As the saying goes, you need to spend money to make money. With that in mind, you may as well get a solid return on your business expenses in the form of airline miles, cash-back, hotel points, or transferable miles and points.
Depending on the type of business expenses you have, you may be able to rake in tons of travel points each month! You can use these miles, points, or cash-back to reinvest in your business — if your next company trip is booked using miles and points, you can use the cash you saved for other important aspects of your business.
In this article, we’ll show you different ways to earn miles and points on your business purchases. We’ll start with helping you pick the best business credit card (or 2), and then move into maximizing purchases with shopping portals and other money-saving promotions.
Let’s get started!
Earn Valuable Rewards With a Small Business Credit Card
Start by assessing your business credit card situation. There are 3 different types of cards you can use for business purchases:
- Cards earning transferable points
- Cards specific to a certain airline or hotel
- Cards that earn generic cash-back
Each of these has its merits, so we’ve outlined and defined them below and recommended top cards in each category. Use this information to guide your application decision when picking a credit card for your business.
Note that these credit cards generally require a credit score of good to excellent to be approved, even if they’re used for your business.
Hot Tip: Make sure to use your business credit cards wisely — they often have higher interest rates and can affect your personal credit report if you miss payments or otherwise misuse your credit.
Transferable Points Cards
Transferable points cards are generally issued by banks. The award points accrued by these cards can be transferred to various airline and hotel partners, or even be redeemed for credit toward paid flights or merchandise.
However, the best values are usually found when transferring points to airline partners to book international business class seats.
Right now, there are 2 major issuers of business transferable point credit cards: Chase and American Express.
Chase’s currency is called Chase Ultimate Rewards, and the points can be earned with a number of business credit cards:
These cards have different benefits and earn bonus points on specific categories like travel, office supply stores, telecommunications, and more.
Chase Ultimate Rewards can be transferred to many airline and hotel partners, including some powerful transfer partners like United Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Hyatt, and Virgin Atlantic.
American Express offers a handful of small business credit cards. They have varying benefits like lounge access, bonus points on specific purchase categories, and even rebates on Global Entry and other travel expenses.
Like Chase, American Express has its own award currency, called Membership Rewards. These points can also be transferred to a number of different airline partners, like Avianca LifeMiles, Air France/KLM FlyingBlue, and British Airways.
Why Do We Like Transferable Points Cards?
At Upgraded Points, we’ve always been partial to transferable points cards, and we recommend using a transferable points credit card for your business purchases.
Our reasoning behind this is simple: with transferable points cards, you’re not tied to one specific airline or hotel loyalty program. Instead, you have the freedom to transfer to a number of different airlines, giving you maximum flexibility and protecting you from devaluations.
Hot Tip: In addition, cards from American Express and Chase often have some of the best welcome bonuses. Check our card review pages for the current offers!
Alternatively, you can choose a co-branded small business card from an airline or hotel loyalty program of your choice. Nearly all major U.S. airlines and hotel chains have a small business co-branded card, so shop around and see which is best for your travel and spending habits.
These cards often have specific benefits for the airline or hotel chain that issues the card. For example, you may get free status, checked bags, upgraded boarding, or other benefits just by holding the small business credit card.
Unlike transferable points cards, your points usually cannot be transferred out of the loyalty program you’re earning with. This means you’ll be subject to devaluations and have limited flexibility in how you redeem your points.
Finally, you can also use a cash-back rewards small business credit card to get no-frills cash-back on your purchases. These rewards are usually awarded in the form of a statement credit or a bank transfer, and the amount of cash-back you’ll earn depends on the card you have.
We’ve found that cash-back cards are best for business owners who don’t travel often and prefer to earn simple cash-back on their purchases instead of points.
Hot Tip: With a cash-back card, you might not get as great of a value for your rewards compared to a transferable points card, because you won’t have the opportunity to maximize points for high-cost award tickets.
Use Shopping Portals to Maximize Your Points Return on Purchases
Shopping portals are an easy way to earn extra points on business purchases. Just sign up for a portal, find your merchant of choice, and click through the link on the portal’s site before you make a purchase to earn extra points or cash-back.
The number of points you’ll earn on purchases depends on the vendor, the amount of money you spend, and shopping portal you use. Further, the earning rate per dollar fluctuates frequently by merchant, so use a website like CashBackMonitor to keep track of earning rates across all merchants and portals.
Most major airlines have shopping portals where you can earn extra airline miles on your purchases. Additionally, there are a number of cash-back portals that will give you a percentage of your purchases back in the form of a check or bank transfer.
Note that these points are earned in addition to your credit card points. Stack a shopping portal with your favorite small business credit card, and you’ll earn some serious points on your purchases — especially on big-ticket items like computers and cell phones.
Use Amex Offers to Earn Cash-Back on Some Purchases
American Express has special offers called Amex Offers for its personal and small business cardholders. These special offers give you cash-back or extra Membership Rewards points when you spend a set amount of money at a specific vendor.
Amex Offers vary by cardholder, so you may not get the same offers as someone else. You can view your available Amex Offers by logging into your American Express account, loading your small business card, and scrolling down past your recent transactions.
Note that you have to manually add each Amex Offer to your account. When scrolling through your Amex Offers, just click the “Add To Card” button to the right of the offer.
The bonus Membership Rewards points or cash-back will be automatically credited to your account after you make a qualifying purchase. These offers rotate regularly, so keep an eye out for offers you can use!
Hot Tip: If you are a Chase credit cardholder, check out Chase Offers for additional discounts on your purchases.
Enroll in VisaSavingsEdge
VisaSavingsEdge is a Visa-run cash-back program for small business owners. Just sign up for a VisaSavingsEdge account and link your small business Visa cards to earn extra cash-back on select purchases.
You can view a complete list of participating vendors on the VisaSavingsEdge website, but some of the most useful include Bing Ads, Mail Chimp, and HostGator. Like shopping portals, the amount of cash-back you’ll earn depends on the merchant and how much you spend.
Use Dosh for Bonus Cash-Back at Participating Stores
Dosh is a cash-back app for in-store purchases. Just download the app, link your favorite credit cards, and you’ll be on your way to earning cash-back at participating merchants.
You can view a complete list of participating vendors in the Dosh app. We’ve found that most of the included stores are restaurants, but Staples and other office supply stores can also be found in the app.
As you’d expect, the amount of cash-back you’ll earn depends on the merchant and may fluctuate. Cash-back is earned in addition to your credit card rewards, and you can cash out your Dosh earnings via PayPal once you have $25 in your Dosh account.
Enroll in Dining Rewards to Earn Points on Business Meals
Most major airlines and some hotel chains have dining rewards programs, which are like shopping portals for eating out: spend money at a participating restaurant, and you’ll earn extra points (in addition to the points you already earn with your credit card).
Most dining rewards programs have 3 tiers of membership, and members with higher status will earn more points on their dining purchases:
- Basic members: Sign up but don’t opt in for email updates
- Online members: Sign up and opt-in for email updates
- VIP members: Sign up, opt-in for email updates, and use the dining rewards portal more than a certain number of times
Using a dining portal is simple: just sign up for an account, link your credit cards, and dine at a participating restaurant.
Hot Tip: With dining rewards, you’ll earn points based on your membership tier and how much you spend at the restaurant — so you can rack up some serious points on business dinners and catering purchases!
MileagePlus X is United’s mobile app you can use to earn extra miles on your day-to-day business (and personal) purchases.
Just download the app and find a participating vendor you want to make a purchase from. Then, you can use a credit card linked to your United account to purchase a gift card to the merchant. The number of points you’ll earn per dollar spent varies based on the merchant and may fluctuate from time to time.
Hot Tip: Cardmembers who have a co-branded United Airlines card will earn a 25% bonus on all MileagePlus X purchases — even if you use a different card to actually make the purchase!
In our research, we’ve found that category bonuses will apply to MileagePlus X purchases made with a Chase credit card. So for example, if you use your Ink Business Preferred Credit Card to buy a travel gift card, you’ll still earn 3 points per dollar spent (since this card earns 3x points on travel).
Keep in mind that this may vary from card to card, so try a test purchase before making a large purchase if you’re counting on bonus points.
In this article, you learned several ways to maximize points and cash-back on your business purchases. With these methods, you’ll be on your way to earning valuable points and cash-back on money you need to spend for your business anyway.
We recommend starting by picking a solid credit card for your business, and then moving on to the other methods on this list. Before you know it, you’ll have extra points you can use to subsidize business travel — or take a much-needed vacation!