Best business credit cards for 2021

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CNN Underscored reviews financial products such as credit cards and bank accounts based on their overall value. We may receive a commission through the LendingTree affiliate network if you apply and are approved for a card, but our reporting is always independent and objective.

While you might be looking to lower your business credit card expenses right now, it’s also a vital time to keep track of every dollar your business spends. Having the right credit card to separate your business expenses from personal expenses can make your life significantly easier.

Not only that, but business credit cards can also offer higher spending and credit limits, which might be a necessity to make those large business purchases. Some cards even have introductory interest rates on purchases and balance transfers, making them a helpful tool in the current economic climate.

Our comprehensive credit card methodology compares every aspect of each business credit card to our “benchmark credit card” — the Citi® Double Cash Card — to determine which cards can potentially bring you maximum value. And while the Double Cash is a personal credit card, a comparable business credit card is the American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card, as both cards earn flat-rate cash back at the same market-leading rate.

So take a few minutes to take a look at our list of the best business credit cards in 2021 and see if one might be useful to your business right now.

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express: Best overall business card
Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card: Best no-annual-fee card
Ink Business Preferred Credit Card: Best sign-up bonus
American Express® Business Gold Card: Best for flexible bonus categories
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express: Best for travel perks
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card: Best for airline elite status
Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business: Best for everyday business expenses

Why did we select these cards as our best business credit cards for 2021? Dive into the details of each card with us, and see how they stack up.

Why it’s great in one sentence: For businesses looking to pay off large purchases with no interest for an extended time, the Blue Business Plus from American Express offers an introductory 0% APR on purchases for the first 12 months you have the card (13.24%-19.24% variable afterward).

This card is right for: Small businesses with less than $50,000 in annual expenses who want to earn travel rewards for no annual fee, but who can also utilize an introductory interest rate.

Highlights:

  • Earn 2 points for every dollar you spend on all purchases up to $50,000 per year, then 1 point per dollar thereafter.
  • Points can be redeemed for travel through Amex Travel at a rate of up to 1 cent per point.
  • Points can also be transferred to any of Amex’s 21 airline and hotel partners.
  • 0% interest on all purchases for the first 12 months (13.24%-19.24% variable afterward).
  • Terms apply.

Welcome bonus: None.

What we like about the Blue Business Plus: If your business needs to make ends meet right now, the Blue Business Plus offers a 0% introductory interest rate on purchases for the first 12 months you have the card. Just be careful to pay off your debt in that time, because the rate jumps to a variable 13.24%-19.24% after the 12 months are up.

The Blue Business Plus also earns 2 points for every dollar your business spends on all purchases up to $50,000 each calendar year. After that, the rate drops to just 1 point per dollar, so this is a card that caters more toward small businesses who don’t have extraordinary yearly expenses.

The Blue Business Plus card is best for small businesses.

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iStock

The Blue Business Plus card is best for small businesses.

The Membership Rewards points earned with this card are both flexible and valuable, assuming you want to bank them for travel in the future. You can redeem them directly for flights or hotel stays at a rate of up to 1 cent per point via Amex Travel, or transfer them to any of American Express’s 21 airline and hotel partners for potentially even more value.

One thing that could be better: Although one of the perks of the Blue Business Plus is that you can earn points toward free travel, you may not have travel on your mind right now. And while you can convert the points earned on this card to cash, it’s a pretty poor value with each point worth only 0.6 cents apiece.

But if you’d prefer to earn cash back instead of travel rewards, you’ll want to look at the American Express Blue Business Cash Card instead. The card’s features are virtually the same as the Blue Business Plus, but you’ll earn cash back instead of points, which could be a better fit if you want to use your credit card rewards now rather than save them for later.

Where it beats our benchmark card: Extensive airline and hotel transfer partners, some travel and purchase protections, introductory rate on purchases.

Where our benchmark card is better: The Citi Double Cash has an introductory interest rate on balance transfers.

Read CNN Underscored’s Blue Business Plus Credit Card review.
Learn more and apply for the Blue Business Plus from American Express.

Why it’s great in one sentence: With 1.5% cash back on every purchase your business makes and an impressive $750 bonus cash back offer for new card applicants, the no-annual-fee Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card is a great choice for business owners who don’t want to tie up a lot of time with their credit card rewards.

This card is right for: Businesses who want the simplicity of flat-rate cash back rewards on their regular business expenses from a credit card with no annual fee.

Highlights:

  • Earn 1.5% cash back on all your purchases.
  • 0% interest on purchases for the first 12 months after opening the account (13.24%-19.24% variable APR afterward)
  • Purchase protection against damage or theft.
  • Primary car rental insurance when renting for business trips.
  • Expert business users can convert the cash back to flexible travel points when pairing the Ink Business Unlimited with the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, or a personal Sapphire card.
  • No annual fee.

Sign-up bonus: Earn $750 in bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first three months after you open the card.

What we like about the Ink Business Unlimited: Even in the best of times, business owners have a lot on their plates, and don’t necessarily want to spend a lot of bandwidth thinking about their credit card. If that sounds like you, the Ink Business Unlimited could be a perfect fit.

There are no bonus categories to chase with the Ink Business Unlimited — you’ll just earn a flat 1.5% cash back on every purchase your business makes, meaning you can put this card in your wallet and use it anytime you’re buying items for your business. The cash back can be redeemed at any time as a statement credit or a deposit into most US checking and savings accounts.

Now’s also the perfect time to apply for this card, because it’s featuring the highest sign-up bonus we’ve ever seen offered for it. New Ink Business Unlimited card applicants can earn $750 in bonus cash back after spending $7,500 in the first three months after opening the account.

And if you decide down the line that you’d prefer travel rewards to cash back, you can pair the Ink Business Unlimited with the premium Ink Business Preferred (or alternately, the personal Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve) and convert your cash back to travel points, then redeem the points for travel or transfer them to any of Chase’s 13 airline and hotel loyalty partners.

Related: There are three top-notch Chase Ink business credit cards, but which one is best for you?

You can redeem your Ink Business Unlimited rewards as cash back, or convert them to travel points when you also have another premium Chase Ultimate Rewards credit card.

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iStock

You can redeem your Ink Business Unlimited rewards as cash back, or convert them to travel points when you also have another premium Chase Ultimate Rewards credit card.

One thing that could be better: You won’t want to use the Ink Business Unlimited overseas, as it carries a 3% foreign transaction fee, which would obliterate any rewards you’d earn on international purchases. Also, you won’t find any travel protections on this card, with the exception of primary car rental insurance when you’re renting for business purposes.

And if your business has less than $50,000 in annual expenses, you could be better off with the American Express Blue Business Cash Card, which earns 2% cash back on up to $50,000 in purchases each year (then 1% thereafter). However, if you want the option to use your rewards for more valuable travel redemptions down the road, the Ink Business Unlimited is still a better choice, since you can pair it with a premium Chase Ultimate Rewards card at any time to open up a slew of travel options.

Where it beats our benchmark card: Sign-up bonus, purchase protections, primary car rental insurance when renting for business trips, an introductory rate on purchases.

Where our benchmark card is better: The Citi Double Cash earns a slightly higher rate of cash back on all purchases and has an introductory rate on balance transfers.

Learn more and apply for the Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card.

Why it’s great in one sentence: The incredibly high 100,000-point sign-up bonus on the Ink Business Preferred is one of the best you’ll find on a business card, especially for one that offers solid bonus categories and benefits — all for a low annual fee.

This card is right for: Businesses looking to earn flexible points toward travel, while also having access to unique benefits such as cell phone protection.

Highlights:

  • Earn 3 points for every dollar you spend on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable, phone services and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines (up to $150,000 in combined purchases each card anniversary year, then 1x).
  • Earn 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
  • Points can be redeemed with a 25% bonus when booking airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.
  • Points can also be transferred to any of Chase’s 13 airline and hotel partners at a 1-to-1 ratio.
  • Cell phone protection against damage or theft when you pay your cell phone bill with your card.
  • Purchase protection against damage or theft.
  • Primary car rental insurance when renting for business trips.
  • Trip delay protection and trip interruption/cancellation insurance.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • $95 annual fee.

Sign-up bonus: Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months after you open the card.

What we like about the Ink Business Preferred: By far, one of the best features of the Ink Business Preferred is its incredibly strong sign-up bonus — currently at 100,000 points, although it does require a large spending commitment of $15,000 in the first three months after you open the card. However, many businesses have routine monthly expenses that can easily meet that threshold.

Chase’s Ultimate Rewards is one of the best loyalty points programs in the travel world. You can redeem your points through Chase’s travel portal and receive a 25% bonus, or you can transfer your points to 13 different partner airlines and hotels, such as Hyatt, United and British Airways.

The Ink Business Preferred also offers cell phone protection as a perk, covering both your own cell phone and everyone else listed on your monthly bill as long as you pay the entire bill with the card each month. This means your employees (or potentially even family members) can be covered for no extra cost. You can submit up to three claims every 12 months and be reimbursed up to $600 per incident, with a $100 deductible per claim.

Protect the cell phones of both you and your employees with the Ink Business Preferred.

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iStock

Protect the cell phones of both you and your employees with the Ink Business Preferred.

One thing that could be better: Although the bonus categories on the Ink Business Preferred are quite generous, you won’t earn any bonus points on some popular everyday business purchases, such as gas, restaurants or at office supply stores. The 3x categories are also capped at a combined $150,000 in total purchases each year -— after that, you’re only earning 1 point per dollar spent.

Where it beats our benchmark card: Sign-up bonus, cell phone protection, purchase protections, travel protections, primary car rental insurance, no foreign transaction fees.

Where our benchmark card is better: The Citi Double Cash has no annual fee and an introductory rate on balance transfers.

Explore the 8 main benefits of the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card.
Learn more and apply for the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card.

Why it’s great in one sentence: The Amex Business Gold card gives businesses the flexibility to automatically earn bonus points on the two categories they spend the most money in during each billing period.

This card is right for: Businesses who spend money in varying categories over the course of the year and who want to be rewarded with extra travel rewards on their largest purchases each month.

Highlights:

  • Earn 4 points for every dollar you spend on two select categories you spend the most in each billing cycle (up to $150,000 in combined purchases per year, then 1x).
  • Earn 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
  • Flexibility to redeem points through American Express Travel and receive 25% of your points back.
  • Points can also be transferred to any of Amex’s 21 airline and hotel partners.
  • Trip delay protection.
  • Extended warranty and purchase protection.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • $295 annual fee.
  • Terms apply.

Welcome bonus: Earn 35,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership.

What we like about the Amex Business Gold: The Amex Business Gold shines when it comes to earning as many points as possible on your business expenses, even if they aren’t in the same categories every month.

You’ll earn 4 points per dollar on the top two categories where your business spent the most in each billing cycle, from a list of six possible categories:

  • US purchases for advertising in select media (online, TV, radio).
  • US purchases made directly from select technology providers of computer hardware, software and cloud solutions.
  • US purchases at gas stations.
  • US purchases at restaurants.
  • US purchases for shipping.
  • Airfare purchased directly from airlines.

The best part of this system is that American Express will automatically calculate your top two categories at the end of each billing cycle — you don’t have to speculatively select your categories in advance. This is great in the current economic environment, as you aren’t locked into two categories for the entire year, and your bonus points can change as your purchases change.

US purchases for shipping is one of six select bonus categories on the Amex Business Gold card.

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iStock

US purchases for shipping is one of six select bonus categories on the Amex Business Gold card.

One thing that could be better: For a card with such a high annual fee, there aren’t too many travel benefits on the Amex Business Gold. You won’t get any luxury travel perks or even any travel statement credits. This means there aren’t many opportunities to offset the annual fee, so you’ll need to make sure the earning rate is worth it for your overall spend.

Also, it’s important to note that your 4x bonus point categories are capped at $150,000 in spending across the combined six categories each calendar year. Once you hit that threshold, the card only earns 1 point per dollar on everything you buy.

Where it beats our benchmark card: Welcome bonus, transferable points, trip delay protection, purchase protection, no foreign transaction fees.

Where our benchmark card is better: The Citi Double Cash has no annual fee and an introductory rate on balance transfers.

Learn more and apply for the American Express Business Gold Card.

Why it’s great in one sentence: Although it’s the most expensive card on our list, when travel returns to normal, the Business Platinum Card from American Express offers luxury travel perks such as airport lounge access, elite status and much more.

This card is right for: Business travelers who want a card that provides top-notch luxury perks, transferable travel rewards and travel protections.

Highlights:

  • Earn 5 points for every dollar you spend on flights and prepaid hotels booked on Amex Travel.
  • Earn 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
  • Points can be redeemed for travel through Amex Travel at a rate of up to 1 cent per point, and you’ll get 35% of your points back on airfare with one selected airline, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year.
  • Points can also be transferred to any of Amex’s 21 airline and hotel partners.
  • Up to $200 in annual statement credits on eligible US purchases at Dell.com.
  • Up to $200 in annual statement credits for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline.
  • Up to $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
  • Complimentary access to American Express Centurion Lounges, Delta Sky Clubs when flying Delta and Priority Pass airport lounges (not including Priority Pass restaurants).
  • Complimentary Gold Elite status with Hilton and Marriott hotel chains.
  • Complimentary Preferred Elite status with Hertz, Avis and National Car Rental chains.
  • Access to American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts.
  • Travel cancellation and trip delay protection.
  • Extended warranty and purchase protection.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • $595 annual fee.
  • Terms apply.

Welcome bonus: Earn 85,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on qualifying purchases within the first three months of card membership, plus earn 5 points for every dollar you spend on eligible purchases in five select business categories in the first three months of card membership, up to 80,000 bonus points per category.

What we like about the Amex Business Platinum: This is a card for the true road warrior who considers travel perks a necessity. Although many of the Amex Business Platinum card’s benefits are sitting on the sideline right now, they’ll be more valuable than ever once travel is back to normal.

The card’s lounge access is by far one of the best benefits, allowing you to relax in comfort at over 1,200 lounges worldwide, including Amex’s own Centurion Lounges. On the hotel front, you’ll also receive elite Gold status in both the Marriott and Hilton program, which can get you complimentary upgrades and breakfast at participating hotels.

To partially offset the card’s annual fee, you also get up to $200 in annual airline incidental credits, up to $200 toward eligible US purchases at Dell.com each year, and up to $100 for reimbursement of a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee. In the first year alone, these credits are worth up to $500.

Get up to $200 in annual credits on eligible US purchases at Dell.com with the Amex Business Platinum card.

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Dell.com

Get up to $200 in annual credits on eligible US purchases at Dell.com with the Amex Business Platinum card.

You’ll also earn 5 points per dollar on airfare booked via Amex Travel, which is one of the best earning rates you’ll find on a business credit card. But as part of the current welcome bonus, new card applicants also earn 5 points per dollar in five select business categories during the first three months of card membership, up to 80,000 bonus points per category. The categories include eligible US purchases on:

  • Wireless telephone services
  • Shipping
  • Advertising in select media
  • Gas stations
  • Office supplies

The Amex Business Platinum also has travel protections, including trip interruption and cancellation insurance. This covers your non-refundable expenses if your flight is interrupted or canceled for a covered reason, up to $10,000 per trip. (Unfortunately, pandemics aren’t a covered reason.) The card also comes with trip delay protection, providing up to $500 in reimbursement for unexpected expenses if your flight is delayed by more than six hours due to a covered reason.

One thing that could be better: With such a high annual fee, you’d expect to earn more points on your non-airline and hotel purchases, but that’s unfortunately not the case with the Amex Business Platinum. For everyday purchases, you’re much better off using another card, such as the American Express Blue Business Cash or Blue Business Plus, to maximize your rewards.

Where it beats our benchmark card: Welcome bonus, luxury travel perks and travel credits, travel protections, purchase protection, extensive airline and hotel transfer partners.

Where our benchmark card is better: The Citi Double Cash has no annual fee and an introductory rate on balance transfers.

Read about the Amex Business Platinum card’s 85,000-point bonus.
Learn more and apply for the Business Platinum Card from American Express.

Why it’s great in one sentence: Airline credit cards like the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Business American Express Card offer specific benefits that you don’t get with flexible travel credit cards, such as free checked bags, priority boarding and points or miles toward status.

This card is right for: Businesses who expect to travel when airlines return to the skies, and who are looking to earn not only Delta SkyMiles but also airline-specific benefits that will make their flying experience more enjoyable.

Highlights:

  • Earn 3 miles for every dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with Delta.
  • Earn 3 miles per dollar on eligible purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 1.5 miles per dollar on single eligible purchases of $5,000 or more, up to 50,000 additional miles per year.
  • Earn 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases.
  • Receive your first checked bag free on Delta flights for you and up to eight companions traveling on the same reservation.
  • Main Cabin 1 priority boarding on Delta flights.
  • 20% savings in the form of a statement credit on all eligible in-flight purchases of food, beverages and audio headsets.
  • Receive a domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your card.
  • $250 annual fee.
  • Terms apply.

Welcome bonus: Earn 45,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after making $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of opening the account, plus earn a $100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your card within your first three months.

What we like about the Delta Platinum Business Amex: Although there are many airline credit cards on the market, we specifically selected the Delta Platinum Business Amex card for our list for two reasons.

First, the airline has expanded the Status Boost feature of this card for 2021, making it easier to earn Delta elite status while you’re stuck at home. You can normally earn 10,000 bonus MQMs — which count toward Delta elite status — by spending $25,000 on the Delta Platinum Business Amex in a calendar year. But for 2021, you’ll get a 25% bonus on that boost, bringing it up to 12,500 MQMs. Even better, you can earn another 12,500 bonus MQMs in 2021 with a total of $50,000 in spending on the card.

Related: Earn Delta elite status without even flying by using this expanded credit card perk.

The second reason we chose the Delta Platinum Business Amex for our list is that, when you renew your card for a second year (and every year you renew it after that), you’ll get a companion certificate that can be used to fly a friend or family member with you on a domestic round-trip Delta flight in the Main Cabin for just the cost of taxes. If you can take advantage of this perk each year, it can easily offset the annual cost of the card all on its own.

Bring a companion with you on a domestic Delta flight for just the cost of taxes with the Delta Platinum Business Amex card.

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Bring a companion with you on a domestic Delta flight for just the cost of taxes with the Delta Platinum Business Amex card.

Aside from the miles earned on the Delta Platinum Business Amex card, you’ll also get some airline-specific benefits, which can come in handy if you fly Delta often, including a first checked bag free on Delta flights for you and up to eight traveling companions on the same reservation, Main Cabin 1 priority boarding and a 20% savings on in-flight food, beverages and audio headsets.

One thing that could be better: Delta SkyMiles aren’t worth as much as many of its competitors, and when you earn a specific airline’s miles, you’re pigeon-holed into redeeming your rewards for just Delta or partner flights. That makes the rewards earned with the Delta Platinum Business Amex less flexible than those earned with credit cards that are part of the Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards programs, or business credit cards that earn straight cash back.

Where it beats our benchmark card: Welcome bonus, Delta travel benefits, Status Boost for earning elite status, annual companion certificate after the first year and no foreign transaction fees.

Where our benchmark card is better: The Citi Double Cash has no annual fee even after the first year, has an introductory rate on balance transfers and earns easy-to-redeem cash back.

Learn more and apply for the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Business American Express Card.

Why it’s great in one sentence: The Capital One Spark Miles for Business earns an unlimited 2 miles for every dollar you spend on the card, and those miles can be redeemed for any travel purchase you make — plus, for a limited time, food delivery and phone services — at 1 cent per mile, or transferred to Capital One’s airline partners for potentially even more valuable redemptions.

This card is right for: Larger businesses that want easy-to-redeem credit card rewards, with the option to learn how to master transferable miles down the line for greater value.

Highlights:

  • Earn 5 miles for every dollar you spend on your card on hotels and rental cars booked via Capital One travel.
  • Earn 2 miles per dollar on all other purchases with no cap.
  • Redeem miles for any travel purchase at a rate of 1 cent per mile.
  • Now through April 30, 2021, redeem miles for food delivery and phone services at 1 cent per mile.
  • Miles can also be transferred to any of 15 airline and hotel partners.
  • Up to $100 credit when applying for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • No annual fee for the first year, then $95 per year.

Sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,500 in the first three months after opening the account.

What we like about the Capital One Spark Miles: This is a business credit card that makes earning and redeeming travel points incredibly easy. For starters, you’ll earn 2 miles for every dollar you spend on the Capital One Spark Miles card with no cap. On top of that, if you book any hotels or car rentals through Capital One Travel, you’ll earn an extra 3 miles for a total of 5 miles per dollar.

You can redeem your miles any time for any travel related purchase at a fixed 1 cent per mile, or for a limited time from now through April 30, 2021, you can also redeem them for purchases of food delivery or phone services at the same rate. However, the miles can also be transferred to any of Capital One’s 15 travel partners for potentially even more value.

Now through April 30, 2021, you can redeem Capital One miles for many food delivery purchases.

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iStock

Now through April 30, 2021, you can redeem Capital One miles for many food delivery purchases.

The Capital One Spark Miles card also comes with a decent sign-up bonus offer and a relatively low minimum spending requirement. The 50,000-mile bonus can be used to “erase” $500 of travel purchases on your monthly statement, which is better than many of the other business cards you’ll see on our list, and is especially good for a card with the annual fee waived for the first year.

As an added bonus, you’ll also receive a $100 credit when applying for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. Although these programs aren’t as valuable right now since most people can’t travel, this perk will definitely be useful once we’re able to fly again.

One thing that could be better: Although you can redeem your miles for any travel-related purchase, if you prefer to maximize the value of your miles by transferring them to an airline or hotel program, the partnerships Capital One currently has available aren’t quite as robust as other flexible points programs. Most are international airlines and require an advanced knowledge of loyalty programs to maximize your value when utilizing them.

Where it beats our benchmark card: Sign-up bonus, purchase protections, travel protections.

Where our benchmark card is better: The Citi Double Cash has no annual fee even after the first year and an introductory rate on balance transfers.

Earn $500 or 50,000 bonus miles with Capital One Spark credit cards.

Looking for a new credit card to help finance large purchases? Check out CNN Underscored’s list of the best 0% interest credit cards of 2021.

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