Searching for the best business credit card deals will inevitably lead to some questions. In this LoveToKnow interview, David Boyd of Credit Card Compare reveals what business owners should look for when trying to find the best business credit card deals.
Finding the Best Business Credit Card Deals
LoveToKnow (LTK): How are business credit cards different from consumer credit cards?
David Boyd (DB): Unlike standard low rate credit cards aimed at the typical consumer, business credit cards offer the ability to export itemized transactions in a format compatible with popular business accounting software. They also typically allow for more than one cardholder for your account, so staff can make purchases themselves.
Business credit card annual fees tend to be noticeably higher. Banks also offer higher credit limits to accommodate business expenses such as flights, stock, advertising spend, etc. The typical business credit card will have some form of rewards program so businesses can earn a set number of points per dollar spent that can be redeemed for flights, hotels and travel upgrades, and in stores. There are also usually some other perks, such as travel insurance, purchase coverage and a 24/7 concierge service to assist with research and booking tickets.
LTK: What credit card features should business owners look for?
The key feature you should look for is a business credit card with rewards, preferably sporting as high an earning ratio as possible. If you don't travel frequently for your business, don't get a credit card that rewards you with air miles or frequent flyer points. Instead, look for a card that awards you with points that can be redeemed in stores for useful items.
As with any type of credit account, you'll want total transparency so you are able to see absolutely every transaction made using the card, including those made using other cards on your account. Visa or MasterCard may be preferable, as American Express isn't accepted as a form of payment as widely, especially internationally.
Business Credit Card Features Advice
LTK: What are some features business owners should avoid?
DB: Fees are the most obvious feature to be aware of. A card that charges you unexpectedly is to be avoided above all else. It's assumed that a business credit card holder should always pay off the full balance every month, but I'd say that businesses should avoid above-average interest rates on purchases, especially if you are using the card to make purchases and won't be paying the balance in full every month.
I also advise business to avoid using their credit card's cash advance capability at all costs. The interest rates are always higher than the typical interest rates on purchases; plus you won't earn points. Don't choose a credit card that strokes your ego or will look flashy in your wallet. Above all else, it has to make financial sense!
LTK: Should all business owners have credit cards?
DB: There are some very obvious benefits of business credit cards:
- They make managing expenses much easier.
- Businesses can earn considerable rewards just for spending with their credit card.
- They help with short term cash flow issues, as long as they don't become critical to the viability of your business.
- The best deals for supplies and services are often found online, where a credit card is needed to make a purchase.
However, a credit card may also present problems for your business:
- If the business is running a profit and you don't need the extra rewards or perks then the drawbacks may outweigh the benefits.
- If a business is in severe financial straits, then a credit card will most likely compound these issues instead of improving them, especially if restraint is not exercised.
- If your business is fairly new and you're applying for a card in its name, then your business's credit rating may not be high enough yet to be eligible and your application will most likely be declined. This can negatively impact your infantile credit rating and make it more difficult to be approved for credit accounts with suppliers.
My position on credit versus debit cards is that if you don't need or want to earn rewards and your business bank account already has a debit card in place, then don't apply for a business credit card.
Applying for a Card
LTK: What is the application process for obtaining a business credit card?
DB: Once you have compared the various cards available to you and selected the one that best fits your needs, then you can start the online application process. This invariably involves filling in a secure online form that is submitted to and reviewed by the lender. You will then be informed of the decision, whether approved or declined, in a timely manner. The online application process is easier and faster than applying in person at the local branch.
Don't feel obliged to apply for a credit card with the bank that you've always been with. Consider products from smaller local banks and credit unions when you're comparing the market. There may be some really good hidden gems out there. They (like your business) may not have huge marketing budgets to publicize their credit card offers, which is why you haven't heard about them before.
LTK: Is it possible for business owners to operate without credit cards?
DB: If a business has credit agreements already in place with their suppliers, or it already has a debit card, then it is entirely possible to operate without a credit card. However, startups or businesses operating exclusively online will probably feel the need for a credit card much more acutely, and not just for the improved cash flow they afford. However, even in these cases it is plausible to run a business, albeit a very lean one, using a debit card tied to your business bank account.