Having reliable business credit is a valuable tool for day-to-day operations. As needs pop up at your business, having a business credit card on-hand can make a tough situation easier to deal with. Business credit cards, however, come in many shapes and sizes. And some of those cards on the larger side may have benefits or perks not suited to the way you do business. In addition, these cards often have an annual fee, making your business credit card yet another expense. However, if your small business is looking for a business credit card without a ton of extra bells and whistles, there are several practical card options that have no annual fee. Because no two small businesses have the same credit card needs, this list is in no order of preference; only you, the business owner, will be able to determine the card best suited to you.
It’s not often American Express finds itself on a list of “no annual fee” offerings, but in recent years American Express has expanded beyond their premium Gold and Platinum cards to offer several competitive basic credit cards. The Blue Business Plus Card from American Express has both no annual fee and 0% APR for the first year. After the first year, American Express will determine cardholders’ APR based on their credit and several other relevant factors. This card, for having no annual fee, has an incredibly lucrative points deal too: up to $50,000 annually, the Blue Business Plus Card doles out double points on nearly all purchases and potentially more points for travel booked through the American Express portal.
Like their premium card offerings, American Express gives Blue Business Plus cardholders a unique kind of buying power. According to AmEx, “There are no over-limit fees, no enrollment steps to take and you can continue to earn Membership Rewards® points or cash back on purchases above your credit limit.” The one catch is that balances over your existing spending power must be paid along with your monthly minimum.
If you’re more interested in cash back than points, you may want to look at offerings from players like Bank of America. The Business Advantage Customized Cash Rewards Mastercard by Bank of America offers a great opening bonus: cardholders can get a $300 statement credit after spending at least $3,000 in the first 90 days after opening their account. In the long term, as well, the Business Advantage card offers 3% cash back in the transaction category of your choice, 2% back on dining, and 1% back on all other purchases. Those 3% and 2% cash back deals, however, only extend to the first $50,000 in relevant purchases each calendar year. All of this, of course, with no annual fee and a 0% intro APR for the first year. APR after the first year will be determined based on cardholder credit and other relevant factors.
If you already have a Bank of America business checking account, BofA explains that “You can earn up to 75% more cash back on every purchase, if you have a business checking account with Bank of America and qualify for our highest Preferred Rewards for Business tier.” In essence, you can take advantage of both cash back deals at once, meaning those cash back numbers become 5.25%, 3.5%, and 1.75%.
Chase’s Ink cards get good press in the business world for good reason: these sensible cards have just about every benefit you could look for in a business card and are generally a safe, straightforward solution for businesses in need of a credit card that can handle daily expenses. The Ink Business Unlimited® card is a reasonably competitive offering in the “no annual fee” credit card space with more than sufficient perks: cardholders have unlimited 1.5% cash back on every business purchase as well as a 0% intro APR for the first year; APR afterward will be determined by (you guessed it!) cardholder credit and other relevant factors. Unlike Bank of America, Chase credit card rewards go through points like American Express; also, like American Express, Chase points can be redeemed for a multitude of business uses like straight cash back or travel expenses.
As of this article’s publishing, the Ink Business Unlimited card is offering $750 cash back for cardholders who spend $7,500 on purchases in the first three months after opening their account.
Anyone with a nose for business credit cards likely expected one of Capital One’s Spark® cards to make an appearance on this list. Capital One’s Spark® Classic for Business, unlike the other cards on this list, says upfront that business owners with “fair” credit are the most likely to be considered for the Spark® Classic. If you are concerned about applying for a higher-end card, this may be the card to consider: the Spark® Classic has unlimited 1% cash back, 26.99% APR, along with some more interesting perks: this card’s monthly minimum payment, according to Capital One, “…will be the greater of $15 or 1% of your balance plus new interest, late payment fees, and any past due amount.” This means that business owners looking to carry a balance may find the Spark® Classic to be a lucrative deal.
Nearly every “no annual fee” credit card tries to grab business owners’ attention with cash back and points promises, so don’t be surprised that PNC Bank is playing the same game. It’s the little differences that count, however, when choosing a “no annual fee” business credit card, so let’s take a look: the PNC Cash Rewards® Visa Signature® Business Credit Card offers unlimited 1.50% cash back on what they call “net purchases” which, according to PNC, means “The term ‘net purchases’ does not mean all transactions you may make using your credit card. Some limited transactions are excluded.” This card also has a 0% intro APR for the first nine billing cycles and then can range from 10.99% to 19.99% APR (based on the business owner’s credit and other relevant factors) as of the publishing of this article. PNC also offers a $200 cash back bonus for cardholders who make at least $3,000 worth of “net purchases” during their first three billing cycles.
Know Your Needs, Find Your Card
This market of credit cards is often a place for decimals and minor percentage differences; the less you pay in as a cardholder, the less you can expect to get out of your card. Small business owners, however, don’t have to feel like they’re settling when opting for “no annual fee” cards on the market today – having a line of credit with no annual fee can be a fantastic resource for both maintaining a higher credit limit overall and building your credit in general. Consider making a wish list of every process and action you would like your business credit card to complete. Then, make a list of deal breakers like certain APR or cash back percentages. Once you have everything written down, then get to business choosing the right cards for your needs. If any of the above cards speaks to your business needs, consider speaking directly with the bank or financial institution that offers the card, as they can likely help you to further determine if their card is the right choice for you.