The 8 Best Amex Business Credit Cards for Cash-Back and Rewards

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American Express is a known leader for business credit cards with 12 rewarding credit card options for business owners.

American Express business credit cards offer earning options just as varied as the collection of credit cards. Purchases on rewards-earning American Express business credit cards include cash-back, transferable hotel points, airline frequent flier miles, and American Express Membership Rewards Points.

When you redeem your rewards, you’ll find you have the flexibility to select cash-back, free travel, gift cards, and more.

In addition to the variety of earning and redemption choices, you’ll have access to Amex Offers, which can save you thousands of dollars per year on your purchases.

Finding the perfect Amex business credit card that brings the most value back into your business operation may seem challenging, but we’re here to walk you through the variety of choices and help you determine which card is the right fit for your business.

Let’s take a look at the America Express business credit cards, by category.

The 3 Best American Express Business Credit Cards

  • The Business Platinum® Card from American Express
  • Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express
  • Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card

More details on these rewards cards including their perks, benefits and welcome bonuses are listed below — as well as why they might be a great fit for your business.

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express sets the bar high when it comes to earning, redemptions, and benefits that come with the card.

Praised by business travelers everywhere, the card delivers all the perks a traveler would value such as lounge access, airline and Uber credits, free in-flight and on-the-ground Wi-Fi, bonus earning on travel purchases and luxury hotel perks.

Another solid business credit card is the American Express Business Gold Card which rewards your greatest purchases with 4 points per dollar. Eligible Bonus categories are selected from a list of 6 common business expense categories. If your business has significant spending in a particular category, points will add up quickly.

With additional benefits that include free recruiting, video conferencing, and storage services for an entire year, you could save thousands the first year with this card.

While the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card underwent some changes in 2018, you’ll still be earning valuable points that result in free hotel stays, receive annual free nights for renewing the card, and enjoy perks and benefits at Starwood, Marriott, and Ritz-Carlton properties. The card comes with free Wi-fi and points are transferable to dozens of airline and hotel partners.

How to Select a Business Credit Card

Business Card Basics

  • Your personal credit will play a significant role in whether you’re approved for a business credit card, so you’ll need to provide this information when applying for a business credit card.
  • Credit limits and APRs may be higher for business credit cards than for personal credit cards.
  • The CARD Act does not apply to business cards. The Federal Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009 set provisions protecting consumers from the negative practices of credit card companies. Business credit cards are not covered by the act, so these cards may be less consumer-friendly, although some card issuers now voluntarily include CARD protections on their business cards.

Narrow Your Business Card Options by Answering These Questions

  • In which category of business expenses does my business spend the most? Earning rewards and bonus points or cash on your most significant spending categories is critical to maximizing the benefits of any business rewards-earning credit card.
  • Does my business involve frequent travel?  Does your business purchase airline tickets frequently, or are you a road warrior who spends a lot at gas stations and hotels? Perhaps you work out of your home and have no travel expenses at all.
  • Would my business benefit more from cash-back or travel rewards? Do I want cash-back to reinvest back into my business, or is earning travel rewards more of a priority? Even if your business doesn’t involve travel, you might want to use the miles or points earned on your business expenses to fund a family vacation.
  • Am I comfortable paying an annual fee? Will the credit card deliver enough benefits to your business to offset any annual fee, or would you prefer a card with no annual fee?

Best American Express Business Credit Card For Startups

Startup businesses may have an initial mix of expenses that differ from established businesses, as they may need to build technology infrastructure, open a brick-and-mortar storefront, or have the need to launch a massive marketing campaign to get up and running.

For this reason, selecting a business credit card that rewards startup expenses is critical to getting the most value back from a business credit card.

The SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card is a solid card for a startup business because it does not charge an annual fee and it allows the business owner to select a 3% cash-back category that fits their business expenditures.

There is a $50,000 limit per card year on the 5% and 3% combined bonus categories. However, all purchases after that earn 1% cash-back.

If your startup has an aggressive hiring plan, consider a unique offering on the American Express Business Gold Card. The card comes with a free year of ZipRecruiter which normally costs $249/month.

The card is also a good choice for startups because of its free G Suite video conferencing, cloud storage, and file sharing services benefit. Both ZipRecuiter and G Suite service costs are reimbursed with statement credits, a huge savings if your business can utilize these perks.

Best American Express Cash-Back Business Credit Cards

Cash-back is, of course, the most liquid form of rewards you can earn on your business credit card because the money can go right back into your business. While American Express doesn’t offer a lot of cash-back cards, it has 2 that offer different ways of earning that cash.

The SimplyCash® Plus Business Card earns cash-back on various bonus categories. Once you’ve maxed out the spending in those categories at $50,000, you’ll earn 1% cash-back on all purchases. The Plum Card, with a more simplistic structure, earns cash-back when you pay your balance off each statement period.

Best American Express Credit Cards for Small Businesses

Small businesses can benefit from accelerated earnings on 2 business spending categories with the American Express Business Gold Card. The business owner gets to select which 2 bonus categories, from a list of 6 business spending categories offered, that will earn 4 Membership Rewards Points per dollar spent.

This ensures your greatest spending categories earn the greatest rewards.

If cash-back is a better fit for your business, the SimplyCash® Plus Business Card with no annual fee and a 0% APR period on purchases is an excellent choice. You’ll also earn cash-back on plenty of 5% and 3% cash-back categories.

lady walking tropical city
Points and miles earned on an American Express business credit card can be redeemed for travel, which can help you offset business travel expenses or fund a personal vacation. Image by Christine Krzyszton.

Best American Express Business Credit Cards For Travel Rewards

When we look at all of the American Express Business credit cards, there isn’t one that comes close to delivering more value for travelers than The Business Platinum® Card from American Express.

Yes, it does come with a high annual fee of $450, but it delivers value for the frequent traveler far beyond the amount of that fee.

Lounge access alone covers that cost, and when you add in $200 in airline credits, rebates on travel purchases, free Wi-fi, and luxury hotel benefits, there’s no better fit for the frequent business traveler seeking an American Express travel business credit card.

Best American Express Business Credit Cards for Lounge Access

When you consider the cost of annual lounge memberships or the amount you might spend on multiple lounge day passes, paying a $450 annual fee for a premium credit card that includes this benefit makes economic sense.

Of particular value is The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card that comes with 10 free passes per year to lounges in the Priority Pass network. Even having to pay $27 per visit after you’ve used all the passes, you’ve gained considerable value from a card with a $95 annual fee.

Hot Tip: Before you spend $500 for an annual lounge membership, check out a premium business credit card such as The Business Platinum® Card from American Express that includes this benefit and much more. 

Best American Express Business Airline and Hotel Credit Cards

If your business requires travel, it makes sense to look at how American Express airline and hotel business credit cards can add value and save your business money.

Airline and hotel business credit cards can earn miles or points for free flights and hotels, deliver travel perks that make your journey more comfortable and productive and even fund a family vacation.

Best American Express Business Credit Cards With No Annual Fee

You may find value in one of the American Express premium business credit cards and utilize the perks and benefits that offset the annual fees that come with these premium cards.

However, your business can still enjoy the benefits of a rewards-earning business credit card without having to pay any annual fees. Here are few examples.

Best American Express Business Credit Cards with 0% APR on Purchases/Balance Transfers for up to 15 Months

Few business credit cards come with 0% APR offers whether for purchases or balance transfers, but American Express has 2 such offers. The benefit of the 0% APR period is you’re not charged interest for that limited time, saving your business a lot of money.

If you have a large purchase, or you have high-interest credit card balances to transfer, these business credit cards can provide an interest-free period to repay.

children lemonade stand
Even a small business can qualify for a business credit card. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Which Types of Businesses Qualify for a Business Credit Card?

The IRS defines a business as an activity “carried on with the reasonable expectation of earning a profit.” But credit card issuers have their own criteria for approving business credit card applications.

Some issuers want to see tax returns that show your business operation and others find a small side gig with little income as a perfectly acceptable business operation.

The stronger your personal credit history, the more likely you are to be approved for a business credit card, even if your business is just starting out.

Bottom Line: A strong personal credit history is needed to get approved for a business credit card because you will be personally responsible for paying your business credit card.

Amex business credit card app
Complete the business credit card application as accurately as possible. Image courtesy of American Express.

How to Apply for an American Express Business Credit Card

Before completing a business credit card application, you’ll want to gather the information you’ll need to complete the application accurately.

  • The name of your business (this can be your name or another legal name)
  • The type of business entity (sole proprietor, partnership, S corporation, limited liability company)
  • The business Tax ID number (either an Employer Identification Number or your own Social Security number)
  • The number of years you’ve been in business
  • Total business revenue and total personal income, it’s fine to put zero if your business has no income yet
  • Address of the business (can be the same as your personal address) and phone number
  • Type of business and sub-type of business (for example, services, accounting services)
  • Number of employees
  • Additional personal information

Tips for completing the business credit card application:

  • Complete the application as accurately as possible, even if you have to estimate some of the numbers or generalize the nature of your business. Keep notes on why you answered a question a certain way and what your process was for estimating any business revenue or personal income.
  • Keep a copy of the application.  If American Express needs more information before approving you for one of their credit cards, you’ll want to be able to refer to your application and any notes you made during any follow-up conversations.
  • Document the offer you’re applying for. For example, if you’re applying for an offer that gives 50,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months, make sure you have a screenshot or other documentation if for any reason the points don’t show up.

Business Credit Cards vs. Personal Credit Cards

You may wonder if you need a business credit card for your startup or small business. You may not be generating a lot of profit starting out, and you’ve probably been able to get by using your personal credit card for your business expenses.

The most important reason for using a business credit card is to keep business expenses separate from personal expenses.

The easiest way to do that is to put all of your business expenses on a business credit card. Separating your expenses can be especially important when it comes time to complete your annual tax return and add up your business expenses for the year, or in case you face an audit.

You’ll also want to open a separate bank account for your business even before applying for a business credit card. It’s a prudent business practice to use funds from your business bank account to pay your business expenses on the credit card.

Hot Tip: Another reason to secure a business credit card is business cards frequently offer perks for businesses, have business cash management tools, offer higher credit limits, and reward business category spending more than personal cards.

Deciding Between an American Express Business Charge Card or a Business Credit Card

You’ll want to know the difference between a business charge card and a business credit card to make a good decision on which card will match your business spending patterns — and which will bring the most value to your bottom line.

An Amex business credit card allows you to carry a balance from one statement period to another. You will be charged interest on any balance remaining on the card when your statement period ends.

charge card requires the balance to be paid off in full each statement period as charge cards do not typically allow a balance to be carried over to another statement period.

The Plum Card from American Express offers the opportunity to carry over a balance, but this option is the card’s key feature and it is stated up front. Each charge card has different requirements, and the opportunity to carry over a balance must be initiated by the card issuer.

Charge cards usually have no pre-set spending limit, although that does not mean you have an unlimited credit limit. The credit card issuer will determine your limit internally based on how you’re managing the card.

Hot Tip: For more information on this topic, check out our piece dedicated to the differences between charge cards and credit cards

Final Thoughts

American Express offers more business credit cards than you could use in the lifetime of your business. Their business credit card options are generally strong contenders against other credit cards in their categories, so an American Express business credit card can be a good choice.

Of course, a prudent business owner compares other options before making a decision, so we’ll speed up the process and encourage you to take a look at our comprehensive list of the Best Business Cards for Cash-Back, Rewards, and More.

You’ll find a selection of business credit cards for every type of business operation and confirmation that American Express is a rock star among issuers in the business credit card world.

FAQ

How do business cards work?

Business cards work the same way personal credit cards do. Charges are made throughout the statement period and you must either pay off the entire statement when due (charge card) or have the option to make at least a minimum payment and carry over a balance (credit card).

If you own a business, you’ll want to keep personal expenses separate from business expenses and a business credit card can help you do that. You will, however, be personally responsible for paying the charges on your business credit card and your personal credit will be used to determine whether you’re approved for the business credit card.

How does a cash-back business card work?

On a cash-back business credit card, any purchase you make on the card earns a percentage of that purchase back in cash. Some credit cards allow you to take the cash, but most apply the cash as a statement credit.

Many cash-back credit cards have bonus spending categories that allow you to earn as much as 5% cash-back on your purchases. The biggest benefit of cash-back is the money can be invested directly back into your business to help offset expenses.

What qualifies as a business for a business credit card?

Even small side businesses such as photographing sports on the weekends or selling homemade jams have the potential for a business credit card, but you’ll need to have a strong personal credit history to be approved.

The IRS recognizes any activity that has the intent of earning a profit as a business, so that’s a good guideline to start with, but credit card issuers want your personal credit history to be strong, as you’ll be personally responsible for paying the business credit card.

Are there 0% interest credit cards without a balance transfer fee?

Most business credit cards with 0% APR periods for balance transfers charge fees, usually 3-5% of the amount being transferred. You’re more likely to find personal credit cards that offer a 0% APR period for balance transfers that do not charge transfer fees.

Our complete guide to 0% APR credit cards includes some American Express personal credit cards that meet this criteria.

Can I use my American Express business credit card for personal purchases?

The short answer is yes, it is possible to use your business credit card for personal expenses. However, one of the reasons for obtaining a business credit card is to keep personal and business expenses separate.

The benefit of keeping these expenses separate is bookkeeping will be easier at tax time without having to determine which are personal and which are business expenses on the credit card.

Also, should you be audited, it’s best to have only your business expenses on the business credit card.

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Disclaimer: Any comments listed below are not from the bank advertiser, nor have they been reviewed or approved by them. No responsibility will be taken by the bank advertiser for these comments.

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