By Jason Steele


5 Min. To Read

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Issue #20 of the Credit Card Reviews Industry Expert Roundup is unique as it centers around advice for small business owners. This issue's question presented to Lee Huffman, Emily Guy Birken, Gerri Detweiler, Miranda Marquit, Bill Hardekopf, is:

What features do you think are important in a small business credit card?

Lee Huffman - Travel expert who blogs at Bald Thoughts

The most important feature in a small business card is being able to individually track employee expenses. Whether you have one employee or ten, you need to be able to distinguish who is spending what so that you can associate expenses to specific projects and ensure that employees aren't spending more than they should. It is critical for a business to understand the profitability of each project and get reimbursed from clients when appropriate. If you don't have visibility into your spending, the task becomes incredibly harder to manage.

Emily Guy Birken - Milwaukee-based former educator and freelance writer specializing in personal finance.

The right small business credit card for you should offer you features that will match the your expected usage of the card. For instance, one important feature might be the kinds of rewards you can expect to get. So if you use your small business card to entertain potential clients, you will want a card that offers rewards for dining, or if you use your card for travel expenses, then you will want one that provides airline miles or other travel rewards. Alternatively, if you need to use a small business card to finance a large one-time purchase for your business, you will want a card that offers 0% introductory APR so you can pay for your big purchase without racking up interest charges.

The other feature you should expect from any small business card is the ability to easily track and categorize your purchases. You are using a small business credit card in part because it makes your small business accounting easier. Choose a card that will help you with that kind of tracking.

Gerri Detweiler - Head of market education for Nav.

Small business owners tend to be cost conscious, even when choosing credit cards. They look for low introductory rates on both purchases and balance transfers, a reasonable ongoing interest rate on purchases, and no annual fees. (If they are going to pay an annual fee, it better be well worth it.)

At the same time, many entrepreneurs want to earn rewards and will shop around for the credit card that offers the best rewards at the lowest cost

At Nav, we’ve also found that small business owners often want to protect their credit while they grow their business. That means they prefer to use a card that helps them build business credit. Savvy entrepreneurs may choose business credit cards that don’t report to personal credit, especially if they carry balances.

Overall, business owners are more likely to carry multiple credit cards. Nav’s research has found that small business owners, on average, carry about twice as many personal credit cards as non-business owners. (4.78 for business owners and 2.32 for non-business owners).

Miranda Marquit - founder of Planting Money Seeds, a website dedicated to helping consumers use their money as a resource to create the lives they want

One of the most important things to me is the rewards program. When you're spending for your business, it makes sense to get rewards. You can use those rewards to get cash back and gain other perks that can make your business run more cost-efficiently.

I also like to make sure that I can get free cards for authorized users. Having support to get cards for key employees is vital. You should also have access to tools that help you track the spending on each card so that you can manage what's happening.

Finally, I like to look at cards with no foreign transaction fees. If you or your employees travel outside the country, or make purchases out the country, it's important to avoid those fees. That 3% foreign transaction fee can add up to thousands of dollars if you're not careful.

Bill Hardekopf - CEO of

There are several things an owner should look for in a small business credit card: (1) a card with a large limit since you may have to use the card to make significant purchases during times when cash flow is difficult; (2) an attractive early spend bonus and ongoing rewards, especially in the categories where you will spend the most money; rewards can help your business earn some incremental revenue; (3) the ability to get additional cards on the same account for other employees who may be authorized to make purchases; (4) an issuer that provides a year-end breakout of your annual purchases which will help make life easier when figuring your budget and gathering tax information; and (5) a card with no or a low annual fee. If at all possible, credit card debt should never be carried over from one month to the next since the interest rate on business credit cards is so high and the amount charged by most businesses in a typical month are usually quite substantial.

Jason Steele - Founder of CardCon

Small business cards work much like personal credit cards, but there are two things that small business owners should look for when shopping for a small business credit card. First, you will want to earn rewards on the kinds of purchases that your business will make the most. This could include gas, advertising, shipping or travel expenses, for example.

Next, you’ll want to make sure that the card has all the expense tracking and reporting features that you’ll need. For instance, many business cards have a mobile app that will allow you and your employees to capture receipts and tag expenses, saving everyone time and effort. Other small business credit cards offer robust reporting features that make accounting and tax preparation much easier.

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