Most small business owners don’t have a trust fund to draw from, and are therefore concerned with keeping costs to a minimum. Avoiding unnecessary credit card charges is a no-brainer for frugal business owners, which is why you may be looking to get a business credit card that carries no annual fee. After all, given the plethora of business card options out there that deliver great perks and benefits without charging an annual fee, why pay an annual fee simply for the privilege of using a business credit card?
As it turns out, you can find business credit cards offering all manners of rewards (points, cash back, travel benefits, sign-on bonuses, etc.) that do not charge an annual fee. There are certain categories of cards — top-tier travel cards, for instance — that will be out of reach for you if you stick to your no-annual-fee guns, but these cards aren’t likely to be practical for most new business owners anyway.
Let’s take a look at the business credit cards that give you the most value in each rewards category without charging you a yearly fee just for the privilege of using their plastic.
(For a fuller picture of the business credit card scene as it stands, check out our summary of the best business credit cards of 2018.)
Chase Ink Business Cash
Best Free Business Credit Card for Cash Back
Chase’s business credit cards are well-regarded — by us and by others — for the value they provide to small business. The Chase Ink Business Cash card is no exception. With no annual fee and the ability to earn 5% and 2% cash back on select categories of spending, combined with a healthy $500 cash back signup bonus for those who spend the required amount within the first three months of opening your account, you have one formidable business credit card.
Ink Business Cash At A Glance:
- Annual fee: $0 (duh)
- Bonus offer:Â $500 cash back if you spend at least $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months
- Introductory rate:Â 0% APR for the first 12 months
- 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable, and phone purchases each account anniversary year
- 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year
- 1% cash back on all other purchases with no earning limit
Many business cards with no annual fee don’t offer a sign-up bonus, but the $500 in cash back you can earn after 3 months is one of the more generous welcome offers you’ll find. While you do have to spend $3,000 on purchases within this time to get the bonus, that shouldn’t be a problem for the majority of businesses.
If a goodly portion of your business expenditures goes toward office supply stores and internet, phone, and cable purchases, you’re in luck, because Chase offers 5% cash back on such purchases with the Ink Business Cash. Additionally, you get 2% cash back on purchases at gas stations and restaurants.Â Both of these cash back options cap off at $25,000 each anniversary year, however. Any purchases in these categories beyond these limits, along with all other purchases, will earn you 1% cash back with no limits on how much cash back you can earn. Nonetheless, the cash back limits on the high-earning categories mean that if your business spends very heavily on these purchase categories, a card that places no limits on high cash back-earning categories may make financial sense for your business (even with an annual fee).
Additional benefits of Ink Business Cash include a 0% introductory APR for the first 12 months and the ability to redeem your points for travel, gift cards, or Amazon purchases. To learn more, read our full Ink Business Cash review.
Capital One Spark Cash Select for Business
Another Great Free Business Credit Card for Cash Back
Here’s another business credit card with no annual fee that handsomely rewards you with cash back: The Capital One Spark Cash Select for Business. This rewards credit card lets you earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases with no limits whatsoever on how much cash back you can earn. It’s a good card for business owners who make a large number of diffuse purchases and who can’t be bothered with spending categories.
Spark Cash Select At A Glance:
- Annual fee: $0
- Bonus offer: Earn $200 in cash rewards after you spend at least $3,000 in the first 3 months
- Introductory rate: 0% APR for the first 9 months
- Rewards:Â 1.5% cash back on all eligible purchases
The Spark Cash Select is a simple card with a simple reward structure. You can earn $200 if you spend more than $3K in the first three months, and you’ll earn 1.5% cash back on all your purchases with no limit to the amount of cash back you can earn. There isn’t much more to say about this card — either it will benefit you, or it won’t. If you don’t want to be constrained by the amount you can spend on purchases that will be eligible for more than 1% cash back, and if the idea of spending categories gives you a migraine, consider the Spark Cash Select.
Read our full Spark Cash Select review to delve deeper into the card.
Now to spotlight another business rewards card from this credit card issuer…
Capital One Spark Miles Select for Business
Best Free Business Credit Card for Travel
If you’re looking for a business credit card with great travel benefits that doesn’t carry an annual fee, consider theÂ Capital One Spark Miles Select for Business card. The card’s beauty is in its simplicity. You’ll earn 1.5 miles for every dollar spent on every purchase with no limits or category restrictions, so you won’t have to track your spending or concentrate it in certain categories to earn extra miles. You’ll also get a very nice travel signup offer. Let’s take a closer look!
Spark Miles Select At A Glance:
- Annual fee: $0 (you may notice a theme here)
- Bonus offer:Â 20,000 miles (worth $200 for travel) once you spend at least $3,000 in the first 3 months
- Introductory rate: 0% APR for the first 9 months
- Rewards: EarnÂ 1.5 miles per $1 spent on all eligible purchases
As I said, you’ll earn 1.5 miles for every dollar spent with the Spark Miles Select card. It’s a higher rate of miles-earning than you’ll get with most cards, making Spark Miles Select an excellent choice for business owners who make frequent business trips and want their purchases to help defray the costs of their travel.
Another sweet travel perk is the 20,000 miles you stand to earn if you spend at least $3,000 within the first three months of opening your account. These 20,000 points are worth $200 for travel. So long as you make business purchases on the card at a reasonable rate, you’ll be able to access this perk and get more travel bang for your buck.Â Miles can be redeemed for travel expenses such as airfare, hotels, and vacation packages, among other purchases. You’ll also have access to all the standard business benefits Capital One and Visa get you.
Interested? Check out our Spark Miles Select review for a deeper look.
American Express Blue Business Plus
Best Free Business Credit Card for Rewards Earning
Best Free Business Credit Card with a Long 0% Intro APR Period
Looking to earn points at a solid rate without having to be concerned with spending categories and the like? Have a look at the American Express Blue Business Plus card. For a low, low annual fee of $0, you’ll be earning double points on your purchases. You probably have better things to do than tracking spending categories.
Blue Business Plus At A Glance:
- Annual fee: $0
- Bonus offer: 10,000 points after you spend at least $3,000 within the first three months
- Introductory rate: 0% APR for the first 15 months
- Earn 2 points per $1 spent on all purchases (up to $50,000 per year)
- EarnÂ 1 point per $1 spent on all purchases after $50,000
Until recently, the Blue Business Plus didn’t offer a signup bonus. Currently, however, Amex offers a welcome bonus of 10,000 Membership Rewards points if you spend at least $3,000 in the first three months of having your card. It’s not the biggest welcome offer but it’s a nice one for a business credit card with no annual fee. The main draw of the card, however, is the double points you’ll be earning on the first $50,000 worth of purchases you make per year. All purchases past $50,000 in a year will still earn one point per dollar spent until the new year rolls around. This makes the Blue Business Plus an excellent card for businesses with spending that doesn’t generally fall neatly into certain categories. Businesses spending significantly more than $50K a year, however, may be better served by a card that doesn’t limit the amount of spending that can earn max points — even if that card carries an annual fee. Alternatively, cardholders could supplement their Blue Business Plus card with another points-oriented business card.
Other perks of Blue Business Plus include the ability to spend above your credit limit — good for the sort of business that suffers from uneven cash flow. Another great benefit of the card? Your APR will be 0% for your first 15 billing cycles — longer than the typical intro APR period!
Go check out our full Blue Business Plus review if this card sounds like it might suit you and your business.
Bank Of America Platinum Visa Business Card
Best Free Business Credit Card with a Low Interest Rate
Overall, the Bank Of America Platinum Visa Business card isn’t the greatest business credit card I’ve ever reviewed. It offers a near-total lack of earnable rewards, so if earning points with your business spending is a priority of yours, don’t get this card. However, the Platinum Visa Business card carries one very significant benefit for the business that carries a significant balance on its card from month to month: a lower interest rate than just about any other business credit card.
Platinum Visa Business At A Glance:
- Annual fee: $0
- Bonus offer:Â $200 statement credit bonus after making at least $500 in net purchases in the first 60 days
- Introductory rate: 0% APR for the first 7 months
- Rewards: Unlimited employee cards at no additional cost (just like every other card in this article)
The $200 statement credit you’ll get if you spend $500 within the first 60 days is a decent bonus offer, but the lack of any other earnable rewards means that this isn’t the most impressive business credit around — a fact that is reflected in my review score. So why am I including this mundane card in this article at all? Because the card carries aÂ 10.99% to 21.99%Â variable APR. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a business credit card offeringÂ a possible APR of 10.99%.
Now, it’s obviously not ideal for businesses to carry a large credit card balance month-to-month over a significant period of time. That’s why this card isn’t for most businesses. However, your circumstances may be less than ideal, and you may not have any other choice at the moment. If this is you, getting the BofA Platinum Visa Business card will save you money on monthly payments due to the card’s relatively low APR. It’s not a good card for earning rewards, but the benefit of a low APR might override all other considerations for certain business owners.
Read our Platinum Visa Business review for more information.
As it turns out, if you want a business credit card but don’t want to pay an annual fee, you don’t have to settle — you’ve got many solid options to consider. After checking out the cards above, read our article on the best business credit cards of 2018 to get the big picture when it comes to today’s best business credit cards. Now get out there and keep making purchases like your business depends on it!
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