5 Useful Tips to Choosing A Business Credit Card

Cash flow is often listed as one as of the biggest challenges for small businesses. The timing of receivables and payables can leave you with an income gap that makes it difficult to pay bills. That’s why some businesses rely on credit cards. They temporarily fill in until anticipated income is received. But not all credit cards are created equal. Take a look at these pointers to help you find one that’s right for your business.

Shop APRs.

Paying off your balance each month is perhaps the smartest way to use a credit card. It’s like a no-interest loan that lets you float money until the payment due date. If that’s your intent, look for the card with the longest grace period.

But if you anticipate carrying a balance, it’s important to compare the Annual Percentage Rate (APR). That’s the interest expense plus other costs associated with the loan. The APR can be fixed or variable rate. Some companies offer introductory or sign-up APRs that charge lower interest rates for a period of time. Others offer special APRs for balance transfers. If you have a specific short-term need or a high-interest credit debt, this can be a welcome bonus.

Check the fine print for fees.

In addition to the APR, there can be other costs associated with a business credit card. The most common is an annual fee you pay for the privilege of using the card.

Be sure to look for other fees that may be hidden in the disclosure. These include fees for: late payment, expedited payment, cash advance, exceeding your credit limit, transferring a balance, or insufficient funds. Many of these can be avoided with prudent payment habits but if you anticipate incurring them, you’ll want to take these fees into consideration.

Consider reward points.

While there’s a cost to using credit, many companies offer rewards that can help offset them. One is a cash-back feature that pays a percentage for qualifying purchases made on the card. Some companies pay cash on all purchases while others limit the cash back to certain categories, like shipping or office supplies. If you spend a lot in these categories, it might make sense to go with a cash-back card.

If you or your employees travel for your business, cards that offer travel awards might be appropriate. Qualifying expense might include airline tickets, gas, lodging, or restaurant bills. Rewards can take the form of airline seat upgrades, frequent flyer miles, or hotel discounts. If you frequently use a specific airline, you may get the largest reward with that carrier’s card.

Whether it’s a cash-back or travel card, you’ll want to compare the reward against the cost of the card. For example, if the annual fee or interest exceeds the cash you get back, that reward may not be as valuable to your business.

Weigh the value of account management.

Some credit card companies offer account management services. You’ll get quarterly or year-end statements that itemize all your charges into categories. If you issue cards to your employees, they will track their charges separately.

Some companies let you download these statements into your accounting software. That can streamline your financial accounting.

Use comparison sites to evaluate choices.

There are a number of sources that periodically compare various aspects of business credit cards. That can save you research time. Here are a few of these:

  • Forbes Advisor – This guide is updated monthly. It includes their best pick in certain categories—no annual fee, 0% APR offer, small business and start-ups.
  • Fundera Small Business Credit Card Guide – This website includes their picks for best cash back, balance transfer and businesses with limited credit.
  • Nerdwallet – This article focuses on best in the category of cash-back card.

When used as a short-term source of funding, a business credit card can help solve a temporary shortfall in cash flow. The key is to choose the right one. Start with these pointers to find what’s right for your business.

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