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Compare the best startup business credit cards

Many business credit cards offer helpful benefits for startups. Here are the best business cards by no annual fee, cash back and limiting debt.

A business credit card can be your best friend when it comes to covering your business expenses. But because there are so many cards on the market catering to small businesses, we’ve created this guide to help you compare features of the best startup business credit cards for your needs and financial situation.

Best for no annual fee:
American Express AIR MILES Gold Business Card

American Express AIR MILES Gold Business Card logo
Credit recommended (700-)
Apply now
on American Express's secure site
700
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to 1x
Miles
150
Miles welcome offer
If you're looking for a $0 annual fee card that still offers great features, the American Express AIR MILES Gold Business Card could be right for you. Earn 1 AIR MILE for every $15 spent on eligible purchases at AIR MILES Sponsors, and earn 1 AIR MILE for every $20 spent on eligible purchases elsewhere. Earn a Welcome Bonus of 150 AIR MILES when you spend at least $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months.
  • This card has an annual fee of $0.
  • Free supplementary cards.
  • Earn a Welcome Bonus of 150 AIR MILES when you spend at least $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months.
  • Earn 1 AIR MILE for every $15 spent on eligible purchases at AIR MILES Sponsors, and earn 1 AIR MILE for every $20 spent on eligible purchases elsewhere.
  • Access to business tools such as the ability to track employee spending online and access to expense management reports.
  • Travel Accident Insurance.
  • Redeem AIR MILES® to book car rentals with participating AIR MILES® Partners (conditions apply).
  • This card doesn't come with many of the travel insurance perks offered by other business credit cards such as coverage for flight delays, lost baggage, and trip cancellations. You also don't get rewards points that can be applied to discounted hotel stays or travel tickets.
  • If you use your card overseas or for online purchases with international retailers, you'll face a 2.5% foreign transaction fee.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 19.99% fixed
Balance transfer APR N/A
Welcome offer Earn a Welcome Bonus of 150 AIR MILES when you spend at least $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months
Rewards Earn 1 AIR MILE for every $15 spent on eligible purchases at AIR MILES Sponsors, and earn 1 AIR MILE for every $20 spent on eligible purchases elsewhere

Best for cash back:
BMO Cashback Business Mastercard

BMO Cashback Business Mastercard logo
Credit recommended (650-)
Apply now
on BMO's secure site
650
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to 1.75%
Cash back
10%
Welcome offer
With an appealing signup bonus and a $0 annual fee, the BMO Cashback Business Mastercard can be a great choice if you're looking to minimize expenses. Earn 1.5% cash back on eligible gas purchases, office supplies and on cell phone and internet recurring payments, earn 1.75% cash back at participating Shell stations, and earn 0.75% on all other eligible card purchases. Get 10% cash back on gas, office supplies, cell phone bills and internet bills for 3 months. Plus, this credit card can be used at Costco locations across Canada.
  • This card's annual fee is $0.
  • Earn 1.5% cash back on eligible gas purchases, office supplies and on cell phone and internet recurring payments, earn 1.75% cash back at participating Shell stations, and earn 0.75% on all other eligible card purchases.
  • Enjoy 15% off admission to Cirque du Soleil shows touring Canada and 20% off resident shows in Las Vegas.
  • Get 10% cash back on gas, office supplies, cell phone bills and internet bills for 3 months.
  • Eligible items charged to your card can receive purchase protection and an extended manufacturer's warranty.
  • You can use your BMO card at Costco locations across Canada.
  • You won't get many of the benefits that come with other business credit cards on the market such as travel insurance, expense management tools and rewards points that can be redeemed for free flights and hotel stays.
  • You'll have to pay a 22.99% interest rate on any cash advances.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 19.99% fixed
Balance transfer APR 22.99% fixed
Welcome offer Get 10% cash back on gas, office supplies, cell phone bills and internet bills for 3 months.
Rewards Earn 1.5% cash back on eligible gas purchases, office supplies and on cell phone and internet recurring payments, earn 1.75% cash back at participating Shell stations, and earn 0.75% on all other eligible card purchases.

Best for limiting debt:
American Express Business Gold Rewards Card

American Express Business Gold Rewards Card logo
Credit recommended (700-)
Apply now
on American Express's secure site
700
Min. credit score
$199
Annual fee
Up to 1x
Membership Rewards
110,000
Welcome offer
Although the American Express Business Gold Rewards Card has an annual fee of $199 it comes with a range of benefits for businesses. Earn 1 Membership Rewards point for every $1 spent on purchases.
  • Earn 1 Membership Rewards point for every $1 spent on purchases..
  • Your credit limit grows if you make payments on time and maintain a good credit history.
  • Earn up to 110,000 Membership Rewards points. Earn a Welcome Bonus of 70,000 points after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Plus, earn 10,000 bonus points when you charge $20,000 in net purchases to your card each calendar quarter (that's a total of 40,000 points a year)..
  • Get a one class car upgrade, additional driver fee waiver and up to 10% discount on car rental rates for Hertz Gold Plus Rewards® members at participating Hertz locations (T&C's apply). Plus, get complimentary Car Rental Theft and Damage Insurance (MSRP of up to $85,000).
  • Enjoy an interest-free period of up to 55 days.
  • Redeem your points for statement credit, merchandise, gift cards, flights and more. You can also transfer points to other eligible frequent flyer programs.
  • This card has an annual fee of $199.
  • Any additional cards will cost $50 annually.
Annual Fee $199
Purchase APR 19.99% fixed
Balance transfer APR N/A
Welcome offer Earn up to 110,000 Membership Rewards points. Earn a Welcome Bonus of 70,000 points after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Plus, earn 10,000 bonus points when you charge $20,000 in net purchases to your card each calendar quarter (that's a total of 40,000 points a year).
Rewards Earn 1 Membership Rewards point for every $1 spent on purchases.

Pros and cons of startup business credit cards

Pros

  • Access to funds
  • Earn rewards on purchases
  • Get low intro APR period on purchases
  • Build business credit
  • Track employee spending

Cons

  • Could damage your personal credit in case of delinquency
  • You may be personally liable for the company debt
  • Credit limit may not be enough
  • Could pay an annual fee

How to compare startup business credit cards

To choose the best business credit card for your startup, compare these features:

  • Charge card vs credit card. You’ll need to decide whether a credit card or a charge card is right for your startup business. A charge card can be a handy way to keep out of debt, since you’ll need to pay off the balance in full each month, but a credit card can be helpful when you need extra time to cover the balance in full.
  • Unsecured, secured or prepaid card. There are plenty of unsecured business credit cards on the market that offer strong perks and rewards. If you’re a startup business with no or low credit however, a secured or prepaid card may be all that you’re eligible for. These two types of business cards aren’t typically listed online, so you’ll need to contact a provider to find out if they offer secured and prepaid business cards.
  • Annual fee. When cash is tight, you might not want the expense of a credit card annual fee. There are a couple of no annual fee startup business cards on the market, though you’ll earn more powerful rewards with cards that charge an annual fee.
  • Signup bonus. If you anticipate lots of purchases in the next few months, you could breeze past the spending requirement for a card’s signup bonus.
  • APRs. Interest rates are important, especially if you think you’ll be carrying a balance from month to month. Few business credit cards have low APRs, so your choices may be limited.
  • Rewards. A card with strong rewards can pay for itself. If your card has tiered rewards, check that your startup has significant expenses in the right categories. If your expenses are spread evenly throughout many categories, you might get more out of a flat-rate rewards card.
  • Interest-free period. Planning on carrying a balance between billing cycles? A longer interest-free period can come in handy and help you hold onto your money for a little bit longer.

Should I get a startup business credit card or use my personal card?

There are plenty of benefits to using a business card instead of a personal card. A business card can help you separate your personal spending from your business spending. While it may be tempting to rely on your personal credit card for business expenses — especially when you’re just starting out — this can have several unintended consequences. For example, separating your personal spending from your business spending can help you easily differentiate expenses and sort deductions come tax season.

Plus, a separate credit card for your business helps protect your personal assets if your business is incorporated and you find yourself facing a lawsuit. And even if your business isn’t entirely official, a business card offers other perks too:

Can I get a business card before my company is official?

Yes. In fact, freelancers and private contractors are eligible for business credit cards as long as they can prove their income. While different card providers have different eligibility criteria, you should be prepared to offer the following information when you apply for a business credit card:

  • Name of your business
  • Industry type
  • Business ID number
  • Time in business
  • Number of employees
  • Annual revenue
  • Estimated monthly expenses
  • Total annual income
  • Social Insurance Number
  • Personal credit history

When should startups upgrade their credit cards?

What’s suitable for your business in its infancy may not work long-term — especially if your business experiences rapid growth or a sudden change in trajectory. One reason you may want to consider swapping card providers is if your business has outgrown your current card’s credit limit. Or perhaps your business chequing account is at another bank and there are perks or incentives for combining your accounts.

A practical way to evaluate whether your current card serves the needs of your company is by reviewing your business expenses and spending habits. Does your current card offer perks and rewards that benefit your business? Would it be possible to snag a lower APR by switching providers?

Just because a particular card worked for your startup doesn’t mean it will continue to work for your business two, three, five or ten years down the road – so don’t be afraid to switch it up.

Compare business credit cards

If you’d like to compare a wider range of small business cards check out the table below. You can also visit our comprehensive guide to business credit cards.

1 - 10 of 10
Name Product Purchase Interest Rate Cash Advance Rate Annual Fee Minimum Income Welcome Offer
BMO Cashback Business Mastercard
19.99%
22.99%
$0
N/A
Get 10% cash back on gas, office supplies, cell phone bills and internet bills for 3 months.
American Express Aeroplan Business Reserve Card
16.99%
21.99%
$599
N/A
Earn up to 85,000 welcome bonus Aeroplan points. New cardholders can earn up to $2,600 or more in value within the first year.
American Express Business Edge Card
19.99%
21.99%
$99
N/A
Earn up to 67,000 Membership Rewards points in your first year. Earn 45,000 Welcome Bonus points when you charge $5,000 in purchases to your Card in your first three months, and earn 1,000 Membership Rewards points each month (a total of 12,000 annually) when you spend a minimum of $3,000 on eligible purchases. Plus, earn 10x the points for every $1 spent on eligible business essentials including office supplies & electronics, rides & gas, eats & drinks within 6 months of Cardmembership, up to a maximum of 10,000 points.
BMO World Elite Business Mastercard
17.99%
22.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($149 thereafter)
N/A
Get up to 70,000 BMO reward points. Get 50,000 points when you spend $5,000 in the first three months and an additional 20,000 points when you spend $35,000 in the first twelve months. Plus, get the $149 fee waived for the first year.
BMO Air Miles No-Fee Business Mastercard
19.99%
22.99%
$0
N/A
Get 1,000 AIR MILES Bonus Miles (over $100 towards your purchases with AIR MILES Cash).
BMO AIR MILES World Elite Business Mastercard
19.99%
22.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($149 thereafter)
N/A
Business Platinum Card from American Express
19.99%
N/A
$499
N/A
Earn a Welcome Bonus of 80,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $6,000 within the first 3 months. That’s $800 in statement credits that can be reinvested in your business.
Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card
19.99%
21.99%
$150
N/A
Earn 50,000 Welcome Bonus points after you charge $1,500 to your card in the first 3 months.
American Express Business Gold Rewards Card
19.99%
N/A
$199
N/A
Earn up to 110,000 Membership Rewards points. Earn a Welcome Bonus of 70,000 points after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Plus, earn 10,000 bonus points when you charge $20,000 in net purchases to your card each calendar quarter (that's a total of 40,000 points a year).
American Express AIR MILES Gold Business Card
19.99%
21.99%
$0
N/A
Earn a Welcome Bonus of 150 AIR MILES when you spend at least $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months
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