It's virtually impossible to operate a small business without a small business credit card.
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Aside from the obvious conveniences, sometimes plastic currency is your only alternative, especially when you need to travel on your company's behalf.
With so many credit cards eager for your business, the question isn't whether or not you need a small business credit card, but which is the best small business credit card for your company.
The simple truth is that there are some great credit card deals available to small business owners.
Unfortunately, there are also a lot of credit card companies interested in emptying your wallet through exorbitant rates and hidden fees. Your best shot at getting a good deal is to know what you want before you settle on a credit card provider.
Here are just a few of the issues you will encounter along the way as you look for the best credit cards for small business owners.
Remember, every small business owner has different needs and desires. Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the definition of the "best" small biz credit cards will also vary from business owner to business owner.
Small Business Credit Card vs. Personal Credit Card
First-time small business owners often wonder whether they even need a business credit card at all. Their thinking is that it might be easier to just use their personal credit card and reimburse themselves when the bill comes at the end of the month.
Although using a personal card for business purposes works in theory, experienced business owners have learned that the muddled accounting trail isn't worth the hassle. So bite the bullet: Get a separate credit card for your business and find another way to earn rewards on your personal card.
Carry a Balance vs. Monthly Payoffs
One of the biggest upfront decisions you need to make is whether you plan to carry a balance on your business card or plan to pay off the entire balance at the end of each month. The difference is significant because the kind of card you apply for will be largely determined by your planned payment method.
Cards designed for carrying a balance typically compete according to interest rates, while those that require the balance to be paid each month can be acquired at 0% interest. Instead, these cards earn their money by charging an annual fee for both the primary cardholder and additional cardholders in the business.
Perks vs. Rates
The credit card market is rife with attractive offers promising everything from low introductory rates to glitzy reward packages. This doesn't make your job any easier since the credit card companies intentionally structure their incentives to make side-by-side comparisons difficult, if not impossible.
To cut through the chaos, you will first need to decide what is most important to you: Interest rates or perks.
Again, rates are usually the primary consideration for businesses who plan to carry a balance on their account. But if you plan to pay off your balance each month or if interest rates aren't your major concern, then you will need to evaluate each card based on the type of rewards that will actually benefit your company. If you frequently travel by air, look for a card that gives you miles for purchases. If you hardly ever travel for the business, keep looking until you find an incentive that provides real value.
Spending Caps vs. No Limits
Some small business credit cards have spending limits and some don't. This may or may not be an issue for you, depending on how you plan to use your company credit card account. If a "no limit" card is a necessity, be aware that other restrictions (such as a required monthly payoff) may also apply.