Capital One Spark Miles VS Chase Ink Preferred

spark miles vs ink preferred

Business travel. Maybe you hate it, maybe you enjoy it. Either way, for certain types of businesses, work-related travel is an unavoidable expense. Get a business credit card with travel rewards, and you’ll be able to recoup a portion of your travel expenses in the form of points or miles, which can then be used to book more travel, among other things.

Capital One’s Spark Miles for Business and Chase’s Ink Business Preferred cards are two of the most prominent and popular business credit cards for travel rewards. They are similar to each other in many ways, but there are some pertinent differences in the way rewards are earned and used. These differences mean that the Spark Miles card will be a better fit for certain small business owners while Ink Business Preferred will provide more value for businessfolk with different spending priorities.

Let’s sort it all out to determine which of these travel rewards credit cards fits your business needs.

Capital One Spark Miles Chase Ink Business Preferred

$95 (waived the first year)

Annual Fee

$95

18.74%, Variable

Purchase APR

17.99% – 22.99%, Variable

  • 50,000 miles if you spend $5,000 within the first 3 months of opening your account
  • An additional 150,000 miles if you spend $50,000 in the first 6 months
Bonus Offer

80,000 points if you spend at least $5,000 within the first 3 months of opening your account

N/A

Purchase Intro APR

N/A

N/A

Balance Transfer Intro APR

N/A

None

Foreign Transaction Fee

None

2 miles per dollar spent on all purchases

Rewards

3 points per dollar spent on the first $150,000 in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, internet/cable/phone services, and advertising purchases made with social media and search engines each account anniversary year; 1 point per dollar on all other purchases

  • Employee cards at no additional cost
  • Points do not expire while your account is open
Other Benefits
  • Points are worth 25% more if redeemed for travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Points can be transferred to other travel programs on a 1:1 point basis
  • Points do not expire while your account is open
  • Employee cards at no additional cost

Compare

Apply Now

To learn about other business credit cards specializing in travel rewards, check out our recent piece on the best business credit cards for travel.

Image

Eligibility Requirements

Both the Ink Preferred and the Spark Miles cards require a credit score of at least 690 in order to qualify.

Fees & Interest Rates

Neither the Spark Miles card nor the Ink Business Preferred offers an introductory 0% APR period, so we’re starting off even on that front.

The Capital One Spark Miles card offers a variable APR of 18.74%, while the Chase Ink Business Preferred carries a variable APR of between 17.99% and 22.99%. While applicants with the best credit scores may get a better interest rate with Ink Preferred, Spark Miles will give a slightly better interest rate to everyone else, as the rate doesn’t change based on your credit.

While both cards carry a $95 annual fee, the Spark Miles card waives your fee for the first year. Chase Ink Preferred does not.

As for other fees, neither card charges a foreign transaction fee, and while the Spark Miles card charges no balance transfer fee, Ink Business Preferred charges a balance transfer fee of 5%. Overall, Spark Miles comes out ahead when it comes to minimizing fees.

Bonus Offer

Capital One’s Spark Miles card currently offers the most impressive bonus offer of the two cards, but you’ve got to spend a lot in order to get the full bonus. The card offers 50,000 miles if you spend $5,000 within the first 3 months of opening your account and an additional 150,000 miles if you spend $50,000 in the first 6 months. If you’re going to be charging a lot to your Spark Miles card in relatively short order, you stand to pick up 200,000 bonus miles. Not bad! (Keep in mind that this is a limited-time offer)

The Chase Ink Business Preferred card offers 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after opening your account. If you’re going to spend at least $5,000 in your first 3 months of card use but not $50,000 within 6 months, Ink Preferred will give you a juicier bonus, but if you’re going to spend the higher amount, Spark Miles offers the better bonus.

Image

Earning Rewards

Capital One’s Spark business cards tend to have simple and straightforward rewards earning structures, and the Spark Miles card is no exception. You’ll get an unlimited 2 miles per dollar on all purchases. It’s nice to not have to concern yourself with spending categories and earning limits.

Chase Ink Preferred’s reward structure is more complex. You get 3 points per dollar on the first $150,000 per year you spend in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, and on advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines. All other purchases get you one point per dollar spent with no earning limits.

The takeaway here is clear: If your business spending falls largely into the Ink Preferred’s bonus categories, you stand to earn more rewards with the Ink Preferred. If your business spending is more varied or is concentrated in areas outside the Ink Preferred’s high earning categories, the Spark Miles card may better benefit your business.

Of course, the value you can extract from your miles/points is relevant to this discussion as it determines how valuable your earned rewards are in the first place. Let’s discuss!

Redeeming Rewards

The Ink Business Preferred card lets you use your points to book travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards. When you do this, your points are worth 25% more than they would be worth otherwise. That’s like having 25% more points at your disposal! The only drawback is that you have to use Chase’s booking portal to book travel and enjoy this 25% value boost. Your other points options? You can transfer your points to one of Chase’s travel partners on a 1:1 point basis or you can redeem for cash (1 cent per point).

With the Spark Miles card, you don’t have to use Capital One’s travel portal to use your miles, though you certainly can. You can just redeem your miles for statement credit after purchasing your tickets elsewhere. Unfortunately, whether you book your travel with Capital One or with someone else, your points won’t get a 25% value boost. And while you can redeem your miles for cash, you’ll only get a half-cent per mile for them, making your miles half as valuable when used on things other than travel. We don’t recommend doing this!

While the Spark Miles card allows for more flexibility in terms of how you can use your miles for travel, the 25% value boost you get with Ink Preferred when using Chase’s travel portal is a major plus. Additionally, the points you earn with the Ink Preferred are twice as good as your Spark Miles points if you want to redeem your points for cash. Slight edge goes to the Ink Business Preferred.

Benefits & Other Perks

Both cards offer a similar array of travel and shopping benefits, such as extended warranty protection, auto rental collision damage waivers, and travel/emergency assistance. Both cards also offer access to Visa SavingsEdge, a program that lets you save up to 15% off on certain purchases from participating merchants.

Again, neither card carries a foreign transaction fee, so you can make purchases when traveling abroad to your heart’s content.

Which Is Best For Your Business?

The Spark Miles card and the Ink Business Preferred card have some characteristics in common, but their main points of departure are their respective rewards programs and their bonus offers.

Choose Chase Ink Business Preferred If…

  • Your business spending largely aligns with the Ink Preferred’s high points earning categories (travel, shipping purchases, Internet/cable/phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines)
  • You want to enjoy the 25% value bonus you’ll get for your points when booking travel (and you don’t mind sticking to Chase’s travel portal)
  • You have excellent credit and you want a potentially lower APR

Chase Ink Business Preferred



Apply Now 

Annual Fee:


$95

 

Purchase APR:


17.99% – 22.99%, Variable

Choose Capital One Spark Miles If…

  • Your business spending is varied and doesn’t align with the Ink Preferred’s high earning categories
  • You really don’t want to be restricted in how you redeem your miles for travel
  • You plan to spend enough within the first 6 months that you stand to benefit from the Spark Miles’s bonus offer of 200,000 miles

Capital One Spark Miles For Business


Compare

Annual Fee:


$95 ($0 the first year)

 

Purchase APR:


18.74%, Variable

Final Thoughts

It would be nice if I could give you a clear winner in this battle of the business credit card titans. The truth is, some small business owners will be better served by Chase Ink Business Preferred while others would do well to choose Capital One Spark Miles. Hopefully, this article will help you determine which group you fall into.

Unsure if you’ll qualify for one of these cards? Check out these links for help!

  • How To Improve Your Personal Credit Score
  • Best Free Credit Score Sites
What’s Next
    • Check out the top 8 small business startup loan options
    • Business loan options that don’t require a credit check
    • Your guide to low-cost SBA loans

The post Capital One Spark Miles VS Chase Ink Preferred appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

“”

The Best Airline Credit Cards For Businesses

One of the best ways a frequent flyer can save money is through a credit card designed specifically for air travel. These cards often give you bonus miles when you purchase airfare or spend money on other travel expenses. Plus, you can usually earn miles for making regular purchases, such as for gas or on meals at restaurants. Cards can also come with other perks, such as access to VIP lounges or free checked bags. All in all, having a good, airline-specific card can make your travel cheaper and more relaxing, allowing you to focus on what matters: making your business better.

As with many credit cards, there are numerous options with plenty of variables to consider. Don’t know which one might be the best fit for your business? Keep reading to get the full breakdown.

Best For Recommended Credit Card
American Airlines Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Business Mastercard
Delta Air Lines Delta Reserve Credit Card for Business from American Express
Southwest Airlines Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card
United Airlines United MileagePlus Explorer Business Card
Alaska Airlines Alaska Airlines Visa Business Credit Card from Bank of America
JetBlue Airways JetBlue Business Card from Barclays
General Travel Capital One Spark Miles Select For Business
Bonus Offer Capital One Spark Miles For Business
No Annual Fee Bank of America Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard
Rewards Program Chase Ink Business Preferred

How Airline Credit Cards Work

Airline credit cards give you rewards for purchases on travel, usually with a specific airline and—in some cases—when booking at hotels or car rentals. They can give you additional rewards in other categories, too, including purchases on gas, at restaurants, or on cell phone services. Finally, it’s not uncommon to receive rewards for any charges made on the credit card, although your earn rate will often be relatively low.

How Much Are Airline Miles Worth?

This really depends on the airline and the rewards program that comes bundled with your card. As a general rule of thumb, one air mile equals one cent; however, it can frequently be worth more on an array of airlines.

How Can I Redeem Airline Miles?

You’ll be able to redeem your miles when booking flights with the specific airline tied to your card (unless you have a general travel card). Some redemption programs also let you use your miles on other travel-related purchases, such as on hotel rooms or car rentals.

Benefits & Drawbacks Of Airline Credit Cards

Airline credit cards provide frequent flyers with an excellent way to earn rewards simply by traveling. You can also use your card on regular purchases to earn miles, ultimately saving you money when it comes time to book flights. All in all, an airline credit card could be a great tool to add to your business’ money-saving arsenal, especially if there’s already an airline that you use frequently for air travel.

However, airline-specific cards often don’t always offer much flexibility. That’s because you’ll be tied down to one specific airline, both when it comes to how you earn and how you redeem rewards. If you need greater flexibility because you frequent multiple airlines but still want to earn extra rewards while traveling, you’ll likely want a general travel card that’s not connected to a single airline.

Best Credit Cards By Airline

Because many air travel cards are for specific air carriers, you may want something that fits your favorite airline. Here’s a look at the best cards offered by some of the major airlines:

American Airlines: Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Business Mastercard

Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Business Mastercard



Compare

Annual Fee:


$95

 

Purchase APR:


17.99% or 26.99%, Variable

This co-branded card from American Airlines and Barclays offers two AAdvantage miles for every dollar you spend on eligible American Airlines purchases. You’ll also keep that two miles per dollar clip when you make eligible purchases at office supply, telecom, and car rental merchants. Everything else will net you one mile per dollar spent.

Beyond base rewards, the welcome offer grants you 50,000 bonus miles once you make a purchase within your first 90 days. You’ll further nab a 5% AAdvantage mileage bonus on your account anniversary based on the total number of miles earned using your card.

Other benefits include a free checked bag for you and up to four companions on American Airline itineraries as well as a companion fare for one guest after you spend $30,000 during an account year. In addition, the AAdvantage Aviator Business Mastercard carries no foreign transaction fees and boasts preferred boarding.

Those that frequent American Airlines may also want to check out the AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard from CitiBusiness. It packs in the same base rewards as the Aviator Mastercard; however, it lacks in terms of the extra perks and benefits.

Delta Air Lines: Delta Reserve Credit Card for Business from American Express

Delta Reserve Credit Card for Business from American Express



Compare

Annual Fee:


$450

 

Purchase APR:


17.74% – 26.74%, Variable

Frequent flyers of Delta will want to consider the Delta Reserve Credit Card for Business from American Express. Expect to snag two miles for every dollar you spend on Delta purchases. Everything else will earn one mile per dollar. It’s also worth noting that if you have SkyMiles membership, you’ll earn an additional five miles per dollar on Delta-marketed flights. That means you’ll rack in an impressive seven miles per dollar when you fly Delta.

Otherwise, this card offers 40,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles when you spend $3,000 in your first three months. Further perks include 15,000 bonus miles and 15,000 Medallion Qualification Miles each calendar year when you spend $30,000, plus you’ll be able to double those bonuses when you break $60,000 spent in a calendar year. There are also some other standard travel bonuses, such as a free checked bag, priority boarding, and complimentary access to Delta Sky Club.

Do be aware that there’s a rather hefty $450 annual fee bundled with this card. That means you’ll need to spend a decent amount to offset the fee.

Other options for Delta riders include the Gold Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card and the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card, both from American Express. Both are bundled with the same base reward rate as the Delta Reserve card, but don’t pack the same punch when it comes to additional perks.

Southwest Airlines: Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card


southwest point value

Compare

Annual Fee:


$99

 

Purchase APR:


17.99% – 24.99%, Variable

If you fly Southwest regularly and are looking for a business credit card to pick up Southwest-specific rewards, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card from Chase is your only option. It doles out two points per dollar on Southwest purchases and one point per dollar on everything else.

You’ll be able to check your first two bags for free and you won’t have to worry about change fees. If you make $3,000 in purchases during your first three months, you’ll be rewarded with 60,000 bonus points. You’ll pick up some more bonus points on your account anniversary, too, as this card dishes out 6,000 points.

Points also stick around as long as your account is open, so you won’t need to worry about spending points quickly. However, do note that this card does carry a $99 annual fee.

United Airlines: United MileagePlus Explorer Business Card

United MileagePlus Explorer Business Card


Compare

Annual Fee:


$95 ($0 the first year)

 

Purchase APR:


17.99% – 24.99%, Variable

Fly United? Your sole option is the United MileagePlus Explorer Business Card from Chase. Like most airline-specific cards, this card will give you two miles per dollar spent on tickets purchased from United. As an extra perk, you’ll also earn two miles per dollar when you buy at restaurants, gas stations, and office supply stores. For all other purchases, you’ll get the standard one miles per dollar.

Outside of those base rewards, United and Chase will reward you with 50,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open. You can further nab 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $25,000 on purchases each calendar year. You’ll also get priority boarding and additional employee cards can be requested for free. As an extra bonus, the card’s $95 annual fee is waived the first year.

Alaska Airlines: Alaska Airlines Visa Business Credit Card from Bank of America

Alaska Airlines Visa Business Credit Card from Bank of America



Compare

Annual Fee:


$50

 

Purchase APR:


16.99% – 24.99%, Variable

Those that frequent Alaska Airlines will need to look no further than the airline’s Visa business card co-offered by Bank of America. This card grants you three miles per dollar spent when you make purchases directly with Alaska Airlines and one mile per dollar on everything else.

For extra perks, you’ll get a companion fare ($0 fare for a companion plus taxes and fees starting at $22) plus 30,000 bonus miles when you make $1,000 in purchases during your first three months. Additionally, you’ll get a companion fare every account anniversary. You also don’t need to worry about foreign transaction fees when traveling internationally or blackout dates when redeeming rewards. There is, however, a $50 annual fee (plus $25 per employee card).

JetBlue Airways: JetBlue Business Card from Barclays

JetBlue Business Card from Barclays



Compare

Annual Fee:


$99

 

Purchase APR:


17.99% to 26.99%, Variable

JetBlue regulars will want to look at the airline’s business card that’s offered in conjunction with Barclays. For this card, expect to earn six points per dollar spent on JetBlue purchases, two points per dollar at restaurants and office supply stores, and one point per dollar on all else.

You can also take advantage of JetBlue’s 50,000 bonus point welcome offer by spending $1,000 during your first 90 days. Other benefits include 5,000 points every account anniversary, one free checked bag for you and up to three companions, and 50% savings on eligible in-flight purchases. You also won’t need to worry about foreign transaction fees, and you can collect $100 in statement credit annually when you purchase a JetBlue Vacation package for $100 or more.

As for annual fees, this card will cost you $99 annually, but you won’t have to worry about points expiring for as long as your account is active and there are no blackout dates when redeeming rewards.

Best General Travel Card: Capital One Spark Miles Select For Business

Capital One Spark Miles Select For Business


Compare

Annual Fee:


$0

 

Purchase APR:


14.74% – 22.74%, Variable

Capital One’s Spark Miles Select For Business dishes out a simple (and unlimited) 1.5 miles for every dollar you spend—no dealing with categories or figuring out if something is eligible. On top of that, this card has no annual fee, which means that you won’t need to worry about spending a certain amount to make the card worth it.

Because this card isn’t connected to a specific airline, you can use your miles on a vast array of travel purchases, including flights, hotel rooms, and travel packages. Capital One simply requires that you book your trip through a travel website, travel agent, or other travel resource while using your card. You can then use the Capital One’s Rewards Center to redeem your miles and receive an account credit for the cost of your travel purchase.

Other perks include 20,000 miles if you spend $3,000 in purchases within your first three months. You can also request additional employee cards for free and there are no foreign transaction fees.

Best Bonus Offer: Capital One Spark Miles For Business

Capital One Spark Miles For Business


Compare

Annual Fee:


$95 ($0 the first year)

 

Purchase APR:


18.74%, Variable

Capital One also offers a second travel card in the form of Spark Miles For Business. This card is similar to the Select version with a simple rewards scheme. However, it grants an unlimited two points per dollar spent instead of 1.5. Do note that this card includes a $95 annual fee, so you’ll have to spend a decent amount to cover that cost with rewards.

With that in mind, Capital One bundles in a healthy bonus offer of 50,000 miles if you spend $5,000 in your first three months and 150,000 miles when you spend $50,000 in your first six months. Besides that, the annual fee is waived for the first year, meaning that you can really reap rewards throughout your first 12 months.

Like with the Select, you’re able to redeem your miles on a vast array of travel purchases, ranging from flights to hotel rooms to travel packages. You’ll simply need to book your trip through a travel website, travel agent, or other travel resource while using your card. You can then redeem your miles through the Capital One’s Rewards Center to receive an account credit for the cost of your travel purchase.

Best For No Annual Fee: Bank of America Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard

Bank of America Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard


bofa business advantage travel rewards
Compare

Annual Fee:


$0

 

Purchase APR:


13.24% – 23.24%, Variable

If you’re looking to snag some travel rewards without dealing with an annual fee, Bank of America has you covered with their Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard. This options nets you an unlimited 1.5 points per dollar spent on all purchases. Besides that, when you book travel through Bank of America’s Travel Center you’ll double your reward rate to three points per dollar.

There are also several other ways to earn more rewards. To start, Bank of America will hand you 25,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 during your first 60 days. Additionally, if you enroll in the Business Advantage Relationship Rewards program, you can nab an additional 25% – 75% rewards boost to every purchase.

Bank of America includes a few more perks, too. This card requires no foreign transaction fees and you’ll get a 0% introductory APR period for the first nine months.

Best Rewards Program: Chase Ink Business Preferred

Chase Ink Business Preferred



Apply Now 

Annual Fee:


$95

 

Purchase APR:


17.99% – 22.99%, Variable

For the best overall rewards program, our pick goes to Chase’s Ink Business Preferred. This card, which works as a general travel card, doles out three points per dollar spent (up to $150,000) on travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, and on advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year. You then get one point per dollar spent on everything else.

The real advantage, however, comes in how you redeem points. If you redeem points through Chase Ultimate Rewards for travel, you’ll get 25% more value. On top of that, Chase allows you to transfer your points to an array of airline and hotel reward programs on a 1:1 basis.

Beyond its excellent options for redeeming points, the Ink Business Preferred also comes with no foreign transaction fees and employee cards can be requested for no additional cost. Chase also bundles in a welcome offer of 80,000 points when you spend $3,000 or more during your first three months. However, there is a $95 annual fee to keep in mind.

Final Thoughts

If you’re still looking for a credit card to suit your travel needs, check out our best business cards for travel. You can also use a personal card for business—an especially handy tactic if your favorite airline doesn’t feature a business credit card. Read our guide to using a personal credit card for business to learn more.

The post The Best Airline Credit Cards For Businesses appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

“”

Best Business Credit Card Signup Bonus Offers

Finding a credit card with a great welcome offer is an easy way to earn some extra cash or bonus travel miles. If you’re a small business owner, finding places to save an extra buck is always important.

Of course, there are numerous credit cards and many different types of bonus offers. Figuring out your best option can be tricky. Our list below aims to help you sift through all your options—helping you find what you’re looking for faster!

Best Signup Bonus For Rewards Points: Chase Ink Business Preferred

Chase Ink Business Preferred



Apply Now 

Annual Fee:


$95

 

Purchase APR:


17.74% – 22.74%, Variable

This card from Chase comes with a hefty points reward for new accounts. Simply spend $5,000 within the first three months of opening your account and you’ll receive 80,000 bonus points. When you redeem those points through Chase Ultimate Rewards, you can receive the equivalent of $1,000 towards travel. If travel rewards aren’t for you, Chase Ultimate Rewards also lets you redeem points for gift cards, cash back, and Amazon shopping.

Those points can be transferred on a 1:1 basis to an array of airline and hotel reward programs as well. For general rewards with Chase’s Ink Business Preferred, you earn three points per $1 spent on travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, and on online advertising purchases. You then get one point per dollar on everything else.

Chase also runs a referral program that nets you 20,000 bonus points (up to 100,000 per year) when a business owner you invite signs up for a Chase Ink Business Preferred card.

Check out the full details with our in-depth review.

Best Signup Bonus For Cash Back: Capital One Spark Cash For Business

Capital One Spark Cash For Business


capital one spark cash select
Compare

Annual Fee:


$95 ($0 the first year)

 

Purchase APR:


18.74%, Variable

If you simply want cash back as a bonus offer, it’s hard to beat Capital One’s Spark Cash For Business card. This card rewards you with $500 if you spend at least $4,500 within the first three months of opening your account.

Because Capital One bundles in unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases, you’ll also be receiving some of the best cash back rewards a credit card can offer. The $95 annual fee is also waived for your first year.

Get the complete run-down on the Spark Cash For Business by reading Merchant Maverick’s review.

There are a few other business cards with $500 cash back welcome offers. We’ve listed them below in alphabetical order:

  • Chase Ink Business Cash: $500 cash back if you spend $3,000 in your first three months.
  • Chase Ink Business Unlimited: $500 cash back if you spend $3,000 in your first three months.
  • Wells Fargo Business Platinum Card: $500 cash back if you spend $5,000 in your first three months.

Best Signup Bonus With No Annual Fee: Chase Ink Business Unlimited

Chase Ink Business Unlimited


chase ink business unlimited
Apply Now 

Annual Fee:


$0

 

Purchase APR:


14.99% – 20.99%, Variable

Want a nice signup bonus but don’t want to deal with a pesky annual fee? The Chase Ink Business Unlimited card might just be for you. Spend over $3,000 in your first three months and you’ll get $500 cash back without needing to worry about an annual fee.

For base rewards, Chase offers unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases. You also won’t have to worry about paying interest for your first year—this card carries a 0% intro APR for the first 12 months.

If you need more details on the Ink Business Unlimited, check out Merchant Maverick’s full review.

It’s also worth a mention that if you spend a lot on specific categories, you may prefer Chase’s Ink Business Cash card. It features the same welcome offer of $500 after spending $3,000 within the first three months. However, purchases within the office supply store, Internet, cable, and phone categories net you up to 5% cash back. You also get up to 2% cash back on money spent at gas stations and restaurants. For a holistic report, read our Ink Business Cash card review.

Best Signup Bonuses For Travel

Best Signup Bonus For General Travel: Capital One Spark Miles For Business

Capital One Spark Miles For Business


Compare

Annual Fee:


$95 ($0 the first year)

 

Purchase APR:


18.74%, Variable

Those that want a solid welcome offer aimed at travel without being locked into a particular airline or hotel brand should consider Capital One’s travel business card. Spark Miles For Business dishes out 50,000 miles if you spend $4,500 within your first three months. You’ll be able to use those miles for tickets on any airline, booking any hotel, purchasing travel packages, and more.

It does come with a $95 annual fee, although this is waived your first year. For general rewards, you get an unlimited two miles per dollar spent. When it comes to redeeming your rewards, there are no blackout dates and no minimum points requirement.

Visit Merchant Maverick’s complete review to get in in-depth look at Capital One’s Spark Miles card.

Chase’s Ink Business Preferred (mentioned above) is also a nifty card for travelers because points are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. You can also transfer your points on a 1:1 basis to a selection of airline and hotel rewards programs. Our full review has all the details.

Best Signup Bonus For Airline Points: Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card from American Express

Delta Reserve Credit Card for Business from American Express



Compare

Annual Fee:


$450

 

Purchase APR:


17.74% – 26.74%, Variable

For those looking at welcome offers of airline-specific cards, your best option will usually come down to which airline you use the most. However, when it comes to picking one airline-specific travel credit card, our choice goes to American Express’s Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card. This card will reward you with 70,000 miles and 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles once you spend $5,000 within your first three months. Note that this offer expires 11/07/2018.

Its base rewards include two miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases. Everything else you buy gets one mile per $1 spent. You also get a free checked bag, priority boarding, and Delta Sky Club access. There’s an additional bonus offer handing out 15,000 miles and 15,000 Medallion Qualification Miles if you spend $30,000 or more during a calendar year.

Of course, there’s plenty of other airline-specific offerings with excellent welcome offers. Here’s a non-exhaustive list, ordered alphabetically:

  • AAdvantage Aviator Business Mastercard from Barclays: 60,000 miles once you make your first purchase within 90 days.
  • Alaska Business Card from Bank of America: Buy one ticket, get one for only taxes and fees plus 30,000 miles if you spend $1,000 or more within 90 days of opening your account.
  • CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard: 70,000 AAdvantage miles if you spend $4,000 in your first four months.
  • Gold Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card from American Express: 30,000 miles if you spend $1,000 in your first three months and a $50 statement credit once you make a Delta purchase in your first three months.
  • JetBlue Business Card from Barclays: 50,000 points if you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days.
  • Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card from American Express: 50,000 miles and 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles if you spend $3,000 in your first three months and a $100 statement credit once you make a Delta purchase in your first three months.
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card from Chase: 60,000 points if you spend $3,000 in your first three months.

Best Signup Bonus For Hotel Rewards: Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

Hilton Honors American Express Business Card



Compare

Annual Fee:


$95

 

Purchase APR:


17.74% – 26.74%, Variable

Like with airline-specific cards, your best option for welcome offers from hotel rewards cards really comes down to where you stay the most. The best all-around welcome offer, however, hails from the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card. This rewards card packs in a bonus of 125,000 points if you spend $3,000 within the first three months of opening your account.

For regular rewards, you’ll get 12 points per dollar when you make purchases at hotels and resorts within the Hilton brand. You’ll also snag six points per $1 spent when making U.S.-based purchases at gas stations, wireless telephone service providers, shipping merchants, and restaurants. You can also pick up six points per dollar when booking travel through American Express’s travel website or on car rentals booked directly from specific car rental companies. All other purchases will nab you three points per $1 spent.

Don’t frequent Hilton branded hotels? Here’s a couple more bonus offers from hotel rewards cards to glance over:

  • Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express: 100,000 points if you spend $5,000 in your first three months.
  • Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Business credit card from Chase: 75,000 points if you spend $3,000 in your first three months.

Comparison of the Best Business Credit Card Signup Bonus Offers

Card Name Best For Bonus Offer Requirements Next Steps

Chase Ink Business Preferred

Reward points

80,000 points

Spend at least $5,000 within the first 3 months of opening an account

Apply Now

Capital One Spark Cash For Business

Cash back

$500 cash back

Spend at least $4,500 within the first 3 months of opening an account

Compare

Chase Ink Business Unlimited

No annual fee

$500 cash back

Spend at least $3,000 within the first 3 months of opening an account

Apply Now

Capital One Spark Miles For Business

General travel rewards

50,000 miles

Spend at least $4,500 within the first 3 months of opening an account

Compare

Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Business Mastercard

Airline points

60,000 points

Make at least one purchase within the first 90 days of opening an account

Compare

Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

Hotel rewards

125,000 points

Spend at least $3,000 within the first 3 months of opening an account

Compare

The post Best Business Credit Card Signup Bonus Offers appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

“”

Best Credit Card Offers For Businesses: September 2018

When you’re dedicating most of your waking hours to running your own business, sorting and evaluating the plethora of credit card offers that come your way isn’t going to be high on your list of priorities. With new cards and new welcome offers being introduced with dizzying frequency, keeping track of the best business credit card deals out there requires time and effort.

Well, calm your weary soul, for we at Merchant Maverick are here to take the hassle out of the credit card hunt. Let us show you the best business credit card offers out there for whatever it is you’re looking for. Looking for a great business credit card with a lengthy 0% APR period? The card with the best rewards program? The card that’s best for cash back?

Whatever you’re looking for, we’ve got you covered. Let’s sort the wheat from the chaff to find the credit card offers that best suit your business needs, whatever those needs may be.

Best No Annual Fee

Chase Ink Business Cash



Apply Now

Annual Fee:


$0

 

Purchase APR:


14.99% – 20.99%, Variable

Why It’s Our Pick

The Chase Ink Business CashSM card is a remarkable value for a business credit card with no annual fee. You’ll earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 a year spent at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services. These categories align nicely with the sort of everyday spending done by the average business owner. Additionally, you’ll get 2% cash back on the first $25,000 per year spent at gas stations and restaurants, along with 1% cash back on everything else (and on all purchases in these categories past the $25K/year higher earning limit).

Many cards with such generous bonus earning potential carry an annual fee, leaving you to weigh the benefits of the card against the annual fee. With the Ink Business Cash, no such calculations are necessary, as there is no annual fee. You’ll also be the recipient of a $500 bonus if you spend at least $3,000 on purchases within your first three months of card ownership.

This bonus, along with the cash back you earn in the course of your spending, can be converted to Chase Ultimate Rewards points if you also have a card that earns Ultimate Rewards points such as the Ink Business Preferred card or the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. Do this, and your points will be worth slightly more than twice their cash back amount — a remarkable value.

Runner-Up

Capital One Spark Classic For Business


 

Apply Now

Annual Fee:


$0

 

Purchase APR:


24.74%, Variable

Looking for a great business credit card with no annual fee, but lack the 690+ credit score needed to qualify for the card? Consider the Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business instead. While you’ll be earning cash back at the unsexy rate of 1% on all purchases, the Spark Classic for Business has one attractive aspect most business credit cards lack: you can qualify for the card with a credit score of just 630.

While the card does carry a relatively high 24.74% variable APR on purchases, that’s still a better deal for you than the sort of high-interest loan marketed to business owners with fair credit. Just try to pay the balance in full each month.

Best 0% APR

American Express Blue Business Plus



Compare

Annual Fee:


$0

 

Purchase APR:


12.99% – 20.99%, Variable

Why It’s Our Pick

American Express Blue BusinessSM Plus currently carries the most impressive introductory APR offered by any business card in this troubled land: 0% for 15 months. That’s 65 weeks. 1.25 years. You get the picture — the Blue Business Plus gives you a nice long stretch of time in which to make business purchases without racking up any interest charges. For this, we must doff our caps to the suits at Amex.

Thankfully for you, that’s not the only benefit of the Blue Business Plus.

The card’s primary benefit is the 2X points you’ll be earning on your first $50,000 worth of purchases per year. Most cash back credit cards offer around 1.5 points per dollar, so you’ll be making out like a bandit on your first $50K in purchases each year. If you exceed $50K in annual purchases, the points earning rate reverts to a more pedestrian 1 point per dollar, so if your needs dictate that your annual spending will exceed the $50K annual limit for earning 2X points, you’ll want to consider either getting a different card or pairing this card with another rewards card.

Your Amex Blue Business Plus rewards points can be redeemed for travel, shopping, or a statement credit.

Best Rewards Program

American Express SimplyCash Plus



Compare

Annual Fee:


$0

 

Purchase APR:


13.99% – 20.99%, Variable

Why It’s Our Pick

The American Express SimplyCash® Plus business card is our pick for best rewards program due to the customizable reward structure. With the SimplyCash Plus, you earn 5% cash back on your first $50K per year on charges at office supply stores and on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers. Now, here’s where the customization comes in.

The SimplyCash Plus card offers 3% cash back on your first $50K per year in purchases in a category of your choosing. You can choose from between one of the following eight categories:

  • Airfare purchased directly from airlines
  • Hotel rooms purchased directly from hotels
  • Car rentals purchased from select car rental companies
  • U.S. gas stations
  • U.S. restaurants
  • U.S. purchases for advertising in select media
  • U.S. purchases for shipping
  • U.S. computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers

Here’s the chance for a business owner whose spending may not align with the bonus cash back categories provided by other cards to use a cash back card tailored to his or her specific needs. You’ll also earn 1% cash back on all other spending and on spending above $50K/year on the bonus categories. On the downside, this card currently has no welcome offer.

Runner-Up

Chase Ink Business Preferred



Apply Now 

Annual Fee:


$95

 

Purchase APR:


17.74% – 22.74%, Variable

Chase Ink Business PreferredSM is another card with a robust rewards program. Using this card will earn you 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 per year spent on travel, shipping purchases, internet/cable/phone services, and advertising purchases made with social media and search engines (and 1 point per dollar on everything else). It’s a card meant to reward the business with a high volume of spending on many of the most common business spending categories, as the high-earning limit on spending of $150K/year vastly exceeds most such limits in the business rewards card space (typically $30-50K/year).

Another factor boosting the appeal of the Ink Business Preferred rewards program is the fact that if you redeem your points for travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards, your points will be worth 25% more than they would otherwise be worth. You can also transfer your points to certain other travel rewards programs (such as United MileagePlus and Marriott Rewards) on a 1:1 point basis.

Best For Points

Chase Ink Business Preferred



Apply Now 

Annual Fee:


$95

 

Purchase APR:


17.74% – 22.74%, Variable

Why It’s Our Pick

Chase Ink Business PreferredSM comes out on top for this category as well. It’s not only because of the points-earning potential of the card (earning 3 points per dollar spent on the first $150,000 spent on the bonus spending categories per year will earn you a whopping 450,000 points annually, and from there you can earn even more points at the 1 pt/$1 level). It’s due to the fact that your points are worth 25% more than the standard value of 1 cent per point if you redeem them for travel. It’s also due to the fact that you can transfer your points to other travel rewards programs on a 1:1 point basis.

Best For Travel

American Express Business Platinum


amex business platinum review
Compare

Annual Fee:


$450

 

Purchase APR:


N/A (This is a charge card)

Why It’s Our Pick

The American Express Business Platinum® card isn’t a card for the business owner who travels only infrequently. But if you’re a heavy-duty business traveler interested in fancy luxuries (like getting to hang out in exclusive airport lounges), this is the card for you!

First off, this card is a charge card, meaning you can’t carry a balance from month to month — your entire balance comes due on your statement date. Furthermore, the card carries a $450 annual fee. This is sure to put off all but the most prolific business travelers. For the rest of you, here’s where the card’s value lies: You’ll earn a juicy 5 points to the dollar on flights and prepaid hotels purchased on Amex’s travel website, amextravel.com.

You’ll also earn 1.5 points per dollar on eligible purchases of $5,000 or more (up to 1 million additional points per year) and one point per dollar on all other eligible purchases. However, the value doesn’t stop there. Here’s what else you’ll get with the Amex Business Platinum:

  • Get access to over 1,100 airport lounges worldwide via the American Express Global Lounge Collection
  • Receive a statement credit every 4 years after you apply for Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($85)
  • Use Membership Rewards Pay with Points for a First or Business class flight with any airline available through Amex Travel and get 35% of the points back
  • Get $200 per year in statement credits for incidental fees with the qualifying airline of your choice
  • No foreign transaction fees

Not too shabby, eh?

Runner-Up

Bank of America Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard


bofa business advantage travel rewards
Visit Site

Annual Fee:


$0

 

Purchase APR:


12.99% – 22.99%, Variable

 

Want a travel-oriented business credit card without an exorbitant annual fee? The Bank of America® Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard® may have an irritatingly long name, but it provides a solid set of travel perks and benefits, and there’s no annual fee at all.

With the BofA® Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard®, you’ll earn 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all purchases with no limits to the amount you can earn. But wait! It gets better. Earn 3 points per dollar spent when you book your travel (car, hotel, airline) through the Bank of America Travel Center (powered by Orbitz).

Here’s what else the Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard® gets you:

  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars or baggage fees; option for cash back and gift cards
  • No blackout dates and no travel restrictions when booking your trip
  • Business Advantage Relationship Rewards clients get a 25% – 75% rewards bonus on the base earn of every purchase
  • No foreign transaction fee

When you enroll in the Business Advantage Relationships Rewards program to get that rewards bonus, you can earn up to 2.62 points to the dollar on your regular non-travel purchases if you play your cards right, which means all the more points you can redeem for statement credits to pay for your travel!

Best For Balance Transfers

Capital One Spark Cash For Business


capital one spark cash select
Visit Site

Annual Fee:


$95 ($0 the first year)

 

Purchase APR:


18.74%, Variable

Why It’s Our Pick

The Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business card charges no fees on balance transfers, and beyond that, it’s a great cash back card as well.

The beauty of Spark Cash for Business is the fact that you’ll earn an unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases — one of the only cards offering such a high flat cash back rate. If you want to avoid extra charges for balance transfers while earning 2% cash back on everything you buy, this card has your number. However, there is a $95 annual fee after the first year, and there’s no introductory 0% APR for balance transfers. If a 0% intro APR for balance transfers is more important to you than fee-free balance transfers, check out Ink Business Cash, as its 12-month 0% APR period goes for balance transfers as well as purchases.

Best For Cash Back

Bank of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard



Visit Site

Annual Fee:


$0

 

Purchase APR:


12.99% – 22.99%, Variable

 

Why It’s Our Pick

For this section, we wanted to highlight the Bank of America® Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard®. For no annual fee, you’ll get 3% cash back on your first $250,000 per year in purchases at gas stations and office supply stores (and 1% cash back afterwards), 2% cash back on purchases at restaurants, and 1% cash back on everything else.

The $250,000 limit on your highest earning categories goes well beyond the limit placed on the high earning categories of most cards, making this a great cash back business card choice for the business gearing up to do some truly heavy spending in the specified categories. What’s more, just as with the BofA Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard, Business Advantage Relationship Rewards clients get a 25% – 75% rewards bonus on the base earn of every purchase.

Best Sign-Up Bonus Offer

Chase Ink Business Preferred



Apply Now 

Annual Fee:


$95

 

Purchase APR:


17.74% – 22.74%, Variable

Why It’s Our Pick

We’ve gone over some of the reasons why we like the Chase Ink Business PreferredSM card so much. Here’s another reason: the card carries a sign-up bonus that is uniquely valuable for the industry. Sign up for the Ink Business Preferred and you’ll be in line to receive a bonus of 80,000 points if you spend at least $5,000 within the first three months of opening your account. This offer is worth about $800 under normal circumstances but is worth $1,000 if you redeem your points for travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards.

While you’ll have to balance out this uniquely valuable sign-up bonus with the fact that this card carries a $95 annual fee (not waived for the first year), the fact remains that few cards offer as generous of a bonus offer as the Ink Business Preferred — even if you subtract the annual fee from the bonus.

Now What?

We hope that this article has helped you find the business credit card that best suits your particular needs, whatever they may be. To learn more about the current business credit card scene, check out our post on the best business credit cards of 2018 or compare business credit cards.

The post Best Credit Card Offers For Businesses: September 2018 appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

“”

Top 0% APR Introductory Rate Business Credit Cards

Getting your business a 0% APR introductory rate credit card could be helpful, especially if you’re planning to make a big purchase that you can’t pay back right away. Unfortunately, credit cards are packed with complicated rules and regulations, and with so many options available, it can be time-consuming to figure out what’s best for your business. A card that works well for Sammy’s Sandwich Shop down the street might not be the right option for you.

That’s where Merchant Maverick comes in! We’ve parsed through all your various options and come up with a list of the top 0% APR intro rate business credit cards. Besides offering that 0% APR introductory rate, these cards also provide savings via rewards and $0 annual fees, allowing you to stretch your dollar further.

So which one is right for you? Read on to find out!

American Express Blue Business Plus

This card leads the pack with a 0% APR introductory rate of 15 months. It also boasts a rewards program of two points per $1 on all purchases up to $50,000 per year, and one point per $1 on all purchases after $50,000. These points (which are worth $0.01 in many cases) can be redeemed via American Express’ Membership Rewards program in numerous ways, including at checkout for major retailers, gift cards, taxi fare in New York City, and booking travel through American Express Travel.

This card’s variable APR after those 15 months are up can run lower than average. It also grants you expanded buying power, which allows you to spend above your credit level without penalty.

However, Blue Business Plus doesn’t provide a welcome offer. Additionally, some redemptions dish out reward points at less than the standard $0.01. Rewards also start slowing down after spending $50,000 in a year, so this card might not be the best option if your business will break that threshold. International travelers should note that this card does carry a foreign transaction fee of 2.7%.

Want a full breakdown of Blue Business Plus? Check out Merchant Maverick’s comprehensive review to get the deets.

Chase Ink Business Unlimited

chase ink business unlimited

Ink Business Unlimited is a cash back card featuring a 0% APR intro rate for 12 months and no annual fee. Chase has set the cash back reward amount to 1.5% on all purchases—no cap whatsoever. Those rewards can be redeemed via deposit into your bank account or applied on Amazon purchases. Additionally, Ink Business Unlimited also provides a hefty welcome offer of $500 cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months.

Other benefits include additional employee cards at no extra cost, as well as travel and roadside assistance. Chase also provides purchase protection to cover new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account. Once the 12 months of 0% APR run dry, this card offers a variable APR that sits right around industry standard.

Marks against this card include a 3% foreign transaction fee, meaning businesses that require overseas travel may want to think twice before dipping into Ink Business Unlimited.

If you need a further breakdown on Chase’s Ink Business Unlimited, we’ve got you covered with our comprehensive review.

American Express SimplyCash Plus

SimplyCash Plus is another cash back card, although its 0% intro APR runs for nine months. It does feature a hefty rewards program for certain categories, however. Purchases at U.S. office supply stores and on wireless telephone earn 5% percent cash back, up to $50,000 per year. Additionally, you can early 3% back on a category of your choosing (airfare, hotel rooms, car rentals, gas stations, restaurants, advertising purchases, shipping, or computer hardware, software, and cloud computing), up to $50,000 per year. All other purchases will nab 1% back.

American Express’ SimplyCash Plus boasts a variable APR that can clock in at below industry standard. Additionally, its expanded buying power will let you buy above your credit limit with no penalty fees. Other benefits include extended warranty and purchase protection, as well as a range of travel benefits, from baggage insurance to a global assist hotline.

Unfortunately, rewards are redeemed through statement credit only—meaning this card won’t work for those wanting to receive cash back as a check. Besides this, SimplyCash Plus doesn’t provide a welcome offer and foreign purchases are subject to a 2.7% transaction fee.

Need more info on American Express SimplyCash Plus? Head on over to Merchant Maverick’s review.

Capital One Spark Cash Select For Business

capital one spark cash select

This is the second card on our list that runs with a 0% APR for the first nine months. Its cash back rewards program features an unlimited 1.5% back on all purchases. Cash back rewards can be applied to your account as statement credits or requested as a check. Those rewards won’t expire while your account is open and can be transferred between Capital One cards.

You can additionally collect a tidy $200 early spend bonus if you spend at least $3,000 within your first three months of opening your accounts. Spark Cash Select further provides extended warranty and purchase protection, as well as access to Visa SavingsEdge, which may offer up to 15% off on some purchases from participating merchants. You can also get employee cards at no extra cost and Capital One charges no foreign transaction fees.

Drawbacks of the Spark Cash Select include a variable APR that may sit a tad higher than industry standard once those nine months of 0% APR are up. Additionally, the flat rate rewards program may not fit within your business if you spend a lot within categories that can earn higher cash back rates with other cards.

Those who want to dig into the nitty-gritty on Spark Cash Select should take a gander at our in-depth review.

Bank Of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard

To round out our list of 0% APR introductory rate business credit cards, we’ll look out our third entry with a 0% intro APR for nine months. This card boasts 3% cash back on purchases at gas stations and office supply stores, 2% back at restaurants, and 1% back for everything else. You’ll be able to redeem your cash rewards via a statement credit, check, or have cash deposited into a Bank of America checking or savings account.

Besides its reward program, this card’s other benefits include travel and emergency services, zero liability protection on unauthorized purchases, and overdraft protection. Clients of BofA’s Business Advantage Relationship Rewards program can get a 25% – 75% rewards bonus on the base cash back rate. This means you could earn up to 3.75% at gas stations and office supply stores, 2.75% at restaurants, and 1.75% everywhere else. There’s additionally a $200 statement credit bonus after spending $500 on purchases in the first 60 days.

On the negative side, there’s a $250,000 purchase cap for the 3% cash back categories, after which you’ll earn 1% back. Also, for businesses that require international travel, BofA’s card does carry a 3% foreign transaction fee.

Want to learn more about BofA’s Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard? Visit the Merchant Maverick review of the card.

Final Thoughts

That ends our look at five of the top 0% APR introductory rate business credit cards! Still can’t decide on the best option for your business? Check out our small business credit comparison page to compare some of our favorite credit cards and learn more about picking the best card for you.

The post Top 0% APR Introductory Rate Business Credit Cards appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

“”

How To Advertise on Groupon Effectively

How To Advertise on Groupon

The odds are that if you’ve been scouring the web for a deal, you’ve come across Groupon. In recent years, Groupon has become a touchstone for people who are looking for great deals on quality services, products, and more. And advertising your business on Groupon can put you in the millions of people who use the platform each day.

I believe that Groupon is one of the least utilized advertising platforms around. Using this e-commerce platform means that you won’t have to compete as much with competitors for advertising real estate. Utilizing the platform efficient can help attract repeat customers, increase brand recognition, and make more profit along the way.

So, save some paper and embrace the era of digital couponing we’re all living through right now. Here’s how you can advertise your business or brand on Groupon.

between 18- and 44-years-old. Men and women appear to use the platform in similar numbers, meaning that businesses can expect advertisement and deals that are inclusive to all genders to do best.

Using Groupon couldn’t be easier: both merchants and customers create profiles geared toward their interests or businesses and can choose to shop or advertise throughout the e-commerce platform. The ease of use and access to Groupon has only helped the commerce company not only grow in popularity but made it a viable place for other business to market their products, services, etc..

By leveraging Groupon’s broad demographic appeal, you can establish a strong presence on the platform that directly affects your bottom lines.

www.groupon.com/login, a login page will pop up that will request the following criteria:

  • Your legal first and last name
  • Your business or personal email address
  • Your desired Password
  • Choose whether or not you want to receive email newsletters from Groupon
  • Choose whether or not you want the device you’re on to remember your inputs

After signing up, you’ll have the ability to do deep dives in local, national, or international markets. It’s worth noting that more than 70 percent of all Groupon sales remain bought by locals seeking deals on products and services in their neighborhoods.

Groupon Merchant Blog, which we’ll get into later, has many accounts of restaurants experiencing more traffic from using Groupon. From offering one-time deals on certain dishes to revolving discounted specials, Groupon can help grow your business traffic.

One of the more exciting perks of your restaurant being a Groupon Merchant is that you can offer Loyalty Rewards programs. Much like in other iterations, these loyalty programs can help attract long-time customers and bring attention to your eatery.

There needs to be a reason for your customers to want a loyalty program through Groupon. Consider offering deals and incentives to customers to sign up for loyalty rewards to receive. Recently, The National Restaurant News found that people who have a Loyalty Program to a specific restaurant will spend almost 40 percent more (on average) when they’re closer to receiving an award.

Even if you don’t choose to start a Loyalty Program for your restaurant, you can continue to offer deals. Research shows that people are many times more likely to spend more on a more expensive meal if they believe they’re getting it cheaper than usual.

Advertising on Groupon for your restaurant is a win-win: Your bottom lines and customer traffic grow, and your eaters leave having saved on a good meal.

How to Advertise on Groupon for Health and Beauty

Nail and hair salons, spas, massage companies, and more health and beauty businesses can all benefit by leveraging Groupon to expand their outreach. Research shows that even during times of recession, Americans tend to continue to spend the same on health and beauty products and services. But Groupon can do more than help you get more clients.

Groupon allows Groupon Merchants to streamline appointments by simplifying the booking process. Using “Groupon Appointments,” you can allow customers to request appointments after they purchase a ticket, voucher, or digital reservation card for your business. Your “Groupon Calendar” will immediately be updated to accommodate the customer, and that specific time will be unable to be booked that day. This streamlined process also eliminates the risk of double booking from happening.

Also, you can help boost traffic for our other online health and beauty services by cross-linking to your “Groupon Page.” You’ll have the option to link to your main business website through both your Groupon Page and advertisement, itself. By creating easy access to your main website, you can introduce new and old customers to services that are available, but not through Groupon.

How To Advertise on Groupon Effectively appeared first on ShivarWeb.

“”

15 Best Touchscreen POS Systems

touchscreen cash register

Touchscreens are everywhere, and the point-of-sale industry is no exception. Touchscreen POS systems are more intuitive and easy to learn than traditional legacy POS software, and many cloud-based systems employ the same kind of iPad and Android tablets that your employees already use every day at home. Whether you’re running a restaurant, a retail outlet, or another type of business, a modern touchscreen POS system helps keep your sales moving and your business data secure. Besides simple point-of-sale features, most of these cloud-based systems also have advanced reporting capabilities, business management features, and integrations with other popular business software.

Arguably, the only problem with touchscreen point of sale systems is that there are so many different products to choose from. Do you go with a proprietary-hardware solution like Clover, an Android POS system like Toast, an iPad POS like Revel, or an open-source POS like Vend? In my opinion, the most important consideration when choosing a touchscreen POS is not just iPad vs. Android. More important are your industry type, your specific business needs, and user reviews. To help you get started in your search, I’ve put together this list of my favorite highly rated touchscreen POS systems, sorted by industry. Most of these are iPad-based, though I included some Android and open-source options as well.

To make it easier to find the best touchscreen system for your business type, I’ve sorted the following 15 POS systems into restaurant, retail, and hybrid (systems that can be used for either restaurant or retail) categories. Be advised that the order in which I’m listing these excellent systems does not indicate their ranking.

Restaurant POS Systems

The following restaurant point of sale systems can be used by just about any type of food industry business, from drive-thrus to fine dining:

1. Breadcrumb

  • iPad POS for restaurants
  • Pricing starts $99/month/location
  • Must use with Upserve payments (interchange plus $0.15 fee)
  • Multi-location support
  • Online ordering

breadcrumb by upserve pos logo

Cloud-based Breadcrumb POS by Upserve (see our review) is a highly versatile restaurant POS, suitable for full-service restaurants, take-out, delivery, bars, and multi-location eateries. With Breadcrumb’s acquisition by Upserve in 2016 (Breadcrumb was previously owned by GroupOn), the company has expanded its restaurant management infrastructure, making this POS a complete business management system for just about any type of restaurant.

Breadcrumb is not the cheapest restaurant POS in town, but nor is it short on features. Some of the system’s strongest features include table management, employee management, customer management, and tableside ordering. Breadcrumb also recently teamed up with GrubHub to offer online ordering and delivery (at the $249/month/location “Pro” subscription level).

One thing Breadcrumb users really like about this system is that it is specifically designed with restaurant employees in mind. While we find Breadcrumb to be a very solid all-around POS/restaurant management system, a couple potential downsides are 1) you can’t use your own merchant account (you need to use Upserve Payments) and 2) there are occasional issues with outages. Learn more in our Breadcrumb by Upserve review.

2. Toast

  • Android POS for restaurants
  • Pricing starts at $79/month
  • Must use with Toast credit card processing
  • Multi-location support
  • Exceptional customer service

toast pos logo

Android-based Toast POS (see our review) is another robust, cloud-based POS system for restaurants. It can accommodate any size or type of restaurant, and features like tableside ordering, labor management, and inventory management make Toast a force to be reckoned with on both the front and back end. Toast is intuitive and easy to use for servers, while also providing detailed reporting, customer data, and menu options.

Although we love Toast’s strong feature set and the fact that it uses Android tablets instead of iPads (cheaper hardware costs, less of a theft risk), keep in mind that if you want every single feature Toast offers, it’s gonna cost ya. For example, online ordering, table management, delivery management, and gift card support all carry an extra monthly charge. You also can’t choose your own credit card processor to use with this POS and must use Toast’s in-house processor (which Toast users seem to like, at least). What really sets Toast apart from a lot of other cloud-based POS systems, however, is their excellent customer support – an indispensable quality in any POS, given the inherent complexity of a system that lets you take payments, process orders, and manage almost all aspects of your business.

3. TouchBistro

  • iPad POS for restaurants
  • Pricing starts at $69/month
  • Compatible with multiple payment gateways
  • Best for single-location businesses
  • Locally installed system (not cloud-based)

touchbistro POS

Elegant and easy to use, Ontario-based TouchBistro (see our review) has the distinction of being the top-grossing POS Application on Apple’s App Store in over 35 countries. TouchBistro is one of the few systems on our list that, while tablet-based, is not cloud-based; rather, your store data is stored locally on your restaurant’s iPad or Mac.

TouchBistro is not a full “restaurant management system” like Toast or Breadcrumb, but it’s good at what it does, and can readily handle the POS needs of just about any size/type of eatery, from a food truck to a full-service restaurant. Since TouchBistro stores data on local servers, it’s probably best for single-location restaurants (if coordinating data between locations is important to you). Keep in mind, though, that you will need an internet connection to process credit cards.

Some great features of TouchBistro include table management, menu management, kiosk option, tableside ordering, split-payment option, bar tabs, and sales reports. Customer service doesn’t seem to be as responsive as some users would like, though 24/7 support via phone and email is included in the standard cost. TouchBistro is compatible with Mercury, Cayan, Moneris, PayPal and several other gateways.

4. Lavu

  • iPad POS for restaurants
  • Pricing starts at $69/month with annual contract or $79/month without
  • Can use in-house payment processing or BridgePay, Heartland, PayPal, Nets, or Vantiv Integrated Payments
  • Multi-location support
  • Option to install in-house server backup in case you lose your wireless connection

lavu pos logo

Lavu (see our review) is yet another highly popular iPad POS system for restaurants, used in more than 20,000 restaurant terminals across 88 countries.

Lavu is not the most advanced restaurant POS there is, but it is equipped to handle the needs of most small-to-medium restaurants (or cafes, bars, coffee stands, etc.). Some features that make this POS system a hit include its customizable table layout and menus, easy employee management, advanced menu management, and useful integrations. Lavu also has renowned customer service, which is included in the standard monthly fee. You can add both a loyalty program and gift cards onto your subscription for just $40 a month.

Customers have complained about occasional glitches with the Lavu software, but the company releases frequent updates to solve any bugs or complaints. Affordable and highly customizable, Lavu is a strong and growing contender in tablet POS systems for restaurants.

Retail POS Systems

The following POS systems are suitable for retail store establishments, such as clothing boutiques, toy stores, electronics shops, and many others.

5. Lightspeed Retail

  • iPad and web browser POS for retail
  • Pricing starts at $99/month (billed annually)
  • Integrates with Vantiv Integrated Payments (Mercury), Cayan, and izettle
  • Multi-location support
  • Bike rental store add-on

lightspeed retail pos logo

Lightspeed Retail (see our review) is one of the most fully featured tablet POS systems out there for retail. While Lightspeed can support up to enterprise-level size businesses, this cloud-based system is ideal for small and medium-sized businesses that want powerful functionality — think unlimited inventory, integrated eCommerce, work order management, and customer relationship management. Lightspeed Retail also makes it easy to transfer inventory between different store locations.

Lightspeed is among the pricier systems on this list, and various integrations to extend its functionality, such as eCommerce, can make it even more expensive. So, it’s not going to be the right POS every business. But if you want a super robust POS that you can operate from any desktop browser (meaning, you don’t have to buy expensive iPad registers), Lightspeed Retail might just be right for you. The POS is especially suited for apparel businesses but can accommodate virtually any type of retail setup, including rentals.

Note that there are several Lightspeed products in addition to Lightspeed Retail. These include Lightspeed Onsite, Lightspeed Restaurant, and Lightspeed eCommerce.

6. Vend

  • iPad and web browser POS for retail
  • Pricing starts at $69/month
  • Compatible with Vantiv, PayPal, and Square
  • Multi-store support
  • Apple Pay-capable

vend pos logo

Vend (see our review) was actually the very first web browser-based POS system when it was introduced back in 2010. Today, it is still a big force to be reckoned with in the retail POS world, used by more than 20,000 businesses in 100 countries.

Cloud-based and scaleable for retail stores both small and large, Vend uses an HTML5 browser (such as Google Chrome), or an HTML5 iPad app, for all operations. If the internet goes down, Vend can keep operating locally using the cache and will sync back up with the cloud once the connection resumes. Being browser-based means you can run Vend on a PC, Mac, or iPad. Some features on Vend we really like include customer management, eCommerce, built-in loyalty program, inventory management, and a good selection of third-party software integrations. Vend doesn’t have as much functionality as a POS like Lightspeed or Revel – for example, Vend doesn’t have item modifiers – but it is cost-effective and a good choice for a store (or even chain of stores) that doesn’t need every single “business management” feature out there.

Note that Vend’s email support is free, but 24/7 phone support costs an extra $19 per month, unless you have the multi outlet subscription ($199/month billed annually).

7. Shopify POS

  • iPad POS system for retail (Also supports mobile sales on iPhone and Android phones)
  • Pricing starts at $9/month for mobile and Facebook sales, or $54/month to also include Retail Package for in-store sales
  • Integrates with Shopify Payments and many outside processors
  • Multi-store support
  • Instant syncing with your Shopify online store

shopify pos logo

Shopify (see our review) started as an online shopping cart for businesses who wanted an easy way to sell their products online. Eventually, Shopify extended their offering to include a POS system for in-person sales. As you might expect, Shopify POS does a great job integrating online and offline sales for retail businesses that also do eCommerce with Shopify.

Shopify’s pricing structure is a little convoluted, but the most important thing to know is that if you have a brick-and-mortar store, you’ll need to purchase the Retail Package, which costs $45/month on top of whatever other package you select — the $9/month Shopify Lite plan, the $29/month Shopify Basic plan, or another higher-tier plan. The Basic plan plus the Retail Package will cost $74/month and provide pretty much everything most retailers need for both online and in-store sales. You also have the option to get better credit card processing rates at higher price tiers.

Most Shopify POS features are comparable with other top iPad retail solutions, and they have strong customer service too. The thing that really sets Shopify apart is their seamless online/offline sales integration. So, if you already use Shopify for online sales or would like to, this might be the right POS for you.

8. Quetzal

  • iPad POS for independent fashion retailers
  • Pricing starts at $75/month per location
  • Integrates with Evo Payments International, Velocity, CardSmith, National Discount Merchant Services, Vantiv, and Moneris
  • Multi-store support (max. 10 locations)
  • Clothing/shoe matrix

With its exclusive focus on fashion retailers, Quetzal (see our review) is an iPad POS that’s tailor-made (ha-ha) for stores that sell clothing, shoes, and/or accessories. This aesthetically appealing system has a streamlined iOS aesthetic; the interface seriously looks like it could have been designed by Apple itself, and Quetzal even has an iTunes app that lets managers check in on their store from their Apple Watch. Quetzal also uses a compact, sleek register, Star Micronics’ mPOP system.

Of course, functionality is more important than aesthetics when it comes to a POS, but Quetzal doesn’t come up short in terms of function either. We like the clothing/shoe matrix, in-depth sales reports, “tag cloud,” loyalty program, employee leaderboard, and “sales thermometer,” in particular. At only $75/location price is right as well, especially as there is no charge for additional users or terminals. A couple downsides are that after setup and installation, customer support costs extra, and also there is no QuickBooks integration.

While it doesn’t have a huge marketshare of the overall retail POS segment, Quetzal’s niche focus makes it a functional, affordable, and visually appealing choice for emerging independent clothing brands.

Hybrid POS Systems

These POS systems are flexible in that they are equally suited to retail and restaurant environments. Service-based industries such as beauty salons, rental businesses, and hospitality businesses also often use hybrid POS systems.

9. Shopkeep

  • iPad POS for retail and quick serve restaurants
  • $69/month/register ($29/month/register for fourth register and beyond)
  • Integrates with Shopkeep Payments and outside processors
  • Multi-store support
  • Matrix inventory feature

shopkeep pos logo

Shopkeep (see our review) is an affordable and enjoyable-to-use POS system that runs locally from an iPad and syncs data back to the cloud. Shopkeep is used in both retail and restaurant environments, and while it’s more feature-rich on the retail side of things, it will more than meet the needs of most quick-service/coffee carts/food truck businesses.

Some things about Shopkeep we especially like include its comprehensive register functionality, in-depth reporting suite, mobile app to view your business stats on the go, and unlimited inventory matrix (which includes raw goods management). Shopkeep also offers unlimited 24/7 customer support (though premium phone costs an additional $30 per month). This POS integrates with MailChimp for email marketing, QuickBooks for accounting, and BigCommerce for eCommerce.

Shopkeep is a wise choice for a small-to-medium retail business or restaurant that doesn’t need extensive restaurant-centric features like table management. Note that ShopKeep is currently only available on iPad but is in the works to make its service available on the Clover Station via a recent partnership with First Data.

10. Revel Systems

  • iPad POS for retail, restaurants, hospitality, and more
  • Supports numerous payment processors
  • Custom pricing based on industry and individual business needs
  • Multi-store support
  • Ethernet internet connection

revel systems logo

Revel Systems (see our review) is arguably the holy grail of iPad POS systems. Revel is powerful enough that franchises like Cinnabon use it, and flexible enough that it can support businesses in virtually any industry, from brewpubs to gas stations. It’s also the only iPad POS system that offers a “wired” ethernet connection for a faster an more reliable internet.

Revel POS pricing is determined by which industry-specific package you choose, but depending on your needs, you can expect to pay about $80 to $200/month per location. Myriad add-on applications and integrations extend Revel’s functionality to make it do just about anything you can imagine, though this naturally increases the system’s cost as well. Some of Revel’s more impressive features include its kiosk mode, digital menu board, and ability to accept mobile payments (including ApplePay, PayPal, Bitcoin, and others). Because Revel is so powerful and customizable, initial system setup can take a while.

Revel can manage multiple locations and up to 500,000 SKUs. It is optimized for mid-sized businesses, particularly busy quick-serve restaurants that can afford one of the best iPad POS’s money can buy.

11. ERPLY

  • Web browser/iPad/Android/Windows POS for retail and restaurants
  • Pricing starts at $200/month/location
  • Compatible with all big-name payment processors, (though currently promoting PayPal as a preferred processor)
  • Multi-store support
  • Strong inventory features

erply-logo

ERPLY (see our review) originated in 2009 as a retail POS system, though it has eventually expanded support to food service too, now offering food-centric features such as kitchen printing and sell by weight. Whether you run a retail business or restaurant, ERPLY is especially powerful in the inventory management department, with functions like automated ordering, supplier management, and multichannel (online, in-store, phone, email) inventory tracking and transfers.

ERPLY gives you a lot of flexibility as a business owner. Using just about any payment processor under the sun, you can accept traditional swipe, chip card, and mobile payments, including Apple Pay, PayPal, and Android Pay. You also have the option to use pretty much whatever device you want, even without a reliable internet connection, or run ERPLY right from your browser.

It’s actually kind of hard to come up with a feature ERPLY doesn’t have. An open API architecture allows customizability and the ability to develop your own software integrations and customize it to meet your needs (or, have ERPLY make these integrations/customizations for you). Being such a versatile piece of software, it’s one of the pricier cloud-based POS systems. If you have a larger or franchise business, or you just want the flexibility and horsepower this system offers, you might try ERPLY out for size.

12. talech

  • iPad POS for retail and restaurants
  • Standard subscription is $62/month/location (billed annually upfront)
  • Compatible with multiple payment processors
  • Multi-store support
  • Kiosk mode

talech POS logo

talech (see our review) is a smaller player in the iPad POS world, but with their affordable price point and impressive set of more than 100 features, they can certainly give their larger competitors a run for their money. talech is used by both retail and restaurant businesses, but restaurants, in particular, will find a lot of useful features, including table management, coursing, and the ability to split the check by table positioning (seat).

Advanced inventory management, self-service (kiosk) mode, and the ability to generate purchase orders are some more features that set talech apart from some of its competitors in both the retail and restaurant spheres. talech also made it possible for restaurant owners to integrate an online ordering system so that you can manage in-person and online orders all from your iPad POS terminal.

One caveat: being 100% cloud-based, talech is unable to take credit card payments in the event of a WiFi outage, and you also won’t be able to access your back office. However, it’s possible to circumvent such issues by getting a specialized backup router.

13. Bindo

  • iPad POS for retail and restaurants
  • Custom pricing depends on industry and number of SKUs
  • Works with nearly any payment processor
  • Multi-location support
  • “Favorites” grid displays most popular items as register buttons

Bindo POS logo

Bindo (see our review) is a hybrid POS whose varied and easy-to-use features make it suitable for retail or restaurant environments. A reasonable pricetag, clean interface, robust eCommerce storefront, and thoughtful inventory reporting suite make this an especially versatile touchscreen POS option. While fewer than 5,000 businesses use new-ish POS, customer support (included at all price levels) is responsive to these customers’ needs and tech support (also included) issues frequent updates to fix any software glitches.

As with most other fully cloud-based systems, you’ll need fast internet to experience the best functionality. More than one customer has also complained about being stuck in a leasing contract with Bindo for equipment they were not satisfied with (though in general, we do not recommend leasing POS equipment). Since Bindo works with most standard iPad POS equipment and offers a 14-day free trial, it is likely that you’ll be able to test out Bindo using your current equipment before you commit to purchasing.

14. SalesVu

  • iPad POS for restaurant and retail
  • Basic restaurant and retail packages start at $75/month
  • Works with Vantiv, Evo, and WorldPay
  • Multi-location support
  • Allows items to be charged by decimal and fractional quantities

SalesVu (see our review) is another affordable and feature-rich iPad POS system that can be used in many industries, including service industries and traditional retail and restaurant environments. Since this system allows you to ring up transactions in fractional amounts, it’s especially useful for hourly professionals such as therapists or dog walkers, and businesses that sell items based on weight, like fro-yo shops. SalesVu also has an appointment booking system that health, beauty, and hospitality businesses will appreciate. Like the majority of touchscreen POS’s on this list, SalesVu is best suited for smaller to medium-sized businesses, though it has the capacity to scale up if you open a second or third location.

SalesVu runs locally on iPad registers and syncs all your data to your account in the cloud. Though you can use the SalesVu POS app without an internet connection, you’ll need internet to process credit card transactions; however, you can use a specialized router with a 4G wireless modem with a data plan so that you can switch to 4G without any interruption if your main internet connection goes down.

Another cool thing about SalesVu is that it will run on an iPhone, allowing you to take mobile sales on the go. The basic mobile POS app without any frills is free, similar to Square. Which brings us to the final favorite touchscreen POS on our list …

15. Square Register

  • Proprietary POS hardware with free cloud software for retail, restaurants, service industry
  • Hardware costs $49/month for 24 months or $999 one-time payment
  • In-house credit card processing is 2.5% + $0.10/transaction or lower for high-volume businesses
  • Multi-location support
  • Best for businesses with average transaction of $40 or higher
  • Ethernet support for more reliable internet connection

While Square‘s popular free POS mobile app has been around for some time, the Square Register is a relatively new product, released in October 2017. There are still no monthly service fees, but rather than selling on your smartphone or iPad, you’re ringing up sales on fully featured POS hardware that you purchase as a complete package from Square. With a concept similar to that of Clover Station (which I didn’t include on this list because it is locked into First Data’s less than stellar payment processing), the Square Register is sleek, proprietary POS hardware that works right out of the box, complete with a customer facing screen and built-in credit card terminal. The Square Register hardware itself costs $49/month for 24 months, or you can simply purchase the system outright for $999.

Note that Square Register users have a different credit card processing rate than the standard Square mobile processing rate. With Square Register, businesses are charged 2.5% + $0.10 on every transaction, vs. 2.75% (+ $0.00) with regular Square. This pricing setup may at first blush look like Square Register has cheaper rates, but if you have a lot of small transactions you’ll actually pay more with Square Register than with the Square mobile POS. For this reason, Square Register is a more appropriate solution for larger businesses with average ticket sizes of $40 or higher. Larger businesses processing more than $250,000 per year and with an average ticket size of $15 or higher may also qualify for lower rates.

As for the specific business type, 100% cloud-based Square can work with just about any industry. Square has a built-in 24/7 online booking system for service-based industries, as well as restaurant-centric features such as suggested tipping amounts and online food orders.

Finally, Square Register is not to be confused with Square’s iPad-only, $60/month solution, Square for Retail (see our review).

Final Thoughts

When sorting through your options for touchscreen POS systems, the plethora of choices may at first seem overwhelming. But that’s why we’re here to help you sort out the stinkers and lead you to the very best tablet point of sale systems. And really, you can’t go wrong with any of the POS software systems on this list. Just check that the touchscreen POS system you’re considering meets your business’s needs in terms of functionality and budget, and test it out with a free trial before purchasing. And of course, don’t forget to check user reviews and complaints on the BBB and other consumer review sites. If you need further help choosing a touchscreen POS system, please contact me in the comments section and I’ll give you some further guidance.

The post 15 Best Touchscreen POS Systems appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

“”

Stripe VS Braintree

Stripe VS Braintree
✓ Products & Services ✓
Fees & Rates ✓
✓ Sales & Advertising Transparency ✓
✓ Contract Length & Cancellation ✓
Customer Service & Technical Support ✓
Negative Reviews & Complaints ✓
✓ Positive Reviews & Testimonials ✓
Final Verdict  Winner
Read Review Read Review
Visit Site Visit Site

Overview

If you need a tech-driven platform to power payments for your business, Braintree Payment Solutions (read our review) and Stripe (read our review) should be at the very top of the list. In addition to very strong developer tools with support for multiple programming languages, both companies are global service that can reach customers all over the world. But does one company excel more than the other? In the Stripe vs. Braintree debate, which company comes out on top?

Here’s the good news: Because their core offerings are so similarly aligned, it’s really easy to draw direct, apples-to-apples comparisons. And in most regards, Stripe and Braintree are very similarly matched. They both cater to some very large and/or very innovative businesses with industry-leading tools for online and mobile commerce, global business, and subscription/billing management.

Before committing to either of these platforms, it’s important to understand that to make the most of them you need advanced coding knowledge or a developer. You can go it alone with minimal knowledge, but you’ll be unable to harness the full potential of Stripe and Braintree. If you’re not tech savvy, another solution may be a better fit.

Braintree differs from Stripe primarily in that it issues merchants with their own merchant accounts, whereas Stripe is a third-party processor that aggregates payments. That means Braintree has much greater account stability than Stripe. Braintree also provides its tools at no additional cost beyond its flat-rate processing, whereas Stripe will assess small fees for the use of select services. So Braintree could very easily become the more cost-effective solution.

However, Stripe has made a name for itself with industry-leading tools, and you’re particularly interested in marketplace or subscription tools, Stripe is the standout option.

Normally, a merchant account is suited to merchants processing more than $10k/month (though some work with merchants with volumes as small as $5k/month). Braintree has no minimum and no monthly fee and says that it works with businesses of all sizes. That’s quite a bit different. With its similar pricing, Braintree is just as attractive an option as Stripe for new and small-but-growing enterprises.

The best solution for a business isn’t immediately clear here. You’ll need to look at what features are must-haves; you’ll need to consider costs. And if you are leaning toward Stripe, it’s worth considering the tradeoffs that you’ll make regarding account stability. Ultimately, it’ll be down to you and your developer to decide whether Stripe or Braintree is right for your business.

Read on for a more in-depth analysis of these two online payment gateways! Got questions? Comments? We’d love to hear from you, so leave us a comment!

Products & Services

Winner: Tie

First things first: both of these companies support all kinds of payments, from directly on a website to inside mobile apps. They both off a choice of pre-built and completely customizable payment forms. They also offer tools for businesses that operate on marketplace or subscription models. Differences between the two platforms really come down more to the nitty-gritty details. You can also find out more about each company and its offerings by checking out our complete Braintree Payments and Stripe reviews.

Braintree Payments

 

Braintree’s payment processing and gateway services support merchants in more than 45 countries, versus 25 for Braintree. However, merchants can reach customers all across the globe with support for 130+ currencies. One of the biggest draws is Braintree’s PayPal integration. Because Braintree is a PayPal owned company, it makes sense that the integration between the two would be seamless.

Braintree’s SDKs support both Android and iOS for mobile developers, as well as six other languages. And you’ll find support for major payment methods across the globe, as well.

Braintree Supported Programming Languages

  • Android/iOS
  • Java
  • .NET
  • Node.js
  • PHP
  • Python
  • Ruby

Braintree Supported Payment Types

  • ACH Direct Debit
  • Credit Cards
  • PayPal
  • Venmo
  • Apple Pay
  • Google Pay
  • Amex Express Checkout
  • MasterPass
  • Visa Checkout
  • UnionPay

Braintree Core Features 

Braintree categorizes its core offerings into four services. I like the way they are grouped because it helps better explain what Braintree is capable of doing for different kinds of businesses.

  • Braintree Direct: If you want to sell directly on your own website, this is the solution for you. Direct includes subscription tools (see below for more information).
  • Braintree Marketplace: Braintree’s marketplace tools allow you to create your own platform and manage the sellers and payouts with automation.
  • Braintree Auth: “Auth” (assuming that’s short for Authorization) is Braintree’s platform for other service companies to integrate the Braintree gateway into their solutions. This allows these companies to securely access their merchants’ data and take certain authorized actions on their behalf. For example, an invoicing company could use Auth to create an integration with their platform and allow Braintree merchants to connect their accounts and populate invoices based on data from the customer vault. Auth is also the tool that lets businesses make it possible to onboard merchants and accept payments natively.
  • Braintree Extend: Formerly called contextual commerce, Braintree has expanded its offerings here. The merchant hosts the payment checkout and transaction data, but is able to share the transaction data with partners. This creates a seamless, frictionless commerce experience for customers and keeps them on your site. Extend would be the appropriate platform for booking sites (hotels, airlines, event tickets, etc.) and other businesses that want to empower merchants/partners to sell through their website or app.

Additional Braintree Features

  • Fraud Management Tools: Braintree separates its fraud management tools into two tiers: Basic, which includes control over AVS and CVV checks, as well as risk threshold analysis. Advanced fraud tools require more work to enable, but include a partnership with Kount, a fraud management service. Kount Standard is offered at no charge, but if you want more control over transactions and your risk management policies, you can implement Kount Custom. You must meet Braintree’s requirements and it will cost more. In addition to all of that, Braintree also supports 3D Secure for additional verification.
  • Multi-Currency Displays And Conversions: Braintree allows merchants to display prices in local currency rather than just the merchant’s default currency, which can help entice international sales. Braintree even automatically converts the currency for you. Global businesses with bases of operation in several countries can connect multiple bank accounts and help reduce processing costs by eliminating the need for conversion.
  • Recurring Billing And Subscription Tools: Braintree has some powerful recurring billing and subscription tools whether you sell software or physical goods. However, you will notice a shortage of some specific features, such as invoicing. Stripe’s suite of tools is more advanced in this regard. However, if invoicing is a concern, don’t forget that Braintree integrates pretty seamlessly with PayPal and so you can use PayPal or another integration as an extension.
  • Account Auto-Updater: Reduce failed transactions and canceled subscriptions with Braintree’s Account Auto-Update feature. Expired and re-issued cards from certain institutions will automatically update with new card data to ensure continuity.
  • Reporting: Braintree offers a smattering of default reports in its control panel, including transaction-level reporting. However, even the company admits that you’ll probably outgrow the standard reports. Braintree’s Reports API allows you to generate custom reporting based on criteria you set. And unlike Stripe, this feature costs nothing at all.
  • Integrations: Braintree does support a variety of integrations, including eCommerce shopping cart software. You can browse available integrations on Braintree’s site.

I certainly think Braintree has everything most merchants will need. It does lack a few features that Stripe offers, but it’s a hugely capable system. And the seamless Payal integration could be a major draw from some merchants who have loyal PayPal customer bases.

Stripe Payments

Stripe is available to merchants in 25 countries at the time of writing this, including some betas. You can check out Stripe’s Global page for a complete list. However, regardless of merchant location, you can accept payments from all over the globe. Stripe actually supports 135+ currencies.

In addition, Stripe’s SDKs include support for Android/iIOS and seven other programming languages. Accepted payment methods depend on the merchant’s location, but Stripe supports many popular local payment methods in the EU and China in particular.

Stripe Supported Programming Languages

  • Android/iOS
  • Go
  • Java
  • .NET
  • Node.js
  • PHP
  • Python
  • Ruby

Stripe Supported Payment Methods 

Stripe’s supported payment methods can be broken down into universal methods and local payment methods. Whereas Braintree focuses on universal payment types, Braintree has worked hard to add support for payment types common in markets such as the EU and China. Let’s start with universal payment types:

  • Alipay
  • Apple Pay
  • Google Pay
  • Microsoft Pay
  • Amex Express Checkout
  • Masterpass by Mastercard
  • Visa Checkout
  • WeChat Pay

Local Payment Methods are only available in their regions where they are most popular, generally speaking:

  • ACH
  • Bancontact
  • EPS BETA
  • Giropay
  • iDEAL
  • P24 BETA
  • SEPA Direct Debit
  • SOFORT
  • WeChat Pay

Stripe Core Features

Stripe claims to offer more than 100 features, though it’s not exactly clear how it defines a “feature.” Still, you can do an awful lot with this company. Here’s a quick primer on what you can expect:

  • Payments: Stripe Checkout is a prebuilt form you can just drop into your site. But if you need something more customizable, Stripe Elements will let you design a form that suits your needs. You can build payments into your site or your mobile app.
  • Connect: Stripe’s Marketplace tools are definitely some of the most robust out there. Build and manage your own platform, including automated payouts to your merchants. Connect also facilitates connecting Stripe to other services (such as building native payments into eCommerce software) in the same way as Braintree Auth.
  • Billing: “Billing” now encompasses all of Stripe’s subscription, invoice, and recurring billing tools. Stripe’s subscription tools have always been powerful, but with the addition of invoice capabilities and the option for metered billing, it’s safe to say that you really can’t beat what Stripe has to offer.

Despite the differences in how these companies market and present their tools, the reality is, Stripe still has many of the same functions as Braintree. They’re just framed and presented in a different way.

Additional Stripe Features:

  • Sigma: Stripe offers an assortment of standard reporting tools in its dashboard. However, if you want more advanced reports, then you’ll need Sigma. For an additional monthly fee (based on volume, see the pricing section below for more details) you can generate custom reports based on SQL queries.
  • Radar: Stripe’s fraud monitoring tools include machine learning to identify and flag suspicious transactions. Merchants can review and override transactions they know to be legitimate, or set up custom rules for fraud transactions, all with far less fuss than you’ll see with Braintree. If you’re very comfortable with fraud management, this is definitely an advantage.
  • Multi-Currency Displays And Conversions: Stripe has spent a LOT of time billing itself as the platform of choice for global businesses. It should come as no surprise then that Stripe allows merchants to display pricing in local currencies and automatically handles the currency conversion. You can connect multiple bank accounts to save money on conversion costs, too.
  • Account Auto-Updater: Keep recurring transactions from failing when customers get new cards. Stripe will automatically update card data in your vault to ensure continuity of subscriptions.
  • Integrations: Stripe has more than 300 integrations with all kinds of other software and services a business might need. The sheer number of supported integrations could be a significant advantage for some merchants. You can browse integrations by categories on Stripe’s “Works With” page.

If everything is starting to sound really similar, it’s because these two companies really are evenly matched in most regards. it comes down to little details — like the fact that Stripe is a third-party processor while Braintree issues traditional merchant accounts. Or the fact that Stripe has far more ready-to-go integrations than Braintree.

Braintree has an advantage in that it’s available to merchants in 15 more countries, but both companies are evenly matched in the number of currencies accepted and their multi-currency displays. Also, Braintree’s pricing model (see below) is also far more straightforward and will save merchants money versus Stripe, which now charges merchants for access to many of its advanced tools.

My overall impression is that for the most part, Stripe is willing to give you more freedom with less oversight. The tradeoff, of course, is account stability.  For example, you have complete control over your fraud monitoring tools and which transactions are approved, but it’s quite possible to make a mistake and find yourself in hot water. Braintree offers a comparable set of features, but there will be a couple more hoops to jump through if you want the same degree of control over fraud management as you get with Stripe.

You’ll also find that Stripe’s subscription tools are far more advanced than Braintree’s. However, an integration (though more costly) could but Braintree on a more even keel here.

All in all, Braintree and Stripe are pretty evenly matched, and it’s hard to call one superior to the other. So much depends on what features you need and what payment methods you want to accept.

Rates & Fees

Winner: Braintree

Baseline pricing for Square and Stripe is pretty simple, and similar. However, because Stripe has started charging for access to some of its features, merchants will find themselves paying more with Stripe than they will with Braintree.

Let’s start with transaction rates:

  • Card Transactions: 2.9% + $0.30 per card transaction for both Stripe and Braintree
  • ACH Processing: 0.75% for Braintree, 0.8% for Stripe (both capped at $5)

If you’re wondering, the $5 cap for ACH transactions would kick in at $625 for Braintree, and about $665 for Stripe transactions. However, Stripe says the $5 cap starts at $625. However, I imagine for many merchants the wibbly-wobbly space between $625 a $665 won’t be much of an issue.

It’s also worth mentioning that with Braintree, you can accept PayPal and PayPal Credit transactions. Those process at the rates determined by your PayPal account, but for the most part, you can expect them to be 2.9% + $0.30.

Both Braintree and Stripe allow you to accept cards from outside your home country. Those will cost an additional 1% per transaction; if the transaction is processed in one currency and settled in another, another 1% fee also applies for both companies.

Discounts and Alternative Payment Plans

I want to point out that Braintree does offer alternative payment plans for some merchants:

  • Interchange-Plus Pricing: Available in Europe as well as to high-volume merchants (more than $80,000/month) in the US.
  • Nonprofit Discount Rate: 2.2% + $0.30  (Amex processed at 3.25% + $0.30)

Braintree doesn’t offer its own micropayments plans, but you can integrate Braintree with PayPal and use PayPal’s micropayments plan (5% + $0.05) instead.

Stripe also offers discounts as well:

  • Volume Discounts: Stripe doesn’t specify the threshold for enterprise pricing/custom discounts. It also doesn’t indicate anywhere easily found whether those custom discounts include interchange-plus pricing.
  • Nonprofit Discounts: Stripe mentions that 501(c)(3) nonprofits may be eligible for custom discounts. It doesn’t disclose what those rates are. In addition, the wording used on Stripe’s website sounds more like “we’ll see if we can work something out,” so it’s safe to assume not all nonprofits will qualify.
  • Microtransactions: Stripe says its sales team will work with merchants who want to implement micropayments, but it doesn’t specify what the cost is.

You’ll notice a trend here, I hope: a lack of disclosure. All of these pricing features are available, but Stripe fails to mention them. This likely indicates that the pricing isn’t consistent from one business to the next (usually volume and industry are two of the biggest contributing factors). It’s not a red flag, but it’s disappointing when you look at Braintree with its disclosures.

Additional Fees

Both Stripe and Braintree assess a $15 fee per chargeback incident, which is industry standard.

Braintree will refund your processing costs in the event you issue a full refund to a customer (it will not return fees on partial refunds, however). This is very nice, and it isn’t universal across all processors. PayPal, for example, keeps the $0.30 per-transaction fee but will refund the percentage fee.

Stripe does not refund processing fees for refunded transactions. This is (somewhat surprisingly) stated very clearly at the bottom of Stripe’s pricing page.

Generally speaking, Braintree charges absolutely nothing for access to all its features and tools. However, you may incur additional charges for using 3D Secure depending on your rate plan. Using Kount Custom as part of your advanced fraud monitoring will also incur additional costs.

Stripe has modified its pricing to include additional fees for its subscription, marketplace, and reporting tools.

Stripe Billing (including all of the formerly free subscription tools) now assess a small percentage charge. Pricing is lumped into two tiers:

  • Starter: Free for first $1 million in transactions; afterward, 0.4% in addition to processing costs
  • Scale: 0.7% in addition to processing costs; includes additional features and discounted processing costs.

If you used Stripe’s subscription tools before April 5, 2018, you are grandfathered out of these costs and can use Stripe Billing at no additional charge. That’s actually quite nice — and somewhat unexpected.

Sigma, Stripe’s reporting tool, is priced on a sliding scale based on volume. I’ll admit this is a fair way of pricing a service like this — it’s better than tiered packages that are divided by the amount of info available or the number of queries you could generate. This way small businesses get a very fair price for advanced business info.

  • <500 Transactions: $0.02/charge plus $10 infrastructure fee
  • 501-1,000 Transactions: $0.018/charge plus $25 infrastructure fee
  • 1,001-5,000 Transactions: $0.016/charge plus $50 infrastructure fee
  • 5,000-50,000 Transactions: $0.014/charge plus $100 infrastructure fee

Beyond that point, your business moves into enterprise-level pricing and you’ll get a custom quote. You can test out the pricing tool for yourself on the Stripe website.

Costs for using Connect, Stripe’s marketplace tools, are laid out on the website pretty clearly, which is nice to see given how little other information is out there.

Also, merchants who are on a custom payment plan will pay an additional $0.04 per transaction

One final point of consideration: With Stripe, you can’t access the gateway separate from the company’s processing services. But you can do that with Braintree, for $49/month + $0.10 per transaction. That’s a bit pricey for a gateway fee, but it could easily be worth the cost to access to all of Braintree’s tools.

All in all, Braintree is the winner here simply because it offers most of its features at no additional charge beyond processing costs, and that translates to savings for merchants.

Contract Length & Cancellation

Winner: Tie

With both Stripe and Braintree, merchants have no multi-year contracts. Everything is pay-as-you-go, so if you find a better service you are free to leave at any time. This is always good to see. But what’s even better is that both companies will help you migrate your data (customer database and card vault) securely to ensure seamless continuity. And that’s not just good, it’s awesome.

Sales & Advertising Transparency

Winner: Tie

I’m always happy to say when any processor is fair, honest, and transparent. In this case, I am extra happy to say both companies fit the mark. You won’t find any deceptive sales tactics, misleading quotes, or pushy sales reps here.

You’ll pay exactly what you’re quoted with both Stripe and Braintree, which is awesome. I like that both companies use flat-rate pricing by default. It’s hard to compare that number to interchange-plus models, which are usually the most cost-effective; however, you know exactly what you’ll pay for every transaction regardless of card brand. Flat-rate pricing is far more transparent than tiered pricing models, too.

You’ll find both companies are great at pushing out information about new features and how to use them, as well, and they’re upfront about matters such as customer service channels, integrations, and more.

Perhaps the only mark against Stripe is that while its terms of service spell out that an account can be terminated at any time for any or no reason, plenty of merchants seem to gloss over this or forget it entirely…until it happens to them. Stripe is a third-party payments provider, which means that the company doesn’t do extensive underwriting or investigation into your company when you apply for an account. The tradeoff to getting your account set up quickly is that you will face more intense scrutiny after the fact. Stripe has been known to terminate merchants with no warning, whether it’s for too many chargebacks or the company’s risk assessment team identifying a pattern of high-risk transactions. When this happens, there’s no appeals process to reinstate an account. You just need to move on and find a new processor.

To be fair, Braintree seems to exhibit some of this same behavior, despite the fact that it isn’t a third-party processor. When you sign up with Braintree, you do get a traditional merchant account. However, while I have seen complaints about this behavior, the overall volume is incredibly low, especially for a company as large as Braintree. So my honest assessment is that while it can happen, it happens only rarely with Braintree users. Account terminations are more common with Stripe because of its third-party processing model — but again, an account termination is an exception to the rule, rather than the norm. Most importantly, you should be aware that this is a possibility but you can take steps to protect yourself.

First, make sure you check out Stripe’s Prohibited Businesses list and then also look at Braintree’s Acceptable Use Policy. Both of these documents outline what kinds of merchants they won’t work with, so make sure your business isn’t on the list.

You can also check out our resources, including our guide on how to avoid holds, freezes, and account terminations.

Customer Service & Technical Support

Winner: Braintree

One of the most difficult parts of assessing customer support is that experiences vary so much from one merchant to the next. With some notable exceptions, it’s fairly common to see at least one negative review focusing on customer support for every good review that praises a company’s customer support. So as a reviewer, I look for patterns that can clue me into what, if anything is going on. But it’s also important to look at what support channels are offered and how they serve merchants. Being able to talk to a real, live person in real time is such an important aspect of good service for many merchants.

Braintree is a clear winner in this category. It likes to tout its “white glove service”; even ignoring the marketing buzz, when you take a look at the options and availability, it becomes clear that Braintree has worked hard to cater to merchants’ needs.

Braintree Support Options

  • Email: Email support is available from 5 AM to 12 AM US Central Time, Monday-Thursday and 5 AM to 8 PM, Friday. It’s nice to see the extended weekday hours, but the lack of any sort of weekend hours is a bit disappointing.
  • Knowledgebase & Documentation: In my experience, Braintree makes it much easier to find information about particular features and how to use them than Stripe does. The self-service knowledgebase includes extensive guides so that even merchants who aren’t technically inclined can make sense of Braintree’s features without having to wade through the documentation. And generally speaking, developers seem to approve of Braintree’s documentation and the available resources. The company seems to have made some major strides forward and is up there along with Stripe in terms of documentation quality.
  • Phone support: Hours for Braintree’s phone support are 8 AM to 7 PM US Central Time, Monday-Thursday and 8 AM to 5 PM, Friday. Again, I think the lack of weekend support hours is disappointing, but it’s nice to see extended weekday hours.

I do want to point out that Braintree does make one additional promise about its customer support:

Of course, we offer emergency support via email 24x7x365, and have support reps and engineers on-call at all times.

So it’s nice to know that in an emergency you’ll at least know someone is there to answer your questions and help your business running again. But I have no data about whether this emergency support is effective (or even necessary).

Stripe Support Options

  • Knowledgebase and Documentation: I personally haven’t found Stripe’s self-service knowledgebase to be very informative. It’s quite basic, and if you want to learn more about all of Stripe’s features or understand how they fit together, you’ll need to look at the documentation. However, I will say this: Stripe’s documentation is the gold standard. So developers will have no trouble here.
  • Email: Stripe doesn’t offer a turnaround time for emails, just that the company will “get back to you as soon as we can.”
  • Freenode IRC Chat: Stripe’s developers apparently spend their time in the #stripe channel if you need technical assistance. Unsurprisingly, most developers seem to like this aspect of support.

Stripe doesn’t offer phone support, and it doesn’t offer any information as to when its team is on call to respond to questions, all of which is a bit disappointing. But it’s the quality that counts, right? Except, reports suggest Stripe’s customer support isn’t always awesome, either. Check out the next section, “Negative Reviews & Complaints,” for more information.

Negative Reviews & Complaints

Winner: Braintree

The overall quantity of complaints is only one factor we use to evaluate a merchant because you also need to consider the overall size of the business.

Braintree doesn’t publish current numbers for its merchants, and Stripe is vague about it. All we know is that the number exceeds 100,000, which is a good number for any merchant services provider. But we do know that both Stripe and Braintree are enormous companies that handle billions of dollars each year. Part of that is because they both serve some very large, high-profile clients. But you’ll certainly find plenty of smaller businesses and startups using these platforms, too.

On the whole, Stripe has far more complaints floating around than Braintree does. This isn’t too surprising because third-party processors, including Stripe, tend to have a high number of complaints overall, usually for 1 major reason:

  • Holds and Terminations: Third-party processors or aggregators can’t offer the same sort of stability that you get with a traditional merchant account because the onboarding process for new merchants doesn’t include the traditional in-depth analysis of the business and underwriting. That means accounts are more likely to face termination for suspicious behavior after they get up and running. This is absolutely the pattern we’ve seen with Stripe and it is one of the two biggest complaints about the company.

The other major complaint about Stripe is:

  • Poor Customer Service: One of the biggest gripes in the customer service department is the lack of phone service. When something is not right, merchants want to talk to a real, live person. When companies that provide core services like payment process don’t offer that, it leaves merchants upset. That’s what I’ve seen with Braintree. However, other customer service complaints say that support is unresponsive and unhelpful. This is particularly true in the account of funding holds or terminations. I don’t see many complaints about the quality of support for everyday sort of issues.

And then there’s Braintree. Braintree overall has far fewer complaints scattered across the web. (Considering this is a PayPal-owned company, I continue to be absolutely flabbergasted by this fact.) However, you will see some similarities to Stripe complaints:

  • Account Terminations: I want to make it clear that references to merchants who have had their accounts terminated are few and far between. They aren’t the majority of Braintree complaints, and even if they were, they would still be uncommon. From what I can tell, an account termination usually occurs when a business is deemed high risk. Whether this is a flaw in the screening process or a determination made by analyzing processing history or particular transactions, I don’t know.
  • Poor Customer Support: Complaints in this category seem to center on slow response times for email support, as well as inconsistent answers from support reps. However, I do see other merchants praising Braintree for the quality of its customer support, too.
  • Long Setup Times for Accounts: Some complaints focus on the fact that it can take a while to establish an account with Braintree. I know we live in the age of instant gratification, but sometimes vetting can take time.

All in all, it’s easy to call Braintree the winner in this regard. You’ll likely deal with fewer headaches and hassles with Braintree, and you’ll certainly see far greater account stability.

Positive Reviews & Testimonials

Winner: Tie

Stripe is a media darling, for sure. There’s no shortage of articles about the company’s co-founders, the Collison brothers, or about how massive the company is, the way it disrupts payments technology, etc.

Braintree doesn’t get quite as much press, but its parent company, PayPal does.

But press coverage doesn’t really tell the whole story.

Most of Stripe and Braintree’s big success stories come from household names. Big companies that you’ve probably heard about. You can see a shortlist of logos from prominent Braintree clients on its homepage; you can find a longer list on the Merchant Stories page.

However, what I like best is that Braintree actually has case studies for how these different companies have used Braintree to build successful businesses and process payments. These case studies aren’t exactly common, so it’s nice to see them — and so many, at that.

Stripe’s client list is no less impressive than Braintree’s though. You can find a shortlist on the homepage as well, but a more in-depth list on the Customers page. It offers only brief snippets instead of case studies, but the page does showcase the ways you can use Stripe.

But what do everyday merchants have to say? What do developers say?

Both Stripe and Braintree are popular with developers, and the consensus is that they both offer good documentation, extensive libraries, and powerful features.

Braintree’s merchants also praise the company’s customer support — at least, the customers who don’t have a problem with the customer service praise it. It appears the customer service excels on both the technical/developer side and the merchant side.

I also see Stripe get a lot of compliments for its well-designed website and the intuitive user interface in the dashboard.

Let’s call this one a draw.

Final Verdict

When two options are as similar in appearance as Stripe and Braintree, it can be tempting to say “Eeny Meeny Miney Mo!” and point to one and roll with it. But I hope you’ve got a slightly better understanding of where Stripe and Braintree align and where they are very different.

Obviously, the stability of a merchant account can be a major draw, and some businesses won’t want to sacrifice that even if it means spending a bit more on integrations to get features they need.  On the other hand, Stripe has several best-in-class tools that some businesses may find absolutely essential, such as its Billing tools. The risk of an account termination is relatively small so long as your business model is sound, you’re not on the list of prohibited business types, and you take appropriate measures to mitigate the risk of fraudulent transactions and chargebacks.

Both of these companies integrate with some major shopping cart software options, so if you’re looking primarily for an easy way to take payments, you can certainly go that route. But having a developer will really make it possible to harness the full capabilities of both companies.

It’s important that you sit down, make a list of must-have features and a list of “Would be nice” features. If you can’t make a choice based on those criteria, have a discussion about the account stability issue and decide how much risk you’re willing to tolerate. Also consider the customer support that each company offers and the fact that you may end up having to pay more for using some of Stripe’s best features.

Don’t forget to check out our complete Braintree review, as well as our Stripe review, for good measure.

Thanks for reading! I always love to hear from readers, so if you have questions or comments, please leave them below! We’ll be happy to help you!

The post Stripe VS Braintree appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

“”

Stripe VS Square

Stripe VS Square
✓ Products and Services ✓
✓ Compatible Hardware ✓
✓ Fees and Rates ✓
✓ Sales and Advertising Transparency ✓
Customer Service and Technical Support ✓
✓ Negative Reviews and Complaints ✓
✓ Positive Reviews and Testimonials ✓
Tie Final Verdict  Tie
Read Review Read Review
Visit Site Visit Site

Overview

Spend a little bit of time reading up on Stripe (read our review) and Square (read our review) and you’ll start to see the similarities. They’re both giants in the payment industry, media darlings that have transformed the way people pay for things and the way merchants accept payments. They’re both on the leading edge of technology and rely heavily on machine learning to drive their payment processing systems.

Most importantly, both Square and Stripe offer huge assortments of commerce tools that make it easy for merchants to run their businesses. With the various APIs and integrations available, there are almost limitless possibilities for creating a custom system with everything from invoicing to email marketing and more.

But that’s where I stop pointing out the similarities. Once you get past that point, it becomes harder to draw apples-to-apples comparisons because Square’s offerings are much more varied. Square really is an all-in-one processor that can handle in-person and eCommerce payments, as well as inventory management, customer databases, and more. Stripe is more limited to eCommerce, both for websites and for mobile apps, but it has powerful tools for global enterprises, subscription-based businesses, and other online companies.

To keep things fair and within a manageable scope, we’re going to limit the scope of this comparison to each companies’ online and mobile commerce tools. That means, for the most part, we’re not going to look at mPOS apps, POS integrations, appointment booking, or email marketing…except to say if you need them, Square is the better choice.That also means we’ll be ignoring Stripe Atlas, the company’s service for helping international merchants establish themselves in the US.

If you want to sell online and Square and Stripe have made your shortlist, you should start by asking yourself some questions:

  • What features do you absolutely need? Which features aren’t essential, but would be very nice to have?
  • What percentage of your transactions are from outside the US?
  • Do you have a developer or advanced coding knowledge yourself?
  • Do you have limited tech knowledge and need an easy solution?
  • Are you looking for specific integrations?
  • What industry is your business part of?
  • How advanced are your subscription tool needs?

Once you have the answers to these questions, you can sit down and look at each company in more detail. Read on for our comparison of Stripe vs. Square!

Products & Services

Winner: Tie

It’s so important to have a list of must-have features before you set about choosing any sort of payments or eCommerce software because you don’t want to make the decision and then find out that you’re missing a very important function. But it’s also important to think about where you want your business to go and what tools you want to invest in as your business scales up. If you pick the right service, it could mean you never need to switch. But if you don’t think about growth, you may wind up having to make a complicated switchover later in the future once you’ve outgrown a solution.

The good news is that for the most part, Stripe and Square are both very good solutions that scale up as a business grows. It just comes down to in which direction a business wants to grow.

Square Tools and Services for Online Merchants

Square initially stood out among mobile competitors by offering a free webstore to its merchants. Since then, the company has branched out considerably to include eCommerce integrations as well as developer tools. For a more in-depth review of all of Square’s offerings, check out our full review.

  • Online Store: Square’s free online store is very basic. There are only four templates to choose from, and you can only customize portions of the site (such as filling in your business name and address in the footer) in addition to loading your products. This is not a good solution for anyone with a large and diverse inventory, especially if your shipping costs vary significantly or if you’re looking for a particular visual aesthetic.
  • eCommerce Integrations: When you first take a look at Square’s eCommerce offerings, you’ll see that Square very conveniently groups everything by a merchant’s level of technical expertise. I think this is a really helpful approach.

    The easiest integrations are listed on the site and Square lets you know that you can choose from an assortment of templates.

    The intermediate level includes eCommerce integrations that require a bit more work and technical knowledge to get set up.
    Square’s list of integrations includes some of the best shopping cart options, and the list keeps growing. That makes me happy, but if your preferred integration isn’t on the list yet and you do have the technical knowledge (or an eager developer on your payroll), there are more tools at your disposal. You can check out the list of Square integrations in the app marketplace.
  • Developer Tools: Square’s dev tools make it possible for you to create almost any custom integration you could need. For eCommerce, there are two APIs, Checkout and Transactions.  Square Checkout is a premade form that can be dropped into a site with minimal fuss. Using Checkout means merchants are eligible for some perks, like next-day deposits and chargeback protection. The Transaction API, combined with Square’s payment form, is more customizable. Square has other APIs to handle other aspects of commerce, but you’ll find that Square doesn’t readily support in-app payments.
  • Dashboard Reporting: Square’s reporting tools are fairly advanced, especially for a company that started as an mPOS. They’re very popular with merchants who want to know what’s selling and how much they’re processing and need standard business data. The dashboard is actually quite intuitive, as well. However, Square doesn’t allow for a huge amount of customization in reports unless you get into the Reporting API, which allows you to create real-time notifications using webhooks.

Additionally, Square offers the following tools:

  • Advanced Inventory: Square will reconcile online and in-person sales and give you an up-to-date count on your inventory, including low-stock alerts when you hit a specified threshold. Plus, you can bulk upload products and generate SKUs, create variants, and more.
  • Fraud Protection Tools: Square uses machine learning to analyze transactions and identify and flag possible fraudulent transactions.
  • Customer Database: Save customers’ contact information and build a database with records of their purchases so that you can market to them later.
  • Invoicing: Create invoices from within the Square dashboard or from within the mPOS app. Square also allows customers to store their cards to automatically pay invoices (using this Card on File will cost you a bit more). You can also create recurring invoices. However, if you want extensive subscription management tools, you’ll need an integration with a service like Chargify, which will add to your costs.
  • Free Virtual Terminal: If you want to process payments over the phone or you don’t have access to the mPOS, you can use Square’s virtual terminal. Transactions will be processed at the manual entry rate (3.5% + $0.15) rather than the eCommerce rate, but the solution is PCI compliant and is designed for regular use.

All in all, while it’s worth noting that Square really is an omnichannel solution for merchants who want to sell anywhere without needing to build a complicated system of integrations. But it has some shortcomings, especially for digital merchants. Subscription tools are nearly nonexistent, and fraud protection doesn’t compare to the tools Stripe offers. If you want advanced, custom reports, you’ll be better served by Stripe. However, Square’s tools and overall design are incredibly easy to use, especially for business owners who don’t have a lot of technical expertise or a large budget to hire someone. And it has very strong tools for merchants who sell physical products in particular.

Stripe Tools and Services for Online Merchants

Stripe has earned its name as a developer-friendly option, but you can also integrate with a host of third-party apps to accept payments with ease. The company focuses on internet and mobile commerce, but developers have extended Square’s power to include mobile payments and more. Just take note, there’s no free storefront option here. For a more detailed look at different features, check out our complete Stripe review.

  • eCommerce Integrations & Plug-Ins: Stripe outclasses Square in terms of shopping cart integrations by virtue of sheer numbers. In addition to integrations with major eCommerce software providers, developers have created an assortment of plug-ins for businesses operating on WordPress, Magento, and other websites. If you’re not really sure where you start, you might end up doing a lot of research to decide the best course of action, but you can at least take heart in knowing that there’ll be something that will meet your needs. You can check out the full list of eCommerce integrations on Stripe’s “Works With” page.
  • Developer Tools: Stripe is much loved by developers for its flexibility, its extensive documentation and its support for multiple programming languages. Its APIs allow you to create invoices and subscriptions along with many other features.

    Stripe Elements will let you create an entirely custom form with pre-built components; Stripe Checkout generates a pre-built form you can just drop into the site with a few lines of JavaScript. With Stripe, it’s very easy to accept payments on a desktop computer, a mobile site, or within a mobile app. Stripe now even supports 1-touch payments on mobile
  • Stripe Sigma: Stripe offers your standard user dashboard with some general sales reports at no charge. But if your business is heavily data-driven, Sigma’s customizable reporting is the perfect solution for you: you can generate reports based on SQL queries. This is pretty cool, and it’s a great way to make sure that anyone on your team can get the reports they need without creating an information bottleneck. Pricing is based on a sliding scale rather than a set additional monthly see.

Stripe’s additional tools include:

  • Stripe Billing: Stripe’s subscription tools are industry-leading, with the ability to charge clients based on a recurring quantity or metered usage, to set free trial periods, and much more. You can also create invoices or set up recurring billing tools. However, new businesses will pay a small additional charge per transaction to use these tools.
  • Stripe Radar: Stripe makes a big deal of its fraud monitoring tools, bundled under the very-apt name Radar. The system uses machine learning and a host of criteria to analyze every transaction and decide whether it is legitimate or possibly fraudulent. Radar also lets merchants set custom criteria for rejecting transactions and review flagged transactions to decide whether to accept or reject them.
  • Marketplace Tools: Merchants who want to operate a marketplace can use Stripe to build the platform. Stripe’s marketplace tools are grouped under the moniker “Stripe Connect.”
  • Multiple Currency Displays & Dynamic Currency Conversion: These tools are a major reason why Stripe is such a powerful tool for global businesses. Whereas Stripe will automatically convert transactions to USD (usually at the cost of a fee to the cardholder), Stripe will allow you to display prices in local currencies based on where the customer is located. Stripe then automatically converts them for the merchant, charging a small markup over the exchange rate. This makes a business more appealing to international customers.

There’s no doubt that Stripe is very powerful. It can handle all sorts of payments, from digital subscriptions to retail goods. It’s one of the best solutions for global businesses with its currency tools. But it does have some limitations. If you plan to sell across multiple channels, there’s no option for in-person payments unless you have an integration like Flint Mobile (read our review), but it’s still more costly than other mPOS options. There’s no virtual terminal, either. While Stripe does allow you to manually enter a transaction if all else fails, it’s a last resort rather than a tool to be used on the regular because of PCI compliance issues.

Stripe’s inventory tools aren’t on the level of Square. They’re powerful, but if you want advanced inventory management, you’ll need to tack on an integration. I also don’t think that Stripe’s inventory tools are even half as intuitive as Square’s. But I think part of that is Stripe’s focus on online payments and tools for digital merchants, compared to Square’s omnichannel approach.

All in all, it’s really hard to say one of these companies is inherently better than the other. Both have a good assortment of integrations for shopping carts and other tools, though Stripe has a greater number of supported integrations. If you want ease of use, especially if you sell physical goods,  Square is the standout option. But if you need flexibility, robust tools, and advanced data, Stripe is the better choice. So it ultimately comes down to your business’ needs.

Fees & Rates

Winner: Tie

I am happy to say that pricing for both Square and Stripe is mostly straightforward:

  • 2.9% + $0.30 per online card transaction

There are no monthly fees, no monthly minimums, no statement fees. That’s very nice to see.

I do want to point out that Square charges different rates for its card-present and keyed transactions (2.7% and 3.5% + $0.15, respectively). However, invoices process at the same rate as eCommerce transactions unless you’re using Card on File, which process at the keyed transaction rate.

Square also has no chargeback fees, which is very unusual. Not only that, but the company has rolled out Chargeback Protection, which will cover the actual chargeback costs on qualifying disputes up to $250 per month. This doesn’t apply to merchants who use the Transactions API, but it is available for those who use Stripe Checkout.

You can get volume discounts if you process above $250k per year AND have an average ticket size exceeding $15. That’s a mark in Square’s favor for large businesses. However, nonprofits don’t get any sort of special discount, which you can often find with other processors.

Stripe’s pricing has become a tiny bit more complicated. In addition to card transactions processed at 2.9% + $0.30, you can also accept ACH transactions for 0.8%, capped at $5 maximum.

The base fee per transaction is simple. And for each chargeback, Stripe will assess a $15 fee, unless the chargeback is decided in your favor. In that case, you’ll pay absolutely nothing.

Stripe’s subscription tools, lumped under the name “Stripe Billing” along with invoicing, will cost you a small percentage fee (between 0.04% and 0.07%) on top of your transaction.

Existing Stripe merchants are grandfathered out of this new pricing. Large businesses will actually pay the higher 0.7% markup, but it seems Stripe has compromised by offering lower transaction fees.

You’ll also pay a monthly fee for access to Stripe Sigma. The cost is a sliding scale based on the number of transactions you process each month, which is a great way for very small businesses to still get crucial data. But for a company that built its reputation on not charging any fees beyond transaction processing, it’s a little bit disappointing to see that model disappearing. You can estimate your cost with Stripe’s tool.

Stripe does offer enterprise pricing for very large businesses, and some nonprofits may be eligible for a special rate. Stripe doesn’t make any promises about nonprofit pricing apart from “let us know and we’ll see what we can do.” So you shouldn’t assume it’s guaranteed.

With Stripe, you may also be able to negotiate for micro-transaction rates. Whereas per-transaction fees like the $0.30 Stripe and Square charge can eat up fees from small transactions (less than $10 in particular), micro-transaction rates typically include a higher percentage and a lower per-transaction fee that can save merchants money. This is ideal for anyone who sells digital goods and other low-cost items.

Because it’s something offered as part of a custom package, Stripe may not offer this deal to everyone. If you’re unable to get a micro-transaction plan from Stripe, it might be worth looking at a third option — PayPal (read our review) — instead. The 5% + $0.05 fee could save you quite a bit of money in the long run.

All in all, Stripe and Square are fairly evenly matched in pricing. Some merchants might enjoy the lack of chargeback fees and included chargeback protection that Square offers. But Stripe might be a bigger draw for other companies, despite the additional charges for using its subscription tools or Sigma reporting.

Contract Length & Cancellation

Winner: Tie 

Both Stripe and Square offer pay-as-you-go processing with no locked-in contracts or early termination fees. It really is that simple. Stripe will even help you transfer your customer data to another processor in a PCI compliant way.

If you’re using any of Square’s monthly services in addition to eCommerce processing, you can get a free 30-day trial, and then if you choose to continue with the service, you can cancel at any time. Square doesn’t bill annually for those services the way many SaaS providers do. (Conversely, you also don’t get any discounts for paying annually, either.)

Sales & Advertising Transparency

Winner: Tie 

One of the reasons I like pay-as-you-go processors is that they are, on the whole, very upfront and transparent. They tend to not have extensive sales teams, and if they do have a sales team, they’re all in-house. They’re very clear about their pricing and terms, and they’re applied fairly to all merchants.

Square and Stripe both fit this pattern to a T. You won’t see reports of misleading sales pitches or rates not as promised here, which is always nice to see. You can find Stripe’s terms of service on the site, both the general user agreement and the Stripe Payments agreement. Like Stripe, Square has separate agreements applying to general use, payments, and other services. I do recommend you be cautious and check that your business doesn’t fall on either list of “prohibited businesses,” because that’s an easy path to account termination.

Overall, I’m really happy with both companies in this category, and you shouldn’t have any worries about whether you’re being told the truth or whether you’ll pay what you were quoted.

Customer Service & Technical Support

Winner: Square

I think it’s fairly clear that Square outshines Stripe in terms of its customer support — both in quality and in the number of channels available.

Square offers merchants phone and email support, as well as an extensive knowledgebase. That’s pretty typical of any processor, but on top of that, Square operates the Seller Community, a community forum about all-things Square.

 

You can get answers from other Square merchants as well as from Square support reps. It’s a pretty powerful tool. But on top of that, Square’s team monitors Stack Overflow for questions about Square products and responds to them.

And that’s not even talking about Square’s dedicated Twitter support handle (@SqSupport), or the developer portal and documentation.

I can’t say that Square customer support is all sunshine and rainbows, because I do see customer complaints about the quality. However, without a doubt the biggest complaint about the quality of customer support comes from merchants whose accounts have been terminated. In that case, Square cuts off access to phone support and will only communicate via email. This is unfortunate and I don’t know if it’s actually a good solution. But I am sure part of the reason to reduce the odds of a customer support rep saying something they shouldn’t, and to prevent support resources from being tied up dealing with complaints from terminated merchants whose accounts won’t be reinstated.

Stripe is more limited in its support options. Its primary support channel is email. However, Stripe also operates an IRC Freenode chat (#Stripe) that developers may find useful. There’s no dedicated social media support with Stripe, but you can follow the general @Stripe twitter feed.

Stripe also maintains a self-service knowledgebase, though I don’t think it’s as extensive or detailed as Square’s. But I will say that Stripe’s documentation is pretty legendary, and so it’s going to be one of the best resources you can get.  You can also find questions about Stripe on Stack Overflow, but I am not able to ascertain whether Stripe’s team is active on the forum at all the way that Square is.

I do see comments from merchants that the support is pretty good. But I also see a lot of complaints from frustrated merchants about the lack of phone support. That complaint has actually become one of the biggest marks against Stripe. I’ve seen one mention that Stripe might be rolling out phone support to “select merchants” (presumably high-value clients). However, take this with a grain of salt. I wasn’t able to verify it through any sort of authoritative source.

Negative Reviews & Complaints

Winner: Tie

As far as complaints go, the single biggest issue for both Square and Stripe is a common one:

  • Account Holds And Terminations: This is unsurprising (understatement of the year, right there) because it’s a common issue with any third-party processor. Because these payment systems are usually open to almost anyone right away and they are all lumped into one large merchant account, there’s a greater risk that some of those accounts will be terminated for risky behavior. There’s very little scrutiny done before a sub-account with one of these processors is approved, which stands in contrast to merchant accounts, where the processing company will do a lot of underwriting and investigation before approving your application. Both Square and Stripe use a lot of machine learning to analyze transactions and flag suspicious behaviors. This potential for account holds or terminations is universal — you will encounter it with any third-party processor. If you want to avoid it, your only alternative is to seek out a traditional merchant account.

The other big complaint that I see with both is also a pretty common one:

  • Poor Customer Support: If I’m honest, reports about the quality of customer service conflict. But because of how common the complaints are, I’m listing it here. With Stripe, the most common issues are the lack of phone support and slow response times for email. With Square, a lot of the complaints about poor customer service come from terminated merchants, but I’ve seen a few complaints about slow or unhelpful email responses.

Additional frequent complaints about Stripe include:

  • Lack Of Fraud Protection: I want to be clear: Stripe does have fraud management tools and a system to help merchants fight chargebacks. But I have seen complaints from merchants who don’t think these are adequate. Chargebacks are not settled by Stripe, so there’s not much the company can do beyond pass the requested documents on. But for fraud prevention, merchants need to make sure they have the appropriate tools enabled.
  • Not User-Friendly: There’s a lot of testimonials from users (especially developers) who really like Stripe and find it simple to set up. There are plenty of others who disagree with that idea. I’m inclined to think most people with a decent technical backing will get along fine with Stripe, but for some people, especially those with less technical knowledge, it’s not going to be a good choice.

For Square, there is one other common complaint:

  • Lack of advanced features: It’s not that Square doesn’t have enough features, or that it’s missing anything important. The complaints about Square often focus on the lack of very particular advanced features that you typically find in full-scale POS systems. In this case, I think Square’s lack of extensive subscription tools would fit the bill. Some merchants have been upset for quite a while over the lack of Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) reporting. Square added this feature with its Square for Retail app, but not for online sales or its free POS. Square has some very powerful reporting tools, but in the end, they won’t hold a candle to Stripe’s Sigma offering.

I think, yet again, that the two companies are pretty evenly matched in this category. The largest complaints are identical, and that’s because they’re the same complaints we see with third-party processors. To be entirely honest, poor customer service is a common complaint across the entire payments industry. It’s frustrating, for sure. But you can take steps to better inform yourself — read our article on how to prevent holds, freezes, and account terminations. And please take reports of poor customer service with a grain of salt, because I see conflicting accounts there.

Positive Reviews & Testimonials

Winner: Tie

As media darlings, both Stripe and Square have gotten lots of press. They’re both lauded for the way they’ve transformed payments.

I usually feel a little bit silly comparing two businesses in this category because it almost feels like a bit of a popularity contest. But in this case, we’re dealing with two companies who have both gotten a LOT of positive press over the years, not to mention high-profile clients. And the bits of each service that merchants love most are pretty similar, too.

Square merchants love how easy the service is to use. And I tend to agree — Square is one of the most intuitive options out there as far as payments and using the dashboard. Merchants also really like the predictable pricing and lack of fees. Other than that, the integrated invoicing feature and the seamless omnichannel commerce experience are big draws.

Stripe also wins merchants over with its pricing, and its tools are very much loved by developers. While if you don’t have a lot of technical knowledge, Stripe may feel foreign to you, developers say it’s incredibly easy to use. Also on the dev side of things, it seems like the quality of customer service is great, even if business owners don’t always like the lack of phone support. And unsurprisingly, merchants really seem to love Stripe’s robust subscription tools. The predictable pricing and lack of monthly fees are also appealing.

Final Verdict

Winner: Tie

Stripe and Square have some very important core similarities: they’re both third-party processors with an assortment of tools that allow merchants to sell online. Neither one is suited to high-risk industries, and there’s a lengthy list of businesses neither company can work with. But despite that, both Stripe and Square offer tools that cater to a huge assortment of industries. They’ll both grow with your business, making it easy to scale up.

But despite their similarities in terms of business model, it’s also pretty clear that what each company does best is completely different.

Square is a spectacular all-in-one processor. You can sell in a store, on the go, and online and get all of your information and payments and orders collected in one simply, intuitive dashboard. There’s a huge array of add-on products that allow you consolidate a host of business functions under one name, and they’re guaranteed to work together perfect. eCommerce support is really the newest branch of Square’s offerings, and it’s a work in progress as the company establishes more partnerships and integrations with other major players.

If you have limited technical knowledge, Square is going to be much easier to get started with and to navigate through the different features. It’s free advanced inventory tools are also very well suited to retailers and other businesses that sell primarily physical goods.

Stripe focuses only on Internet payments (both on the web and in-app), but its tools make it possible for businesses to cater to customers all over the globe. The international appeal — from the local currency displays to the sheer breadth of payment methods accepted — make it clear that Stripe is already a global player.Not only that, but with Stripe’s APIs and documentation, a savvy developer could create all kinds of payments platforms for a business. Business owners who don’t have a developer on staff, and who don’t have a lot of technical knowledge themselves, might struggle with understanding how to use Stripe, especially if you want to do anything more than integrate it with some sort of shopping cart software.

You also get a far more limited scope of features. There’s no native support for omnichannel commerce. No mPOS app, no POS integration to support card-present pricing, no invoicing. If you need more than online payments on a regular basis, Stripe isn’t a suitable choice. But if that’s all you need, Stripe isn’t just a good option — it’s one of the best out there, period. If your business has a global reach, again you’ll find that Stripe once again tops the lists of best solutions.

I’m not comfortable saying that one of these solutions is better than the other because it really comes down to what your priorities are. Do you need something easy to use? Do you want to embrace multiple sales channels? Or are you limited to online sales and want best-in-class tools to reach a global audience, manage subscriptions, and even drive mobile commerce? Square can get the job done, and it’ll be the easier solution, but Stripe offers far more tools.

Sit down, think about what features are absolutely mandatory for you to have — and then look at which ones you’d like to have, but aren’t necessarily required. From there, it should be fairly clear which solution is right for you! Don’t forget to check out our complete reviews of Stripe and Square for more insights into how they function.

Have questions? Leave us a comment and we’ll help! Have experience using either of these tools? We’d love to hear from you.

As always, thanks for reading!

The post Stripe VS Square appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

“”

The Best Business Credit Cards For Travel

It can be really hard to be a road warrior. Frequent business travelers have to constantly endure the hassles of modern travel, including security lines, flight delays, and cramped airline seats, but they do it because it’s necessary to build and maintain client relationships or to further other company goals.

If there’s one tool that can make business travel a lot easier for you and your employees, it’s a small business card. The right small business credit card can offer travelers incredibly valuable benefits. For example, some cards will offer credits towards the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck applications, allowing you to skip the lines at security and immigration. A small business credit card can also grant you priority boarding, a free checked bag, and other airline perks. Finally, small business credit cards can offer you valuable points or miles that can be redeemed for travel rewards by you, your family, or even your employees.

Choosing The Right Small Business Card For Travel

The credit card industry is competitive, and there are many cards targeted at business travelers. To select the right card for your needs, you have to decide which features and benefits will be most valuable to you.

Travelers who are loyal to a particular airline will certainly appreciate the brand specific perks offered by hotel and airline credit cards. However, the reward miles you earn can only be redeemed for flights on that airline and its partners. And unfortunately, airlines have a habit of regularly adjusting their award charts to make their miles less valuable. Likewise, a hotel rewards credit cards can offer benefits such as room upgrades, late checkouts, and even free breakfast. But once again, the rewards you earn can only be used within that hotel chain.

Those who consider themselves “free agents” will often prefer the non-affiliate credit cards. Many of these travel reward cards offer points that can be transferred to airline miles or hotel points with several different programs, or can be used to book travel reservations directly with the card issuer’s designated travel agency.

Co-Branded Business Cards

Credit cards that are co-branded with airlines and hotels can offer the best travel benefits. For example, airline credit cards offer benefits — like priority boarding, free checked bags and credit towards elite status — when you travel on a certain carrier.

 

JetBlue Business Card from Barclaycard
 
Annual Fee $99
APR Variable, 17.24% or 21.24%
Signup Bonus 30,000 points
Rewards 6 pts./$1 spent on JetBlue purchases
2 pts./$1 spent at restaurant and office supply stores
1 pt./$1 on all other purchases
Visit Site

JetBlue has attracted a loyal following among business travelers who appreciate its low prices, great service, and strong rewards program. This card offers new applicants 30,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on new purchases within 90 days of account opening. You also earn 6x points on JetBlue purchases, 2x points at restaurants and office supply stores and one point per dollar spent elsewhere. Rewards don’t expire, and there are no blackout dates with this program.

Benefits include 10% of your points back every time you redeem, and the first bag checked free for yourself and up to three companions. You’ll be given 5,000 bonus miles each year on your account anniversary. You also receive TrueBlue Mosaic elite status when you use your card to spend $50,000 or more in a calendar year and a 50% savings on in-flight food and beverage purchases. There’s a $99 annual fee for this card and no foreign transaction fees.

Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card from American Express
Annual Fee $450
APR Variable, 16.99% 25.99%
Signup Bonus 40,000 miles
10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles
Rewards 2 pts./$1 for Delta purchases
1 pt./$1 on all other purchases
Visit Site

This card offers several exclusive benefits when flying on Delta. You start with the chance to earn 40,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you make $3,000 in purchases on your new card within three months of account opening. This card also offers you 2x miles on all Delta purchases and one mile per dollar spent elsewhere. The Miles Boost gives you the chance to earn 15,000 MQMs and 15,000 bonus miles after you spend $30,000 within a calendar year, and another 15,000 MQMs and 15,000 bonus miles once you reach a total of $60,000 in spending during the same year.

Other benefits include complimentary Delta SkyClub access, priority boarding, and a 20% savings on in-flight saving purchases. You also receive a companion certificate each year (upon renewal) that’s good for a free companion ticket (not including taxes) on a round-trip flight in economy or business class within the contiguous 48 states. Finally, this card offers you upgrade priority over other travelers with the same Medallion status who aren’t cardholders. There’s a $450 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.

United MileagePlus Club Business Card from Chase
Annual Fee $450
APR Variable, 17.24% – 24.24%
Signup Bonus 40,000 miles
Rewards 2 pts./$1 for United purchases
1.5 pts./$1 on all other purchases
Visit Site

This premium travel rewards card offers both impressive rewards and benefits when traveling on United. New applicants receive a $100 statement credit after their first purchase and earn 2x miles on all United Airlines purchases. But one of the things that makes this card truly remarkable is the 1.5x miles earned on all other purchases — 50% more than you’ll get from any other airline credit card.

This card also comes with a variety of cardholder benefits that are equal to or better than most other airline cards. First, you receive a United Club airport lounge membership that’s valid for yourself and your immediate family, or up to two guests. When traveling, you also receive Premier Access travel services, which includes priority check-in, security screening, boarding and baggage handling. You’ll get two free checked bags for yourself and a traveling companion, as well as expanded award availability, a waiver of close-in award booking fees on United tickets, and the ability to receive Premier upgrades on award tickets.

Other travel benefits include Discoverist Status with Hyatt and President’s Circle Elite status with Hertz car rentals. There’s a $450 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.

CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®
Annual Fee $95 ($0 the first year)
APR Variable, 16.99% – 24.99%
Signup Bonus 60,000 miles
Rewards 2 pts./$1 for American Airlines purchases, gas stations, and some phone and car rental services
1 pt./$1 on all other purchases
Visit Site

This small business card offers strong benefits when traveling on American Airlines. You start with the chance to earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within three months of account opening. You also earn 2x miles on all American Airlines purchases and one mile per dollar spent elsewhere.

Benefits include preferred boarding, a free checked bag, and a companion certificate each year when you use your card to spend $30,000 or more. There’s a $95 annual fee for this card (waived the first year) and no foreign transaction fees.

Starwood Preferred Guest Business Card from American Express
 
Annual Fee $95 ($0 the first year)
APR Variable, 16.49% 20.49%
Signup Bonus 25,000 points
Rewards 5 pts./$1 spent at eligible SPG hotels
2 pts./$1 spent at eligible Marriott hotels
1 pt./$1 on all other purchases
Visit Site

This small business card has a loyal following among award travel enthusiasts, primarily due to the strength of the Starwood Preferred Guest program. New cardholders can earn 25,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 on new purchases within three months of account opening. This card offers up to five points per dollar spent at Starwood hotels, 2x points at participating Marriott Rewards hotels, and one point per dollar spent elsewhere.

Points can be redeemed for free nights at Starwood and Marriott Rewards properties or can be converted to miles with over 30 different frequent flyer programs. When you redeem four consecutive award nights, you get the fifth night free, and if you transfer 20,000 points to miles, you get a 5,000-mile bonus. Other benefits include free access to the Sheraton Club lounges and a chance to earn Gold Elite status by spending $30,000 on your card in a calendar year. There’s a $95 annual fee (waived the first year) and no foreign transaction fees.

Hilton Honors American Express Business card
 
Annual Fee $95
APR Variable, 16.99% – 25.99%
Signup Bonus 100,000 points
Rewards 12 pts./$1 spent at Hilton hotels and resorts
6 pts./$1 spent on gas stations, wireless phone services, shipping, restaurants, flights booked via AmexTravel.com, and car rentals
3 pts./$1 on all other purchases
Visit Site

This card offers up to 100,000 Hilton Honors points as a sign-up bonus, and complimentary Gold status. New accounts can earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 within three months of account opening, and another 25,000 points after spending an additional $1,000 within the first six months. You also earn 12x points for purchases from Hilton hotels and resorts, and 6x points for purchases at US gas stations, on wireless telephone services from US service providers, and on US purchases for shipping. You also earn 6x points at US restaurants, on flights booked through AmexTravel.com, and on rental cars booked directly from select rental car companies.

Benefits include complimentary Gold elite status (room upgrades, points bonuses, and even free breakfast at some properties). You can upgrade to Diamond status after using your card to spend $40,000 in a calendar year. You also get a free weekend night reward when you spend $15,000 on your card during a calendar year, and a second weekend night reward when you reach 60,000 in purchases within the same calendar year. You’ll receive 10 free Priority Pass airport lounge visits valid at over 1,000 locations around the world. There’s a $95 annual fee for this card (waived the first year) and no foreign transaction fees.

Unaffiliated Business Cards

Credit cards that aren’t affiliated with specific travel providers offer much more flexible travel rewards and benefits, while lacking perks with specific airlines and hotels.

Ink Preferred Card from Chase
Annual Fee $95
APR Variable, 17.24% – 22.24%
Signup Bonus 80,000 points
Rewards 3 pts./$1 for travel; shipping; internet, cable, and phone; and social media and search engine advertising (up to $150,000 per year)
1 pt./$1 on all other purchases
Visit Site

This card offers you valuable Ultimate Rewards points and numerous cardholder benefits. New accounts can earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 on purchases within three months of account opening. You also earn 3x points on your first $150,000 spent each account anniversary year in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, and on advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines. You also earn one point per dollar spent elsewhere.

Points are earned in Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program and can be redeemed for 1.25 cents towards travel reservations booked through Chase. Or, you can convert your points to miles with nine different airline programs or points with four different hotel programs. Other benefits include trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance, cell phone protection, purchase protection and extended warranty coverage. There’s a $95 annual fee for this card and no foreign transaction fees.

American Express Business Platinum
 
Annual Fee $450
APR Charge card, no interest
Signup Bonus 75,000 points
Rewards 5 pts./$1 spent on flights and prepaid hotels booked via AmexTravel.com
1.5 pts./$1 spent on purchases of $5,000 or more
1 pt./$1 on all other purchases
Visit Site

The business version of American Express’s premium rewards card offers many valuable cardholder benefits. New applicants receive up to 75,000 bonus points, including 50,000 points after spending $10,000 within three months of account opening and another $25,000 points after spending an additional $10,000 during the same three month period. You also earn one point per dollar spent on all purchases, with a 50% bonus on purchases greater than $5,000. Points can be redeemed for travel reservations with a 35% bonus on airline reservations. You can also convert your points to miles with 16 different frequent flyer programs.

Benefits include a $200 annual airline fee credit and a $100 credit towards the application fee for the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck applications. You also receive access to the Delta SkyClubs lounges, Priority Pass Select lounges, and American Express Centurion lounges. There’s a $450 annual fee for this card and no foreign transaction fees.

American Express Blue Business Plus
Annual Fee $0
APR Variable, 12.49% – 20.49% (0% APR for the first 15 months)
Signup Bonus None
Rewards 2 pts./$1 spent on all purchases (up to $50,000 per year)
1 pt./$1 on purchases after $50,000
Visit Site

This is a simple card that substitutes superior rewards for other cardholder benefits. You earn 2x rewards on all purchases up to $50,000 per calendar year. Points are earned in the same Membership Rewards program that the Platinum card offers, but this card has no annual fee. It still comes with cardholder benefits such as extended warranty coverage and a purchase protection plan. However, it does have a 2.7% foreign transaction fee.

Spark Miles Card from Capital One
Annual Fee $95 ($0 the first year)
APR Variable, 18.24%
Signup Bonus 50,000 miles
Rewards 2 miles/$1 on all eligible purchases
Visit Site

This is a straightforward travel rewards card, offering miles you can redeem for any travel reservation. New accounts receive 50,000 bonus miles, worth $500 in travel, once you spend $4,500 on new purchases within three months of account opening. You earn 2x miles on every purchase, with no limits. To redeem your miles, simply purchase travel the way you normally would, and then use your miles for one cent each as statement credits.

Benefits include purchase protection and extended warranty coverage as well as numerous travel and shopping discounts offered by the Visa Signature program. There’s a $95 annual fee for this card (waived the first year) and no foreign transaction fees.

The post The Best Business Credit Cards For Travel appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

“”