There are three excellent small business cards from American Express that I get a lot of questions about:
- The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express with 25,000 bonus Starpoints after spending $5k in six months
- The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN with 25,000 bonus Membership Rewards after spending $5k in three months
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN with 25,000 bonus Membership Rewards after spending $5k in three months
I have had all three of these cards, and I got them all for different reasons. There is no single best card of the bunch. Which card is best for you depends on your business’s spending pattern and your preferred type of rewards.
Which is the best business card for everyday spending? Which business card has the best sign up bonus? Which business card has the best perks? How can you complement your personal cards with a business card?
The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Card earns Starpoints, which are the most valuable mile or point. After spending $5k on the card in the first six months, you’ll have those 5k Starpoints + 25k bonus Starpoints for 30k Starpoints total.
I love this card for that massive sign up bonus and for its value on everyday spending. When there is no category bonus available on any card, I’d rather earn 1 Starpoint that 1 of any other type of point.
If you’re a big spender and want to have one card for all that spending, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Card is the business card you want.
If you want to earn the most flexible rewards–incredible for airline redemptions, amazing for hotel redemptions, and even better for a combination of the two–this is the card you want.
The The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN comes with an awesome sign up bonus too. After spending $5k on the card, you’ll have at least (see the category bonuses below) those 5k Membership Rewards plus 25k bonus Membership Rewards for 30k Membership Rewards total.
Beyond the sign up bonus, I love this card for its incredible category bonuses. You cannot beat earning 3x points on airfare purchases. The 2x categories of advertising, shipping, gas, computer hardware, and software are also huge if your business has significant expenses in those areas.
Membership Rewards are trickier to use well than Starpoints are, but I absolutely love several of the Membership Rewards partners:
- Virgin Atlantic for its 13k mile awards to Europe
- Aeroplan for its stopover rules and 45k mile business class awards to Europe
- ANA for its distance-based chart’s sweet spots like 63,000 miles for roundtrip business class from the Newark to London
- British Airways Avios for its distance-based chart’s sweet spots like 12,500 miles to Hawaii from the west coast
- Delta for Virgin Atlantic Upper Class without fuel surcharges
- Flying Blue (Air France) for one way awards on Delta metal
- Hawaiian for incredible award space to Hawaii, Asia, and Australia
- Singapore to book Singapore Suites Class or 30k roundtrips to Hawaii on United
- Frontier for its 20k mile awards to Alaska and incredible award space within the US, Mexico, Costa Rica, and the Caribbean
If you’re a big spender in the The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN‘s bonus categories, it is the card for you.
The The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN comes with a solid sign up bonus too. After spending $5k on the card, you’ll have those 5,000 Membership Rewards + 25,000 bonus Membership Rewards for 30,000 Membership Rewards total.
But I didn’t get this card for its sign up bonus or its rewards on spending–1x on everything. I got the The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN for the perks.
The card comes with free lounge access to Delta SkyClubs, all Priority Pass Select affiliated clubs, and American Airlines and US Airways lounges until March 22, 2014.
The card also comes with a $200 airline fee credit each calendar year, which means you’ll get $400 worth of statement credits in your first year of cardmembership. Many people have reported using this $400 to purchase $400 of airline gift cards and having the purchases reimbursed.
The The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN also comes with a $100 statement credit if you use the card to pay the Global Entry application fee. Global Entry is an incredible way to get plane door to car door in ten minutes when you return to the US from international travel.
The card also comes with free SPG Gold status, and way more free perks than I can list here and that, combined, easily justify the $450 annual fee. See Get the Most Out of Your American Express Platinum Card for full details on all the perks.
If you want lounge access, hotel status, and airline fee credits, the The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN is the business card for you.
Two Other Big Things to Consider When Selecting a Business Card
1. Complement your personal cards.
If you already have a personal Platinum Card® from American Express, you probably don’t need the business version since many of the benefits will be duplicative. You can’t get yourself double lounge access by having both!
Consider one of the other business cards instead to pair with your personal Platinum card.
Similarly if you have the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card, it doesn’t make as much sense to get the Business Gold card for its 3x category bonus on airfare, since you already have that with your Premier Rewards Gold.
But if you have the Premier Rewards Gold, the The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN would pair really well with it to get all the lounge access, statement credit, and other perks. The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Card would also pair well since you’d earn Membership Rewards on your personal card and Starpoints on your business card, allowing diversification of points and the ability to use the best point for the job in more situations.
2. Get the points you need.
Always consider what miles and points you need for your dream trip before getting a new credit card.
If you want American Airlines miles for an incredible round-the-world trip in business class, the best business card is the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Card since 20k Starpoints transfer to 25k American Airlines miles. Membership Rewards would get you nowhere!
If you want Alaska Airlines miles to book Emirates First Class showers with no fuel surcharges, you also need Starpoints and not Membership Rewards.
If you want Frontier miles for its incredibly cheap award chart and ample award space, you need to earn Membership Rewards quickly, so the best business card would be the The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN.
American Express offers three business cards that are excellent for very different reasons. The best one for you depends on whether you want a card that earns extremely flexible points on all purchases, you want big category bonuses on categories where you spend a lot, or you want travel perks like lounge access.
When picking a business card, pick one that earns the points you need for your goal trips and one that complements your existing personal cards’ strengths.
If you have any questions about which card is best for you, leave them in the comments.
Offer details of the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express:
- Starpoints® bonus: Earn up to 25,000 bonus points
- Earn 10,000 Starpoints® after your first purchase on the Card and another 15,000 after you spend $5,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 6 months of Cardmembership
- Starpoints® redeemable towards Free Hotel Nights at over 1,100 hotels in nearly 100 countries worldwide – with no blackout dates
- Earn 2 Starpoints® for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with hotels and resorts participating in the SPG® program
- Earn 1 Starpoint® for each dollar of eligible purchases
- $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $65
- Terms and limitations apply
Application Link: Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express
- Welcome Offer: Get 25,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months of Card Membership
- Enroll and select a qualifying airline to receive up to $200 annually in statement credits for incidental fees, such as checked bags and in-flight refreshments, charged by the airline
- 20% Travel Bonus when using Membership Rewards® Pay with Points
- Take advantage of 40 premium benefits to help power your business
- Complimentary access to 600+ participating airport lounges through Priority Pass™ Select
- Business Platinum Concierge is like your own assistant, ready to help you with just about anything personal or professional, 24 hours a day
- Purchasing power that can adjust as your business evolves
- Terms & Restrictions Apply*
Application Link: The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN
- Get 25,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership
- Built with business-sized purchasing power and fast rewards
- 3X points on airfare purchased directly from airlines
- 2X points on US purchases for advertising in select media, shipping, at gas stations, and made directly from select computer hardware, software, and cloud computing providers
- Up to $100,000 in each category per year, then 1 point
- Use points to entertain clients, reward employees, reduce travel costs, or just offset the everyday expenses of moving your business forward
- Terms and limitations apply
Application Link: The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN