There are several reasons to have a small business credit card. First and foremost, they offer a secure and convenient method of payment. For some small business owners, a credit card can offer a valuable means of short term financing.
Small business credit cards can feature valuable rewards for spending as well. But, if you travel for business one of the best reasons to have a small business credit card is for the potential travel benefits you can earn.
All credit cards offer some basic cardholder benefits. For example, most credit cards come with car rental insurance, travel accident coverage, and a travel emergency assistance hotline.
Other valuable travel benefits can include a roadside assistance dispatch service or even services such as jump starts, flat tire repair, and towing.
For example, the American Express Business Platinum card offers a roadside assistance policy that includes four services per year. Each use of this service can potentially save the cardholder up to $100 in service fees.
Higher end cards often offer more premium travel benefits. These can include:
- Lost and delayed luggage coverage, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, and travel delay reimbursement.
- A $100 statement credit towards the application fee for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, which includes TSA PreCheck.
- Statement credits towards other travel expenses.
- Access to airport business lounge programs either through a specific airline or through membership in the Priority Pass Select network, which includes over 1,200 airport lounges around the world.
- Credits towards meals at dozens of airport restaurants.
For instance, an airline credit card can offer you benefits like a free checked bag, priority check-in, and priority boarding. Likewise, a small business credit card co-branded with a hotel chain may offer room upgrades, late checkouts, and even free breakfast.
In addition to these direct benefits, most cards come with a range of travel discount programs. Here are just a few samples of what those programs look like:
- World and World Elite MasterCard include the World Luxury Hotels & Resorts program, which features room upgrades, free breakfast, early check-in and late checkout, and special welcome amenities to cardholders who book their stay with their hotel benefits.
- Stays booked through the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection include automatic room upgrade upon arrival when available, complimentary in-room Wi-Fi, breakfast for two, and a $25 food or beverage credit.
- American Express offers The Hotel Collection and the Fine Hotels and Resorts program on several of its small business cards. These programs can also provide room upgrades, free breakfast, and property credits.
When you’re a frequent business traveler, you may want to earn as many travel benefits as possible. However, since more benefits often mean a higher annual fee, you’ll need to balance the value of these benefits with the cost of the card. To do so you can ask yourself a few questions:
Will I benefit from airport lounge access? Travelers who fly out of smaller airports may find themselves frequently changing planes at larger airports and waiting around for their next flight. These travelers are likely to find an airport business lounge membership more valuable than those who live near major airports and almost always take non-stop flights
Am I loyal to a particular airline or hotel brand? If your home airport is dominated by a single carrier that you usually use, it can make sense to consider that airline’s co-branded credit card. Similarly, if you typically stay at the same hotel chain, a branded card may offer you more relevant benefits.
Do I usually check a bag? If you frequently need to travel with large equipment or supplies, then a free checked bag can be very valuable. On the other hand, many business travelers only pack a carry-on, making this benefit largely meaningless for them.
Other things to consider when doing your cost-benefit analysis include how much you value early or late check-in, room upgrades, and travel or lost bag insurance. If you are unlikely to use these features, it makes little sense to pay more to include them.
We are fortunate to enjoy a very competitive market for small business credit cards, but it can be a challenge to sort through all of the choices. By examining a small business credit card’s travel benefits and their value to you, you can find the best card for your needs.