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6 American Express small business perks worth knowing

American Express provides many perks on its credit cards, but only some of them are worthwhile for small business owners. Check out these six small-business perks.
Written by Bridget Reed, Contributing Editor

Compared to many other major credit card brands, American Express offers a wide range of top-tier credit card options for small business owners and freelancers. However, no two credit cards are alike, and it's helpful to know which small business perks you should look for if you're credit card shopping.

By figuring out the best small business perks worth knowing, you'll be able to apply for and eventually get a credit card that can provide immediate benefits to your small business, plus give your business bank account some breathing room.

Top American Express small business perks


Below are six major small business perks found across a variety of American Express credit cards. These may not be useful for every business owner – some are more specialized or suitable for contractors or mobile businesses. But all of them could be a great option, depending on your business' needs.

1. Membership Rewards Points

The majority of American Express cards allow you to build up Membership Rewards points. Think of these as the shared reward points that you can use between different cards for a variety of rewards or credits.
Depending on the card you qualify for, you'll earn more points for spending money on eligible purchases from particular categories or for all-around spending. For example, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express lets you earn up to 120,000 extra membership points once you spend $15,000 for eligible business-related purchases in the first 3 months of Card Membership.

The points can gradually be accumulated and redeemed for statement credit or for rewards credit, which you can then use for things like office supplies, gas, and more. This perk is a great thing to look out for as a small business owner since you'll be able to save money by spending money.

Which cards have this perk? 

2. Airline and hotel credits

Plenty of American Express business cards offer dedicated credits for airline fees or hotel stays. These credits accumulate much like the rewards points mentioned above, although plenty of cards offer bonus credit packages for registering in the first place or after being a member for a certain amount of time.

For example, the Business Platinum Card gives you up to $200 in airline fee credit annually. This credit can only be applied to airline costs at one selected airline, but this makes it a great perk for frequent flyers or contracting business owners who are constantly on the go to meet with clients or to reach job sites.

Hotel credit is also valuable as it can save you quite a lot of money if you need to stay at hotels often for your business.

Which cards have this perk?

3. Pay-over-time options

Small business owners who need to make many purchases in rapid succession, but who don't have all the cash to cover those purchases, should look for cards that offer pay-over-time perks. The American Express Gold Business and Platinum Business Cards both offer this perk.

The pay-over-time perk only kicks in whenever you make a purchase of $100 or more, allowing you to pay off the balance in smaller, more manageable chunks over time. While interest does accrue, this can still be beneficial for new small businesses that need a little wiggle room to get the stuff they need to start producing profit.

Which cards have this perk?

4. Low intro APRs

Naturally, business credit cards that offer low introductory APR periods are very beneficial for small business owners. The introductory periods are usually temporary – often around 12 months or the first year after opening your account – but they result in no interest accruing on any purchases you make in that timeframe.

If you are smart with your budgeting, you might be able to make a bunch of big purchases for your business, then pay off those purchases with zero interest before the introductory 0% APR period ends.

Which cards have this perk?

5. Purchase protection

Smart business owners will want to prioritize purchase protection perks, which are offered for different covered purchases depending on the card you qualify for. Regardless, purchase protection perks cover the things you purchase with your credit card against accidental damage, theft, and even manufacturer defects.

More importantly, the purchase protection perks apply even if the manufacturer of the products does not have a protection or reimbursement policy. As you can imagine, purchase protection perks can be extremely valuable if you need to buy a large number of fragile high-cost items for your business.

Which cards have this perk?

6. No foreign transaction fees

If your business accepts international payments, you'll want a business credit card that doesn't include foreign transaction fees because they can add up quickly. Without extra foreign transaction fees, you'll be able to buy and sell foreign goods or resources knowing you won't get a surprise from your credit card company down in one of your monthly bills.

Which cards have this perk?

Do all American Express cards have the same perks?

No. In fact, that's one of the big deciding factors that distinguish American Express credit cards from one another.

Aside from things like APR, credit limit, and fees, perks are the factor that will cause you to swing one way or the other regarding a particular card. Some perks set certain credit cards apart from the others and mark them as great choices for small business owners. Others are clearly better for everyday use or for large business owners.

Read the fine print for each perk carefully, especially if you plan to apply for some of the cards described above.

Are American Express rewards transferable to different cards or companies?

Sometimes. For example, most accrued hotel points from using American Express's business credit cards are transferable through multiple hotel companies. The points only count for certain hotel brands, of course, but the credits are transferable at a one-to-one ratio so you don't need to worry about losing value because you want to take advantage of a free night's stay or a free meal.

Other perks, like many cashback points, are nontransferable to different rewards programs or companies. Again, you should read the fine print before signing up for any credit card so you're never negatively surprised.

Are lower but consistent rewards points accrual rates better than higher but inconsistent rewards points accrual rates?

That depends on what you plan to use your small business credit card for the first place.
In general, credit cards like many of the American Express offers above provide rewards points in one of two ways:

  • A low but consistent cashback rewards points accrual rate, such as 1% or 2%, on all purchases with the card

  • A high but specialized cashback rewards points accrual rate, such as 4% to 6%, for purchases within select categories of products or within certain time frames

The higher rewards accrual rate is obviously more advantageous if you plan to use your credit card for specific purchases. Say that you want to only use your credit card to buy a lot of office supplies for your business. In that case, a more specialized credit card with a high cash-back rewards rate will be a better pick.
But if your business expenses are more variable and you don't spend a ton of money at a single place or on specific products, the more consistent cashback reward program is probably a better choice.
Take a look at your finances before applying for a credit card to see how and where you spend your money for your business. This can help you determine whether a given credit card's rewards scheme is a good fit for your business's needs.

How we chose top Amex small business perks

Determining the best American Express card perks available for small businesses isn't difficult when they offer so many valuable perks for small business owners. For example, many cards have low or no foreign transaction fees. This feature in itself is a huge perk for small businesses that accept foreign transactions.

Additionally, perks like American Express's pay-over-time feature are a natural fit for small businesses with low cash inflow; this especially goes for new businesses.
The American Express Membership Rewards program offers many perks useful to small businesses. Really, this program is excellent for businesses of any size, but small business owners can take extra advantage of rewards credits and cashback offers, saving themselves money when they arguably need it most.
But don't take our word for it. Consider these cards for yourself because many American Express perks could be a boon for your small business. At the very least, they could provide a bit more financial breathing room.

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