9 THINGS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT BUSINESS CREDIT CARDS
A business credit card is a powerful tool that can unlock many useful features. If you work hard to take advantage of everything it has to offer, you may be able to unlock useful, time-saving, and value-improving features. Here are some fun and creative ways to get started.
1. YOUR MONEY-MAKING HOBBY MIGHT COUNT AS A BUSINESS
If you don’t think you qualify for a business credit card because you only earn part-time, think again. Many activities you do outside of your day job could bring in a modest income, and that income can count as a business for credit card purposes.
If you regularly sell items from around the house on eBay, it probably counts as a business! Other popular side businesses include music lessons or tutoring, selling crafts, or an online service. The IRS considers any income you bring in to be a legitimate business, as long as you consistently turn a profit. Banks don’t even require that.
2. YOU CAN COMBINE PERSONAL AND SMALL BUSINESS REWARD BALANCES
It can be frustrating to log into your online account to book an award flight, just to find your balance is a bit shy of what you need. If you have more than one card from the same program, you can likely pool your balances. This helps you redeem rewards even faster.
With American Express, your points are typically displayed in one balance by default. With Chase, you have to transfer points from one account to another. Many airline and hotel reward programs directly deposit your points into your balance. In those cases, you don’t need to worry about merging or pooling points at all.
3. EARN MORE REWARDS WITH ONLINE SHOPPING PORTALS
Many rewards credit cards give you a bonus on some purchase categories. But in some situations, you can earn a lot more when shopping at certain stores. This works with personal credit cards, too, so keep it in mind any time you buy from a nationwide retailer.
Many credit cards offer a purchasing portal where you can shop with your card to earn big bonuses on every dollar you spend. For example, Chase Ultimate Rewards currently offers an extra 4x points per dollar at Groupon, 2x points per dollar at Old Navy, 2x points per dollar at Apple, and many additional deals. Chase currently offers deals with 441 stores; American Express and other issuers offer similar portal bonus programs.
If you have more than one card, you may have multiple portals to choose from. Check out Cashback Monitor to find the best rate you can earn at each major online store.
4. YOUR BUSINESS CREDIT CARD CAN SAVE YOU MONEY ON INTERNATIONAL PURCHASES
If you travel internationally for business, a credit card can save you a fortune on foreign exchange fees in some cases. Regular orders from foreign vendors are another common source of exchange fees. A large number of premium credit cards waive foreign transaction charges. With regular use, that adds up to big savings.
If you are a retail company that purchases inventory from China, Mexico, or other countries, you may be able to pay your vendor with a card. This can help you skip converting your dollars to another currency.
When traveling, use your card for food, hotels, and other purchases. Cash may lead to expensive currency exchange services and ATM fees. A few dollars here and there can add up to hundreds or thousands of dollars in costs per year. Don’t spend it if you don’t have to!
5. PROTECT NEW PURCHASES WITHOUT PAYING EXTRA
You won’t find purchase protection with every small business credit card, but it’s a common feature among many top issuers. This card benefit typically covers new purchases against damage or theft for a few months from the receipt date.
When you buy something new, quickly breaking it or finding it stolen can be frustrating. If something goes wrong during the coverage period, the credit card benefit may cover the cost of repair or replacement. It’s a benefit you hope to never use, but it does come in handy on occasion.
6. AUTOMATIC MINIMUM PAYMENTS PREVENT LATE FEES
Late credit card payments are often accidental. Paying a business credit card late can harm your business credit score, trigger a higher default interest rate, and incur late fees. To avoid all of those nasty surprises, you can set up automatic payments.
Navigate to the billing section of your card issuer’s website or head to your bank’s online bill pay system to get set up. If you are worried about over-drafting your business checking account, set the automatic payment to your card’s minimum.
7. NEVER CARRY A BALANCE IF YOU CAN AVOID IT
Charge cards require you to pay off the balance in full every month. With a credit card, you have the option to make a smaller payment than the statement total. You’ll pay a financing charge for this convenience, however. That is a fee best avoided.
Simply pay off the complete balance on or before the monthly due date and you may be able to use the card for free. Aside from annual fees, you can avoid just about every credit card cost. It just takes full, on-time payments and avoiding certain fee-bearing activity.
8. CARDS ALLOW MULTIPLE PAYMENTS PER MONTH
In addition to rewards, credit cards can offer a layer of financial protection to your business. Your account is a line of credit, after all, and you can make purchases on the account while paying later. If you pay in full before each statement’s monthly due date, you never have to pay any interest.
But did you know you are not limited to that one payment per month? If you bill customers biweekly, you might way to pay on the same schedule to match business income and expense cycles. If you want to shift your payment due date, call the number on the back of the card. You may be able to do that as well.
9. YOUR BUSINESS CREDIT CARD IS A FINANCIAL TOOLBOX
This list of tips and tricks is just scratching the surface of what your business credit card can do. Be sure to read the full benefit guide any time you get a new credit card so you don’t miss out on valuable features.
At the same time, you can automate much of what you do with your card. Optimize your buying and payment behavior to get the best results for your business. If you can master those skills, you will get the best value and results from any business card.
TRUiC has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. TRUiC and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.