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Compare the best startup business credit cards
Many business credit cards offer helpful benefits for startups.
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
Min. credit score
Miles welcome offer
- 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.
|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
Min. credit score
- 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.
|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
Min. credit score
- Earn 1 Membership Rewards point for every $1 spent on purchases charged to the Card..
- Your credit limit grows if you make payments on time and maintain a good credit history.
- Earn a Welcome Bonus of up to 110,000 Membership Rewards points. Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first three months and earn an additional 10,000 Membership Rewards points when you make a purchase after your 14-month Card anniversary date. Plus, earn 10,000 bonus points when you charge $20,000 in net purchases to your Card account each calendar quarter (Up to a total of up to 40,000 points per year). If redeemed for statement credit, this is $1,100 that you can reinvest in your business..
- 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.
- Because this is a charge card, it's meant to be paid off in full within the interest free repayment period or an interest rate of 30% will apply.
- This card has an annual fee of $199.
- Any additional cards will cost $50 annually.
|Balance transfer APR||N/A|
|Welcome offer||Earn a Welcome Bonus of up to 110,000 Membership Rewards points. Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first three months and earn an additional 10,000 Membership Rewards points when you make a purchase after your 14-month Card anniversary date. Plus, earn 10,000 bonus points when you charge $20,000 in net purchases to your Card account each calendar quarter (Up to a total of up to 40,000 points per year). If redeemed for statement credit, this is $1,100 that you can reinvest in your business.|
|Rewards||Earn 1 Membership Rewards point for every $1 spent on purchases charged to the Card.|
Pros and cons of startup business credit cards
- Access to funds
- Earn rewards on purchases
- Get low intro APR period on purchases
- Build business credit
- Track employee spending
- 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:
- Build business credit
- Access higher credit limit
- Rewards on business-related purchases
- Simplified bookkeeping and credit card tax deductions
- Expense management tools
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.
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