American Express Small Business Card-If you are looking for a credit or charge card for your small business, American Express offers one of the largest selections. In fact, you can choose from 11 different products that range from cash-back credit cards with no annual fee to premium travel rewards cards.American Express OPEN and Lowe’s Companies recently launched a new co-brand small business credit card called the Lowe’s Business Rewards Card from American Express.
If you own a small business and find yourself frequently running over to Lowe’s to buy things for the business or for personal use, the new Lowe’s Business Rewards Card just might be the best small business credit card for you.
American Express Business Platinum card
The American Express Business Platinum card is the best small business credit card on this list for those who travel frequently. The card’s travel rewards structure benefits people who spend a significant amount of money on travel and is therefore best for travel-specific purchases.
The card starts by offering 75,000 introductory points – worth roughly $500 to $750 in cash value – after you spend $5,000 within the first three months. It offers 5x points for flights booked directly with American Express Travel as well as priority seating. Additionally, it gives cardholders a $200 annual airline credit for incidental fees, a $75 hotel credit for trips booked through American Express Travel, and a $100 annual TSA Global Entry credit.
What’s more, the American Express Platinum card provides access to over 1,000 premium airport lounges as well as discounts and deals on fine hotels and resorts.
This rewards structure is in contrast to the Capital One Spark Miles card, which offers 2x miles for all purchases – even those unrelated to travel – as it’s main travel benefit.
The American Express card carries with it a $450 annual fee for each card and is a charge card, meaning that balances are paid in full each month. But, if you travel for business a significant amount, the value of the introductory offer, ongoing rewards, and travel credits can easily offset the annual fee.
It’s pretty common to find small business credit cards that carry an annual fee. Some of these fees are as low as $59 a year, while other fees can run you more than $500 annually. In many cases, cash back and other rewards will more than offset these annual fees. Further, may small business credit cards offer to waive the first-year’s annual fee while other small business credit cards don’t have an annual fee at all.
American Express Business Platinum has the highest annual fee on this list. Further, it doesn’t waive the first year’s fee like many other cards offer. This means that for each employee card issued to your business, you’ll have to pay an annual fee on each. And at $450 per year, per card, the combined annual fees can get pricey quick.
Introductory Cash Back & Rewards
It’s typical to find small business credit cards that offer introductory cash back and rewards for signing up a new account. Credit card issuers use these initial perks to entice small business owners to open an account with them. It’s a win-win, because the introductory rewards are beneficial to the business and can sometimes even counter the annual card fee, if any.
Terms for these introductory rewards usually require that a cardholder spends a specific amount on the card within a three-month period. Rewards include such things as bonus points, airline miles, or cash back rewards.
American Express Business Platinum has the best introductory offer out of the three cards on this list. Cardholders can receive 75,000 bonus points when they spend $5,000 within the first three months. The points can be redeemed for many different travel items and needs, such as airfare and hotel accommodations.
Ongoing Cash Back & Rewards
In addition to introductory cash back and other rewards, almost all small business credit cards offer ongoing perks. It’s typical to find small business credit cards that offer cash back on purchases, as well as points or miles earned on credit card transactions.
Each small business credit card has its own offering, and it’s possible to find a business credit card for almost every situation or need. Within this article, for example, we provide you with the best cash back option, along with two options with travel-specific rewards.
American Express Business Platinum offers a multitude of travel rewards and is the most flexible card when it comes to its points. Specifically, the American Express card offers 5x points for each dollar spent through American Express Travel, making it great for businesses with high travel expenditures. Points can be redeemed on travel-related expenses such as airfare, hotel accommodations, rental cars, and more.What’s more, the American Express Business Platinum card offers the following annual credits:
- $200 airline fee credit for incidental charges such as bag fees or in-flight purchases
- $75 hotel credit when you reserve two nights or more through American Express Travel
- $100 fee credit for Global Entry and TSA pre-check
And if the credits aren’t enough for you, the card also gives you access to over 1,000 premium airport lounges as well as competitive rates and complimentary benefits at any fine hotel and resort. Benefits include such things as priority airline boarding, daily hotel breakfast, free hotel room upgrade, free wifi, and more.
Introductory APR on Purchases & Balance Transfers
Some small business credit cards, in addition to their introductory rewards, also offer special APRs for an introductory period. This is a great benefit since a card’s APR determines the interest charges and fees on balance transfers, if any. If your introductory APR is 0% for the first year, for example, you can carry a balance for the entire first year without paying interest charges.
Some cards like the American Express card are charge cards, meaning that you have to pay the balance in full each month. In this case there’s no APR at all.
American Express Business Platinum is a charge card and therefore doesn’t have an APR. All card balances have to be paid in full each month; the American Express card doesn’t allow its cardholders to carry a balance. Any overdue balance is charged a 2% late fee for the first two times. After the card carries a balance a third time, American Express reserves the right to assess the 2% late fee and cancel your account.
Regular APR on Purchases & Balance Transfers
Once the period ends for a card’s introductory APR, if any, the APR adjusts upward to the card’s regular APR. It’s basically the normal charge you pay for any outstanding credit balances or balance transfers.
If you keep a balance on your business credit card, be aware that your regular APR can change. For example, making a late payment can trigger a higher APR known as a penalty APR. Further, if you withdraw cash using your credit card (cash advance) or withdraw more than your credit limit allows (overdraft), that will also trigger higher APRs and other fees.
Consumer credit cards, unlike small business credit cards, are subject to the federal Credit CARD Act of 2009. This Act, among other things, protects consumers from sudden hikes in interest rates without written notice and restricts the length of time for which penalty rates can be charged. These protections don’t extend to holders of small business credit cards.
American Express Business Platinum is a charge card and therefore doesn’t have a regular APR. And before you think you’ll be able to carry a balance forever, this card requires that all balances are paid in full at the end of each billing cycle. So, if you expect to carry a credit card balance, this isn’t the card for you.
Redeem for Travel Points?
Travel points are one of the most sought after benefits provided by a small business credit card. Travel points work as discounts and can be applied to many, if not all, travel-related purchases, such as airline tickets and hotel accommodations. In this article, we highlight two specific cards that are good for travel. However, all three small business credit cards we list here have the opportunity to redeem their points, miles, and cash back rewards for travel.
American Express Business Platinum is specific to travel. The card allows you to redeem your points on any travel-related expenses through American Express Travel. Your travel points can be used for airline tickets, hotel accommodations, fine dining restaurants, as well as other travel expenses.Remember that the card gives you 5x travel points when you book through American Express Travel. While it might not be the best card for airline travel specifically, it offers the most flexibility when it comes to its travel points.
New Card Fees
Most small business credit cards offer unlimited cards to a company’s employees. However, some of these small business cards charge fees on the new cards issued. These fees can come in the form of either a one-time administrative fee or an annual card fee. It’s possible to find cards with no new card fees, although the ones that do have new card fees often offer greater benefits.
A new card doesn’t require an employee-signed contract or require an employee to go through a credit check. However, you can have your own internal company credit card policies that outline company-specific requirements.
American Express Business Platinum is the only card on this list with a new card fee. However, rather than assessing it as a one-time fee, American Express charges each card $450 annually, no questions asked. There is no chance to waive the fee for the first year like some other small business credit cards on the market.
Expense Management Tools
Small business credit cards usually offer expense management tools that help with financial controls. These tools are typically a desktop portal and mobile app that allow a business owner to track card-specific charges as well as receive company-level transaction reports. Many small business credit cards also allow a business owner to set purchase restrictions on cards, such as monthly limits or limits on specific spending categories.
In addition to these management tools, many small business credit cards offer tools that help with expense reporting. Mobile apps, for example, help an employee take photos of receipts and itemize their expense reports.
There are certain situations, however, when a corporate credit card or a fleet card offers more robust expense management tools. If you have more than 15 people using company credit cards, for example, you might want to explore these other options.
American Express Business Platinum has an iPhone and Android app called ReceiptMatch. This is a great time-saving tool; when you snap a photo of a receipt, you don’t have to manually tag it as you do with Jot. ReceiptMatch automatically syncs the receipt with the matching transaction on your statement for easy bookkeeping and reimbursement.
Just like the Chase card, Amex also lets you set spending limits for employees within the app and receive alerts when employees use the card. You can also sync expenses on your Amex card to Quickbooks and categorize expenses based on type and employee.
Credit Score Qualifications
Almost all small business credit cards require a joint credit application. This means that a business owner’s personal credit score is considered in addition to the small business’s credit score. It’s typical for a small business credit card to look for a personal credit score above 650 and a “good” business credit score rated by one of the credit rating agencies. For more information on business credit, read our article on how to build business credit.
However, once the application is approved, the small business credit card doesn’t show up on the business owner’s personal credit report as long as the account remains in good standing. The business owner is still liable for any outstanding debts, late payments, and delinquent payments on behalf of the company.
American Express Business Platinum also requires an excellent personal credit rating generally above 700 and a good business credit rating.
The liability associated with small business credit cards is usually joint liability. This means that the business owner’s personal credit score is considered in addition to the business’s credit. Once approved, liability is shared jointly between the business owner and business.
Small business credit cards usually won’t show up on a personal credit report, but the business owner is responsible for any credit card payments, fees, interest charges, and delinquencies on behalf of the company. Since liability isn’t assessed on employees, if you open a joint liability card, it’s important to make use of the card’s expense management and oversight tools.
It’s possible to find a few small business credit cards that offer company-only liability. When this is the case, businesses typically need to meet certain performance thresholds, such as number of years in business, annual revenue, and more. It’s also possible to find personal-only liability, although this type of liability only makes sense if a business’s credit isn’t good enough for approval.
American Express Business Platinum also offers joint liability between the business and business owner. The terms and conditions state that any account is in the name of the business owner, and that the business owner is jointly liable for all company debts. The small business credit card doesn’t show up on a personal credit report but the business owner is responsible for all company debts.
The American Express Business Platinum card is perfect for companies that expect to spend a large amount of money on travel.