Perhaps 2020 dealt you a professional situation forcing — or inspiring — you to start your own mom-and-pop business, do some freelance work, or take on a side-hustle (driving for rideshares, selling on eBay, etc).
And this is the time when some people say, “Next year, I’m gonna do…” or “This coming year is gonna be my year. I mean it this time!”
Welp, next year is a few days away. And it’s time to start thinking about your business! (And good luck to all my fellow small business owners! May this year be better than last. MUCH better!)
One of the tools you need is a business credit card (that assumes you can be responsible with it).
Why Get a Business Credit Card?
Business credit cards make life easier when it comes to itemizing your expenses. You can put business expenses on a personal credit card — but it makes paying from separate bank accounts a pain in the butt (speaking from experience here). And business credit cards help give you a quick idea of where all your spending is going.
Plus, some of your personal expenses may be bonafide business expenses, depending on what you do and where. Everyone’s tax and income situations are different. I’m not a tax professional, so make sure to speak with a CPA about what’s best for you and your business.
“What About Delta Business Cards?!”
It’s no secret this blog’s audience leans towards Delta as their airline of choice. And that, of course, naturally lends itself to our readers holding Delta co-branded American Express cards.
Many Delta flyers — including me — want to hit the Status Boost/MQM bonus thresholds on our cards (i.e. Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card from American Express and Delta SkyMiles Platinum Business American Express Card).
My big beef with those cards, though, is their bonus categories are lame. Both cards award 3X on Delta purchases. And the Delta business Platinum throws in hotels as a 3X earner, too.
Outside of that, you get nuthin’, honey. Yes, the MQM are nice assuming your business can afford to spend $25,000 / $30,000.
Usually, the only times my Delta business Reserve card makes business purchases are for 1X category items: taxes, Amazon shopping, some gift purchases, etc. Or if there’s a killer Amex Offer that rewards spending at certain merchants or maybe something offering temporary bonuses.
But if you want the option for flexible points that can be redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, cashback, or travel, here are four cards I think you might like — especially if your side hustle or other business venture is relatively new.
Four Cards That Freelancers, Small Businesses, and People with Side Hustles Should Consider
Why I Like It: No annual fee and a bunch of 5X categories that business people actually use!
Annual Fee: None. See? You’re saving money already.
What it Earns: Chase Ultimate Rewards, which can be transferred to one of Chase’s airline or hotel partners; used to purchase travel through Chase; or applied as statement credit, cashback or for gift cards (usually at a penny per point). If you have a personal Chase product, you can migrate points between accounts. (This is especially handy when redeeming for travel using your Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred.)
Bonus Categories: Earn 5X Ultimate Rewards (equal to 5% cashback) on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases each anniversary year in these categories:
- office supply stores
- on Internet, cable and phone services
Earn 2X Ultimate Rewards (2% cashback) on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases each anniversary year in these categories:
- gas stations
Quick Summary: The Chase Ink Cash is the credit card I use at office stores (Staples, Office Max, etc) and to pay for anything Internet or cell phone related. (Cable Internet, my Verizon bill, etc). Chances are you, too, will have those expenses.
Plus, the card gives you something other than 1X — looking at you, Delta cards — for gas station and restaurant purchases.
Where to Apply: Learn here how to apply.
Why I Like It: Several 3X categories. Cell phone protection. Big welcome bonus.
Annual Fee: $95.
What it Earns: Chase Ultimate Rewards. Plus, Chase Ink Preferred cardholders can redeem their points for travel for 1.25 cents per point when booking through Chase’s travel service.
Bonus Categories: Earn 3X Ultimate Rewards (equal to 3% cashback) on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases each anniversary year in these categories:
- travel (airfare, rideshare, hotels, parking, tolls, taxis, etc)
- Internet, cable, and phone services
- shipping purchases
- advertising purchases with social media sites and search engines
Additional Benefits: Up to $600 per claim in cell phone protection against covered theft or damage for you (and your employees, if any) listed on your monthly cell phone bill when you pay it with your Chase Ink Business Preferred credit card. There’s a maximum of 3 claims in a 12 month period with a $100 deductible per claim. If you’re like me and clumsy, do consider this!
Quick Summary: The card currently offers 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases within three months of being approved.
While it carries an annual fee and some of the earnings aren’t as great as the Chase Ink Cash, the Chase Ink Preferred has the cell phone protection and increased redemption toward travel. (CardRatings has a great post comparing the Chase Ink Cash and Chase Ink Preferred.)
If you don’t travel much — remember that rideshare, parking, and tolls are considered travel — or buy a lot of advertising, this may not be the card for you. But if you ship a lot of items, buy ads on social media (authors or stores promoting themselves on Facebook, Twitter, etc) and/or travel, the Chase Ink Preferred is a card worth strongly considering.
Where to Apply: Learn here how to apply.
Costco Anywhere Visa Business Card by Citi (available on this page)
Why I Like It: Great 4X and 3X categories for business owners.
Annual Fee: None (with a paid Costco membership)
What it Earns: Annual reward certificate that can be redeemed at Costco stores.
- 4% cashback (Costco rewards) on eligible gas purchases for the first $7,000 per year
- 3% cashback (Costco rewards) on restaurants
- 3% cashback (Costco rewards) on eligible travel purchases
- 2% cashback (Costco rewards) on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com
- 1% cashback (Costco rewards) on all other purchases
Additional Benefits: The card acts as your Costco membership card. So that’s convenient.
Quick Summary: If there’s a Costco store in your city and you’re a member, this card may come in handy — especially if you do a lot of driving. The 4% cashback on gas purchases alone is worth $280 in Costco rewards (and one can score a lot of fun stuff at Costco for that amount — especially when it’s free!). Add the restaurant and travel purchases to that — and you’re doing pretty well.
Where to Apply: Learn here how to apply. (You may have to click the “See More Cards” button at the bottom of the page to see it appear.)
Why I Like It: Lots of 4X category possibilities
Annual Fee: $295 (yeah, a little steep)
What it Earns: American Express Membership Rewards. They’re best used for travel — either transferring to a partner airline or hotel or redeeming directly through AmexTravel.com.
Bonus Categories: Earn 4X points (on the first $150,000 in combined annual purchases) on the two categories where your business spends the most each billing cycle. Eligible categories are:
- Airfare purchased directly from airlines
- U.S. purchases for advertising in select media (online, TV, radio)
- U.S. purchases made directly from select technology providers of computer hardware, software, and cloud solutions
- U.S. purchases at gas stations
- U.S. purchases at restaurants, including takeout and delivery
- U.S. purchases for shipping
Additional Benefits: Pay with Points Benefit: Book a flight with American Express Travel using Membership Rewards Pay with Points and get 25% of those points back
Quick Summary: The high annual fee is why the American Express Business Gold Card is at the bottom of our list. But if you spend a lot in the designated categories, the card may be worth your while — and you’d earn back the annual fee (at least, in Membership Rewards point value).
The American Express Blue Business Plus — with no annual fee and 2% cashback on up to $50,000 in purchases per calendar year — may be a better option for some.
Where to Apply: Learn here how to apply.
Business credit cards are an important tool for freelancers, people with side hustles, and, of course, other small business owners.
Featured image: ©iStock.com/Farknot_Architect
Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.