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If you freelance, run a sole proprietorship, moonlight as a Task Rabbit, Uber driver or Postmates delivery person, or otherwise work for yourself, there’s plenty to love about your flexible schedule and the control you have over work projects.
The downside? You also have to foot the bill for all your small-business expenses, from travel to taxes and office space. In other words, your money has to stretch in several directions.
I’m a freelancer who has been working in the personal finance space for nine years, so I know how to get the best deal when it comes to your own finances and your business’s. While there are many business credit cards out there, it’s important to understand how to find the right one for your freelance enterprise.
The best business credit cards for freelancers can help you separate business expenses from personal, save money on interest each year, and reward you for expenses like airfare, gasoline, office supplies, and social media marketing. (If you think you may hire employees someday, check out our list of the best business credit cards.)
Whatever your hustle is, here are six credit cards bound to maximize your freelance business and make your spending—and your time—a little more valuable.
The best credit cards for freelancers
Best perks: The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
Best for simplicity: Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business
Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
Costco Anywhere Visa Business Card by Citi
Bank of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard credit card
Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card
Things to know about business credit cards
Nearly every business card requires a personal guarantee, which is an agreement between the business owner and the credit card issuer. It means the issuer can go after your personal assets to satisfy any balance owed if your business defaults on the card payments—even if you leave the company. That goes for expenses you or your employees charge to the credit card.
Using your business credit card can help you build business credit, which can be useful if you need a business loan in the future. Here’s a quick rundown on how it works: Business credit card issuers can report your credit card account activity to both the personal credit reporting agencies and the business reporting agencies, such as Dun & Bradstreet and Experian. These agencies use the information in your report to create a credit score for your business, which helps lenders measure risk before extending you credit. If you’re worried about this card affecting your personal credit, ask the issuer how it will report your payments (before applying for the card).
The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009, better known as the CARD Act, is a law that improved consumer protections. It regulates how interest rates, fees and finance charges are calculated on credit cards and provides more transparent rules that issuers have to follow. The law doesn’t extend to business credit cards, though some issuers are extending the CARD Act’s protections to its business products. Get to know the card’s features and terms before you apply—and ask questions—so you don’t get dinged with unexpected fees.
How we evaluated
We looked at business credit cards from the major issuers and measured their benefits, rewards and costs, and how cardholders might use the card and redeem rewards. Freelancers are typically solopreneurs who have to pay for every cost, market themselves, manage client communications and do the bookkeeping.
Although always focused on business growth, their income may be lower than a small-business owner who has several employees and a handful of branch locations. So freelancers need a card that rewards their unique spending habits, builds in perks that outweigh any fees, and offers cost-saving measures, such as a 0% intro APR that can see them through cash shortfalls and gaps in projects.
We also took a look at business-management tools, which you won’t find on most personal credit cards. The IRS requires business owners to categorize expenses and income for tax purposes, so it’s a nice draw if the credit card offers an app that handles this task for you.
Before applying for a card, know that banks have final say on who’s approved. These recommendations were put together assuming applicants would have average to excellent credit, with the exception of the Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card. Credit card issuers will check your credit history and use its own set of criteria when evaluating your application.
Best perks: American Express Business Platinum
As a freelancer, you probably know the struggle of finding a good workspace. Local cafes and libraries might not be a good fit day after day, and co-working spaces can cost thousands of dollars a year. Enter the Business Platinum Card from American Express.
This premium credit card carries a hefty $595 annual fee, but the incredible suite of perks—chiefly, a one-year membership to WeWork co-working spaces around the globe—more than makes up for that cost. (You’ll need to enroll between between 2/15/19 and 12/31/19 in order to get that perk.)
It can be a luxurious addition to your wallet if you’re able to shell out the annual fee and pay off the balance each month, as this is a charge card, not a typical credit card that lets you pay off a balance over time (although there is that option for certain borrowers enrolled in the Pay over Time feature).
Ongoing rewards: You’ll earn 5 points per dollar spent on airfare and prepaid hotel rooms on amextravel.com. You’ll also earn 1.5 points on purchases of $5,000 or more, and 1 point per dollar spent on everything else. When you redeem points for flights, you’ll get 35% of those points back.
Perks: There’s a ton of them, mostly geared toward travel. Here’s a sampling of the card’s lucrative benefits:
Cardholders can earn 75,000 American Express Membership Rewards points after spending $15,000 in the first three months.
An annual travel fee credit up to $200, for use on incidentals such as checked bags and in-flight snacks.
Gold status with Hilton Honors
Gold elite status with Marriott Bonvoy
Access to a suite of airport lounges
Up to $100 voucher for a Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fee
Up to $200 in Dell statement credits per year, distributed semi-annually, which you can use for purchases such as laptops and software
Expense-management tools, such as Connect to QuickBooks and Vendor Pay, to help you track and organize expenses
Roadside assistance, travel accident insurance, shopping protections, car rental loss and damage insurance, and baggage insurance
Best for simplicity: Capital One Spark Cash Select for Business
Many business credit cards offer bonus categories that let you earn a higher cash-back rate on certain purchases. But if your business spending isn’t concentrated in a particular category, you won’t benefit from the higher rate.
The Capital One® Spark® Cash For Business card offers a flat 1.5% cash back on every purchase, no annual fee, and a 0% intro APR for nine months. (After the introductory period, it bumps up to a variable APR depending on your creditworthiness.)
It’s a no-fuss way to earn solid rewards and keep costs low. Plus, you’ll get a sign-up bonus of $200 after spending $3,000 on purchases within three months from account opening.
Ongoing rewards: It’s simple: You’ll earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, which can be redeemed for any amount at any time with no expiration date.
Perks: Cardholders get the full suite of Capital One Spark’s business benefits. You can create customized spending reports to simplify planning, budgeting and taxes, plus download purchase records to multiple formats including Quicken, Quickbooks and Excel. You’re also covered with an auto rental collision damage waiver and travel assistance.
Ink Business Preferred
This card’s outsized sign-up bonus (80,000 points after spending $5,000 on the card within three months) and flexible rewards make it a solid option for any freelancer.
Although it’s not specifically geared toward travel, there are lots of opportunities to maximize this type of purchase. You’ll earn 3 points per dollar spent on travel, get a higher rate for travel rewards through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and can even transfer points to several Chase travel partners.
The card comes with a $95 annual fee, but the rewards, perks, and sign-up bonus easily make up for it.
Ongoing rewards: You’ll earn 3 points per dollar on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases every year on internet, cable, and phone services; advertising purchases with social media sites and search engines; travel; and shipping purchases. You’ll also get 1 point on every dollar spent elsewhere. You can redeem those points for travel, cash back, gift cards and more, but if you need to travel for work, these points will come in handy–they’re worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
Perks: This card offers cellphone insurance and a suite of protections including trip cancellation and interruption insurance, primary rental car insurance, purchase protection, and an extended warranty.
Costco Anywhere Visa Business Card by Citi
If you drive for ride-share companies such as Uber and Lyft, you’re probably filling up at the pump several times a week. The Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card by Citi helps you get some money back on those purchases with its supercharged 4% cash-back rate on eligible gasoline purchases, up to $7,000 every year (then 1% after that).
There’s no annual fee as long as you have a Costco membership, which costs between $60 and $120 per year.
However, rewards come as an annual gift card that can be redeemed for cash or for Costco purchases, which can be limiting. Other cards on this list offer a lower cash-back rate on gasoline but with more flexible redemption options.
Ongoing rewards: Earn 4% cash back on eligible gasoline purchases up to $7,000 every year, 3% cash back at restaurants and on eligible travel, 2% on other purchases from Costco, and 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Perks: Cardholders have access to a lineup of extra protections, including extended warranty, and damage and theft purchase protection. Plus, there’s no foreign transaction fees when you take the card abroad.
Bank of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard
This card offers a strong cash-back program and sign-up bonus, but what sets it apart is the potential for relationship rewards.
If you enroll in the Business Advantage Relationship Rewards program—which means you would link a Bank of America, Merrill Edge, or Merrill Lynch qualifying business account to your card—you can earn an additional 25%, 50%, or 75% rewards bonus on every purchase you make. If you qualify for the highest bonus, you’ll earn as much as 5.25% cash back on the category of your choice, 3.5% on dining and 1.75% on all other purchases.
And, whether you’re a freelancer with a few thousand dollars in your business checking account or a business owner with a few high-dollar investments, your rewards grow as your qualifying bank account balances increase.
Ongoing rewards: You’ll earn 3% cash back on the category of your choice, and the available options include gas stations, office supply stores, travel, TV/telecom and wireless services, and computer services or business consulting services. You’ll also earn 2% cash back on dining and 1% on all other purchases. The 3% and 2% cash-back rates apply to the first $50,000 in combined spending in the category of your choice and on dining purchases each calendar year (1% after that).
Perks: Cardholders pay no annual fee, get a 0% intro APR for the first nine billing cycles (which goes to a variable APR once the introductory period is over), and earn a $300 statement credit after spending $3,000 within 90 days of account opening. Plus, you can download your credit card transactions to QuickBooks and take advantage of reassuring travel assistance and emergency services.
Wells Fargo Business Secured
Many of the best business credit cards require good to excellent credit. But if yours needs work, the Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card can help you build credit while you earn rewards on business spending.
You’ll pay an upfront deposit, which protects the issuer in case you default on a payment. The deposit also acts as the credit limit and can range from $500 to $25,000. There’s also a $25 annual fee for the card.
Ongoing rewards: You’ll earn 1.5% cash back on every $1 spent, or earn 1 point on every dollar spent and get 1,000 bonus points if you spend at least $1,000 in any month. You can then redeem points for gift cards, merchandise, airline tickets and more, and get a 10% credit when you redeem points online.
Perks: Cardholders have access to business-management tools for tracking expenses and payments. Plus, Wells Fargo will periodically review your account; if you’ve been using the card responsibly, it may return the deposit and upgrade you to an unsecured credit card.
Please note: The offers mentioned above are subject to change at any time and some may no longer be available.
Reviewed has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Reviewed and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.
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