We asked over 250 small business owners about the tech tools they swear by. Based on 500-plus hours of research, here is our curated list of the best apps, software, and credit cards for tiny companies—as told to us by real small business owners.

Let’s face it: People either love—or love to hate—business credit cards. We received the most heated responses and split reactions to our call-out for credit card recommendations for small business owners. Despite the debate, a few winners rose to the top.

Here are the top business credit cards that keep showing up in the wallets of entrepreneurs.

The winner: Chase Ink Business Preferred

Chase Ink Business Preferred _ Best Business Credit Cards for Small Business Owners

Our survey found that the Chase Ink Business Preferred card was the most popular credit card for small business owners. Ten percent of respondents say they currently use the card—the highest percentage for any single credit card option.

Why business owners recommend it

  • The introductory offer: As of this writing, new members can earn 80,000 bonus points if they spend $5,000 in the first three months. That’s equivalent to $1,000 in travel rewards.
  • There’s zero percent APR for the first year. APR stands for annual percentage rate, and it’s the rate you’re charged on any outstanding credit card balance. The introductory zero percent APR means you don’t pay interest on your credit card purchases in your first year.

Kenny Tjay is the CEO of Indiemarch Film, a video production company based in Las Vegas, Nevada. He loves Chase Ink’s sign-up bonus and zero percent APR for the first year. This is important to Tjay when he has to make big equipment purchases, “like buying a $15,000 camera. We do the zero percent APR so we don’t get charged interest.”

  • You can earn triple points in a variety of categories. On the first $150,000 you spend, you can nab three points for every dollar you spend on shipping, internet, cable, phone, travel, and advertising. If you spend the full $150,000, you could be looking at $9,000 in travel rewards according to calculations from The Points Guy, or 450,000 points.

Suzanna Cameron, owner of New York-based floral and event company Stems Brooklyn, uses the Chase Ink card because of how valuable the points are. “I actually get cash back for what I spend,” she says.

  • The cell phone protection plan: Cardholders can receive up to $600 for each claim (up to three claims in 12 months) submitted by employees or business owners who are on a monthly cell phone bill paid with the Chase card.

Things to consider

  • You have to track the point categories. In order to make the most of this card, you want to spend as much as you can in the triple-point categories, which takes some serious planning.
  • There’s an annual fee. Every year on your account anniversary, you’ll have to pony up $95.
  • The triple points don’t last forever. After you hit the $150,000 triple points threshold—which applies across all categories—you’ll drop down to earning one point for every dollar you spend. After exhausting the triple points and sign-up bonus, the card may not be worth it to some business owners who really want the maximize their points in specific categories.
  • The interest rate is a bit high. Some respondents cited “the ridiculous interest rate” that hits once the 0% APR is up as a negative, which as of this writing is between 18.24–23.24 percent.

Best for owners who are into credit card freebies: American Express Business Gold Rewards Card

American Express Business Gold Rewards Card _ Best Business Credit Cards for Small Business Owners

Eight percent of the business owners we polled use the American Express Business Gold Rewards Card, the second most popular card among the group we surveyed.

Why business owners recommend it

  • They trust the American Express brand. The American Express name is important to a lot of the business owners we spoke with. “I trust American Express,” explains one survey respondent. The recognizable name shows the card is reputable and accepted by many vendors and merchants.
  • It has “high-touch” customer service. “They notify me when I have a problem, answer my call, and resolve my issues,” says one survey respondent. The dedicated phone line for cardholders is a big plus when you’re in a pinch and need to talk to a live agent ASAP to sort out an issue.
  • There are good promotional offers for cardholders. Cardmembers can use Amex Offers for dining, shopping, and travel rewards, along with Membership Experiences, which gives members access to presale tickets for a bunch of events.
  • You control the categories you earn points in. Within the first two months of opening the card, you’ll have to pick the category you want to earn triple points in. The remaining categories will earn you double points. Categories include airfare, advertising, shipping, software, gas, and more.

This can be three times more lucrative for some business owners than the Chase Ink card, which caps the spending threshold at $150,000 across four categories. Instead, this card has a $100,000 threshold for each category.

Things to consider

  • There’s an annual fee. The $295 annual fee is waived the first year, but you’ll have to pay it after that.
  • There’s no spending limit. This can either be a pro or a con, considering it allows you to spend as much as you want—but it can be easy to go over your budget.
  • The sign-up bonus is pretty much the same as other business credit cards. As of this writing, new cardmembers can earn 30,000 points (worth around $500 in travel) after spending $5,000 within the first three months. However, this is more than $211, which is the average credit card welcome bonus.

Many owners also carry both Chase Ink and American Express business credit cards to cover all of their bases. “Lots of our small business clients use both,” says Jason Blumer, CEO of Blumer CPAs. “We probably use AMEX more,” he says.

Best for business owners who don’t want to deal with points: Capital One Spark Cash for Business

Capital One Spark Cash for Business _ Best Business Credit Cards for Small Business Owners

The Spark Cash for Business card was voted the best cash-back card among the business owners we talked to. For Maia Bittner, the CEO of Pinch, the card is perfect because she doesn’t have to spend time thinking about categories and points—she simply gets two percent cash-back on everything.

Why business owners recommend it

  • The competitive cash-back rate. Most of the other cash-back credit cards have rotating categories where you can earn one to five percent back for a limited amount of time. However, the Spark Cash for Business card has the most competitive cash-back rate as of this writing; you get an unlimited 2 percent back regardless of categories.
  • There’s no extra effort required. Respondents liked that you don’t have to monitor categories and time limits in order to squeeze out the greatest amount of rewards. “I don’t want to spend my time optimizing points,” Bittner says. “I like cash-back cards because the cash gets applied directly to our balance. So our business is saving. It’s easy, and we don’t have to think about it.”
  • There are no foreign transaction fees. This is a big deal for companies that do business overseas because these fees can add up.

Things to consider

  • It has an annual fee. The $95 fee is waived the first year but kicks back in starting in your second year.
  • It has a meh sign-up bonus. The main draw for this card is the blanket two percent cash back—however, you can also get $500 cash back if you spend $4,500 within three months of signing up. This is not as competitive as other credit card sign-up bonuses.

Things to think about when shopping for a business credit card

Play the game—but only if you want to

Tjay uses both his Chase and Amex cards strategically to increase the number of points he gets. “We use marketing, food, and travel on Chase and utilities and two other categories on Amex to try to maximize the bonus.”

On the other hand, some business owners like Cameron don’t like to get into the credit card game. “I don’t play around with credit cards,” she says. “I stuck with my card for four years so far. For me, it’s not worth it to sign up for another card to get $200 back.”  

For Cameron, it’s important to maximize the rewards she does get so she can funnel it right back to her team. She likes to use the points to do something “extra,” like organizing a team outing or giving the team gift cards. “It’s a nice incentive to boost morale,” she says.

There’s a whole body of literature on how to maximize points from multiple credit cards, but you should only get into it if it interests you, because it can be a serious time commitment.

Look for zero percent APR

Tjay says to look for cards with zero percent introductory APR if you’re planning to make a large purchase. He then transfers his credit card balances to other cards with zero percent APR once the introductory rate ends.

Get a card with your bank

Because Tjay already has an account with Chase, going back and forth between his Chase credit card and other accounts is way easier. “When it’s all under one bank, there are usually no surprise fees,” he says.

When it comes to business credit cards, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the cards out there and study up on the sign-up offers. Then, look at your bank statement and see what you actually spend your money on.

“Look at the intro offers, the fine print, and the state of your business,” recommends Tjay. “Use all that to find your credit card match.”

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Kira Deutch Kira Deutch is a former Gusto editor. She has a background in publishing and content marketing for startups.
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