Best Small Business Credit Cards for Running Stores

Best Credit Cards for Running Stores

Moving your expenses to a small business credit card is one of the best ways for your company to start getting more out of every dollar spent. Depending on the size and scale of your running store, a different type of card may fit your situation better than another.

We’ll cover the top small business credit cards for running stores, how to qualify for the card you want, and why a credit card makes sense for you and your company.


TOP SMALL BUSINESS CREDIT CARDS FOR RUNNING STORES

Depending on your business’s expenses and cash flow, you should be able to use the different reward systems strategically to maximize the benefit to your bottom line.

Note: In most cases, small business credit card applications are based on your personal credit score. Be sure to know if you qualify before you apply for a new card.

These are the top three cards available right now for running stores. If you know your credit isn't stellar, check out our Top 4 Cards For Building Credit.

Cash Back Rewards

Cash back rewards cards make an ideal choice for running stores because they allow you to earn cash back for all of your inventory purchases. Every time you buy products to restock your store or incorporate a new line of running shoes, you earn a flat rate of cash back on all purchases.

Most of these cards offer 2% back. That means you can use the card for every type of business expense that seems appropriate to maximize your rewards. Some cash back cards offer a higher rate of cash back for specific purchases like gas or travel. Choose the card that will allow you to earn the most money back from purchases you expect to make throughout the year.

#1 Cash Back Reward Small Business Credit Card

CAPITAL ONE SPARK BUSINESS

Ideal for: Business owners who want the highest rewards for the least amount of effort, and who don’t mind an annual fee.

Talk about straightforward: You earn 2% cash back on all purchases—and without any spending caps. There’s also a nice early spend bonus that eclipses the $95 annual fee that kicks in the second year.

REWARDS AND BENEFITS (TERMS APPLY)

  • Early-spend bonus of $500 after you spend $4,500 within three months of opening an account
  • 2% cash back on all purchases
  • Free employee cards
  • Quarterly and annual spending reports

FEES

  • Waived annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • No balance transfer fee.
  • No foreign transaction fee.
  • 3% or $10 cash advance fee (whichever is greater per transaction).

No Annual Fee

Some running store owners want to avoid the added expense of paying a fee for a small business credit card — especially if they don’t plan to use the card regularly. If you plan to keep your business credit card use to a minimum, you may want to choose a card that requires no annual fee. These cards provide access to credit when you need it without the worry of paying an annual fee every year.

Keep in mind that cards charging annual fees may offer more benefits if you use the card regularly or for specific types of purchases. Compare your options so you can pick the right card for your specific business needs.

#1 Small Business Credit Card with No Annual Fee

AMERICAN EXPRESS BLUE BUSINESS PLUS

Ideal for: Businesses that don’t run up a lot of expenses and don’t travel overseas.

The Blue Business Plus card is perfectly suited for freelancers and new owners. That’s because its 12-month 0% intro APR offer works well for those with irregular cash flow. The double points for the first $50,000 spent aren’t bad, either.

One drawback: A rather steep foreign transaction fee. At 2.7%, it’s one of only two on this list. A foreign transaction fee charges you for every purchase that has to pass through a foreign bank. What perks do you get for this charge? Nothing. So, avoid foreign transactions when possible, because it’ll cost you.

REWARDS AND BENEFITS (TERMS APPLY)

  • 0% intro APR for 12 months
  • 2x points on business purchases, such as office supplies and client dinners
  • 2x points per dollar spent on the first $50,000 for every calendar year, 1x point per dollar spent after that
  • Spend Manager: Use the American Express mobile app, which helps add receipts and notes to transactions
  • Up to 99 employee cards for free
  • Spend beyond your credit limit
  • Exclusive access to ticket pre-sales and cardmember-only events in your city
  • Complimentary ShopRunner membership: Provides two-day shipping at participating retailers
  • American Express personal loans: Apply for a pre-approved loan of $3,500 to $25,000
  • Access to Quickbooks to label and transfer your transaction data from American Express

FEES

  • No cash advance fee
  • 2.7% foreign transaction fee
  • 3% or $5 balance transfer fee (whichever is greater per transaction)

0% Introductory Rate

A business credit card that offers a zero annual percentage rate (APR) for an initial period of time can help you finance major purchases for your running store. If you need to buy more inventory for the holiday shopping season, for example, you can use this type of card to make that purchase now. You can then pay off your card balance once your store generates more revenue.

As long as you pay your card balance before the end of the 0% introductory APR period, you can avoid paying interest on your purchases. Most of these cards feature a 12-month introductory period, but some offer a shorter or longer timeframe so pay attention to your card’s terms.

#1 Business Financing Reward Small Business Credit Card

AMERICAN EXPRESS BLUE BUSINESS PLUS

Ideal for: New business owners, and those with irregular cash flow, who don’t travel overseas.

This card’s 0% intro APR offer lasts 12 months, one of the longest on this list. That makes it an ideal card for brand-new businesses and those whose cash flow is temporarily unpredictable.

What is predictable: If you use this card overseas, you’ll pay an extra 2.7% foreign transaction fee, which is a surcharge if your purchase passes through a foreign bank. Unlike, say, annual fees that are often offset with upgraded rewards and benefits, you get nothing but the fee for your trouble. If you travel out of the country for business, this isn’t the card you should use.

REWARDS AND BENEFITS (TERMS APPLY)

  • 0% intro APR for 12 months
  • 2x points per dollar spent on the first $50,000 of every calendar year
  • 2x points on business purchases like office supplies and client dinners
  • 1x point per dollar spent after that
  • Spend Manager: American Express mobile app. Helps add receipts and notes to transactions
  • Get up to 99 employee cards for free
  • Spend beyond your credit limit
  • Exclusive access to ticket pre-sales and cardmember-only events in your city
  • Complimentary ShopRunner membership: Provides two-day shipping at participating retailers
  • American Express personal loans: Apply for a pre-approved loan of $3,500 to $25,000
  • Access to Quickbooks to label and transfer your transaction data from American Express

FEES

  • No annual fee
  • No cash advance fee
  • 3% or $5 balance transfer fee (whichever is greater per transaction)
  • 2.7% foreign transaction fee

Cards For Multiple Uses

Most businesses start with one card that fits their largest need and transfer most or all of their expenses to that card. Once you get to a certain size, however, it may make sense to have different cards with specific rewards programs catering to the different types of expenses you have. Most larger businesses use multiple cards to optimize for rewards.

Remember, you aren't limited to just one credit card, just be careful not to overextend yourself for unnecessary purposes.

How to Qualify for Small Business Credit Cards

Unless your business has a positive credit history of its own, your eligibility will be based on your personal credit rating. If you have a new or existing business that has never had a credit card or loan before, it’s likely that your business has no credit history.

Since your personal credit will be measured when you apply for a business credit card, it’s wise to have a good idea of what your credit score is.

If you don’t know your credit score, check out our article: How To Find Your Credit Score.

Once you have your score you can make a decision on which card to apply for. If you have good, great, or excellent credit, then go for one of the cards at the top of this article! If your credit isn’t quite there yet, check out our article: What Business Credit Card Can I Get With My Credit Score?

The great thing about credit scores is that they can be improved over time! We have a great article on the Best Business Credit Cards To Build Credit.

A rejected credit application can have a negative effect on your credit score, so act with responsibility and make careful decisions when deciding to apply.

Qualifying for a Small Business Credit Card

It’s important to note that if your business doesn’t have any credit history of its own, your eligibility for these cards will be based on your personal credit score.

The card above is for eligible people with a good to excellent credit rating, generally a score of 660 or higher.

If you don’t know what your credit score is, visit our article on how to find your credit score.

If you do know your credit score, but it’s not quite high enough for these cards yet, check out our article on the best small business credit cards for building credit.

A rejected credit application can have a negative effect on your credit score, so act with responsibility and make careful decisions when deciding to apply.

Why You Should Get A Small Business Credit Card

There are many reasons why a company would want to have a business credit card. Depending on the type of business you operate, the strategies you employ may be different than one another, but we will describe the basic benefits of small business credit cards.

Separates Personal And Business Expenses

No matter the size of your company, you should keep all of your business finances separate from your personal finances. This means paying any bills you have in the business from a business account and paying for all personal expenses from a personal account.

This separation accomplishes two main tasks:

  • Simplified Accounting - Keeping your accounts separate will allow you to fully understand the numbers of your business. If you have personal dollars in a business bank account or vice versa, it will be more difficult to understand how much you are spending, how much your revenue is, and therefore, your bottom line.
  • Prevents Commingling - Commingling funds is one of the most basic and damaging errors a small business can make. Separating your funds, along with operating your business in a structure such as an LLC, will create your corporate veil. A corporate veil works to keep your personal assets safe if your business is ever sued.

There should never be a reason to mix your business and personal money, even if you run a small sole-proprietorship. The risks are too great, and there are no benefits.

Before you get a small business credit card, if you haven’t opened a business checking account for your company, you should do that right now.

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Recommended: Get $200 when you open a business checking account with Chase. Learn more.

Smooths Inconsistent Cash Flow

Some businesses, such as those with long sales cycles, can often go a few months without revenue, then see a large spike when a sale is finalized.

While it’s exciting to see large numbers come in all at once, it can be stressful in the meantime to pay bills, salaries, and other expenses with little to no income.

Credit cards offer business owners the ability to spend money that they haven’t made yet, capitalizing on future sales right now.

While you absolutely need to be careful about spending money you don’t have, this is a method that businesses can use to keep the doors open between sales cycles.

Credit Card Rewards

There are two main types of business credit card rewards: cash back and travel rewards.

Cash Back Rewards

There are multiple ways a small business can get the most out of cash back rewards programs.

For each dollar that your small business spends with these credit cards, you can get some money back. Some cards even have higher rates for specific purchases.

For example, businesses that do a lot of road travel can maximize their driving costs with a card that offers cash back on gas purchases.

Other businesses may require a lot of office supplies and can find a cash back or points program that rewards them for these costs or others like telecommunications, advertising, shipping, and more.

Finally, most cash back cards offer a flat percentage rate back on general purchases.

Travel Rewards

On the other hand, businesses that fly to visit conferences, do on-site visits with clients, or any other activities that usually involve airline trips or hotel stays can benefit from general or brand-specific travel rewards.

These usually come in the form of points or mileage rewards, where for every dollar you spend, miles you fly, nights you stay, or any other qualifying action you take, you’ll get rewarded. These build up and can be spent on upgrades, free nights and flights, and more.

Finally, there are typically premium versions of these cards that cost more in terms of annual fees but have more luxurious rewards such as access to airport lounges, events, and activities most people wouldn’t have access to.

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