This is a guest post from Tim Chen of NerdWallet.com.
Choosing the right business credit card is as important for small business owners as choosing the right personal card is for consumers.
The card you choose should reflect the specific needs of your business, taking into account spending habits, whether you will carry a balance, and how often you travel in the line of duty.
Choose wisely and your business can take advantage of the perks credit cards have to offer. Choose carelessly and you may well increase your company’s debt or miss out on savings that could total hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year.
Here’s how to choose the small business credit card that’s perfect for your small business.
Know your options
Like their personal card brethren, small business credit cards come in lots of shapes and sizes. If you’re in the market for a business card, you may do best to first identify your business’s top needs and priorities.
Are you just starting out, with an office yet to be furnished? Maybe you already have a business credit card (or three) and are struggling to make monthly payments with rising interest rates. Perhaps you plan to finance your fledgling enterprise with a business credit card and are looking for low interest rates.
Whatever your needs, business cards fall into two main categories:
Low interest rate cards
If you anticipate carrying a balance, finding a card with a low interest rate should be your top priority. Read the fine print and find out how often the credit company can jack up your rate.
Also, bear in mind that consumer protections brought by the Credit CARD Act of 2009 don’t apply to business cards.
If you’re late on a payment, the company can immediately raise your APR, so always be sure to pay at least the monthly minimum on time. And in general, read the fine print––credit companies can be sneaky.
If your business is already in credit card debt, you may want to look for a good balance transfer card that will allow you to pay down your debt interest-free for some number of months. This can give you a chance to get out from under a debt if the interest is suffocating you.
Business rewards cards come in all different flavors.
If you won’t be carrying a balance, consider a card with a higher APR that will pay you in perks and rewards suited to your business needs.
If you’re just starting out, need to furnish the office, pay the Internet and phone bill, and gas up the company car (your middle-aged minivan?) you’ll find a number of business credit cards that offer handsome rewards on these types of every-day business expenses.
Meanwhile, business owners who travel frequently can score big with cards that earn airline miles and free nights at hotels and resorts around the world. Like everything else, there’s a lot of variation in this category, so whether you’re looking for luxury accommodations, or more affordable digs, there’s a card out there for your business travel needs.
What are you looking for in a business credit card?
About the Author: Tim Chen is the CEO of NerdWallet, an unbiased resource for business and personal credit cards.