If your business just started or is still getting off the ground, you might wonder what the best credit cards are. As a startup, you probably don’t have much revenue coming in, and you want to spend as little as possible.
Choosing a business credit card for your startup comes down to four factors—ease of use, signup bonuses, rewards, and the credit limit. The best business credit cards for startups will help you build your business and credit and easily manage cash flow while providing valuable rewards that can be spent on office supplies, travel, and more.
This guide will explain each of them in detail so you can make an informed decision when it comes to choosing a new credit card.
What Are the Best Credit Cards for Startups?
If you’re a startup business, getting the right credit card can be a great way to build your business credit, earn rewards, and ensure your business is ready to grow. But with so many different types of cards available, it can be hard to pick the best one for your needs.
For example, some cards offer cashback or airline miles, while others provide travel-related perks like free concierge services or rental car insurance. It’s essential to choose a card that will give you the most benefit for your business.
Startups are not like small businesses, and their credit card needs differ from traditional small businesses. At the moment, our top two recommendations are Ramp and Brex. They offer some of the best spending limits for business credit cards, and they both lack a personal guarantee which we will discuss later.
The Best Card for Startups – Q2 2022
Q2 2022 is here, and with it, a new set of credit cards. If you’re a startup or even an established business, it’s essential to have a credit card to help your business prosper. There are a lot of different cards out there, and each one has its unique perks and rewards.
One of the most popular options is the Brex Credit Card. This card offers some fantastic benefits and can be used by anyone looking to expand their business or personal finances. The Brex card provides several benefits for businesses, including no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, and a signup bonus of $750.
Brex also offers tools to help you manage your spending through its app and website, including notifications when payments are due, alerts when someone else has used your card (so you can monitor who has access to it), fraud protection services, and even business trip tracking tools so you can keep track of where you spent money while traveling for work purposes.
We also recommend the Ramp Business Credit Card. This is an excellent choice for those who want to build their credit history and establish their business as a legitimate entity. If you’re starting or have some money but don’t have much of a track record yet, RAMP is an excellent option for getting started with business credit cards. This card has no annual fee and lets you earn points that can be redeemed for cash back or airline flights. They also offer a $750 signup bonus when you sign up with them for the first time.
Why Startups Need a Specialized Credit Card
A startup needs a credit card because it doesn’t have any money — or at least not enough money to cover all its expenses. Most startups spend more money than they make because they’re trying to scale their companies quickly.
The main reason to get a specialized credit card for your startup is to improve your cash flow. Credit cards allow you to buy now and pay later, which can be helpful when you need to make a big purchase or cover an unexpected expense. This can especially be helpful in the early stages of building your business because it gives you time to generate additional revenue before paying off the card balance.
Another reason to get a credit card for your startup is to build a credit history for yourself or your business. Having good credit can be critical when applying for loans, mortgages, and other types of financing down the road — so having even one or two years of good payment history will help give you an edge over other applicants who don’t have any credit history. At all!
Finally, using a specialized small business credit card can also help improve your company’s reputation by showing that you take financial responsibility seriously and are willing to invest in yourself and others.
How Do You Choose a Better Credit Card for Your Funded Startup?
Your credit history and score are often not yet on the radar when you are starting a business. But as soon as you start accepting payments from customers, your finances can become an essential factor in the success of your business.
One of the most important things you’ll need to choose is a credit card for your funded startup — but what should you look for?
The first thing to consider is how much you plan to spend each month. If you’re planning on making larger purchases or paying off smaller purchases over time, you’ll want a card that rewards both types of spending.
If you’re planning on making large purchases soon, then a card with an annual fee might be worthwhile because it gives you extra rewards points just for signing up.
On the other hand, if you’re planning to spend less than $1,000 per month, there’s no point in paying an annual fee or getting locked into a longer-term contract.
Next, consider how often you plan to use your card and how much flexibility it offers regarding interest rates and balance transfers. The interest rate on your credit card matters because it determines how much money you will pay in interest over time. The lower the interest rate, the less you’ll pay interest charges if you carry a balance on your card each month.
Features to Look For in a Credit Card for Your Startup
Startup Focused Rewards
If you’re starting with credit cards, it’s essential to find one that has rewards that you’ll use. This could be cashback, travel points, or airline miles — whatever fits your lifestyle.
You’ll have to decide how much flexibility you want in your rewards program. Some cards offer different rewards depending on how much you spend each month, while others don’t give priority based on how much money you spend with them.
The good news is that most credit card companies reward spending in general, so there is usually no need to worry about this aspect of your credit card.
A Spending Limit Based on the Company’s Balance Sheet
When you apply for a credit card, the bank or credit card provider will look at your balance sheet to determine whether you are a reasonable risk.
They want to know if you have your business has assets (or if you are personally qualifying that you have a home, car, etc.) and if your revenue is sufficient to repay the debt. If there is no collateral or payment, they will probably ask for a personal guarantee.
The banks don’t want to give out credit cards with unlimited spending limits because they would be on the hook for any losses if you defaulted on the payments. So, if you have a large credit card limit, it’s probably because you can provide some form of security or collateral against losses.
No Personal Guarantee
If you’ve ever had a credit card with a high limit, you may have been asked to put up a personal guarantee — essentially promising that if you don’t pay off the debt, the bank will come after your personal assets. This is not ideal because it can affect your ability to get another loan or open new lines of credit in the future.
A personal guarantee means you’re responsible for paying back the debt if your business fails. A small business credit card without a unique warranty is best to ensure that you aren’t liable for any outstanding debt if your company goes under or declares bankruptcy.
Easy and Fast Bookkeeping
One of the most significant benefits of using a credit card is that it can make your life easier for bookkeeping. You don’t have to worry about writing checks or keeping track of receipts because everything is automatically recorded on your statement each month.
If you’re concerned about keeping up with your finances and balancing your checkbook, a credit card with easy bookkeeping can make a difference.
Look for cards with free tools that allow you to track your spending and keep tabs on your credit score — so you don’t have to pay an expensive monthly fee for those services elsewhere.
Spending Management Tools
If you want help keeping track of your spending, a rewards card with budgeting tools can be significant. Some cards will help you track your spending by providing monthly statements showing how much money you’ve spent on other purchases (such as dining out or travel). Others allow you to set spending limits so that if you try to go over your budgeted amount, they’ll alert you before you spend too much.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a card for your startup:
Credit card companies offer amazing rewards programs that can help you save money on everything from gas and groceries to traveling and entertainment.
While plenty of cards offer cashback or miles on all purchases, some cards offer higher rewards rates for specific spending categories. This can be especially useful if you know where your business will spend most of its money and want to earn more points faster.
You’ll want a rewards program that makes sense for your company. Some businesses prefer cashback, while others prefer travel rewards. If you’re looking for cash back, consider what percent you’d like to earn and how often you’d like to receive the money. While most rewards programs offer 1% cashback, some can go as high as 5%.
If you’re interested in travel rewards, consider which airline or hotel network is suitable for your business’s needs and how often you’ll spend money on these purchases.
A credit card’s credit limit is the maximum amount you can spend on your card.
It’s essential to have a credit limit in line with your spending habits and financial goals. For example, if you want to build up your credit score, it makes sense to only charge what you can afford to pay back each month.
If your credit limit is too high, you may be tempted to charge more than you can afford.
Credit limits are typically set by individual creditors, who use information about your business revenue, expenses, and other details to decide how much they will lend you. When you apply for a new account, the creditor also looks at how much debt you’re currently carrying on other accounts — including other cards from the same issuer — and how this relates to your business assets and profitability.
Credit cards can be a great way to build your credit and earn rewards on everyday purchases. But they aren’t all created equal. Before you apply for a new credit card, check the card’s terms and conditions, including any annual fees, interest rates, and other charges. Here are some of the most common costs that you might encounter:
Annual fees. Most credit cards charge a yearly fee, but it’s typically only set once a year — either at the beginning or end of your first year as a cardholder. Annual costs vary by card and issuer, but they generally range from $50 to $500 per year. You may be able to avoid paying an annual fee if you have good credit or if you open an account with a large bank or issuer like Capital One, which offers different cards with no annual fee at all.
Late payment fees. If you pay your bill late — even by one day — you could face steep penalties in addition to interest charges on any unpaid balance: A late fee is standard for many cards that charge interest on purchases as well as cash advances (though some issuers waive this fee if you’re still paying off your balance gradually).
How Do Brex, Amex, and SVB Startup Credit Cards Compare?
|Brex||Silicon Valley Bank||American Express||Chase||Ramp|
|Built for Funded Startups||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes|
|Rating for Startups||4/5||3/5||3/5||3/5||4/5|
|Spending Limit||Fairly Good||Good||Fair||Fair||Fairly Good|
|Rewards / Cash Back||Startup Focused||Startup Focused||Personal Travel Rewards||Personal Travel Rewards||1.5% cash back|
|QuickBooks Online Sync||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Ability to Carry Balance||No||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|Control Team Spending||Yes||No||No||No||Yes|
|Business Checking Account||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Sign Up Bonus||$750||None||None||None||$750|
Brex is a startup that provides business credit cards to startups. The Brex card offers several benefits for businesses, including no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, and a generous signup bonus of $750.
You get 10,000 points when you spend your first $1,000 on your Brex Card, another 10,000 when you spend $3,000 in 3 months on your Card, and 20,000 more when you link payroll to your Brex account.
The Card also offers a 0% introductory APR on purchases for 12 months, with no balance transfer fee or interest rate increase after the intro period ends.
The primary benefit of the Brex Card is its easy application process: There’s no minimum credit score requirement or collateral needed to get approved for an account — just some basic information about your business and its revenue.
Even if your credit score is as low as 300, you can still qualify for this Card. The downside is you’ll need a minimum of $50,000 in the bank to be eligible for monthly repayments, maybe more.
Brex also offers tools to help you manage your spending through its app and website, including notifications when payments are due, alerts when someone else has used your Card (so you can monitor who has access to it), fraud protection services, and even business trip tracking tools so you can keep track of where you spent money while traveling for work purposes.
The Card also offers free FICO score access.
American Express (Amex) Blue Business Cash
If you’re looking to get a business credit card for your startup, the American Express Blue Business Cash card is another great option. The Card has no annual fee and offers 2% cashback on all eligible purchases of up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1% cash back earned is automatically credited to your statement.
The American Express (Amex) Blue Business Cash Card has a 0.0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening; then, after that, it has a variable rate of 13.99% to 21.99%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors as determined at the time of account opening.
The best part about this card is that it’s available to businesses with as little as $5,000 in gross revenue per year. That makes it a good choice if your startup isn’t yet making much money — or if you want to keep things simple.
This card has no annual fee and comes with other perks, such as price protection and extended warranties on items purchased with the Card. The American Express Blue Business Cash card is a simple card with no annual fee and no rewards. It’s designed for small businesses that need to keep their costs down and don’t want to get into the details of complicated reward programs.
American Express (Amex) Business Gold
Amex has a great business card for startups called the American Express Business Gold Card. This Card offers a generous welcome offer of 70,000 Membership Reward points after spending $10,000 on eligible purchases with the Amex Business Gold Card within the first three months of card membership.
This Card can offer some fantastic rewards. The AmEx Business Gold Card offers some great tips for startups that spend heavily on travel and dining out categories, typical expenses for businesses in those industries.
You earn 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar when you use an airline, purchase at gas stations, and more. The 4X rewards apply to the first $150,000 in combined spending per year from some of their categories, and after that, spending earns 1 point per dollar.
The American Express (Amex) Business Gold Card has a $295 annual fee.
As a startup, you should consider applying for this card if your business has a good credit score. American Express can be tricky because it requires excellent credit to get approved — but once you’re approved, it can be a fantastic addition to your wallet.
You’re looking at a credit score of about 690-850 to qualify for this Card.
Cardholders also get access to over 1,000 airport lounges worldwide through Priority Pass Select membership and access to Global Shop Direct, which allows you to shop online at more than 350 international retailers.
American Express (Amex) Business Platinum
The Amex Business Platinum is an excellent card for startups because it offers a large signup bonus, a generous rewards program, and special perks for travel.
The Card has an annual fee of $695, but the rewards program can make up for that in just a few months. For example, you get 5X Membership Rewards points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
The Card has an introductory offer of 120,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $15,000 on eligible purchases with your Card within the first three months of Card Membership.
The Amex Business Platinum card has no foreign transaction fees, which can save you money when traveling internationally. It also comes with complimentary airport lounge access (with the correct membership level), which can help you relax before or after a flight without paying exorbitant airport lounge fees.
This provides access to over 1,000 airport lounges worldwide — another perk for business travelers who want to get work done while traveling by plane or train. The American Express Global Lounge Collection can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting.
The Card’s biggest perk is its rewards rate — 5 points per dollar spent on airfare, hotels, and car rentals; 2 points per dollar spent on all other purchases; and 1 point per dollar spent on everything else.
You can redeem points for statement credits or use them to book flights through Amex Travel online or by phone, which could be an easier way to earn airline miles if you’re not flying very often.
Silicon Vally Bank Startup Card
Silicon Valley Bank is one of the most respected financial institutions in the Silicon Valley region. The bank caters to venture-backed and high-growth companies, offering a card for startups.
This Card is not just a credit card but also a business checking account that comes with a free MasterCard. It has no annual fee, and there are no foreign transaction fees.
The Card has an introductory APR of 0% for 12 months on balance transfers made within the first 60 days of opening an account. There’s also an introductory APR of 0% on purchases for 12 months, after which the rate will be 11.24% – 23.88% variable based on your creditworthiness.
If you use this card responsibly, it could make sense to get it because it has some nice perks like travel protection insurance (up to $250,000 in accidental death and dismemberment insurance when traveling), purchase protection insurance (up to 120 days against loss or theft of items purchased with your Card), auto rental insurance (covers collision damage & theft of rental cars up to $100,000) and extended warranty protection.
The Card has no annual fee, but you’ll need to be approved for an account before applying for the Card. This means you’ll need to have a business relationship with Silicon Valley Bank first — even if it’s just a small one.
It can be tough to get a business credit card if you’re a startup. Many banks will not issue cards to companies that have been in business for less than 12 months.
That’s where RAMP comes in. The company is an alternative financing company that helps startups get approved for a small-business credit card. There are no fees, and you can get approved even if your company has only been around for a few months.
The cards come with zero percent introductory APRs on purchases and balance transfers. Still, they also have high-interest rates after that term expires — up to 19% APR depending on your outstanding balance.
If you’re just starting or have some money but don’t have much of a track record yet, RAMP is an excellent option for getting started with business credit cards.
This card has no annual fee and lets you earn points that can be redeemed for cash back or airline flights. You also get exclusive discounts on travel expenses such as baggage fees and airport parking.
If your startup is starting and has little in the way of assets or income, it can be tough to get approved for a card in the first place. That’s where a startup-friendly credit card like Divvy comes in. The Card offers perks for small businesses and startups that other business credit cards don’t — including a cash back bonus, no annual fee, and foreign transaction fees.
The Divvy card isn’t your typical rewards card either. Instead of giving you points or miles that you can use for travel or gift cards, the Divvy gives you cashback on every purchase. And there are no limits on what you can earn or when you can redeem your earnings.
As a bonus, Divvy also gives you access to multiple lines of credit without needing to go through a traditional bank (and applying through one at a time). That means if you want to use multiple lines of credit at once — which can help boost your scores — Divvy will let you do that without any issues.
The Divvy Business Card is a solid choice for startups that want to earn rewards on every purchase. It has no annual fee, and it offers 2% cashback on all purchases, which can be redeemed as a statement credit or applied toward your monthly payment. You’ll also get 10% back in additional rewards by saving through the Divvy Spending Portal.
The Card doesn’t have an introductory 0% APR offer or any other perks, but its low ongoing APR of 14.74% – 19.74%, depending on your creditworthiness, makes up for that shortcoming.
Chase Ink Business Preferred
The Chase Ink Business Preferred card is an excellent option for startups and one of the best credit cards you can find. It offers 100K bonus points after spending $15,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. $1,000 cash back or $1,250 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
The Card has no foreign transaction fees and gives you access to the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, where you can get additional discounts on airfare, hotels, and more. You also get 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories for each account.
The Chase Ink Business Preferred card is an excellent choice for small business owners who want to earn rewards on their spending and access the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. The Card has a $95 annual fee, but it can more than pay for itself with its high rewards rate.
With Fraud Protection, your card transactions will be monitored for possible signs of fraudulent activity using real-time fraud monitoring. And with their Zero Liability, you won’t be held responsible for unauthorized charges made with your card or account information.
Chase Ink Business Unlimited
Chase Ink Business Unlimited is one of the best business credit cards for startups. It offers a generous rewards program and no annual fee.
The Chase Ink Business Unlimited is our runner up for startups because it gives you a great rewards rate on travel and dining and no annual fee to pay.
The Card offers a $750 bonus cash back after spending $7,500 on purchases from account opening in the first three months. You’ll also earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase made for your business.
The Chase Ink Business Unlimited is a great card for small businesses that aren’t sure how much they’ll spend each month. The Card has no annual fee and offers an introductory APR of 0% on purchases and balance transfers for the first year. After that, you’ll pay a variable APR of 16.49% to 22.49%.
There are no foreign transaction fees, and you can earn 3X points per dollar spent at U.S. stores. You also get 2X points per dollar spent on travel and shipping costs, social media advertising, and search engine advertising from Google, Bing, or Yahoo.
Our Top Pick for the Best Startup Credit Card
At the moment, our top two recommendations are Ramp and Brex. They offer some of the best spending limits for business credit cards.
There are many different types of startup credit cards, but only a few are designed specifically for startups. When you’re starting up your business, it’s easy to get confused by all the different cards available and not know which one is right for your needs.
To help make things easier, we’ve put together this list of our top picks for the best startup credit cards for startups in 2022.