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Chase Sapphire Preferred Review: What To Know Before You Apply

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.

travel train

The information related to Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve® and the 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.

If you want a rewards credit card, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is worth considering. However, the card is not right for everyone. Here are the highlights:

  • A great sign-up bonus – Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening..
  • Annual fee of $95.
  • Earn 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide. If you spend a lot of money on travel and dining, this is a great way to boost your earnings. 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • If you redeem your points for travel using the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal, your points are worth 25% more. For example, that 60,000 point sign-up bonus could be worth $750 of travel purchases.
  • You can also transfer your points to leading airlines (like United and Southwest) or hotels (like Marriott or Hyatt) on a 1:1 basis.=

The most value goes to people who spend a lot of their money on travel or dining and want to redeem their points for travel. If you are a foodie and traveler looking to get free trips faster, this card is a great tool to earn free travel fast. Depending upon how much you spend on travel, you might even want to consider the Chase Sapphire Reserve® instead. The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is Chase’s most exclusive card yet. You Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. — That’s $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. You earn 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees. But you have a $450 annual fee (instead of $95), and it is not waived during the first year. The least value goes to people who spend very little or no money on travel or dining and want to redeem for cash back or gift cards. Spending on all other categories (outside of travel and dining) only earns 1 point per $1 spent. And every 100 points is worth $1 of cash back. That means you would only be earning 1% cash back, which is a very low rate. Using our guide to the best cash back credit cards, you should be able to earn at least 2% on your spending.

How to Earn Points

You can earn 2 points on every dollar spent on travel (from cabs to airplane tickets) and dining. In order to get 2 points, the merchant needs to be classified as a “restaurant” or “travel.”

Dining is a relatively simple classification. All restaurants should classify as dining. Many bars (even those that don’t serve food) may be classified as “dining.” And even most popular food delivery services are categorized as dining (although there have been some reports of GrubHub not always earning 2x points). Here is the exact definition from the Chase website:

  • Merchants in the restaurants category are merchants whose primary business is sit-down or eat-in dining, including fast food restaurants as well as fine dining establishments. Please note that some merchants that sell food and drinks located within larger merchants such as sports stadiums, hotels and casinos, theme parks, grocery and department stores will not be included in this category unless the merchant has set up such purchases to be classified in a restaurant category.

The “travel” category is actually a lot broader than you might imagine. Paying for airplane tickets and hotel stays definitely counts as travel. But Airbnb, New York taxis, and even highway tolls will also count as travel. Here is the exact definition from Chase:

  • Merchants in the travel category include airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, campgrounds and operators of passenger trains, buses, taxis, limousines, ferries, toll bridges and highways, and parking lots and garages. Please note that some merchants that provide transportation and travel-related services are not included in this category; for example, real estate agents, in-flight goods and services, on-board cruise line goods and services, sightseeing activities, excursions, tourist attractions, merchants within hotels and airports, and merchants that rent vehicles for the purpose of hauling. In addition, the purchasing of points or miles does not qualify in this category.

You will earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other spending with your Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card card.

There is no maximum to the number of points that you can earn.

How Much Are the Points Worth?

When you earn points with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card card, you are earning “Ultimate Rewards®” points. There are a number of ways that these points can be used. How valuable each point is depends on how you choose to use it.

Here’s a summary:

  • When you redeem points for cash, a statement credit, or a gift card: every 100 points earned = $1
  • When you redeem points for travel using Chase’s Ultimate Rewards® travel portal: every 100 points = $1.25
  • When you transfer points to travel partners: It depends upon the award that you are able to get in the program. For example, you could get a round-trip ticket to Europe on United Airlines for as few as 115,000 miles round trip or as many as 300,000 miles. You just have to shop on the United Airlines website to see how many miles they are charging for the flight. Unfortunately, the number of miles is determined by the airline and is at their discretion.

Who the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Doesn’t Work For

If your objective is to earn cash back on all your purchases, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is not the best option for you.

Why? Every 100 points you earn is only worth $1. That means you will get a 2% return on restaurant and travel spending, and only 1% return on everything else. You can do a lot better with a cash back credit card like the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer, where you can Earn 2% cash back on purchases 1% when you buy and 1% as you make payments for those purchases.

Redeeming Points for Travel Rewards

As a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card cardholder, you can book travel using the Chase Ultimate Rewards® travel portal. You can book flights, hotels, car rentals, and other activities using the portal. The travel portal is like your own online travel agency:

who-the-chase-sapphire-preferred-card-doesnt-work-for

To pay for the travel, you can use Chase Ultimate Reward® points, your Chase card, or both. Your Ultimate Rewards® points carry even more value when you book using the portal. You only need 80 points to cover $1 of travel expense. For example, if an airfare is $500, you would only need 40,000 points to pay for the ticket. If you only had 30,000 points, you could apply those toward the balance and use cash or your credit card to cover the rest. The 30,000 points would deduct $375 from the purchase price, and you could pay for the remaining $125 out of pocket.

Booking travel through the portal really boosts the value of your credit card. That means you are actually earning:

  • 2.5% on every $1 you spend on restaurants and travel
  • 1.25% on every $1 you spend on everything else — and you can boost this by using Chase Freedom Unlimited® (see below)

Transfer to Travel Partners You have the opportunity to earn the best possible return when you transfer your points to a travel partner. Chase Ultimate Rewards® has an amazing coalition of travel partners where you can transfer your points 1:1. These include: =

  • Airlines: United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and a number of foreign carriers (including British Airways, Air France, JetBlue TrueBlue, Singapore Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic)
  • Hotels: Hyatt, IHG, Marriott, and Ritz-Carlton

The value of your points when transferred depends upon how you redeem them. You will get some of the best returns (and the most fun) when you can you nab a coveted “saver” travel award through one of Chase’s partner airlines. Most airlines have different tiers of fares that are reserved for people who are booking using miles or points. “Saver” awards are often the most deeply discounted and that’s when you get the most bang for your buck when it comes to redeeming points.

For example, we recently looked up a trip to London from Newark on the United Airlines website for a four-day weekend in April. Using our award points, we found a round-trip “saver” award fare for just 115,000 points for business class flight. That same flight cost nearly $5,000 in cash.

If you use those 115,000 points to book travel on the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal, it is worth $1,725. And if you want to convert those points into cash deposited into your bank account, it would be worth $1,150.

With some advance planning, you can get the biggest returns on your Chase Ultimate Rewards® points by transferring your points to Chase airline partners and finding deals on international business class flights. But you have to plan in advance and have a flexible travel schedule if you want to get the best business class redemption opportunities.

Remember: You can transfer points from Chase Ultimate Rewards® to your existing frequent flier accounts. If you have 40,000 miles in your United Airlines account already and need more miles for an award, you can easily (and instantly) top up your existing account by transferring at a 1:1 ratio.

Boost Your Earning with the  Chase Freedom Unlimited®

One of the weaknesses of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is that you only earn 1 point on all of your spending outside of the restaurant and travel categories. Fortunately, there is a way to boost your earnings.

Chase recently introduced the Chase Freedom Unlimited® credit card. With this credit card, you can earn 1.5% cash back offer.. The good news is that you can combine those Chase Ultimate Rewards® points with your Chase Sapphire Reserve® Ultimate Reward® points. Even better: There is no annual fee on the Chase Freedom Unlimited® credit card.

To get the best value, use:

  • Chase Freedom Unlimited® for all purchases except dining and travel, and
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card for all dining and travel purchases, and
  • Use your points to redeem for travel on the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal or get a great deal redeeming frequent flier miles with one of the travel partners

The returns could be even higher if you transferred your points to a travel partner and snagged a great reward ticket.

The information related to the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

What Are the Fees and Charges Associated with the Card?

Here are some of the key fees and charges that come with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card:

  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: $0
  • Late Fee: Up to $15 if the balance is less than $100; up to $27 if the balance is $100 to less than $250; up to $37 if the balance is $250 or more

Having no foreign transaction fee is an excellent benefit, especially if you are a frequent traveler. There are still cards out there charging a hefty 3% on all foreign purchases.

Figuring out whether or not to pay the annual fee does take a little extra work. Remember that you can easily Earn 2% cash back on purchases 1% when you buy and 1% as you make payments for those purchases with the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer credit card, which has a $0* annual fee. That is the baseline return. If you spend $2,000 a month, you could earn $480 a year in cash back. Can you beat that return?

If you are a foodie and world traveler, and you spend all $2,000 a month in the dining and travel categories, you can be much better off with Chase. If you use your card to redeem for travel or transfer to partners, you should be able to earn at least a 2.5% return. That means $20,000 of spend in the dining and travel categories would get you $600 of value before the annual fee. After the annual fee of $95 (waived the first year), you would get $505 of value during the ongoing years — which is a better deal than the flat 2% card. And there is a reason the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is such a great option for travelers: you can get even better returns when you use your miles strategically, and the more you spend in dining and travel categories (above $20,000 a year), the better the card.

This card is not ideal for people who:

  • Do not spend a lot of money in travel and dining categories
  • Do not want to redeem their points for travel (would rather have the cash)

Other Card Benefits

In addition to earning points, there are a number of other benefits that come associated with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. You can tell that this card is targeted toward the traveler because some of the richest (and, in our opinion, best) benefits are travel related. Make sure you understand them because if you are a regular traveler, you will likely have the opportunity to take advantage of them.

Car Rental Insurance

With this card, you get a primary auto rental collision damage waiver benefit. If you decline the auto rental company’s collision insurance and charge the entire rental cost to your card, you can receive coverage that provides reimbursement for up to the actual cash value of the vehicle for theft and collision damage for most rental cars in the U.S. and abroad. Having primary coverage is a big deal — it means you don’t have to submit a claim to your own auto insurance company first (which could result in higher insurance rates after a claim).

The insurance provided on the credit card only deals with collision. You need to have a strategy in place for other risks. Auto insurers typically sell four types of policies. They are:

  • Collision (Loss Damage Waiver): Your Sapphire card can replace this.
  • Liability: If you damage someone else’s property or person, you could be held liable (and the amount of the liability could be significant). You should check to see if your existing auto insurance provides liability coverage on your rental. If it doesn’t, or if you don’t have an auto insurance policy, consider buying that protection at the counter.
  • Personal Effects: This policy protects any items that are damaged while in the rental car. Depending upon your situation, you might not need this coverage.
  • Personal Accident Insurance: This is typically a health care policy that is not necessary if you have sufficient coverage from your existing health insurance.

If you are renting a car overseas, be sure to check with your credit card before traveling to make sure you are covered in that country.

Trip Delay

Remember when airlines used to provide you with a free hotel room if you got stuck somewhere overnight? Not any longer. Thankfully, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card steps in to the rescue.

If your common carrier travel is delayed more than 12 hours or requires an overnight stay, you and your family are covered for unreimbursed expenses, such as meals and lodging, up to $500 per ticket.

Baggage Delay

You can get reimbursed for essential purchases like toiletries and clothing for baggage delays over six hours by passenger carrier up to $100 a day for five days.

Trip Cancellation

If your trip is canceled or cut short by sickness, severe weather, and other covered situations, you can be reimbursed up to $10,000 per trip for your prepaid, nonrefundable travel expenses, including passenger fares, tours, and hotels.

Other Benefits

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card also offers purchase protection, price protection, return protection, and extended warranty protection benefits.

How to Get Approved

As you can tell from the details of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, it comes rich with rewards and benefits. And it targets people with excellent or good credit.

If you have a a credit score in the fair/average range or you have missed a lot of payments historically, you will likely be rejected.

People with the best chance of being approved have Excellent credit.

If you have a bad credit score and are looking for a credit card, you can review our guide here.

An Example of Who Gets the Most from the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Here is a profile of an ideal Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card customer:

Mary lives in New York City. She doesn’t have a car (because she uses the subway), and she spends a ton of money eating out and traveling. She has a good job and a good credit score but would love to travel even more.

This card is ideal for Mary because:

  • So much of her spending is on dining and travel, which earns at the highest level.
  • She wants to earn free travel, and the redemption opportunities are richest when redeemed for travel.
  • She doesn’t have primary auto insurance (because she doesn’t have a car) so the primary auto rental benefit is ideal.
  • She has excellent credit.

If that sounds like you, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a great addition to your wallet or purse.

An Example of Who Gets the Least from the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Here is a profile of someone who might be better off with a different card:

John is a father of three. He spends a lot of money on groceries (to feed his growing family) and gas (to drive to all of his children’s events). He just doesn’t have the money to eat out, and hopes to do some traveling later in life — once he funds three college educations.

There are other options that would be much better for John. Because none of his spending would be in dining or travel, he would only be earning 1 point for every $1 spent. Because he would not be redeeming his points for travel, he would likely be earning only 1% on his spending. John would be better with a cash back credit card that better rewarded his spending patterns.

Should I Consider the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Instead?

In the last year, Chase also introduced the incredibly popular Chase Sapphire Reserve® card. Here are the key differences between the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve®?:

  • There is an annual fee of $450. It is not waived during the first year. However, you can receive up to $300 in statement credits annually as reimbursement for travel purchases such as airfare and hotels charged to your card.
  • You earn 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
  • When you redeem for travel on the Chase travel portal, you get 50% more value (compared to only 25% more value for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card).
  • Just like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you earn 1 point for every $1 spent in all other categories (excluding dining and travel).

For spending in travel and dining that is redeemed on the Chase travel portal, you get incredible value. Every $1 spent on travel and dining is worth 3 points. And 3 points redeemed for travel on the Chase travel portal would be worth 4.5 cents. That means you could get an incredible 4.5% of value on the Chase Sapphire Reserve® compared to 2.5% on Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

When you decide between the two cards ask yourself the following question:

  1. Do you spend at least $300 a year on travel? If yes, answer the next question. If no, the Reserve card might not be for you.
  2. If you spend at least $300 on travel and more than $3,750 a year in travel and dining combined — you will be better off with the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card.

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.

Nick Clements
Nick Clements |

Nick Clements is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Nick at [email protected]

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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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Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® with Cash Back Rewards

Regular Purchase APR
20.24% - 26.24% 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: 20.24% - 26.24% Variable
  • Cash advance APR: 26.24% 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

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Rates & Fees

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Discover it® Secured

Regular APR
25.24% 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
Poor/New

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

Walmart Credit Card®

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Walmart Credit Card®

Regular Purchase APR
19.15% - 25.15% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Save 3% on Walmart.com purchases including Grocery Pickup, 2% on Murphy USA & Walmart gas, and 1% at Walmart & anywhere your card is accepted.

Target REDcard™ Credit Card

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Target REDcard™ Credit Card

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

Lowe’s Advantage Card

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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

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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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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 they also offer a $49 or $99 deposit — but take caution 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 or $99 deposit instead of the $200 deposit depending on your creditworthiness. 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
26.96% (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
26.96% (Variable)
Credit required
bad-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

Total VISA® Credit Card

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on TOTAL’s secure website

Terms and Conditions

Total VISA® Credit Card

Annual fee
See Terms
Regular Purchase APR
See Terms
Credit required
bad-credit
Bad Credit
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, just 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.

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 on a card with a $500 credit limit.

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]

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Credit Cards

Best Small Business Credit Cards in July 2019

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.

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.

The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express

Regular Purchase APR
15.49% - 21.49% 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 the longest intro period for purchases of any business card at intro 0% for 12 Months; 15.49% - 21.49% 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 Visa® Business credit card has the lowest APR at 11.49% - 22.49% 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 Visa® Business credit 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 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 Visa® Business credit 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.

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
25.24% (Variable)
Credit required
bad-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
10.15% - 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
10.15% - 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
12.15% - 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.

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: 75,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 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 a $200 airline fee credit. 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 Preferred℠ Credit Card

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

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

Regular Purchase APR
18.24% - 23.24% 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
19.24% (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 Preferred℠ Credit Card

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

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

Regular Purchase APR
18.24% - 23.24% 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.

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: 75,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 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.

CitiBusiness®/ AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®

Regular Purchase APR
17.99% - 25.99%* (Variable)
Annual fee
$99, waived for first 12 months*
Rewards Rate
2 AAdvantage® miles per $1 spent on purchases at telecommunications merchants, cable and satellite providers, car rental merchants and at gas stations*, Earn 1 AAdvantage® mile per $1 spent on other purchases*

 

Sign-up Bonus: Earn 60,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $3,000 in purchases in first 3 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
19.24% (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
15.24% - 23.24% (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.

The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

Regular Purchase APR
17.99% - 26.99% 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 85% 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 17.99% - 26.99% 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% cash back on gas (on first $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%), 3% cash back on dining and travel, and 1% cash back on other purchases. 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 from Citi

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

Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card from Citi

Regular Purchase APR
17.49% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
4% cash back on gas, 3% on restaurants & travel, 2% at Costco & Costco.com, 1% on all other purchases

Why we like it: The Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card from Citi offers a tiered cashback program with 4% cash back on gas, 3% on restaurants & travel, 2% at Costco & Costco.com, 1% 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]