The 8 Best Business Credit Cards for Independent Contractors [Self-Employed, Freelancers]

Independent Contractor

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Some of the biggest benefits of being an independent contractor include being your own boss, setting your own schedule, building a business from the ground up, and even a higher earning potential in some cases.

According to the IRS, a person, business, or corporation is an independent contractor if it provides goods or services under a written contract or a verbal agreement — this is also known as a freelancer.

So let’s say you’re an independent contractor in a particular industry — one of the first things you need to do is straighten out your finances.

As an independent contractor, you might think to just mix your personal and business finances. But this isn’t an organized way or the best way to conduct business as an independent contractor.

To avoid massive headaches with your accountant and/or bookkeeper, you should consider getting a separate credit card for your business. That’s what this guide is explicitly for — to show you the best credit cards for your situation.

Let’s begin!

What To Look for in a Credit Card for Independent Contractors

First and foremost, a credit card for independent contractors must act to separate business expenses from personal expenses.

It should also allow you to add employee cards, set credit limits, and transfer data to accounting programs (such as QuickBooks).

Another must is being able to view and analyze expenses reports seamlessly.

Luckily, almost all of the business credit cards from major banks have all of these features built-in — so what’s left to differentiate between the different choices? The answer: rewards and benefits.

You’ll want to use a business credit card that earns the most rewards for your specific expenses. Remember, every independent contractor will make different business purchases, so be sure to choose one that aligns with your own situation.

Additionally, if you’d like to earn travel benefits from your credit card, you’ll need to specifically look for one that offers travel benefits, as opposed to shopping benefits, for example.

With all that being said, we’ve done all of the homework and identified the best business cards for independent contractors. We’ve focused mostly on travel rewards and benefits, though as you’ll find out, many of these choices are superb even for those seeking cash-back.

Let’s dive right into it.

Best Business Cards for Independent Contractors

Amex Business Platinum 1
Our favorite business card is loaded with travel perks and amazing reward-earning potential. Image Credit: American Express

1. The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

Our absolute staff-favorite business card for independent contractors is the Amex Business Platinum card, which, as you can imagine, is fully loaded with travel perks and the ability to earn some of the most amazing rewards out there.

You’ll first start with an incredible welcome bonus, worth more than $2,000+ by itself. You’ll also earn 5x points per $1 spent on flights and prepaid hotels booked via Amex Travel.

Hot Tip: Your Amex Business Platinum card may be eligible for valuable Amex Offers — visit our guide on how to use the new American Express statement credits for more details.

You’ll also enjoy unrivaled lounge access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection. This includes over 1,300 locations around the world at the following lounges:

We’re just getting started with our travel benefits! You will also get a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit, access to the amazing Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts, a $200 airline fee credit every calendar year, complimentary Hilton Honors Gold and Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status, up to $200 in statement credits for Dell purchases in the U.S., and a 35% rebate on select flights through the Pay With Points benefit.

In addition, the Amex Business Platinum card is one of the few cards out there that offers a large purchase bonus. To be specific, you will earn 50% more points (equal to 1.5 points per $1 spent) on purchases of $5,000 or more.

To finish off the travel benefits, you will get state-of-the-art travel insurance that covers trip cancellation and interruption, trip delay, lost/damaged baggage, secondary car rental coverage, and emergency medical transportation.

And you can bet that you’ll also get top-of-the-line benefits not related to travel, including QuickBooks integrations, purchase protection, return protection, and extended warranty coverage.

The annual fee is $595. There are no foreign transaction fees, and this card has no preset spending limit.

Why We Like Earning Amex Membership Rewards Points

Let’s take a few moments to talk about the power of Amex Membership Rewards. First of all, not all points are created equal. Amex Membership Rewards points are the most valuable at approximately 2.2 cents per point, according to our valuations.

This means if you earn 5x points per dollar spent, you’d get earning a return on spend of 11%! So, how can you get outsized value from Amex points?

It’s easy to get top-notch value from Amex points thanks to the large list of transfer partners you can take advantage of to book luxury flights and hotels.

You can choose from the following redemption options:

  • Luxury flights and hotels booked through transfer partners (recommended)
  • Travel booked through Amex Travel
  • Gift cards
  • Charitable donations
  • Statement credits
  • Merchandise

Here at Upgraded Points, we love using Amex points for luxury travel because of how much value you can get from your points.

2. American Express® Business Gold Card

The Amex Business Gold card is the “little sister” of the Amex Business Platinum card for a few reasons. Ultimately, it’s difficult to compare the 2 cards, but here’s what we can tell you about the Amex Business Gold card.

You’ll get a huge welcome bonus, which could be worth more than $1,000+ by itself.

This one of our favorite business cards for spending because it earns 4x Amex points per $1 spent each month on the top 2 categories in this list (up to $150,000 in combined purchases will earn 4x points per calendar year):

As an independent contractor, you might have different expenses from one month to another — the Amex Business Gold is one of the few cards that automatically adjusts your bonus categories for you based on where you’d earn the most points every month. That way, you can just focus on growing your business!

If you maxed out the $150,000 in purchases earning 4x points every calendar year, you’d get 600,000 Amex points, which is worth a whopping $13,000+! With 4x Amex points per dollar spent, your return on spend is equal to about 8.8%!

The Amex Business Gold card’s rewards structure is second-to-none — but it doesn’t offer anywhere near the same travel benefits like lounge access or a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit.

Nonetheless, it does offer valuable benefits like purchase protection, extended warranty, secondary rental car coverage, travel insurance, and business integrations with QuickBooks.

The annual fee is $250. You can add up to 99 employee cards with no annual fee after the first employee card ($50 annual fee).

Also, this card doesn’t have a preset spending limit, and it doesn’t have any foreign transaction fees.

Hot Tip: Trying to figure out if the Amex Business Platinum card or Amex Business Gold card is a better fit for your business? We weigh the pros and cons of each card in our helpful head-to-head comparison.

3. Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card - This is our #1 recommended business card and right now comes with a 100,000 sign up bonus after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening.

This bonus is worth $1,250 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards for travel purchases (flights, hotels etc). Pay your cell phone bill with this card to receive up to $600 in cell phone insurance coverage per year. The Ink Business Preferred also offers a lot of card benefits for business owners.

Earn 3x on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year, plus 1x on all other purchases—with no limit to the amount you can earn. All for an annual fee of $95.

The “king of business credit cards” has officially made an appearance! The Ink Business Preferred card offers incredible, well-rounded benefits, starting with the massive welcome bonus, worth $2,000+ alone!

On top of that, this credit card allows you to earn the amazing Chase Ultimate Rewards points at a rate of 3x points per $1 spent on the first $150,000 (1x points after that) in combined purchases across these categories:

Maxing out these bonus categories would net you 450,000 Ultimate Rewards points every year — that’s worth up to $9,000!

You’ll also earn 1x points per $1 spent on all other purchases. For a limited time through March 2022, you’ll also earn 5x points per $1 spent on Lyft purchases.

Another underrated benefit is the ability to redeem your Ultimate Rewards points for 25% more value at a rate of 1.25 cents per point for any travel booked through the Chase travel portal.

The Ink Business Preferred card offers purchase protection, extended warranty, top-notch cell phone protection insurance, travel insurance (including primary car rental insurance), and more.

There are no foreign transaction fees or employee card fees.

Why We Like Earning Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

Chase Ultimate Rewards points are among the most valuable in the world, second only to Amex Membership Rewards. Worth around 2 cents each, earning 3x points per dollar spent is approximately equal to getting a 6% return on spend.

As you can tell from the earning structure above, it’s ridiculously easy to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

These points can then be redeemed for cash-back, merchandise, gift cards, charity, travel booked through the Chase travel portal, or for amazing business and first class flights such as Singapore Suites and Emirates first class via transfer partners.

4. The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

The Amex Blue Business Plus card is our favorite business credit card for everyday purchases. You can earn 2x points per $1 spent on everyday business purchases, up to $50,000 per calendar year (1x thereafter), plus an awesome 0% introductory APR offer as shown in the table above. This card is a favorite because 2x Amex points are equal to a return on spend of around 4.4%. Not too shabby, right?

This card is one of the rare no-annual-fee cards that allows you access to a transferable rewards system and earnings of 2x transferable points per dollar. Other crucial perks include no additional fees for employee cards, purchase protection, extended warranty, and access to Amex Offers (see rates and fees).

5. Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card

The Ink Business Unlimited card is often thought of as being a competitor to the Amex Blue Business Plus card. It’s also thought of as being the business card equivalent to the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card

Both of these labels are partially correct, in the sense that this credit card offers awesome rewards on everyday business purchases.

Specifically, you’ll earn 1.5% cash-back on all of your purchases with no caps! You’ll also enjoy a 0% introductory APR benefit for the first 12 months.

Although this card doesn’t earn Ultimate Rewards points by itself, the 1.5% cash-back rewards you earn can be converted to 1.5x Ultimate Rewards points if you also hold an Ultimate Rewards credit card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. That’s equivalent to a return on spend of 3%!

This no-annual-fee credit card has unlimited employee cards for no additional fee, zero liability fraud protection, primary car rental insurance, purchase protection, extended warranty, and many more benefits.

6. Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business

Our first Capital One entry in this list, the CapOne Spark Miles card is Capital One’s flagship business credit card, and you’ll see why in a moment.

Starting off, you’ll usually find a great welcome bonus to jumpstart the earning opportunities you have on the card.

Business owners holding the CapOne Spark Miles card will earn an unlimited 2x Capital One miles on every purchase with no blackouts, minimum to redeem, or seat restrictions.

Additionally, you will earn 5x miles on hotel and rental car bookings made through Capital One travel.

This premium credit card offers cardmembers a $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit, free employee cards, roadside assistance, zero fraud liability, purchase protection, extended warranty, and no foreign transaction fees.

The annual fee is $95.

Why We Like Earning Capital One Miles

Capital One Miles is a terrific rewards program that has access to some amazing transfer partners, both airlines and hotels.

You can use your points to cover travel expenses using the Purchase Eraser, for statement credits, gift cards, Amazon purchases, and more.

But the undisputed winning redemption is transferring your Capital One miles to transfer partners and redeeming them for tremendous value.

7. Ink Business Cash® Credit Card

The Ink Business Cash credit card gives you some incredible potential for solid cash savings, thanks to its thoughtful business bonus categories.

You’ll almost always find a fantastic welcome bonus on the card. Then, you’ll also find a 0% introductory APR perk, which could save you thousands of dollars on interest accrual.

After that, you’ll earn up to 5% cash-back as per the following structure:

  • 5% cash-back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year
  • 2% cash-back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year
  • 1% cash-back everywhere else

Earning 5% cash-back on a no-annual-fee card is amazing, even if it has a cap of $25,000 every account anniversary year.

Also, this credit card comes with primary rental car coverage, roadside dispatch, purchase protection, extended warranty, and employee cards for no added fee.

Also, your cash-back can be converted to Ultimate Rewards points if you have a credit card such as the Ink Business Preferred card. That means 5%, 2%, and 1% cash-back is equal to 5x, 2x, and 1x Ultimate Rewards Points. If you maxed out the 5% cash-back and converted it to Ultimate Rewards points, you could get a 10% return on spend!

8. American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card

Our very last credit card pick is a superb choice if you’re looking for straightforward cash-back to reinvest into your business as an independent contractor.

The Amex Blue Business Cash card will earn you 2% cash-back on all eligible purchases (up to $50,000 per calendar year), then 1% cash-back.

This card is awesome because the cash-back rewards you earn are automatically credited to your statement, which means you don’t need to worry about using your rewards!

Also, you’ll find a 0% intro APR perk to help you defer interest fees accruing in the first 12 months of your account opening. Regular APR, as shown in the table above, will apply after the introductory period.

There is no annual fee, and the Amex Blue Business Cash card gives extended warranty coverage, purchase protection, secondary car rental coverage, access to Amex Offers, and no additional fee employee cards (see rates and fees).

Final Thoughts

Without a doubt, you have lots of choices when picking the best credit card for your independent contractor business.

Even though the universe of suitable business credit cards is diverse, there are clear winners and losers. The winners will offer the best rewards, benefits, and of course, the typical business credit card perks like expense management and transaction separation.

In this guide, we showed you our top picks of the best credit cards for independent contractors — study the information in this guide carefully, make the decision that’s best for your needs, and it’s time to put your spending on your shiny new card!

The information regarding the Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer. 

For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Business Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card, click here.

Frequently asked questions

Do you need a business credit card if you’re self-employed?

It’s always best to use a business credit card to separate your personal and business expenses. If you’re self-employed, you’re probably running a business. Therefore, we’d always recommend having a business credit card so that you can keep track of what’s a personal expense and what’s a business expense.

What is the best credit card for contractors?

The best credit cards for contractors, in our opinion, are the Amex Business Platinum card, Amex Business Gold card, Ink Business Preferred card, Amex Blue Business Plus card, Ink Business Unlimited card, CapOne Spark Miles card, and Amex Blue Business Cash card.

Can you use a personal credit card if you’re a contractor?

You should consult your bookkeeping/accounting professional for advice, but we recommend that you keep a personal credit card for personal expenses and a business credit card for business/contractor expenses.

What is the best bank for self-employed workers?

As far as the best banks for credit cards as a self-employed worker, you’ll get the biggest benefits from American Express and Chase. Capital One is solid, too, but the 2 best banks for rewards and perks are American Express and Chase.

Stephen Au

About Stephen Au

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Stephen has been privileged to enjoy many premium cabin products and 5-star hotels. A petroleum engineer by trade, Stephen caught the travel bug in college when he traveled to Asia several times. After 2 years of continual promotions, Stephen quit his safe and secure career path in favor of entrepreneurship.

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