Being in possession of a business card is considered a blessing by most small business owners. However, choosing the wrong card can be more of a curse than a blessing. High interest rates, hidden fees, and inflexibility can stifle your cash flow and cause unwelcome surprises. With so many available options, how can you find the best small business credit card?
If you are either the sole proprietor of your business, or if you have less than 20 employees, your personal credit score and the credit score of your business will both be viewed by potential lenders.
Also, you may not even have a business credit score if your vendors are not reporting your company’s payment information to the credit bureaus. If they aren’t, let them know that you want your company’s payment history noted, since this will help you establish commercial credit. If your vendors don’t report this information, you can contact the major credit score companies to obtain a list of vendors who will supply this information to them.
Having a commercial credit score is important to credit card lenders. While you may have a healthy personal credit score, it does not help lenders assess the risk of your small business.
What does all of this have to do with finding the best small business credit card? Well, your credit score determines the type of credit card you will be able to obtain as well as the interest rate that you are charged for it.
Flexibility and Fees
Do you need a flexible payment plan, or perhaps flexible payment dates? If you’re not sure that you will be able to pay the total balance every month, you will want to choose a card that allows you to pay a minimum amount each month.
However, if you can pay the balance in full every month, you can choose a charge card that does not have a spending cap. Just be advised that if you don’t pay the entire balance, you will be subject to extremely high interest rates and other fees.
One advantage of choosing a card that requires you to pay the balance in full each month is that these cards typically have a longer grace period before you are fined for late payments. In addition, these cards have more lucrative rewards than cards that offer a revolving balance option.
Also, given a choice, you may want to select a card that will not charge an annual fee. However, sometimes, the benefits of the card may outweigh this yearly charge.
There are also other types of fees that you may be charged by a credit card company. Some issuers assess inactivity fees if you don’t use the card for a specified period of time. You may also be charged a fee for making cash withdrawals with the card.
All of these factors should be weighed as you ponder the best card for your small business.
Do you travel a lot? If so, consider a card that offers reward points for travel and lodging. Some cards also provide reward points on dining and gasoline purchases – and some even include points for office supplies and telecommunication services. Most of these reward points can vary from 2% to 5% back on your purchases – although some cards offer a higher percentage.
In addition to rewards, some cards offer lucrative credits. For example, one credit card issuer offers a $200 credit towards airline fees, and provides a complimentary airfare ticket when you fly business or first-class on one of their partner airlines. Some issuers also provide free hotel upgrades.
So, you need to decide if you prefer to have cash-back rewards as opposed to credits for travel, etc.
While there are many types of credit card brands such as Visa, MasterCard, Discover Card, and American Express, some vendors pick and choose which cards they will accept. Therefore, you need to check with your vendors and the places where you will most likely use your credit card to ensure that they will be able to process your transactions.
Another factor to consider is that some credit cards will take away your rewards when a payment is late. Also, some perks and bonuses have limitations that may only be explained in the fine print of the contract. Be sure to thoroughly read the terms of the credit card before you agree, so you won’t be subject to any unpleasant and unexpected surprises.
Credit Card Offers
You can view many side-by-side offers by going online to look for credit card comparison sites. Also, banks in your local area also offer credit card services for small businesses. In addition, when you register your small business with the state in which you operate, you will invariably start receiving unsolicited credit card applications.
There are a lot of factors that you must consider when trying to find the best small business card. The card with the lowest interest rate may offer the least amount of perks. On the other hand, the interest rate may be so high that it cancels out the perks. In addition, cards that offer a plethora of reward points may not be the best choice if you are rarely going to make purchases – especially if you don’t make the type of purchases that qualify for reward points.
Carefully considering the needs of your small business and then comparing this information to the available credit card offers should yield good results.
Terri Williams writes extensively on business, ethics, and communication for such sites as Business.com.