Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
& Kellie Jez
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Brex entered the business card scene in 2017, branding itself as an alternative to traditional business credit cards. The card focused on startups and small businesses, offering high limits, no personal credit guarantees, and a sleek dashboard for business owners and employees.
In 2021, however, the company — which had originally begun life as a virtual-reality company — made a hard pivot. Moving forward, Brex announced that its main business would be offering a budgeting software suite in the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. Brex clients could track and manage their companies’ and employees’ spending using AI-powered applications that could authorize and limit allowed purchases in real time.
But the new direction also brought bad news for many existing Brex clients: The company abruptly told them it was closing small-business accounts. Brex later said the accounts they eliminated amounted to only 2% of its business, but customers were confused and upset, and Brex later apologized for poorly communicating what was going on.
Second, credit cards have been seemingly sidelined in favor of the Brex SaaS products. Here, too, Brex hasn’t exactly covered itself in glory when it comes to transparency — in early 2023, without warning, the company devalued its points by 40% for all uses but through its travel portal, leaving many customers frustrated and angry.
So, is the current iteration of the Brex Card right for you and your company? Here’s what you need to know about the Brex platform, application, cards, and rewards.
A relative newcomer, San Francisco-based Brex was founded in 2017 by Brazilian entrepreneurs as a financial technology company. In the short period between then and now, it has reinvented itself no fewer than 3 times.
At first, Brex was supposed to be a virtual reality company, but it quickly switched to finance after its first round of seed funding. The new vision was to offer credit cards to startups, scaling businesses, and small businesses that, as newly formed companies, had trouble getting traditional company credit cards.
Since 2021, though, Brex’s primary focus has shifted to providing AI-powered cash-management accounts (formerly Brex Cash but now simply “Brex business accounts”) and budgeting software suites for businesses. Brex still offers charge cards, but they are now a secondary concern after its budget management accounts.
Brex has a different take on the business credit card.
For starters, it isn’t actually a credit card. Like some American Express cards, Brex cards are actually charge cards. This means that all charges must be paid back in full when the statement is due. The card accounts come in 2 flavors: 1 with daily payments and 1 with monthly payments. Since it’s a charge card, your company can never carry a balance from day to day or month to month, depending on which payment option your card is signed up for.
Brex’s AI determines your card’s spending limit dynamically, so how much you’re allowed to charge can vary based on your spending habits, the categories you’re spending on, how much is in your bank account, and other factors.
This is both good and bad for businesses. The good is that you never pay an interest fee, but the bad is that you’re limited in payment flexibility if your business ever runs into cash flow problems. So, before applying for a Brex card, make sure that you carefully examine your business’s credit needs and see if a charge card fits your budgeting style.
To be approved for a Brex card, you must be a business and pass rigorous requirements. In fact, when applying, you’re required to link your business bank account to the Brex website.
Here are the base requirements:
If your organization is a nonprofit, you must provide the following:
As Brex now focuses on clientele who will soon achieve scale, they only take clients of a certain size and are already making a good amount of revenue.
These are the criteria that Brex lists for accounts that make daily payments:
If your business is applying for an account in which it has to make monthly rather than daily payments, the requirements depend on the size of your company and where it is in its development.
Startups: These are only some of what Brex looks at before deciding whether to take you on as a customer if you’re a startup — the company looks at other factors, as well, but doesn’t necessarily make them public:
Midmarket Companies and Enterprises: Larger companies must be able to prove they generate $400,000 or more in revenue every month. If Brex finds your company in poor financial health, you may receive stricter spending limits.
There’s no doubt that these requirements make it significantly harder for most people to be approved for Brex cards than other business cards. But there’s a good reason for this: Unlike the competition, with Brex cards, there’s no personal guarantee required. This means that founders are not required to link their personal credit to a Brex card.
This results in Brex cards having zero effect on the founder’s personal credit; even if you default on your card, it won’t damage your personal credit or assets.
Using these tools, business owners can quickly and easily manage employee cards, and employees using Brex cards can perform many business-related functions. They can book and check on flights, hotels, and car rentals; approve or reject payments; request new physical and virtual cards on the fly; manage rewards; and analyze current spending from a centralized hub.
This Brex app makes expense reporting easy. Employees can submit receipts through the app, and they’ll be automatically matched to purchases on their Brex statement. Plus, you can link Brex’s in-house expense reporting to Quickbooks, Expensify, Xero, and other existing expense reporting tools that your business may already use.
The Brex card comes with several benefits before you even get into Brex Rewards, its award program. These include:
Brex cards are World Elite Mastercard products. This gives you special benefits such as rental car elite status and insurance, theft protection, cell phone protection, and discounts with Lyft, among others.
Businesses that use Brex as their only corporate card are automatically enrolled in the Brex Exclusive plan, in which they earn additional points in Brex Rewards. (Businesses that don’t qualify for Brex Exclusive earn 1 point per $1 spent.) Brex Exclusive customers also earn 400 points per $100 spent through the travel reward portal if they use their Brex card for payment.
The number of points you earn depends on whether you pay your Brex card bills under the daily payment schedule using a Brex business account (formerly called Brex Cash).Hot Tip:
If you qualify, you’re automatically enrolled in Brex Exclusive. If you qualify but don’t wish to participate, you must speak to a Brex sales representative.
If you don’t use a Brex business account to pay off your Brex card bill every day, you get these earning bonuses as long as your business isn’t in the life sciences field:
Life sciences businesses without a daily payment via a Brex business account get slightly different earning bonuses:
If you do use a Brex business account and are enrolled in daily payments, you get slightly better rewards (usually an extra 1x in most categories), but there are 3 different reward paths you must choose from.
These are the bonuses for the advertising rewards program:
You can ask Brex to design a custom Brex Rewards program for your business with uncapped, flat-rate rebates. To qualify, you must have at least 50 Brex card users and meet minimum spending requirements. Speak with a Brex sales representative to learn more.
Brex does not limit the number of physical or virtual cards you can issue to your employees. Virtual cards can be created instantly, and the company does not charge an annual fee.
And since it’s a charge card that automatically deducts payments from your business checking account, you never pay interest on purchases or have to deal with late fees.
Additionally, Brex doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, so you can make purchases abroad without worrying about incurring a 1% to 3% fee. This is especially helpful when paying foreign vendors, as you can pay them in their local currency without penalty.
Brex Rewards points have become a proper flexible points currency. In the beginning, they could only be used for statement credits, but Brex has added transfer partners and the ability to redeem Brex Rewards for paid travel through the travel portal, as well as letting you use points to buy mainstream cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and ethereum (via TravelBank and Coinbase).
Here’s what you can do with your Brex Rewards points:
You can use Brex Rewards points to purchase gift cards at a rate of 0.6 cents per Brex point. You can buy Amazon gift cards, Mastercard prepaid cards, or choose from a small selection of other companies’ gift cards.
You can use Brex Rewards to cover individual transactions made with your Brex card at a rate of 0.6 cents per point. This isn’t a particularly good deal when compared to utilizing Brex’s travel partners, but it gives you added flexibility to cover large purchases that might otherwise hurt your business’s bottom line.
You can use Brex Rewards points to buy bitcoin or ethereum through Brex. There’s a minimum purchase of 1,000 Brex points and a maximum of 1 million Brex points, and you’re charged a fee that goes to cryptocurrency miners.
The transaction is handled by Brex’s partner, TravelBank, which processes it via Coinbase and deposits the cryptocurrency in your Coinbase wallet. You must have set up a Coinbase wallet in order to buy cryptocurrency through Brex.
Brex used to have an in-house travel service called Brex Travel, but travel through Brex is now handled via the Spotnana online booking tool. You must have a Spotnana profile to use, buy, or redeem trips via Brex, but Brex will create a Spotnana profile for you the first time you log in to the Brex travel portal.
You can book flights, hotel rooms, and car rentals through the Brex travel portal at a rate of 1 cent per point. You’re charged a nonrefundable $10 service fee per trip, which can include a combination of flights, hotels, and rental car bookings. You can also use the Brex app to access your existing trip details and to request (or make) budget approvals for business trips.
Only account and card administrators can use points to book flights via Brex travel. If you’re redeeming, you must use points for the entire bill — you can’t pay for part with points and part with cash, even for upgrades to an existing reservation. You can’t use Brex points to book an Airbnb stay.
Instead of using its own travel portal, you may want to transfer the points to one of its loyalty program partners. Brex has 7 different airline transfer partners that span all 3 of the major airline alliances (Oneworld, SkyTeam, and Star Alliance), so you have plenty of travel redemption possibilities with Brex Rewards points.
Points transfers often yield better value than redeeming points through Brex Travel, as you can use airline partners’ sweet spots to book luxurious business and first class travel for fewer points than if you covered a paid ticket through Brex Travel.
Keep in mind, however, that Brex transfer ratios can be devalued without notice. Currently, most members transfer points at a ratio of 1 Brex Rewards point per 0.6 airline miles, meaning that it takes 1,667 Brex points to buy, say, 1,000 miles with Air France-KLM Flying Blue. Brex warns that point transfers can take a day to complete, but they often go through immediately.
For example, a Lufthansa first class ticket from New York (JFK) to Prague (PRG) might cost 145,290 points one-way using Brex’s Star Alliance transfer partner Avianca LifeMiles. If this ticket costs around $7,900 when booked in cash, you’d pay 790,000 points if redeeming points through the Brex Travel portal at 1 cent per point. Even with the devaluation, transferring to an airline partner still represents a far better value.
Brex’s full list of transfer partners includes:
|Brex Airline Transfer Partner
|Minimum Points Transfer
(Brex > Partner)
|Up to 1 business day
|Up to 1 business day
|Up to 1 business day
|Up to 1 business day
|Flying Blue Air France-KLM
|Up to 1 business day
|Up to 1 business day
|Up to 1 business day
While this list of transfer partners isn’t as extensive as the lists of American Express transfer partners or Chase transfer partners, Brex’s partners still give business owners value and flexibility in how they can redeem points.
Note that Brex doesn’t currently have any hotel transfer partners.
Card and account administrators can book mental health care sessions with Spring Health in 6-session packages that come with 1 year of access. The package costs 15,000 points and can be booked on the Brex dashboard.
You can book an off-site retreat for your company with Brex for 25,000 points. Make the request on the Brex dashboard. A Brex event planner will reach out to you about what you’re looking for in a retreat for your team.
Although Brex doesn’t list the points requirements for it, you can ask Brex to arrange 3 months of 1-on-1 executive coaching or 3 months of leadership training for up to 16 team members. Fill in the necessary information on the Brex dashboard and wait for an email from a Brex representative to go into more detail about what you need.
Brex’s credit card offerings are geared to a specific demographic, and if you’re not in that target audience — tech and biotech entrepreneurs who are about to scale up and hit it big — you really have no business applying for a Brex card.
On the other hand, if you’re the kind of client the newly reinvented (again) Brex is looking for, and if you’re looking for that rare no-fee business card that uses an alternative means than the usual credit checks to approve applications, then Brex is certainly a card you should look at.
That’s doubly so if your company needs an all-encompassing budgeting solution that features a charge card as merely 1 element of it. With Brex’s new focus on its business accounts, you’ll be a prized customer, as evidenced by the fact that businesses that use their Brex business accounts to pay off their Brex bills get the top bonuses on Brex Rewards points. Just remember to switch to daily payments if you’re currently on monthly.
Are the rewards spectacular? Though the fact that Brex has put more effort into its travel perks, such as covering the bases with the airline alliances, helps, the diminished transfer ratios don’t make it the most powerful currency.
This brings us to Brex’s communications problem, whether it’s abandoning its small-business clients with little warning or devaluing its points by 40% with no warning. (Our own emails to the Brex media team over several days for this article were simply ignored.) As it approaches its seventh birthday, Brex is clearly a company that’s still trying to find itself — and it’s already been proven too often that Brex expects its customers to hang on to the boat for dear life while it makes sudden shifts in tack. If you get a Brex card, you have to accept that anything could change at any time.
If your company doesn’t meet the cut, or that’s too much built-in uncertainty for your tastes, or if you want a credit card instead of a charge card, check out our list of the best business credit cards for a potentially better fit.
The information regarding the Brex charge card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and neither provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
No, freelancers are ineligible for Brex cards.
Brex’s AI dynamically determines spending limits based on the cash you’ve raised, current equity in your company, how much money is in your bank accounts, and your company’s current spending patterns.
Brex does not offer personal credit cards.
No, Brex issues only business charge cards that must be paid in full daily or monthly.
Brex reports payment history to Experian and Dun & Bradstreet, so you’ll build a business credit history with these 2 agencies.
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Andrew was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs and now splits his time between Chicago and New York City.
He’s a lifelong traveler and took his first solo trip to San Francisco at the age of 16. Fast forward a few years, and Andrew now travels just over 100,000 miles a year, with over 25 countries, 10 business class products, and 2 airline statuses (United and Alaska) under his belt. Andrew formerly worked for The Points Guy and is now Senior Money Editor at CNN Underscored.
UP's Bonus Valuation
This bonus value is an estimated valuation calculated by UP after analyzing redemption options, transfer partners, award availability and how much UP would pay to buy these points.