How to Choose the Best Credit Card for Your Small BusinessForget interests rates. These criteria are more important.
With all the credit cards out there, how do you choose the best one for you and your business? Here, two experts offer their advice.
If you don’t have a separate credit card for your business, you should. “For most business, having a separate business credit card is encouraged since the card can provide benefits and it keeps business expenses separate from personal expenses,” said David Walters, CPA, certified financial planner and client service and portfolio manager for Palisades Hudson Financial Group. It also makes accounting much easier, he noted.
There are other good reasons to get a business credit card. Jenn Mathis, vice president and co-founder of One Degree Capital, said, “While it may be easier to apply for a personal credit card, it’s best to get an actual business card. A business card will help establish credit for your business, which can get you better interest rates on business loans in the future,” she said.
To choose a card that gives you the most bang for your buck, follow these tips.
It’s all about the fees and rewards
Look for a card with low fees and benefits you’ll actually use, said Walters.
“If you have a low/no fee card and pay off the balance every month so you never have any interest charges, you minimize the downsides that can come with credit card balances.”
But don’t just choose a card with the lowest fees. Your card should also work for you. “You’re going to be incurring these expenses anyway, but if you use the credit card to pay them, you get the benefit of the rewards program,” said Walters.
Mathis advised weighing the fees against what you get for them — and how valuable those benefits are to you. “If you travel a lot, then an airline reward card is a must-have. Those cards typically have annual fees but often come with great perks. If you don’t travel and are strictly looking for a credit card for occasional business use, then opt for a no-fee card.
Is it widely accepted?
“Look for a card that is accepted at the majority of the places you will shop,” said Mathis. “For example, if you are a big Costco user, an American Express card won’t help you much.”
How’s the customer service?
Your time is valuable, so consider how long you will spend communicating with the credit card company.
“Business owners do not have time to sit on hold. Look for cards with premier customer support options. You may pay a bit higher fee for it, but the time you save waiting on hold will be well worth it in the long run,” Mathis said.
Seek out introductory offers
When you’re a new customer, credit card companies work hard for your business, noted Mathis. “Look for cards with great introductory offers like zero percent purchases, no-fee balance transfers and first year fee waivers. All of these are great options to help offset the first year’s cost of your new card.”
About those interest rates
What about the interest rate? “Since your goal should be to not carry a balance, the interest rate is the least important,” said Mathis.
“Average interest rates on credit cards right now fall between 11 percent and 18 percent and may be higher if you have credit issues,” she said. “Since your goal should be to pay off the balance in full each month, don’t spend a lot of time looking to save a percentage point or two. As long as the card you like is in the normal range of the current rates, go for it.”
Consider a card from your own bank
When credit card hunting, don’t forget to look in your own backyard.
“Business owners should definitely consider credit cards from banks they already have a relationship with, as some banks offer benefits for having multiple accounts or types of accounts. This might be in the form of favorable rates or other benefits for the credit card, or benefits on other accounts with the bank, such as promotional offers or rewards with a checking or investment account if you open a credit card account with the same bank.”
Mathis said since most credit cards are privately labeled and ultimately belong to just a few banks, choosing a card based on the bank may not be as important as choosing the right rewards, benefits and interest rate.
How to compare offers
Aside from doing research on your own, check for recent articles on best business cards, Walters suggested. For example, Nerdwallet has an annual comparison of card offers.
When searching for online comparisons, read any advertising disclaimers to make sure you’re getting objective comparisons and legitimate consumer reviews.
Nerdwallet.com, Bankrate.com and Creditcards.com offer comparisons of current offers; some include consumer satisfaction ratings and reviews.