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The Best Cash Back Credit Cards for Every Category – 3% and More in November 2019

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MagnifyMoney keeps a database of over 2,000 credit cards and their features, including cash back cards you can compare with our tool. We used it to find the absolute highest cash back rewards you can earn in each spending category, more than the standard 1-2% you usually see.

In our analysis, there are over 25 categories where you can earn 3% or more in cash back on your credit card purchases.

Scroll down and you’ll find links to the best cash back credit cards that earn more than 2% cash back in special categories. These are cards that let you get pure cash value, not complicated points that can be used only for travel.

Before you dig into categories, every cash rewards wallet should have one of these cards, with double cash back on everything you spend and $0 annual fee:

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

The information related to Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms Apply.

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Earn 2% cash back on purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay.
Regular Purchase APR
15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)

Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card

Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card

Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Unlimited 2% cash back on everyday purchases.
Regular Purchase APR
15.74% Variable

Once you have one of these, you can add other cards that earn more than 2% in special categories to really boost your cash rewards.

The best cash back credit cards with no limit rewards

Maybe you don’t want to mess with rotating categories or remembering limits on cash back. If that’s you, there are only a handful of cards that you need to carry to get the most in totally unlimited cash back.

As you’ll learn below, you may be leaving about $500 a year or more on the table by not holding at least some of these cards.

They are all no annual fee cards, and they ensure you will earn more than 2% cash back on your total spending with absolutely no limits. Some cards have higher cash back rates with limits, and you can see those below this list in our review of cards for each category.

Airfare – 3%

Uber Visa Card

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The information related to Uber Visa Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms Apply.

Uber Visa Card

Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
5% back in Uber Cash on Uber rides, Uber Eats, and JUMP, 3% in Uber Cash on restaurants, bars, hotels, and airfare, and 1% back in Uber Cash on all other purchases.
Regular Purchase APR
17.24% - 27.99% Variable

The Uber Visa Card earns 5% back in Uber Cash on Uber rides, Uber Eats, and JUMP, 3% in Uber Cash on restaurants, bars, hotels, and airfare, and 1% back in Uber Cash on all other purchases. The foreign transaction fee is 0% of each transaction in U.S. dollars. So it’s great if you travel outside the U.S.

Travel – 3 points

The AAA Member Rewards Visa Signature® Card offers 3 points for eligible travel & AAA purchases, 2 points on gas, grocery store, wholesale club and drugstore purchases, and 1 point per $1 everywhere else. You don’t have to be a AAA member to get the card.

The information related to AAA Member Rewards Visa Signature® Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

U.S. Supermarkets – up to 6% (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%)

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

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on American Express’s secure website

Terms Apply | Rates & Fees

Read Full Review

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Regular Purchase APR
14.49%-25.49% Variable
Intro Purchase APR
0% for 12 months
Intro BT APR
0% for 12 months
Annual fee
$95
Rewards Rate
NEW 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions & 3% Cash Back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offers the highest rate we could find for U.S. supermarket shopping: NEW 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions & 3% Cash Back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more This card does have a $95 annual fee, but if you spend $1,584 a year at U.S. supermarkets, you’d earn enough cash back to recoup the annual fee.

Gas – 5%

Fort Knox Federal Credit Union Visa® Platinum Card

Fort Knox Federal Credit Union Visa® Platinum Card

Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Unlimited 5% cash back on gas and 1% cash back on all retail purchases.
Regular Purchase APR
11.50% - 18.00% Variable

You might not have heard of this credit union, but anyone can join. You just need to pay $5 to join the American Consumer Council / Kentucky and you’re eligible.

Another option includes the Sams Club® Mastercard®. You earn 5% cash back on eligible gas worldwide, including gas at Sam's Club (on the first $6,000 per year, then 1% after). Earn 3% cash back on dining and travel. Earn 1% cash back on other purchases at Sam's Club and wherever Mastercard is accepted. You need to be a Sam’s Club member to hold the card.

Dining – 3%

Uber Visa Card

LEARN MORE 

The information related to Uber Visa Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms Apply.

Uber Visa Card

Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
5% back in Uber Cash on Uber rides, Uber Eats, and JUMP, 3% in Uber Cash on restaurants, bars, hotels, and airfare, and 1% back in Uber Cash on all other purchases.
Regular Purchase APR
17.24% - 27.99% Variable

This card earns 5% back in Uber Cash on Uber rides, Uber Eats, and JUMP, 3% in Uber Cash on restaurants, bars, hotels, and airfare, and 1% back in Uber Cash on all other purchases.

Everything else: Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Card

If you’re willing to pay an annual fee, the Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Card card earns Unlimited 3% cash back during the first year; 2.5% cash back afterwards. There is a $99 annual fee, waived the first year. Alliant is targeting this card to high spenders with excellent credit, so it might be tough to get approved.

Just mark each of the cards you pick in your wallet with a sticker for each category so you remember which to use, and you’ll rack up lots of cash with minimal hassle. And afraid to have more than one card? Well if you’re responsible with credit, a few additional inquiries might have less of an impact than you think. See our experience with scores and getting several cards for the rewards.

For unlimited retailer-specific discounts, also consider:

    • Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card* – Earn 5% back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market with eligible Prime membership, 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores, and 1% back on all other purchases.
    • Target REDcard™ Credit Card – 5% – Target

If you want to maximize absolutely everything, read on…

We’ve organized cash back cards for each of the over 25 spending categories that are currently eligible for 2% or more in cash back rewards. They include both year-round and quarterly rotating categories, like those of the Discover it® Cash Back.

Pick the categories that matter most to you, and you’ll see the opportunities you have to earn 2-5% if you’re willing to keep track of some limits and quarterly changes.

Remember, these are all cards that let you earn cash value rewards, with no restriction on where you spend the rewards, unlike travel points.

You’ll find three flavors of cash back rewards, in the order of hassle factor:

  • Unlimited cash back – This is the simplest form. You usually won’t find the very highest 5%+ rewards this way, but we’ve found some great cards that get you 3% or more in some popular categories.
  • Cash back with limits – This is where a card limits the cash back you earn by putting a cap on the spending which earns the cash back in the specific category, on a combination of categories, or the card as a whole.
  • Quarterly rotating categories – These are the cards with the big headline 5% rates. Don’t be fooled. While you can earn the 5% rate, you may have to opt in to categories each quarter manually and be hit with caps on how much you can earn.

Advertising Services

With Limits

2%: American Express® Blue Business Cash Card – Earn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1%

Airfare

Unlimited

With limits

  • 3%: Huntington Voice Credit Card® – 3X points in one of 10 categories (capped at $2,000 each quarter or 6000 points), and all other purchases earn 1X points.

Quarterly category in November 2019

  • 5%: Visa® Platinum Cash Rewards credit card from Nusenda Credit Union – Oct. – Dec. November 2019 – up to $1,500 – Anyone can join the Nusenda Credit Union (formerly the New Mexico Educators Credit Union) by becoming a member of the La Montanita Food Co-op.

Amazon.com

Unlimited

  • 5%: Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card* (Prime members only)
  • 3%: Amazon Rewards Visa® Signature Card*

Quarterly category in November 2019

  • 5%: Discover it® Cash Back – up to $1,500 per quarter when you activate – Oct. – Dec. November 2019

Bookstores

With limits

  • 5%: U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card* up to $2,000 / quarter across two 5% categories you choose

Car Rentals

Unlimited

With limits

  • 5%: U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card up to $2,000 / quarter across two 5% categories you choose
  • 3%: Huntington Voice Credit Card® – 3X points in one of 10 categories (capped at $2,000 each quarter or 6000 points), and all other purchases earn 1X points.
  • 3%: Visa Rewards Credit Card from InFirst FCU (no annual fee -join FAPAC at a reduced rate of $10 using discount code INFIRST)

Cell phone

With limits

  • 5%: U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card up to $2,000 / quarter across two 5% categories you choose
  • 5%: SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express – up to $50,000 in bonus purchases a year. Terms Apply.

Cellular Phone / Landline / Internet / Cable TV

Clothing Stores

With limits

  • 5%: U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card* up to $2,000 / quarter across two 5% categories you choose
  • 3%: Huntington Voice Credit Card® – 3X points in one of 10 categories (capped at $2,000 each quarter or 6000 points), and all other purchases earn 1X points.

Commuting, Taxis

Unlimited

  • 3%: Citi PremierSM Card* ($95 annual fee)

Department Stores

Select U.S. department stores. See the list here.

  • 3%: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express ( $95 annual fee). See Rates & Fees.

With limits

  • 5%: Chase Freedom® — up to $1,500 when you activate — Oct.-Dec. 2019.
  • 5%: U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card* up to $2,000 / quarter across two 5% categories you choose
  • 3%: Huntington Voice Credit Card® – 3X points in one of 10 categories (capped at $2,000 each quarter or 6000 points), and all other purchases earn 1X points.

Discount stores

With limits

  • 3%: Huntington Voice Credit Card® – 3X points in one of 10 categories (capped at $2,000 each quarter or 6000 points), and all other purchases earn 1X points.

Drug stores

With limits

  • 3%: Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card - $200 Cash Rewards Offer* – 3% and 2% cash back on the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter, 1% on all other purchases
  • 3%: Huntington Voice Credit Card® – 3X points in one of 10 categories (capped at $2,000 each quarter or 6000 points), and all other purchases earn 1X points.

Education

  • Up to 1.5%: Sallie Mae AccelerateSM — Unlimited 1.25% cash back on every purchase. Earn a 25% bonus on your cash back rewards used to pay down your student loans.

Electronics

With limits

  • 5%: U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card* up to $2,000 / quarter across two 5% categories you choose
  • 3%: Huntington Voice Credit Card®* – 3X points in one of 10 categories (capped at $2,000 each quarter or 6000 points), and all other purchases earn 1X points.

Furniture

With Limits

  • 5%: U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card up to $2,000 / quarter across two 5% categories you choose
  • 3%: Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card - $200 Cash Rewards Offer – 3% and 2% cash back on the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter, 1% on all other purchases

Gas

Unlimited

  • 5%: Fort Knox Federal Credit Union Visa® Platinum Card (anyone can join the credit union by becoming a member of the American Consumer Council for $5)
  • 4.25%: PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card (anyone can become a member of PenFed paying a one time dues to Voices for America’s Troops for $14 or National Military Family Association for $15)
  • 4%: Visa Rewards Credit Card from InFirst FCU (no annual fee – can join FAPAC at a reduced rate of $10 using discount code INFIRST)
  • 3-5%: PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card
  • 3%: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express ( $95 annual fee). See Rates & Fees.
  • 3%: AARP® Credit Card from Chase Bank*
  • 3%: The Farmers® Rewards Visa® Card from Comenity Bank
  • 3%: Coastal Credit Union, Apple Credit Union, Vystar, and several other credit unions
  • 3%: Citi PremierSM Card* ($95 annual fee)
  • 2.5%: PayPal Extras MasterCard®* – 3x points, but they are worth 0.8 cents when turned into PayPal credits

With limits

  • 5%: USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card – up to $3,000 a year in purchases
  • 5%: Sams Club® Mastercard® – up to $6,000 cash back a year
  • 4%: Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi* – for the first $7,000 per year and then 1% thereafter
  • 3%: U.S. Pride® Credit Card from Bank of America* – on the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter
  • 3%: Huntington Voice Credit Card® – up to $2,000 in spending a quarter in one category of your choice
  • 3%: Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card - $200 Cash Rewards Offer* – on the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter

Supermarket Spending

Unlimited

  • 5%: Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card* – Earn 5% at Whole Foods Market
  • 3%: Amazon Rewards Visa® Signature Card* – Earn 3% at Whole Foods Market
  • 2.55%: PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card

With limits

  • 6%: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express – Earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%). Terms apply.
  • 3%: Visa Signature Cash Rebate Card from Consumers CU – up to $6,000 rebate per year – anyone can become a member of the credit union
  • 3%: Huntington Voice Credit Card® – up to $2,000 a quarter
  • 3%: Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express – Earn 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%). Terms apply.

Gyms

With Limits

  • 5%: U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card* up to $2,000 / quarter across two 5% categories you choose

Home Improvement

No limits

  • 3%: The Farmers® Rewards Visa® Card from Comenity Bank*

With limits

  • 3%: Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card - $200 Cash Rewards Offer* – 3% and 2% cash back on the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter, 1% on all other purchases
  • 3%: Huntington Voice Credit Card® – up to $2,000 in spending a quarter in one category of your choice

Hotels

Unlimited

  • 3%: Uber Visa Card*
  • 3%: AAA Member Rewards Visa Signature® Card*
  • 3%: Citi PremierSM Card* ($95 annual fee)
  • 3%: Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi* (need to be a Costco member)
  • 3%: Visa Rewards Credit Card from InFirst FCU (no annual fee – can join FAPAC at a reduced rate of $10 using discount code INFIRST)
  • 3%: Sams Club® Mastercard®

With limits

  • 3%: Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card - $200 Cash Rewards Offer* – 3% and 2% cash back on the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter, 1% on all other purchases
  • 3%: Huntington Voice Credit Card® – up to $2,000 in spending a quarter in one category of your choice

Quarterly category in November 2019

  • 5% – Visa® Platinum Cash Rewards credit card from Nusenda Credit Union – Oct – Dec November 2019 – up to $1,500

Movie Theaters

With Limits

  • 5%: U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card* up to $2,000 / quarter across two 5% categories you choose

Quarterly category in November 2019

  • 5%: Visa® Platinum Cash Rewards credit card from Nusenda Credit Union – April – June November 2019 – up to $1,500

Office Supply Stores

With limits

  • 5%: SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express* – up to $25,000 in bonus purchases. Terms Apply.
  • 5%: Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card* – up to $50,000 in bonus purchases a year
  • 3%: Huntington Voice Credit Card® – up to $2,000 in spending a quarter in one category of your choice

Restaurants

Unlimited

  • 3%: Uber Visa Card*
  • 3%: AARP® Credit Card from Chase Bank*
  • 3%: Sams Club® Mastercard®
  • 3%: Marvel Mastercard®*
  • 3%: (California residents only)
  • 3%: Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever (You needent to have military affiliation to be a Navy Federal member.)
  • 3%: Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi* (need to be a Costco member)
  • 3%: Visa Rewards Credit Card from InFirst FCU (no annual fee – can join FAPAC at a reduced rate of only $10 using discount code INFIRST)
  • 2.5%: PayPal Extras MasterCard® (3x card but points worth 0.8 cents when you turn them into PayPal credits)

With Limits

  • 3%: Huntington Voice Credit Card® – up to $2,000 in spending a quarter in one category of your choice

Quarterly category in November 2019

  • 5%: Discover it® Cash Back – up to $1,500 when you activate – July – Sept. November 2019
  • 5%: Visa® Platinum Cash Rewards credit card from Nusenda Credit Union – April – June & Oct – Dec November 2019 – up to $1,500

Shipping

  • 3%: SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express* – up to $25,000 in purchases in bonus categories. Terms Apply.

Sporting Goods Stores

With limits

  • 5%: U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card* up to $2,000 / quarter across two 5% categories you choose
  • 3%: Huntington Voice Credit Card® – up to $2,000 a quarter

Target

Unlimited

  • 5%: Target REDcard™ Credit Card
  • 5%: Discover it® Cash Back – up to $1,500 when you activate – Oct. – Dec. 2019

Trains, Cruises, Other Vacation

Unlimited

  • 3%: AAA Member Rewards Visa Signature® Card*
  • 3%: Citi PremierSM Card* ($95 annual fee)
  • 3%: Visa Rewards Credit Card from InFirst FCU (no annual fee – can join FAPAC at a reduced rate of $10, using discount code INFIRST)
  • 3%: Sams Club® Mastercard®

With limits

  • 3%: Huntington Voice Credit Card® – up to $2,000 in spending a quarter in one category of your choice

Utilities

  • 3%: Huntington Voice Credit Card® – up to $2,000 in spending a quarter in one category of your choice

Walmart

  • 3%: Huntington Voice Credit Card® – up to $2,000 in spending a quarter in one category of your choice
  • 5%: Discover it® Cash Back – up to $1,500 when you activate – Oct. – Dec. 2019

Warehouse Clubs

  • 2%: Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi* – at Costco warehouse clubs
  • 2%: Visa Rewards Credit Card from InFirst FCU (no annual fee – can join FAPAC at a reduced rate of $10, using discount code INFIRST)

*The information related to this offer has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.These offers and/or promotions may have since changed, expired, or are no longer available.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Alexandria White
Alexandria White |

Alexandria White is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Alexandria at [email protected]

Tracy Brackman
Tracy Brackman |

Tracy Brackman is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Tracy here

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Credit Cards

Unsecured Credit Cards for Bad Credit

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

Unsecured cards are the most popular type of credit cards available — they are simply regular credit cards. The term “unsecured” means that you don’t need to deposit money or use any other collateral in order to receive a line of credit — credit card issuers extend credit based on your credit history and various other factors.That’s why, if you have bad credit, it can be difficult to qualify for most good credit card deals. Poor credit is considered at or below a 579 credit score, and it signals to lenders that you’re a high-risk borrower.

Poor credit doesn’t make it impossible to access credit cards, however, but the key is to use credit responsibly so your credit score will improve and you’ll have a chance at qualifying for better deals.

We’ve put together this guide to help you understand the best options for people with bad credit.

Our top picks

Unsecured card: Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® with Cash Back Rewards

Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® with Cash Back Rewards

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on Credit One Bank’s secure website

Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® with Cash Back Rewards

Regular Purchase APR
19.74% -25.74% Variable
Annual fee
$0-$99
Rewards Rate
1% on eligible purchases, terms apply

Credit One is hardly the best credit card out there, with a host of potential fees that make it expensive to carry. On the plus side, however, it is accessible to those with poor credit. It offers several cards that carry the potential for 1% on eligible purchases, terms apply. People with bad credit will find it hard to qualify for credit cards and harder to qualify for cards with rewards. Therefore, the cashback feature is a good perk of Credit One cards. But remember — not everyone will qualify for a cashback card.

Terms

  • Regular purchase APR: 19.74% -25.74% Variable
  • Cash advance APR: 25.74% Variable
  • Annual membership fee: $0-$99
    Depending on your account, the annual membership fee will be divided into 12 equal portions and billed monthly or it will be billed yearly for the second and each following year your account is open
  • Authorized user participation fee: $19 annually (if applicable)
  • Cash advance fee: Either $5 or 8% of the amount of each Cash Advance, whichever is greater, or $10 or 3% of each Cash Advance, whichever is greater.
  • Late payment fee: Up to $39
  • Returned payment fee: Up to $39

What to watch out for

The annual fee will hit your account right away — eating into your total available limit. The fine print of the terms and conditions explains:

NOTICE: If your Account has an Annual Membership Fee, it will be billed to your Account when it is opened and will reduce the amount of your initial available credit. For example, if your Account is established with a credit line of $300 and your First year Annual Membership Fee is $75, your initial available credit will be $225.

This is key to realize if you are charged an annual membership fee. You can quickly see your credit limit decrease when opening your account; especially if you are charged the highest annual fee.

Another term to be aware of is the authorized user participation fee at $19 annually. Most personal credit cards do not charge a fee for authorized users so this is an added fee Credit One charges if you decide to add an authorized user.

Secured card: Discover it® Secured

Discover it® Secured

APPLY NOW Secured

on Discover Bank’s secure website

Rates & Fees

Read Full Review

Discover it® Secured

Regular APR
24.49% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter, automatically. 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases.
Minimum Deposit
$200
Credit required
bad-credit
New/Rebuilding

The Discover it® Secured is our top pick for secured cards for numerous reasons — from the automatic monthly account reviews starting at 8 months to the cashback program, this card provides exceptional benefits for cardholders.

Pros:

  • Automatic monthly account reviews: Starting at 8 months, Discover will review your account to see if you qualify for receiving your security deposit back. If you have responsible credit management across all your credit products, you may be graduated to an unsecured card and recieve your security deposit back.
  • Cashback program: This card has a unique feature that’s uncharacteristic of secured cards — a cashback program where you can earn 2% cashback at restaurants or gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, 1% cashback on all your other purchases.
  • Free FICO® Credit Score: You receive your free FICO® Credit Score with Discover Credit Scorecard as well as other credit information, like recent inquiries and revolving utilization. This is a great way to track your credit progress and checking your score doesn’t affect hurt your credit.

Cons:

  • High APR: Most secured cards have high APRs, and this one does, too. But, if you pay your balance in full each month, you won’t be charged interest.

Read our review of the Discover it® Secured. 

The risks of unsecured cards for bad credit

The majority of unsecured cards that accept people with bad credit have numerous fees that can have you questioning if the card is really helping you.

Here are several drawbacks you may see with unsecured cards for bad credit:

  • High APRs: Typical cards have APR ranges that max out around 25%, but unsecured cards for bad credit can have APRs near 30%. Also, since you have bad credit, you most often will receive the highest APR listed in the terms and conditions.
  • Annual fee: Many credit cards in general have annual fees, but this can often be outweighed by the added benefits provided. However, unsecured cards for bad credit often lack the added benefits that cards for good credit offer.
  • Program or processing fee: Unsecured cards for bad credit often charge a program or processing fee that serves to open your account and lets you access your credit. This is something you won’t find with unsecured cards from major banks and credit card issuers.
  • Monthly service fee: This fee is characteristic of some unsecured cards and is another cost you have to keep in mind before applying since it can effectively lower your line of credit.

Credit card options when you have bad credit

Store credit cards

Odds are you’ve been asked to apply for a credit card while checking out at a store or online. The card offers often entices you with a rewards program or discount on your current purchase, and gets you thinking if you should apply. The card that you’re being offered is a store credit card and these cards can only be used at the issuing store. Since they are more likely to approve you compared with regular credit cards, they may seem like an easy way to establish credit, but there are some pitfalls to keep in mind.

Pros:

  • Good approval odds: Store cards are more likely to extend you credit than regular credit cards.
  • Rewards and discounts: Store cards often give you rewards for each purchase you make and send you card member discounts. This can be a great way to save money at stores where you frequently shop.

Cons:

  • Limited use: You most likely can only use your card in the issuing store. For example, a Target REDcardTM Credit Card can only be used for Target purchases.
  • High interest rates: Store cards tend to have higher interest rates than regular cards, so make sure you pay your statements in full and on time to avoid interest charges.

Store card options

Target REDcard™ Credit Card

APPLY NOW Secured

on Target’s secure website

Target REDcard™ Credit Card

Regular Purchase APR
25.15% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
5% at Target & Target.com

Lowe’s Advantage Card

APPLY NOW Secured

on Lowe’s secure website

Lowe’s Advantage Card

Regular Purchase APR
26.99% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Get 5% off your eligible purchase or order charged to your Lowe’s Advantage Card.

Home Depot Consumer Credit Card

APPLY NOW Secured

on Home Depot’s secure website

Home Depot Consumer Credit Card

Regular Purchase APR
17.99%-26.99% Variable
Annual fee
$0

Secured credit cards

A secured credit card requires you to deposit money upfront, which acts as collateral in case your account defaults. The amount you deposit typically becomes your line of credit. For example, if you put down a $200 security deposit, that means you likely have a $200 credit limit; deposit more and your credit limit will increase. Typical security deposits are $200, but you can be asked to deposit more or less depending on the card.

Pros:

  • Less chance of overspending: Since your credit limit is equal to the amount you deposit, it’s unlikely you will have a high credit limit. This can prevent you from charging large amounts and falling into debt.
  • Great way to build or improve: Secured cards are our favorite way to build or improve credit since you are more likely to be approved for a secured card with bad credit, and you can see your score rise with proper credit behavior and spending as little at $10 a month.

Cons:

  • Security deposit required: You may not have the money available for the required security deposit, therefore possibly ruling out your chances of a secured card.
  • Low credit limit: Your line of credit is equal to your security deposit and most people don’t have the money available to deposit hundreds or thousands of dollars, making your available line of credit lower than unsecured cards.

Secured card options

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

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on Capital One's website

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

Regular Purchase APR
26.99% (Variable)
Annual fee
$0
Minimum Deposit
$49, $99, or $200

The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is a good option for people who may not be able to afford a $200 security deposit since this card also offers a $49 or $99 deposit — but be aware that you don’t choose your deposit, Capital One® does. So you may not receive the lower deposit.

Pros:

  • Potentially low security deposit: You may qualify for a $49 to $200 deposit. If you qualify for one of the lower deposits, you will still receive a $200 line of credit.
  • Access to a higher credit line: When you make your first 5 monthly payments on time, you receive a higher credit line.
  • Account reviews: Capital One® reviews your account to see if you can be transitioned to an unsecured card and receive your deposit back. However, there is no set time frame for when your account will be reviewed.

Cons:

  • High APR: Similar to other secured cards, this card has a high APR that can be an issue if you carry a balance. A good rule of thumb is to pay each bill in full and on time to avoid interest charges.

Read our review of the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®.

Credit builder loans

A credit builder loan is when a lender (typically a credit union) puts funds into a savings account or CD and a borrower makes monthly payments until the amount is paid off. Typically, the borrower cannot access the funds until the balance is paid in full. Your savings act as collateral for the lender, so if you don’t make payments they know they won’t lose money.

The monthly payments you make include interest fees and often occur over a 12-, 18- or 24-month term. Credit builder loans can be a good way for you to improve your credit score and act as a forced savings since you can’t withdraw funds until you repay the amount you borrowed.

Pros:

  • Report to the credit bureaus: Credit builder loans report to the major credit bureaus, allowing you to rebuild or establish credit history — as long as you follow the terms of your loan and make timely payments.
  • Source of savings: Since the funds are placed in a savings account or CD, you have a forced savings that is accessible at the end of the loan term.

Cons:

  • Funds are locked: You can’t withdraw money borrowed until your loan is paid off. So if you need money upfront, a credit builder loan isn’t a good option.

Options

Self Lender

Credit builder loans at Self Lender offer 12 or 24 month loans where you pay back a loan from $526 to $1,700. Funds are deposited into a CD that’s FDIC-insured and earns interest. However, you cannot access the funds until the loan is paid off. There is a $15 non-refundable administration fee that you pay when you open your account. After that, you pay equal monthly payments for the term of your account (these payments include interest charges). Once you pay off the amount borrowed, you can access your funds plus interest earned.

Republic Bank

At Republic Bank, you can take out a credit builder loan for 12, 18 or 24 months with loan amounts of $500, $1,000 or $1,500. Your funds are placed in a CD that earns interest and is only accessible once the loan is paid. There is a $10 processing fee when you open your account. When you complete your monthly payments (which include interest), you can either withdraw your funds or leave them in a CD.

Unsecured credit card options for bad credit

An unsecured credit card is simply a regular credit card. Unlike secured cards, there is no minimum security deposit required to access a line of credit. These cards often provide higher credit limits than secured cards and can help you build credit when used responsibly.

Pros:

  • You won’t need to make a deposit to access your line of credit.
  • Unsecured cards typically have higher credit limits than secured cards. And, the two cards mentioned below both have credit limits starting at $300.

Cons:

  • Many secured cards for bad credit come with annual fees, so you’ll have to make sure the fee is worth it. If the unsecured card has an annual fee but no rewards, look for alternatives.

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

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on Capital One’s website

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Annual fee
$39
Rewards Rate
1.5% Cash Back on every purchase, every day
Regular Purchase APR
26.99% (Variable)
Credit required
fair-credit
Average/Fair/Limited

The Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card is a good unsecured card for those looking to earn cash back while building credit — just watch out for the $39 annual fee.

Pros:

  • You can earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day. This is a decent rate considering this is a card for those with average/fair/limited credit.
  • When you make your first five monthly payments on time, you receive a higher credit line.

Cons:

  • This card comes with a $39 annual fee. Annual fees are common for cards aimed at people with poor credit, but you can find cards without annual fees like the Capital One® Platinum Credit Card mentioned below. With this card, if you spend $2,600 a year, you’ll earn enough cash back to recoup the fee.
  • This card comes with a high APR that can be an issue if you carry a balance. Try to always pay on time and in full so you don’t incur interest charges.

Capital One® Platinum Credit Card

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on Capital One’s website

Capital One® Platinum Credit Card

Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Non-rewards Card
Regular Purchase APR
26.99% (Variable)
Credit required
fair-credit
Average/Fair/Limited

The Capital One® Platinum Credit Card is a decent option if you want a no-frills, unsecured credit card that can allow you to build credit without the distraction of rewards.

Pros:

  • When you make your first five monthly payments on time, you receive a higher credit line.
  • This card is no-frills, but that may be the best option for you if you think you may be tempted to overspend with a rewards card. You can use this card to build credit and work toward a higher credit score.

Cons:

  • Similar to most cards for less-than-stellar credit, there is a high APR. However, if you pay your balance on time and in full each month, this won’t be an issue.

Total VISA® Credit Card

The Total VISA® Credit Card is also accessible to those with poor credit, but it comes at a steep price —  a long list of fees. Apply with caution.

Terms

  • Regular purchase APR: See Terms
  • Cash advance APR: See Terms
  • Program fee: If approved, pay an $89.00 program fee to open your account and access your available credit.
  • Annual Fee: See Terms
  • Monthly servicing fee: None for first year (introductory). After that, $75 annually ($6.25 per month).
  • Additional card fee: $29 annually (if applicable)
  • Cash advance fee: None for first year (introductory). After that, either $5 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater.
  • Late payment fee: Up to $39
  • Returned payment fee: Up to $39

What to watch out for

The Total VISA® Credit Card has numerous fees that make this card quite expensive to use, and many fees are not typical of mainstream credit cards. The APR is one of the highest on the market (See Terms for APR), and typical credit cards have APRs that max out around 25%.

Similar to Credit One, the annual fee (See Terms) for the Total VISA® Credit Card is deducted from your initial credit line, lowering your available credit until the fee is paid off:

Notice: The Annual Fee will be assessed before you begin using your card and will reduce the amount of credit you initially have available. Based on your initial credit limit of $300.00, your initial available credit will only be $225.00 (only $196.00 if you choose to have an additional card).

There is a monthly servicing fee of $75 annually ($6.25 per month) associated with this card that is quite steep and characteristic of cards for bad credit. Also, if you take out additional cards, you will be charged $29 annually. Considering the program fee, annual fee and monthly service fees, you’re looking at a jaw-dropping amount of fees with this card. In the first year, if you’re only considering the program and annual fee, you would be charged $164 and subsequent years would incur $123 in fees from the annual fee and monthly servicing fees.

Finally, watch out for the credit limit increase fee. Once your account has been open at least a year, Total VISA can charge you a 20% fee on credit limit increases. For example, if your limit is increased by $100, that’s a $20 fee.

The information related to Total VISA® Credit Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Learn more

How to build credit

As someone with bad credit, it’s important to practice responsible credit behavior and follow several rules so you can improve your credit.

  1. Pay your bills on time: When you receive a bill, pay it as soon as possible and always before the due date. By paying on time, you won’t be charged a late payment fee and the lender won’t have to report your bad credit behavior to the credit bureaus. Use autopay features or set calendar alerts so you don’t forget.
  2. Pay your statement balance in full every month: Don’t carry a balance on your card because you’ll be charged interest on any overdue amounts and can fall into debt.
  3. Don’t max out your card: If you receive a $500 credit limit, don’t spend the full amount each month because that shows lenders you’re a risky client and negatively impacts your credit score. The amount of your available credit you use is known as utilization and the goal is to have a 20% or lower utilization rate — so spend $100 or less on a card with a $500 credit limit.

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Alexandria White
Alexandria White |

Alexandria White is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Alexandria at [email protected]

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Credit Cards

Best Small Business Credit Cards in November 2019

Small business credit cards not only make it easier to separate personal and business finances, they offer business owners advantages they may not need or be able to get with a personal credit card. You might find the number of business credit card options overwhelming, so identifying your priorities will help you choose. Do you want rewards? Or do you merely need a card for short-term financing? The best small business credit card for you will depend entirely on your needs and goals.

Best small business credit cards for financing

0% intro APR financing

When to consider business cards with intro 0% financing: A business card with an intro 0% APR period can save you hundreds of dollars on interest compared to cards without 0% APR introductory periods. During the intro period, new purchases won’t accrue interest, and you can take your time paying off large purchases such as laptops and desks for your business.

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

The information related to The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms Apply.

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

Regular Purchase APR
14.74% - 20.74% Variable
Intro Purchase APR
0% for 12 Months
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
2X Membership Rewards® points on everyday business purchases such as office supplies or client dinners. 2X applies to the first $50,000 in purchases per year, 1 point per dollar thereafter.
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

Why we like it: The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express offers small business owners the chance to finance new purchases with an intro period of 0% for 12 months; 14.74% - 20.74% variable APR after. Plus, you can earn rewards, receive purchase protection and get extended warranties — all with a $0 annual fee.

What to watch out for: You can lose the intro APR if a penalty APR applies to your account for any reason. To avoid this, always pay your minimum amount due.

Low interest rate

When to consider business cards with low interest rates: The Bank of America® Platinum Plus® Mastercard® Business card has the lowest APR at 11.99% - 22.99% Variable APR. If you find your business has to carry a balance from time to time, it can be beneficial to have a low interest credit card that won’t cause you to rack up as much interest as other cards. But as a rule of thumb, try to pay your balance in full every month to avoid interest charges.

Why we like it: If you qualify for the lowest rate on the Bank of America® Platinum Plus® Mastercard® Business card and end up carrying a balance, you’ll be charged substantially less interest than other cards with high APRs. Although there are no rewards, new accounts can earn an $300 statement credit when you make at least $3,000 in net purchases within 90 days of your account opening. That’s the lowest spending requirement we’ve found to get a bonus on a business card.

What to watch out for: You may not qualify for the lowest rate because the APR varies based on your personal or business’ credit worthiness.

The information related to Bank of America® Platinum Plus® Mastercard® Business card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Cash flow management

When to consider a business card for cash flow management: Some small businesses may not have a consistent cash flow, and that’s where a card with a flexible payment option comes in handy. You may be allowed to carry a balance interest free until your next statement if you make the minimum payment.

The Plum Card® from American Express

The information related to The Plum Card® from American Express has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms Apply.

The Plum Card® from American Express

Regular Purchase APR
N/A
Annual fee
$0 introductory annual fee your first year, then $250.
Rewards Rate
Get a 1.5% discount when you pay early, with no cap on what you can earn back.
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

Why we like it: The Plum Card® from American Express has an uncommon payment option where as long as you pay your minimum due, you can pay your balance in up to 60 days without accruing interest (terms apply). This ‘grace period’ is uncharacteristic of business cards (and all cards in general), providing you with twice as much time as other cards do to pay off your statement without incurring interest charges. There are no rewards, but you can Get a 1.5% discount when you pay early, with no cap on what you can earn back.

What to watch out for: To benefit from the extra-days-to-pay feature, make sure you pay your minimum due, or else you’ll miss out on the offer. Also, make sure this card is the best choice for your business because there’s a $0 introductory annual fee your first year, then $250.

Imperfect credit

When to consider a business card for imperfect credit: If you or your business has less-than-good credit, odds are you’ll not only have trouble qualifying for a credit card, but the terms you do qualify for won’t be ideal. However, you’re not out of luck — we found a card that considers small businesses with imperfect credit, and it has decent terms plus the foundation for you to improve your credit with responsible behavior.

Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business

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on Capital One’s website

Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business

Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
1% Cash Back on every purchase
Regular Purchase APR
24.74% (Variable)
Credit required
fair-credit
Average/Fair/Limited

Why we like it: The Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business is for business owners with Average/Fair/Limited credit. Capital One considers Average/Fair/Limited credit as someone who’s defaulted on a loan in the past five years or has limited credit history (holding credit for less than three years). So, if you or your business has less-than-perfect credit, you may have better odds qualifying for this card compared to the majority of business cards, which require good or excellent credit.

What to watch out for: Although this card states it’s for business owners with Average/Fair/Limited credit, that does not guarantee you will be approved. As with any credit application, lenders look at a variety of credit factors.

Available for service members

When to consider business cards for service members: The following business credit cards are provided by credit unions for service members and have added perks, such as low interest rates, rewards, special offers and discounts. These cards require credit union membership, but you can typically qualify depending on where you live or work.

Navy Federal Credit Union Visa® Business Card

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on Navy Federal Credit Union’s secure website

Navy Federal Credit Union Visa® Business Card

Regular Purchase APR
11.40% - 18.00% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Rewards up to 1% return on each dollar spent
Credit required
excellent-credit
Good/Excellent

Why we like it: The Navy Federal Credit Union Visa® Business Card has a $0 annual fee and provides an up to 15% discount on qualifying business purchases with Visa SavingsEdge®. You can receive discounts at restaurants, travel and shipping services, IT solutions and more at no additional cost. As a member of NFCU, you can also receive a discount on Geico auto insurance and access an Auto Buying Program where you can save on new and used cars — great if your business requires you and your employees to drive. Terms & limitations apply.

What to watch out for: The interest rate you receive depends on your creditworthiness, so you may not receive the lowest APR. Because membership is restricted, check here to see if you qualify for membership with Navy Federal Credit Union.

Navy Federal Credit Union Mastercard® Business Card

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on Navy Federal Credit Union’s secure website

Navy Federal Credit Union Mastercard® Business Card

Regular Purchase APR
11.40% - 18.00% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Rewards up to 1% return on each dollar spent
Credit required
excellent-credit
Excellent

Why we like it: The Navy Federal Credit Union Mastercard® Business Card has the Mastercard Easy Savings® Program, which provides you with an up to 10% discount on a wide range of purchases including car rentals, gas purchases, products and services like Bing Ads and Monster, and more. This can simply save your business money on everyday purchases and the program is free. NFCU members have access to perks that suit businesses that require driving for work, like the ability to save on Geico auto insurance and access to an Auto Buying Program where you can receive savings on new and used vehicles. Terms & limitations apply.

What to watch out for: The APR varies based on your creditworthiness, so you may not qualify for the lowest rate. Because membership is restricted, check here to see if you qualify for membership with Navy Federal Credit Union.

RBFCU Business Select Mastercard® credit card

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on Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union’s secure website

RBFCU Business Select Mastercard® credit card

Regular Purchase APR
11.65% - 18.00% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
2% cash back on all purchases
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

Why we like it: The RBFCU Business Select Mastercard® credit card has a great cashback program with unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases. This flat rate is rare among business cards that tend to favor high rates only on select purchase categories. In addition to a cashback program, members of RBFCU can benefit from members-only pricing at select merchants like TurboTax® and Sprint® to save your business additional money. Terms apply.

What to watch out for: Not everyone will qualify for membership with RBFCU, so fill out this online form to check.

Best small business rewards credit cards

Travel perks

When to consider travel business cards: If you or your employees travel often, a travel card can be more valuable than typical credit cards because many offer travel insurance, airline fee credits, free Wi-Fi access and other travel-related perks.

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express

The information related to The Business Platinum® Card from American Express has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms Apply.

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express

Regular Purchase APR
N/A
Annual fee
$595
Rewards Rate
5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com and 1.5 Membership Rewards® points per dollar on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more.
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good
Welcome Offer: Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 50,000 points after you spend an additional $15,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.

Why we like it: We looked at business cards that offered travel perks, and The Business Platinum® Card from American Express emerged as the best overall business travel card because of its extensive benefits for business owners, including rewards potential, Welcome Offer, and added perks. You can take advantage of standout perks like access to over 1,200 airport lounges, credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck and an airline fee credit of up to $200. Terms apply. These benefits can save your business a substantial amount of money and make travel less of a hassle.

What to watch out for: There is a steep $595 annual fee for this card. However, considering the value you receive with this card, the annual fee may be worth it. For example, the airline fee credit and Global Entry fee credit are valued at $300, decreasing the effective annual fee for this card in the year you use those credits.

Ink Business PreferredSM Credit Card

The information related to Ink Business PreferredSM Credit Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms Apply.

Ink Business PreferredSM Credit Card

Regular Purchase APR
17.74% - 22.74% Variable
Annual fee
$95
Rewards Rate
Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases—with no limit to the amount you can earn.
Credit required
excellent-credit

Excellent

Why we like it: The Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card allows you to increase the value of your points by 25% when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. This is a great way to increase the effective value of your points. Additional travel benefits include trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance and travel and emergency assistance services.

What to watch out for: The higher rewards rate only applies to select categories, so if you primarily spend outside the select categories, you’ll earn a subpar cashback rate. Consider other travel business cards that suit your spending more.

Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business

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on Capital One’s website

Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business

Regular Purchase APR
18.74% (Variable)
Annual fee
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Rewards Rate
2 Miles per $1 on every purchase, everywhere
Credit required
excellent-credit
Excellent

Why we like it: The Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business offers a hard-to-find flat-rate rewards program at 2 miles per $1 on every purchase, everywhere. This rate allows you and your employees to earn the same amount of miles on any purchase with no bonus categories or caps. You can easily redeem miles for travel, and there is no minimum redemption amount.

What to watch out for: This card comes with an annual fee at $0 intro for first year; $95 after that, and although it’s lower than most travel business cards, it may not be ideal for everyone. Keep in mind you will need to spend $4,750 a year (after year one) to recoup the fee.

Big intro bonuses

When to consider business cards with big intro bonuses: A large intro bonus can be a simple way for business owners to earn extra rewards within the first few months of account opening — as long as you fulfill the requirements. You can use the rewards you earn in a variety of ways, from travel to statement credits that can lower your business’ expenses. Many cards that have big intro bonuses also have good rewards and perks, providing long-term value in addition to the short-term reward.

Ink Business PreferredSM Credit Card

The information related to Ink Business PreferredSM Credit Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms Apply.

Ink Business PreferredSM Credit Card

Regular Purchase APR
17.74% - 22.74% Variable
Annual fee
$95
Rewards Rate
Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases—with no limit to the amount you can earn.
Credit required
excellent-credit

Excellent

Intro bonus: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

What to watch out for: There are requirements that you need to follow in order to receive the intro bonus, so make sure you spend the required amount in the stated time period. Also, you miss out on added value by redeeming points outside of Chase Ultimate Rewards, so try to use the portal to receive the 25% more value on travel.

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express

The information related to The Business Platinum® Card from American Express has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms Apply.

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express

Regular Purchase APR
N/A
Annual fee
$595
Rewards Rate
5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com and 1.5 Membership Rewards® points per dollar on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more.
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good
Welcome Offer: Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 50,000 points after you spend an additional $15,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.

What to watch out for: You need to satisfy two spending requirements to earn the full welcome offer — so make sure you understand the details of both if you don’t want to leave points on the table.

CitiBusiness®/ AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®

The information related to CitiBusiness®/ AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms Apply.

CitiBusiness®/ AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®

Regular Purchase APR
17.24% - 25.24% (Variable)
Annual fee
$99, waived for first 12 months
Rewards Rate
Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles per $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases. Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles per $1 spent on purchases at telecommunications merchants, cable and satellite providers, car rental merchants and at gas stations

Sign-up Bonus: Earn 70,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening..

Why we like it: The CitiBusiness®/ AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® is one of few airline-specific business cards. This card has the largest limited-time offer compared to competitors and a typical spending requirement. In addition, there are great perks when you fly on American Airlines, such as in-flight discounts, first checked bag free and preferred boarding.

What to watch out for: This is an airline-specific card — if you don’t fly with American Airlines, you’ll miss out on some of the best perks.

Cashback rewards

When to consider cashback business cards: Cash back is a simple and straightforward way for your business to be rewarded for purchases. You can easily redeem your cash back as a statement credit, which is a great way to reduce your bill (just remember that redemptions can’t be applied to minimum payments).

Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business

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on Capital One’s website

Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business

Regular Purchase APR
18.74% (Variable)
Annual fee
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Rewards Rate
2% Cash Back for your business on every purchase, everywhere
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

Why we like it: We looked at business credit cards offering cashback rewards and analyzed their rewards rates, fees and APRs, and among the group, The Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business rose to the top. It has a standout cashback program earning you 2% cash back for your business on every purchase, everywhere. There are no bonus categories or caps — you’ll earn the same rate on every purchase. You can even make redeeming your rewards simple by setting up automatic redemption, great for businesses that don’t want to fuss with rewards.

What to watch out for: The annual fee is $0 intro for first year; $95 after that — so after year one, you will need to spend $4,750 a year to break even.

Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business

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on Capital One’s website

Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business

Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
1.5% Cash Back on every purchase
Regular Purchase APR
14.74% - 22.74% (Variable)
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

Why we like it: The Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business has a decent rewards rate for business owners who want to avoid an annual fee at 1.5% cash back on every purchase. This card is a good alternative to the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business, offering all the same perks plus a $0 annual fee.

What to watch out for: The cash back rate is below the ideal 2%, and you can do better with a higher flat-rate card or with bonus category cards. But be aware they may have an annual fee.

Hotel rewards

When to consider business cards with hotel rewards: Traveling for business can get costly, but hotel rewards cards can help you save money on hotel stays and other expenses you may incur like meals. Whether you favor a specific hotel or often choose the best priced hotel, there are business cards for you that can earn you rewards and other money-saving discounts. In this section we’re highlighting a card with exceptional hotel rewards.

The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

The information related to The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms Apply.

The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

Regular Purchase APR
17.24% - 26.24% Variable
Annual fee
$95
Rewards Rate
12X at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio, 6X on Select Business & Travel Purchases, 3X Everywhere Else. Terms & Limitations Apply.
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

Why we like it: The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card offers great benefits for business travelers who frequent hotels in the Hilton portfolio with a wide range of perks including complimentary Hilton Honors Gold Status. This gives you an 80% bonus on Base Points, space-available room upgrades and more benefits that may make your stays more comfortable. Other Hilton perks include a rewards program that allows you to earn Hilton Honors Bonus Points at a fast rate and Weekend Night Rewards (terms apply). In addition, you receive baggage and travel accident insurance, 10 free visits to over 1,000 Priority Pass airport lounges every year and the ability to connect your credit card transactions to Quickbooks®, among other things.

What to watch out for: You don’t want to carry a balance with this card because there is a 17.24% - 26.24% Variable APR. Although this is a typical range, it’s still high and can lead to large interest charges if you don’t pay your bill in full. But, if you pay in full and on time, this won’t be an issue.

Best category bonuses

When to consider business cards with category bonuses: If you spent a lot in particular categories, credit cards with category bonuses may be a great way for you to earn rewards for that spending. For example, if you drive a lot for business, a card with gas rewards may be ideal. Below we list the business cards that offer the highest reward rates on dining, gas and office-supply spending

Dining & gas

Why we like it: The Sam's Club® Business Mastercard® offers a high 5% worldwide, including gas at Sam’s Club (on first $6,000 per year, then 1% after), 3% on dining and travel, 1% on other purchases at Sam’s Club® and wherever Mastercard®  is accepted This rate is ideal for businesses that primarily spend on gas because you earn the highest rate on those purchases compared to other cards. Business owners who often take out clients for meals may want to consider this card because of its cashback rate on dining purchases.

What to watch out for: You need to be a member of Sam’s Club to open this card, and as a business owner you may not have a need for a Sam’s Club membership. However, membership starts as low as $45 a year, and considering there’s no annual fee for this credit card, that’s a small amount.

Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card by Citi

The information related to Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card by Citi has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms Apply.

Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card by Citi

Regular Purchase APR
16.74% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
4% cash back on eligible gas for the first $7,000 per year and then 1% thereafter, 3% cash back on restaurants and eligible travel purchases, 2% cash back on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com, 1% cash back on all other purchases

Why we like it: The Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card by Citi offers a tiered cashback program with 4% cash back on eligible gas for the first $7,000 per year and then 1% thereafter, 3% cash back on restaurants and eligible travel purchases, 2% cash back on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com, 1% cash back on all other purchases. This is a good rewards program for business owners with Costco memberships if you want to earn cash back in a wide range of categories.

What to watch out for: You need to be a Costco member to open this card, and membership starts at $60 per year. This is higher than Sam’s Club and definitely something to consider if you’re deciding between the two cards.

Gas & office supply stores

Why we like it: The Bank of America® Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card doesn’t require membership with a warehouse club like other gas cards and has a $0 annual fee. Business owners can earn a decent cash back rate at both gas stations and office supply stores, making this card ideal if you often spend in these categories.

What to watch out for: The gas cashback rate is lower than other business cards with gas as a category bonus and won’t earn you as much rewards.

The information related to Bank of America® Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Risks of using small business credit cards

While small business credit cards can provide a wide range of benefits for your company, they have drawbacks.

Here are some of the major risks:

Personal liability. As a business owner, you are solely responsible for all charges made on your account. That means if there are any unpaid balances on your account, whether from your spending or employee spending, you are liable.

Negative impact on you credit. If your account is in poor standing as a result of late payments, overdue balances, bankruptcy or other issues, the credit card issuer may report this information to the credit bureaus. As a result, your personal credit score may take a hit.

Not protected by the CARD Act. Business cards don’t receive the same consumer protections that personal credit cards receive with the CARD Act. The CARD Act requires credit card issuers to provide transparent terms as well as lower fees and interest rates for consumers. But, issuers of business cards don’t have to comply with those requirements. Therefore, a business card may have higher interest rates, more fees and confusing terms.

How to minimize the risks of business credit cards

Monitor employee spending. The ability to open employee cards is a great feature, but if you don’t stay on top of their charges, it can become risky. Some good practices include keeping records of all employees with card access, setting employee spending limits when available and monitoring your credit card statements. This way you can keep track of all spending made on your account and add limits when needed.

Avoid charging personal expenses. Use your business card the way it is intended to be used — exclusively for business purchases. Charging personal expenses makes managing your finances harder and complicates the use of your card.

Do not take out a cash advance. Cash advances are one of the most costly features of credit cards and are rarely a good choice because you’ll be hit with higher than normal interest rates and can rack up debt fast. As an alternative, check out small business loans.

Look at loans for long-term financing. Your business may need to borrow money for purchases like cars or other big-ticket items, and small business loans can be a great way to finance those purchases. Often with straightforward terms, loans can be a good alternative to charging purchases on your credit card. Compare small business loans here.

Do not try to bail out a failing business. If your business isn’t doing well, don’t take out a small business credit card with the hopes of bailing it out. Odds are you’ll only get into more debt and make the situation worse.

Best way to use credit cards for your business

Earn rewards. Almost all of the cards mentioned in this roundup provide rewards, allowing business owners to be benefit from typical business spending. You can use the rewards you earn in a variety of ways, like booking travel, applying cash back as statement credit to cover bills or redeeming them for gift cards for business expenses or employee incentives.

Manage cash flow. Business cards may provide expense-management tools so you can monitor spending and simplify everyday business transactions. You can use your card to automate business expenses like monthly phone bills or regular office-supply purchases.

Build business credit. Opening a small business credit card has the potential to build and improve your business credit. If you make on-time payments and use a relatively small amount of your available credit, your business’ credit can benefit greatly. Having a good business credit score can help you down the line if you plan on taking out a loan or other credit products.

Short-term borrowing. If your business plans on making purchases that can’t be paid immediately, some business credit cards offer 0% intro periods that are ideal for short-term borrowing and can be a better choice than a personal loan — when used responsibly. During the 0% intro period, you can carry a balance without incurring interest, and if you pay it off before the intro period ends, you can save on the interest that you would’ve incurred if you had taken out a loan.

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Alexandria White
Alexandria White |

Alexandria White is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Alexandria at [email protected]