Getting started with credit cards, miles and points for business owners

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When it comes to earning and using travel rewards, it’s best to have a strategy in mind. That way you’ll be able to maximize your spending and the way you redeem your rewards. And that, in turn, will help you realize your travel goals more quickly.

A lot of our readers are entrepreneurs. Like me, many of you enjoy a side hustle (or three!). So we’ve put together a guide to travel rewards for business owners. This resource will help anyone with a business formulate their own miles & points strategy.

You might be wondering why being a business owner sets you apart from other miles & points enthusiasts. Why? Because business owners qualify for small business cards. And with a small business card, you’ll have more ways to earn miles & points thanks to great bonus spending categories. And spending a lot in bonus categories is the next best way to increase your points balances!

If you’re a business owner, having the right rewards credit card is a must. (Photo by mavo/Shutterstock)

Why businesses need travel rewards cards

For starters, having a small business card is a terrific way to stay organized because you can separate personal and business expenses, which makes it easier to track your spending. And if you plan to have a business card, you might as well choose a card that earns rewards along the way!

The business credit cards discussed here all earn rewards (miles, points, or cash back) on each and every purchase, regardless of the category. So if your business has a lot of expenses, using the right card can help you earn loads of extra rewards.

Plus, certain cards offer bonus points in select categories. For example, with the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card, you’ll earn 5% cash back (or 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar) on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores, phone, internet, and cable TV services each account anniversary year.

This means you can earn up to $1,250 cash back (or 125,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points worth $2125 according to our valuations) per year, just for maximizing these bonus categories — enough to fly nearly anywhere in the world — even in business class!

As you can see, holding a business credit card can be a very rewarding endeavor. Holing a Chase business card is a critical factor in achieving the elusive Chase Trifecta — a credit card strategy that helps cardholders maximize every dollar they spend and earn a ton of points all while minimizing annual fees.

Lastly, many of the best business cards come with purchase protection that can give you peace of mind when purchasing expensive equipment, like phones, computers, etc. American Express offers some of the best purchase protection — It’s why I use my The Business Platinum Card® from American Express for big-ticket items.

How to pick the best business card

Much like picking the top card for any other spending category, there’s no straight answer when it comes to finding the best business card. You have to pick one that fits your particular spending habits and financial goals.

When choosing a business card, consider the following:

  • Type of rewards you’ll earn
  • The bonus offer
  • Minimum spending requirements
  • Ongoing bonus opportunities
  • Other special perks

One of the first things to consider is the kind of rewards you want to earn. Do you prefer cash back? Or do you like earning miles & points for travel? Transferrable rewards programs tend to offer the most flexibility, and in my opinion, are the most valuable rewards currency available. With bank points, you’ll be able to transfer the rewards you earn to a variety of different airlines and hotels. And with some, it’s even possible to redeem for cash back or to “erase” purchases off your credit card statement.

Next, look for cards offering valuable intro bonuses. A big welcome offer is always a good thing. But you need to make sure you can meet the card’s minimum spending requirements. There are a number of creative ways to meet the minimum spending requirements, so don’t get immediately scared by any big number.

The lounge access and yearly airline fee credit that comes with my American Express Business Platinum card has saved me hundreds (if not thousands!) of dollars over the years. Enrollment Required. (Photo by Isabelle Raphael)

It’s also important to find a card that’ll keep rewarding you even after you earn the initial big intro bonus. Especially if you spend a lot in common bonus categories like office supply stores and shipping. And the icing on the cake is if you can find a card that offers special benefits like airport lounge access and TSA PreCheck … perks like these can save you money and time and make your travel experience much more enjoyable.

Best rewards credit cards for business owners

If you’re ready to sign up for your first business credit card, here are a few recommendations that are good for any small business owner:

  • Sign up for Chase credit cards first, because Chase is often more restrictive than other banks due to Chase’s 5/24 rule and how they restrict new bonuses for some applicants who’ve recently applied for a lot of credit cards. My favorite small business credit cards are the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card and the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card thanks to their generous welcome offers and ongoing bonus categories. (The Ink Business Cash is offering an increased $750 cash back bonus after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months)
  • U.S. Bank Business Cash Rewards World Elite™ MasterCard® – Solid choice thanks to no annual fee and not caps on bonus categories
  • The Business Platinum Card® from American Express – Great for premium travel perks like airport lounge access

For even more card recommendations, check out other lists of our favorite credit cards:

How to manage the rewards employees earn

Many business cards allow you to add employee cards for free. Employee cards are good for tracking employee spending, setting up spend limits, and making expense reporting easier. Plus, you’ll earn rewards on your employee’s purchases — a benefit you’d miss if you reimbursed your employees via traditional expense reporting methods.

As the business owner, it’s up to you to decide how you manage employee cards and what to do with the rewards employees earn.

For example, I know some small business owners who use the rewards they earn through employee spending and business expenses to cover the cost of employee travel. This can be a great way to bootstrap a new business — by making your expenses work for you.

I know others who use the rewards the business earns to reward their employees. If you earn Chase Ultimate Rewards with a Chase business card, for example, you can convert those to cash. When you redeem your points for cash back you’ll get a value of 1 cent each. So you could convert your rewards to cash bonuses for your employees.

Lastly, you could use the rewards you and your employees earn through spending on business cards for your own personal travels. There are no rules against this approach! This is how I always use the rewards I earn with the business cards I hold. Granted, I only employ contractors when I need them. I’ve never run a business with full-time employees.

I used the Ultimate Rewards points earned with my Chase Ink Preferred for a trip to Hawaii with my family. (Photo by DonLand/Shutterstock)

Regardless, using business rewards cards has helped me rack up tons of travel rewards (mainly with Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards) that I then use to take my family on vacation.

First steps in earning rewards for your business

Here are a few tips to get started in formulating your business card strategy:

  1. Assess your business spending
  2. Figure out what kind of rewards you want to earn
  3. Figure out what perks you want
  4. Plan how you’ll earn those rewards
  5. Enjoy the benefits of utilizing the rewards and benefits you’ve earned

If you’re looking for inspiration on how to use your travel rewards, be sure to read our guides on the best use of miles and points, including:

Bottom line

As a business owner, learning how to leverage your business expenses by using the business cards that earn travel rewards can translate into big returns — whether you decide to earn cash back, miles or points.

When formulating your plan, be sure to look for a card (or cards) that offer nice welcome bonuses, solid bonus categories and ongoing benefits you’ll use.

For example, having a card like The Business Platinum Card® from American Express can save you money thanks to perks like lounge access and an annual airline fee credit. Enrollment required for select benefits. Or take advantage of the bonus points you’ll earn on common business expenses like shipping and internet with a card like the Ink Business Cash card that’s currently offering an increased welcome bonus.

Are you a small business owner? Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to receive tips and tricks to earning and redeeming travel rewards as a business owner.

Meghan Hunter is an editor for Million Mile Secrets. She covers points, miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels and general travel. Her work has also appeared in The Points Guy.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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