score and cash back to help your business thrive through a personal credit card. There are many options on the market these days with different rewards programs, credit history necessities, interest rates, and special offers that consumer cards and personal credit scores do not offer that can help build business credit.

Whether you have a storefront, webpage, or do freelance work, a business credit card is a great way to keep your personal finances, business purchases and cash flow organized and separate, which will be helpful when tax season rolls around to help your credit report.

We want to make this process a little easier by giving you the 11 best startup business for credit cards for small business owners and the benefits of each credit card issuer. 

Being a new business owner is stressful, but we want to help make this part easy. Here are our top picks based on different rewards cards your business may benefit from: 

American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card

You get 0% APR for the first year

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Why we like it 

  • The American Express card is great to use instead of borrowing large sums of money from lenders for business loans. You have a 0% APR for the first year giving you plenty of time to get your business off the ground and gain cash back rewards on those purchases. 

Pros 

  • You get 0% APR for the first year, and then rates are 13.24% to 19.24% variable APR. You earn 2% cash back on the first $50,000 in purchases each year and then 1% after that. 

Cons 

  • This card is not best for businesses that are spending well over $50,000 a year.
  • It also has a high foreign transaction fee.

Capital One Spark Cash for Business

Has a start-up bonus

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  • APR: Contact for details 
  • Cash back: Flat rate rewards 

Why we like it

  • Unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases. 

Pros 

  • If your expenses do not fall into the bonus categories on other cards, this card may be perfect for you because it has a 2% cash back on all purchases. 
  • It also has a start-up bonus. 
  • There is 0% fraud liability if the card is lost or stolen. 
  • Rewards do not expire, and you can redeem your cash back at any time. 

Cons 

  • There is no annual fee for the first year; then it jumps to $95.
  • After the first year, If you do not plan on spending $4,750, this card may not be the best fit for you. 

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

Earn 2% cash back on the first $50,000

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  • APR: 0% intro
  • Rewards: AmEx points 

Why we like it

  • Starts with 0% APR which helps you rack up rewards quickly
  • A great card for people who value Membership Rewards points with no annual fees. (See rates and fees.) The months of card membership make it great to pull in those points through different spending categories. 

Pros 

  • You get 0% APR for the first year, and then rates are 13.24% to 19.24% variable APR. (See rates and fees.)
  • You earn 2% cash back on the first $50,000 in purchases each year and then 1% after that.
  • Comes with Expanded Buying Power which means more opportunities to earn points.

Cons 

  • This card is not best suited for businesses that are spending over $50,000 a year.
  • There is a 2.7% foreign transaction fee. (See rates and fees.)

Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card

Get 5% cash back on up to $25,000

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  • APR: 0% intro
  • Rewards: Cash back with bonus categories 

  • Why we like it
  • This card is a good fit if your business spends a significant amount on office supplies, telecommunications, restaurants, and gas. 

Pros

  • You get 5% cash back on up to $25,000 in combined spending per account year at office supply stores and on internet, cable, and phone services; 2% cash back on the first $25,000 in combined spending per account year at gas stations and restaurants; and 1% on everything else. 
  • There's a great sign-up bonus, a 0% intro APR period, and a $0 annual fee
  • Card offers fraud protection.
  • Zero liability for unauthorized charges.

Cons 

  • Your business may have different bonus points or needs, and the 2% to 5% rewards may not be enough. 

Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card

Earn 3 points per dollar on up to $150,000 a year

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  • APR: Contact for details
  • Rewards: Travel rewards: Bonus categories + big sign-up offer

Why we like it

  • Offers the most significant sign up rewards on any credit card and rewards in many categories. 

Pros 

  • You'll earn 3 points per dollar on up to $150,000 a year in spending on travel, telecommunications (internet, phone, and cable), shipping, and advertising on social media and search engines; all other spending earns 1 point per dollar. Another popular option by Ink is the Ink Business unlimited card.
  • Redeem points for cash back, gift cards, travel, and more. 

Cons

  • Annual fee of $95. 
  • After the first year, you need to spend up to $2,534 for the rewards to be worth the annual fee. 

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card

3 miles per dollar on Delta purchases

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  • APR: Contact for details 
  • Rewards: Airline miles

Why we like it 

  • If you travel a lot, you will enjoy the Delta lounge, the annual companion certificate even for first-class, and the checked bag benefits. 

Pros 

  • This card allows access to Delta lounges and American Express Centurion Lounges. 
  • Rewards: 3 miles per dollar on Delta purchases and 1 mile per dollar on other purchases (rising to 1.5 miles per dollar after you spend $150,000 in a calendar year)
  • No foreign transaction fees when spending overseas. (See rates and fees.)

Cons

  • The annual fee for this card is $550, which could be worth it if you travel enough. (See rates and fees.)

Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card

6 points per dollar at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels

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  • APR: Contact for details
  • Rewards: Hotel points 

Why we like it

  • Comes with one automatic free night stay every year, elite status, generous rewards, and a sign-up bonus. 

Pros 

  • You earn 6 points per dollar at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels; 4 points per dollar at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers, and on U.S. purchases for shipping; and 2 points per dollar on all other eligible purchases

Cons 

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

Automatic elite status with Marriott and Hilton hotels

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  • APR: Contact for details
  • Rewards: Travel rewards (premium rewards and perks)

Why we like it

  • For those who spend lots of time traveling.

Pros

  • 5X points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
  • Access to more than 1,300 airport lounges worldwide. 
  • Up to $200 annual credit for incidental airline fee. 
  • Reimbursement through statement credits every 4 or 4.5 years for the application fee for TSA Precheck or Global Entry.
  • Automatic elite status with Marriott and Hilton hotels. 

Cons 

Capital One Spark Miles for Business

Great sign-up bonus

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  • APR: Contact for details
  • Rewards: Travel Rewards (flat-rate)

Why we like it

  • This card is for traveling entrepreneurs whose business expenses may not fall into common bonus categories. 

Pros 

  • This card earns unlimited 2 miles per dollar on all purchases. 
  • Miles can be redeemed for any travel expense — no blackout dates or restrictions — at a rate of 1 cent apiece.
  • Great sign-up bonus. 

Cons 

  • The card has no annual fee for the first year and then goes to $95. 
  • You need to spend $4,750 a year to make the rewards worth it.

Brex Card for Startups

Earns 1 point per $1 spent on purchases

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  • APR: contact for details
  • Rewards: Elevated rewards and bonuses

Why we like it

  • A great card for startups because it does not require the cardholder to personally guarantee the debt on the card. 
  • Perfect for the business owner with a thin credit file but is well-capitalized. 

Pros 

  • This card earns 1 point per $1 spent on purchases, but if you make the Brex Card for Startups your only company card, you'll earn elevated rewards on rideshares (7 points per dollar), travel booked through Brex (4 points per dollar), restaurants and Apple products (3 points per dollar) and recurring software expenses (2 points per dollar). You'll also be qualifying for valuable offers from such business service providers as Amazon Web Services, Google Ads, WeWork, and Salesforce. 
  • Great sign-up bonus options. 
  • The credit limit is 10-20x higher than traditional small business corporate cards. 

Cons 

  • Your business must have a $100,000 bank account balance to apply now. This is a charge card, not a credit card, meaning the balance transfer is due in full each billing cycle. 

Bank of America Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Master Credit Card

$0-annual-fee card earns 1.5 points for every dollar spent

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  • APR: contact for details
  • Rewards: Travel rewards plus no annual fees

Why we like it

Great choice for a travel card with great rewards and no annual fee. 

Pros 

  • This $0-annual-fee card earns 1.5 points for every dollar spent and 3 points per dollar on travel purchases booked through Bank of America. 
  • Great sign-up reward for a "no-fee" card. 

Cons 

  • Higher reward rates are available on other cards. You might come out ahead on those cards if you spend enough, even after paying an annual fee.