Top 10 Business Credit Cards for Travel Rewards: September 2018


Applying for business credit and charge cards is a great way to earn more miles and points than you already do, but many people don’t apply for business cards because they incorrectly believe they don’t qualify.

You don’t need to have employees, nor does your business need to be profitable. You can use your social security number instead of an EIN on the application. Your business doesn’t even need to have it’s own name or separate address from your personal one!

Sell things on Etsy? Ebay? Bake sales? Yard sales? Those are legitimate businesses to open a business credit card for.

Last year I opened a Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Business Credit Card under my own name and social (not with a business name nor EIN) for the purpose of organizing spending involved with selling items on ebay.
Last year I opened a Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Business Credit Card under my own name and social (not with a business name nor EIN) for the purpose of organizing spending involved with selling items on ebay.

Learn more in How to Get Approved for Business Credit Cards.

And just because you have a consumer version of a credit card does not mean you can’t get the business version of the same card. If a co-branded card is available for consumers and businesses, they are generally considered separate products in terms of card eligibility. For example, if you have the Delta Gold Amex card–the consumer version–you can still open and receive the bonus on a Delta Gold Business Amex.

Apply for business cards if you’re trying to get back under 5/24

Another interesting prospect of business credit cards is that they don’t count towards your Chase 5/24 limit. The Chase 5/24 rule means that if you have opened five credit cards from any issuing bank in the last 24 months, Chase will not approve you for the majority of their credit cards.

Luckily, business cards are exception to this rule–so if you’re trying to fly under the 5/24 limit or get back under it, you can apply for most business cards without affecting your total. Why’s that? Business credit cards from the majority of issuing banks are not considered in your Chase 5/24 count because they do not show up as new accounts on your personal credit report. The only banks’ business cards that do show up on your personal credit card are those issued by Barclay’s and Capital One.

There are even enough data points out there now that I can pretty confidently say that Chase doesn’t count their own business cards in your 5/24 total.

Credit Card links have been removed from posts and added to the menu bar at the top of every page of MileValue under the heading Top Credit Cards.

Without further ado, here are what I think are ten of the most lucrative business credit cards/offers on the market right now.

1. Ink Business Preferred

The Ink Preferred is a business card that offers 80,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months. Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to United, British Airways, Singapore, Korean, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, and more.

The Ink Preferred earns 3x points on travel; shipping; internet, cable, and phone services; and search engine or social network advertising and 1x points on everything else.

You’ll also get up to $500 in coverage per claim in cell phone protection against theft or damage for you and your employees (for every cell who’s bill you with the Ink Preferred).

The $95 annual fee is not waived.

2. Ink Business Cash Card

For no annual fee, this card is dressed to impress. The 50,000 Ultimate Rewards bonus you’ll get for spending $3,000 within three months of opening the Ink Business Cash card and its category bonuses make this card worth your attention, especially if you have a more premium Chase card to pair with it.

While the Ink Business Cash is marketed as a cash back card–that earns $500 cash back after meeting the minimum spending requirement–what you’re actually earning is 50,000 Ultimate Rewards. If redeemed directly from your Ink Business Cash account, then they are only worth 1 cent each. But if you have a Sapphire Reserve, Preferred, or Ink Business Preferred, then you can transfer those Ultimate rewards earned by the Ink Business Cash (or the Freedom or Freedom Unlimited, for that matter) to your other Chase account and they magically turn into the kind of Ultimate Rewards that can be transferred to airline loyalty programs. This increases their value to somewhere around 2 cents each (meaning 50k Ultimate Rewards would be worth around $1,000 instead of $500).

You’ll earn…

  • 5 Ultimate Rewards per dollar on the first $25,000 in purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services.
  • 2 Ultimate Rewards per dollar on the first $25,000 in purchases at gas stations and restaurants

If you have a Sapphire Reserve, Preferred, or Ink Business Preferred, then I highly recommend scooping up this card for it’s (higher than usual) 50k bonus, and the earning potential with that 5x category bonus in business specific expenses.

3. Ink Business Unlimited

Chase’s newest addition to their lineup of Ultimate Reward-earning credit cards, the Ink Business Unlimited offers a sign up bonus of $500 cash back for spending $3,000 within three months of account opening. Just like the Ink Business Cash, however, if you also hold a Sapphire Reserve, Preferred, or Ink Business Preferred, then you can transfer those Ultimate rewards earned by the Ink Business Unlimited to your other Chase account and they magically turn into the kind of Ultimate Rewards that can be transferred to airline loyalty programs, increasing their value dramatically.

What’s also pretty appealing about this card, which is the business counterpart to Chase’s Freedom Unlimited consumer card, is that it will earn 1.5x on ALL purchases with no cap. That’s a great return (especially if you can transfer those Ultimate Rewards to a more valuable account) for no annual fee. Like the Freedom Unlimited, this card charges big foreign transaction fees so it won’t be a good option to use when traveling.

4. Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express

The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express Open now comes with 50,000 bonus Membership Rewards after spending $5,000 on your card in the first three months the account is open.

The normal offer for the Business Gold Rewards Card is 25k Membership Rewards after spending $5,000. This improved offer is twice is good as it was before, and the best we’ve seen in years. Since you can only earn the sign-up bonus from a publicly available American Express card offer once per lifetime, that is significant when we say it’s the best sign up bonus we’ve seen in years.

It also has customizable category bonuses with unique options to choose from and the annual fee is waived the first year. You’ll get 3x Membership Rewards on one category of your choice out of the following five choices…

  • Airfare purchased directly from airlines
  • U.S. purchases for advertising in select media
  • U.S. purchases at gas stations
  • U.S. purchases for shipping
  • U.S. computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers

…2X Membership Rewards on the four remaining categories, and 1 Membership Reward per dollar spent on all other purchases. Read a full breakdown of the Business Gold Rewards card here.

5. CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World MasterCard

The Citi / AAdvantage card comes with 70,000 American Airlines bonus miles after making $4,000 in purchases within 3 months of opening the account. Benefits include:

  • Free checked bag on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and four companions
  • Preferred Boarding on American Airlines flights (this means after Business/First/elite passengers and before economy)
  • 25% discount on in-flight food and beverage purchases on American Airlines flights
  • Double AA miles on eligible American Airlines and telecommunications purchases, car rental merchants and at gas stations
  • If you spend $30,000 in a year on the card, you also get a $99 companion certificate for use within the continental United States.
  • Access to American Airlines’ domestic Reduced Mileage Awards
  • No foreign transaction fees

The annual fee of $95 is waived the first year. 

6. Business Platinum from American Express Open

While not unusual for business cards, the minimum spending requirement on the Business Platinum is rather high–$10,000 within three months of opening the card will get you 50,000 Membership Rewards, and an additional $10,000 in spend will earn you an additional 25k Membership Rewards within the same three month period. A 75k bonus is a big chunk of points though. I don’t recommend manufacturing spend on Amex cards, as they are known for clawing back points for that kind of behavior. If you can manage the spending organically, you’ll be getting about a 9.5% return on spend (using my valuation of Membership Rewards which is 2 cents each).

The card comes with many of the same valuable perks that the personal Platinum does, like $200 in airline incidental fee credits every cardmember year (but not $200 in Uber credit). You’ll also get some unique benefits like 5x points on airfare and hotels booked through the Amex travel portal and 35% points rebate when paying with Membership Rewards for travel booked through the Amex travel portal. The rebate applies to one designated airline when buying economy tickets, but any airline when purchasing premium cabin tickets.

The annual fee is $100 cheaper than the personal card’s at $450/year instead of $550.

7. Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express

The SPG Business Card comes with a brand new, limited-time 100,000 bonus points offer for spending $5,000 within three months of account opening. That offer expires October 31, 2018.

The points can be used for free nights at Marriotts and SPG properties, or (as of August 18) transferred to 45 different airline loyalty programs…practically all in existence. Points transfer to airline partners 3:1, and you get 5k bonus miles for each increment of 60k points transferred, so 75k Marriott Rewards = 31,000 of almost any airline mile. While 31k miles doesn’t sound like a great bonus, the fact that you can top off nearly any program you’d need to for an award is extremely valuable.

Category bonuses include 6 points per dollar spent at Marriott or SPG properties, 4 points per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers, and on U.S. purchases for shipping, and 2 points for every dollar spent otherwise.

Other benefits:

  • A free night award  after each account anniversary to spend at any property that costs up to 35,000 points
  • Automatic Silver Elite status as it grants 15 elite credit nights each calendar year
  • Starting in 2019: spend $35,000 on the card within a calendar year and qualify for Gold Elite Status

The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year.

Applying for this card will impact your eligibility for other current and future Marriott-family cards, so plan accordingly.

8. Gold Delta SkyMiles Business from Amex

Through September 19, the Delta Gold Business card is offering 60,000 bonus Delta miles for spending $3,000 within four months of account opening.  

You’ll earn 2 miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases, get a free checked bag on Delta reservations, priority boarding, and 20% off inflight purchases. This card does not charge foreign transaction fees and the $95 annual fee is waived the first year.

This is exactly the same offer as the consumer version of the Gold Delta Amex.

For the first year no annual fee will be charged. Thereafter the card costs $95 a year.

9. Blue Business Plus from American Express

 The Blue Business Plus from American Express come with a small sign up bonus, 10,000 Membership Rewards for spending $3,00 in three months, but the fact that it earns 2 Membership Rewards per dollar spent on ALL kinds of purchases makes it the best small business credit card for non-bonused spending available. Since I value Membership Rewards at 2 cents each, that’s like getting a 4% return on everything–up to the first $50,000 in spending per year. After that you’ll earn 1x. 

If you have lots of spending power that wouldn’t otherwise earn a higher category bonus on another card, then the Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express is a fantastic option for you.

10. Capital One Spark Miles for Business

The Capital One Spark Miles for Business Card comes with 50,000 “miles” after spending $3,000 on the card in the first three months. I called the card’s rewards “miles” because they’re not like traditional airline miles, but rather are redeemed for 1 cent each toward any travel expense. The bonus plus the spending it takes to get there will earn you $560 in travel credit. Learn more about the Capital One Spark Miles for Business Card.

You’ll earn 2 of these “miles” per dollar spent on everything you charge to the card.

With the Capital One Spark Miles for Business, you don’t even have to wait to meet the minimum spending requirement to earn miles for redemption as redemption happens retroactively on purchases. Open the card, put your travel expenses on it, and once you do meet the requirement and earn your bonus miles, you can redeem them retroactively for a statement credit as long as your purchase was within the last 90 days.

These kind of “miles” are great for covering cheaper tickets, generally domestic flights, that are too cheap to merit redemption of traditional airline miles.

The Capital One Spark Miles for Business does not charge foreign transaction fees.

Before rushing to sign up for new cards, remember to take into account that some miles are better than others for getting to specific destinations–not to mention issuing bank rules concerning eligibility if you’ve had rewards cards in the past.

  • If you need help deciding which card is the right one for you, try our Free Credit Card Consultation Service. We’re happy to help guide you in the right direction towards effectively and efficiently collecting the appropriate rewards.
  • Need help redeeming your miles efficiently? Try our Award Booking Service. You send us your goal and current balances, and we do the work making sure your miles are stretched just as far as possible.

Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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  1. Sarah, I think the Blue Business Plus is giving 10K right now. I got the card between the 20K and 10K offers. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. The Bus. Plat only gives 1.5x, yet this free card gives 2x.

    Time to pay taxes soon, so which one will I choose.

    • Hey Bryon, are you sure that’s not a targeted offer you’re seeing within your Amex account online? I do not see a sign up bonus for the public offer.

  2. B
    I don’t know the time span of ur card BUT I have called on cards and the bank gave me the higher points . Taxes are a No Hassle way to hit min. BUT no one will give me a card To many Look sees on my credit .I’ll lay low for a year.

  3. You state that the Amex SPG Business card gets “5 points per dollar spent at SPG properties.” You sure about that?

    • That line was confusing so I changed it–thanks for pointing that out. What I meant was that you can “earn up to 5 points per for each dollar of eligible purchases at participating SPG® hotels‡ – that’s 2 Starpoints for which you may be eligible as a Card Member in addition to the 2 or 3 Starpoints for which you may be eligible as an SPG member”… you’ll get 2 points per dollar spent on SPG properties from Amex, and you’ll get an additional 2 points per dollar spent on SPG properties just for being an SPG member. So even without status you’ll earn 4x. If you have status, you’d earn 3 points per dollar spent on SPG properties, making your grand total 5x if you put the spending on the Amex card. But the additional 2 or 3 points for being an SPG member/elite member you will earn regardless of whether you have this credit card.

  4. Is it ok to sign up for a credit card under your employer’s business name if they don’t offer you a “company card” or is it better to just sign up under your own name and side business?

  5. Is your number 1 choice “The Ink Preferred . . .business card…” the same card as the “. . . Ink Business Preferred. . .” card discussed in your number 2 and 3 choices as a transfer option?

  6. Overall it’s a good analyses of current offers.
    There is a discrepancy in #2 (Ink Business Cash): 50K point offer later described as 30K offer.
    With Chase 5/24 rule they supposedly can see all your Chase business cards as well as personal, so it’s harder to get under the 5 number. Otherwise the offers are really nice, plus cards offer decent benefits to hold on to them.

    • He’s not involved with MileValue anymore, I took over in the beginning of the year. He’s pursuing other endeavors and is currently in Russia for the World Cup.


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