Looking for a credit card that pays better rewards for putting purchases on plastic? You may be shopping the wrong category of cards.
Rewards offered on traditional credit cards have been shrinking. Yet there is a certain class of cards that offers consumers a better deal: business credit cards.
A Small-Business Proposition
Small-business credit cards offer some special business-oriented benefits, such as the ability to track your expenses closely and the ability to issue cards to employees (and set limits on them). They also often offer rewards, many of which have been increased recently. While your trusty personal credit card may no longer pay you 2% or 3% on most purchases, you may be able to get that on a business card.
There are some caveats to switching your spending to a small-business credit card. The big one to remember is that the card is typically tied to you personally and not to your business -- like a regular credit card. (In other words, you are on the hook for purchases.)
Also, since these cards are not regulated by the CARD Act, banks have more freedom to boost their interest rates, according to Odysseas Papadimitriou of CardHub.com. (They also tend to be higher overall, on average.) But CARD Act protections may get applied to business cards in the future, in order to draw more customers away from personal cards.
As long as you don't plan to carry a lot of revolving debt on them, those with small businesses should consider the perks of business credit cards when shopping for a rewards program.
Business vs. Personal
LowCards.com recently highlighted some notable small-business cards. Here are a handful, as well as a comparison to personal cards offered by the same issuers:
Capital One (COF) offers its business customers a Spark Cash card paying 2% back on all purchases, while its Spark Miles card offers two miles for every dollar you charge. Both offer a bonus if you spend $1,000 in the first three months and sport a $59 annual fee (waived the first year). In contrast, the Capital One Cash personal card offers 1% back on all purchases, with no annual fee, and tacks on 50% bonuses on your annual cash back.
J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM) offers an Ink Cash Business card paying 5% cash back at office supply, wireless, cable, and landline services; 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations; and 1% cash back on all other business purchases. It charges no annual fee. Meanwhile, the personal Chase Freedom card offers 5% back on certain spending categories that change every three months, as well as 1% back on all other purchases. There's no annual fee.
American Express (AXP) offers a Plum Card that will give you a 1.5% discount if you pay your bill entirely within 10 days of its statement's closing date. Its annual fee is a steep $185 but is waived in the first year. For a $75 annual fee, its personal Blue Cash Preferred card is actually more enticing for many people, offering 6% back at supermarkets, 3% back at gas stations and department stores, and 1% back elsewhere. You can get 3%, 2%, and 1% back on those respective categories with a no-annual-fee Blue Cash Everyday card.
Citigroup's (C) CitiBusiness World card will pay you in points -- starting you off with 10,000 once you charge $300 in your first three months, and then one point per dollar spent on everything else. Certain expense categories will net you three points per dollar spent. There's no annual fee. The Citi Dividend World card offers 5% back on certain spending categories that change every three months, as well as 1% back on all other purchases. There's no annual fee.
Note that most of these cards also offer a few other things, as well as certain terms you'll want to examine before signing up.
For now, the best solution for many small-business owners may be to run their businesses on both personal and business cards. Revolving debt might be carried on the personal card, which should offer fewer nasty rate-hike surprises, while charging expenses you can pay off on business cards, for greater rewards.
Learn more about making the most of your plastic cards and the least of your debt at the DailyFinance Credit Center.
Longtime Motley Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of J.P. Morgan Chase and American Express, but she holds no other position in any company mentioned. Click here to see her holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of J.P. Morgan Chase and Citigroup. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended writing a covered strangle position on American Express.