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Launching a new business can be one of the most exciting times of your life. You may also have a lot of one-time expenses to build inventory and attract your first customers. The best credit cards for startups make it easy to earn travel and cash rewards from your many business purchases.
The Best Credit Cards for Startups
Here is a preview of the best credit cards for startups that you’ll find in this post:
- Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
- Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card
- Capital One Spark Miles for Business
- The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
- American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
- Brex for Startups Credit Card
- Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card
Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
The Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card can be a good option if travel, shipping, and advertising are some of your most significant purchases. You earn 3x Ultimate Rewards points on the first $150,000 in combined spending on these purchases:
- Shipping purchases
- Internet, cable, and phone services
- Social media and search engine advertising purchases
All non-bonus spending earns 1 point per $1 spent.
Your points are most valuable when redeemed for travel. Award travel booked on the Chase travel portal makes each point worth 1.25 cents each. You can also transfer them to 1:1 airline and hotel partners like United, Southwest Airlines, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, and World of Hyatt. This is why it’s one of the best credit cards for travel miles.
Your points are only worth 1 cent each when redeemed for cash or gift card rewards.
The Ink Business Preferred has a $95 annual fee. The signup bonus is 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points after spending $15,000. This bonus offer is worth $1,250 in award travel.
Related: How hard is it to get the Chase Ink Business Preferred?
Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card
Earn unlimited 1.5% back on all purchases and never pay an annual fee with the Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card. A flat-rate rewards credit card is a better option if your normal purchases don’t align with a tiered rewards credit card.
If you already own the Chase Ink Business Preferred, the Ink Business Unlimited earns 50% more on your non-bonus purchases. Your points are worth 1 cent each for award travel, cash, and gift cards.
Additionally, cardholders may redeem rewards for cash back, gift cards, travel, and more through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. Employers can set individual spending limits for greater control and earn rewards faster with employee cards that come at no extra cost. Fraud protection is also included with the card as well as zero fraud liability.
New Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card cardholders can earn $750 bonus cash back after spending $6,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
This is also one of the best Chase business credit card options.
Capital One Spark Miles for Business
You can earn unlimited 2 miles per $1 with the Capital One Spark Miles for Business. If you prefer cash rewards, the Capital One Spark Cash for Business lets you redeem your purchase rewards for cash instead of award travel.
With the Capital One Spark Miles for Business, you earn 2x miles on all purchases and 5x miles on Capital One Travel Center hotel and rental car purchases. You also get a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit, up to $100. Your miles are worth 1 cent each when redeemed for travel statement credits or booking upcoming travel.
A third redemption option for these best credit cards for startups option is transferring your miles to the Capital One airline transfer partners.
New Capital One Spark Miles for Business cardholders can earn 50,000 miles – equal to $500 in travel – once you spend $4,500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. Learn more: Business Credit Cards
The annual fee for either card is $0 for the first year then $95.
Related Articles: Capital One Spark Business Cards Approval Odds
The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express is one of the best flat-rate rewards credit cards for startups, with no annual fee (See Rates & Fees). You earn 2x Membership Rewards® points per $1 on the first $50,000 spent annually on everyday business purchases, then 1x point per $1. Your points are worth 1 cent each when booking award flights on AmexTravel.com or redeeming for gift cards. You can also transfer them to the Membership Rewards airline and hotel transfer partners.
Additionally, cardholders can also enjoy more flexibility to use their card for more purchases and rewards when buying above their credit limit. The amount you can spend above your credit limit is not unlimited. It adjusts with your use of the Card, your payment history, credit record, financial resources known to American Express, and other factors.
New The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express cardholders can earn 15,000 Membership Rewards® points after spending $3,000 in eligible purchases on the Card within their first 3 months of Card Membership.
American Express Blue Business Cash Card
For cash rewards, the American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card earns 2% cash back on all eligible purchases of up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1% cash back earned is automatically credited to your statement.
It also comes with Expanded Buying Power which gives cardholders the ability to spend beyond their credit limit. Just remember, the amount you can spend above your credit limit is not unlimited. It adjusts with your use of the Card, your payment history, credit record, financial resources known to American Express and other factors.
New American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card cardholders can earn a $250 statement credit after making $3,000 in purchases on their Card in the first 3 months.
This card has no annual fee (See Rates & Fees).
Dig Deeper: American Express Blue Business credit cards review
The Business Platinum Card from American Express
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express is great if you travel often or make large purchases. Earn 5x Membership Rewards on airfare and prepaid hotels booked on AmexTravel.
Additionally, cardholders can get a 35% airline bonus when using their points to pay for all or part of a flight with a qualifying airline booked on amextravel.com, up to 500,000 bonus points annually.
Cardholders earn 1.5x points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
Plus, select one qualifying airline and then receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year when incidental fees are charged by the airline to your Card or any of the Additional Cards on your Platinum Card account.
Additionally, unlock over $1,000 in value per year for statement credits on select purchases, including tech, recruiting, and wireless with the Business Platinum Card.
Cardholders can get up to $189 back per year to enroll in CLEAR® membership when they use their Card to enroll. CLEAR® uses biometrics to assign you a touchless ID, allowing you to move faster through security at select airports and stadiums across the U.S. You can cover the cost of a CLEAR membership with up to $189 in statement credits per calendar year after you pay for CLEAR with your Business Platinum Card®.
Also, get access to more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting with The American Express Global Lounge Collection®. You’ll have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market (as of 9/2021).
Welcome Bonus Offer
New The Business Platinum Card® from American Express cardholders have the opportunity to earn 120,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with your Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
This is not only one of the best credit cards for startups but also one of the best business credit cards for miles.
The annual fee is $695 (See Rates & Fees).
Brex for Startups Credit Card
Catering itself as “the first corporate credit card for startups,” the Brex for Startups Credit Card earns up to 7% back on purchases:
- 7x points on rideshare
- 4x points on Brex Travel purchases (includes plane tickets, hotels, and Airbnb)
- 3x points on restaurants
- 2x points on recurring software
- 1x points on everything else
Your points are redeemable for cash or travel rewards. Plus, they never expire. Plus, the current Brex for Startups Credit Card signup bonus is the ability to earn 50,000 Brex Rewards points when you sign up before January 31, 2020, and you spend $1,000 with Brex. However, you must have a minimum of $100,000 in your bank balance to qualify.
You will also be able to save money with curated partner offers for many startup-friendly companies. Some of the partners include Google Ads, Amazon Web Services, Zendesk, and WeWork.
The Brex for Startups Credit Card doesn’t charge an annual fee or foreign transaction fee. It’s issued by Mastercard so it has near-universal acceptance.
What makes this card unique is Brex doesn’t require a personal guarantee like most business credit cards. This means you don’t need to use personal assets to pay your balance if your business assets can’t. However, you will need an employer identification number (EIN) to apply. Don’t worry. You can get one for free from the IRS. However, note that sole proprietors aren’t eligible for the corporate card.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card
If you live near a Southwest Airlines hub, the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card is one of the best airline credit cards.
The Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card earns:
- 4x points on Southwest® purchases
- 3x points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car partners
- 2x points on rideshares
- 2x points on social media and search engine advertising, internet, cable, and phone services
- 1x points on all other purchases
Cardholders also get unlimited tier qualifying points (TQPs) that can be earned toward A-List status. There is also a $500 annual fee credit for Rapid Rewards points transfers.
Cardholders can also enjoy:
- 4 Upgraded Bookings per year (when available)
- In-flight WiFi credits (up to 365-day passes per year)
- Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit
- 9,000 bonus points each card anniversary
The annual fee is $199, and there is no foreign transaction fee.
New card members can earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.
As you can purchase a round-trip award ticket for approximately 20,000 Rapid Rewards points to Hawaii, this bonus can be more valuable than you realize.
Launching your startup can be expensive. These best credit cards for startups can help you maximize your purchases so you can get more points back as cash or travel rewards. The additional benefits many of these cards offer can also help you save money.
What credit score is needed for a business credit card?
Most business credit cards require a personal credit score of 650 or above. The cards with the highest purchase rewards or most benefits usually require a 740+ credit score. However, these most exclusive cards (i.e., Amex Business Platinum, Chase Ink Business Preferred, and Capital One Spark) sometimes accept applicants with personal credit scores in the low 700s.
Be sure to include as much business income and personal income to improve your odds. Applying with an Employee Identification Number (EIN) can also help because the credit card company can use your business credit score too.
How do you apply for a business credit card?
The business credit card application process is similar to applying for a personal credit card. One difference is that the application asks for your business information and income details plus your personal information. Even though you are applying for a business credit card, most applications will perform a hard inquiry on your personal credit report as well.
Make sure your personal credit reports are error-free, and your existing card balances are as low as possible to have the best approval odds.
Also, some banks may decline your card application if you have recently opened multiple personal cards. For instance, Chase will most likely decline your application if 5 or more credit card accounts have been added to your credit report in the last 24 months.
Do I need an EIN to get a small business credit card?
Not always. Most major banks like American Express, Chase, and Capital One let you apply with either an Employee Identification Number (EIN) or a Social Security Number (SSN). But, applying with an EIN may improve your approval odds if the application accepts either number.
The Brex corporate cards only let you apply if you have an EIN.
- The Best Small Business Credit Cards for Travel Rewards in 2023
- IHG Rewards Premier Business Credit Card
- Capital One Venture X Business
And For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express, please click here.
- 1 The Best Credit Cards for Startups
- 2 Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
- 3 Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card
- 4 Capital One Spark Miles for Business
- 5 The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express
- 6 The Business Platinum Card from American Express
- 7 Brex for Startups Credit Card
- 8 Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card
- 9 Summary
- 10 FAQs