Are you a small business owner looking to earn rewards on everyday office purchases, get some working capital in the form of a credit card, or simply keep your personal and business expenses separate?
It might seem like business credit cards are stacked with fees—the Chase Ink Business PreferredSM comes with a $95 annual charge, and the Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN has a whopping $450 annual fee. But you don’t have to pay fees to get good value—plenty of low- or no-annual fee cards fit the bill.
We’re running through the top small business credit cards with no annual fees to help you decide which is right for you.
Best for Travel Rewards: Capital One® Spark® Miles Select for Business
Capital One promises simplicity and transparency in their credit cards, and the Capital One® Spark® Miles Select for Business doesn’t disappoint. It earns a flat 1.5 miles on every dollar you spend, with no rewards caps, rotating bonus categories, or spending thresholds.
You can redeem your rewards by booking travel through Capital One’s Orbitz-powered portal, or you can use their Purchase Eraser® to redeem them as a statement credit against any travel expense. Your points will always be worth $0.01, so you don’t have to jump through any hoops or wait to find the best possible time to redeem. There’s also a signup bonus of 20,000 miles (worth $200) if you spend $3,000 in the first three months of account opening. As for fees, not only does the Spark Miles Select forgo annual fees, but it also does not charge foreign transaction fees.
All that said, if you put a lot of money on your credit card, you might want to consider the Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business. That card comes with a $59 annual fee (waived the first year) but earns 2 miles per $1 spent and has a 50,000 mile-signup bonus when you spend $4,500 in the first three months. If you plan to hold the card for less than six years, the difference in signup bonuses makes up for the annual fee. The same goes if you spend at least $11,800 on the card each year—the 0.5-mile difference in rewards rates cancels out the annual fee.
Best for Cash Back: The Chase Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card
The Chase Ink Business CashSM Credit Card has two great features: solid rewards and a 0% introductory APR period. To start off, you get 0% APR for 12 months, then an ongoing variable APR of 13.99%-19.99%, depending on creditworthiness. You also get a signup bonus of $300 cash back when you spend $3,000 in the first three months of cardmembership.
Its ongoing rewards program is nothing to scoff at, either. You earn:
- 5% cash back at office supply stores and on internet, cable, and phone services, up to a combined $25,000 spent annually
- 2% cash back on gas and restaurants, up to a combined $25,000 spent annually
- An unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
Whether you want to make a big purchase and pay it off over time or earn cash back on typical small business purchases, the Ink Cash is an attractive offer.
Best 0% Purchase APR Card: American Express SimplyCash® Plus
If you want flexible financing while still earning great rewards, the American Express SimplyCash® Plus is worth a look. Your interest rate on purchases is 0% for the first nine months, then 12.99%, 17.99%, or 19.99% depending on creditworthiness.
If you can pay off your balance within the zero-APR period, using a credit card can actually be more cost-effective than taking out a small business loan. But the SimplyCash offers more than just financing—its rewards program is solid, too. You earn:
- 5% cash back on the first $50,000 spent annually on office supplies and wireless phone services
- 3% cash back on the first $50,000 spent annually on your choice of eight categories: airfare, hotels, car rentals, gas, restaurants, advertising, or computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases
- Unlimited 1% cash back elsewhere
There are no annual or employee card fees. The card’s 0% APR period is shorter than the Ink Business Cash’s, so if you can’t pay off your balance within nine months, you should probably go with the Ink. Also, the SimplyCash doesn’t have a signup bonus, but its higher bonus rewards cap makes it appealing for bigger-spending businesses.
If your spending tops $31,000 on office supplies and wireless phone services, or $35,000 on the 3% bonus category, you’ll earn more in ongoing rewards with the Amex SimplyCash than you’d get from the Chase Ink Cash’s signup bonus.
Best for Average Credit: The Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business
The three cards listed above require good or excellent credit, and since you almost certainly need to provide a personal guarantee, you might struggle to qualify if your own credit score is less than stellar. But that doesn’t mean you’re locked out of good rewards and no-fee cards: The Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business is a top choice for average credit.
It doesn’t charge an annual fee or foreign transaction fee (rare for that type of card), and it even earns rewards—1% cash back on every purchase. This is an excellent credit builder that provides value even as it helps you move toward a good FICO score.
Capital One does report business credit card usage to personal credit bureaus, which is a double-edged sword: If you use the card responsibly, you can improve your own credit score, but if you miss payments or have a high debt-to-credit ratio, you might find it harder to qualify for mortgages, auto loans, and credit cards that you personally apply for.
If you do develop a track record of on-time payments and responsible use, you can also ask Capital One to upgrade you from the average-credit Spark Classic to the Spark Miles Select or another Capital One card that offers better rewards.
Whether you want to rehabilitate your credit, get 0% APR, or earn rewards, you can find a no-fee business credit card to suit your needs.
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