One of the biggest perks offered by business credit cards, other than convenience, is rewards. Gamed correctly, business credit card rewards can be a way to save money on your biggest expenses.
Not sure which rewards are right for your business? Wondering what kinds of expenses to use your card on? Not even sure what’s out there? Read on!
Table of Contents
What Are Business Credit Card Rewards?
Simply put, they’re incentives to use your card to make purchases. When you make a purchase on your card, you’ll be awarded points or cash for each dollar you’ve spent. The number and type of points awarded vary by card. In many cases, where you’re spending it matters too.
How Many Types Of Rewards Are There?
A lot. In fact, many business credit card rewards cater to a specific type of spending. Overall, you can break them down into two broad categories.
- Cash: This is the simplest, and oldest, kind of reward program offered by business credit cards. Cash rewards accumulate as you make purchases on your credit card. You may, for example, earn 2 percent back on every purchase you make. Depending on your carrier, you’ll have the option to redeem the rewards automatically at specific times of year, when you reach reward thresholds, or when you request them. Cash rewards can be redeemed as checks, statement credit and, in some cases, as gift certificates.
- Rewards: Other business credit cards don’t return cash, instead awarding points or frequent flyer miles to cardholders. These cards tend to cater to specific types of business. For example, businesses whose staff frequently travel may choose a card that awards flyer miles. A business that spends a lot on telecommunications, on the other hand, may choose a card that rewards expenditures on those expenses. Other reward programs are more general, presenting you with a diverse (but limited) array of rewards to spend your points on.
What Are Reward Tiers?
Not all business credit cards have reward tiers. Cash cards almost never have them, for example, but many reward cards do.
Reward-based cards use tiers to influence your spending habits. For example, the Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit card breaks its reward point system into two tiers. For each $1 you spend on travel, shipping purchases, telecommunications, and social media advertising, you’ll earn three reward points. Any other purchases you make will be compensated with one point per $1.
Most cards that use tiers will have two or three of them. The lowest tier almost always represents miscellaneous purchases.
How To Choose The Right Reward
Business credit cards, ideally, reward a specific kind of spending behavior. With that in mind, it’s best to consider which rewards best sync up with your expenses.
This means you’ll probably want to itemize your monthly business expenses to see where you’re spending your money. You’ll also want to get the cash value of the reward points offered by any rewards cards you are considering (expect a value somewhere around a cent or two).
To make a comparison, pretend you’ve put all of your monthly expenses on the credit card and calculate the cash value of the points (or cash back) you would get for making those purchases. So if you have $800 of expenses that qualify top tier points (3) and $1,000 of miscellaneous purchases, you’d be earning $34 worth of rewards each month or $408 per year.
If your expenses aren’t concentrated in any specific area, consider cash rewards. You may not get as big a multiplier on specific purchases, but you’ll often recoup a better value on your miscellaneous purchases. Not only that, but you can spend your cash return on whatever you want. Consider cash as “breadth” to rewards’ “depth.”
What Else Should You Factor Into Your Reward Calculations?
You didn’t think it would be quite that easy, did you? Business credit card terms feature a large number of asterisks and footnotes. Here are some things you should also consider when calculating a card’s reward potential:
- Sign-up Bonus: Many business credit cards will offer an initial sign-up bonus. This is a one-time offer and usually requires you to spend a minimum amount of money in order to qualify.
- Annual Fee: Some business credit cards charge an annual fee to keep the card active. You’ll want to deduct this amount from your yearly reward value. Note that many cards will waive the first year’s fee.
- Reward Limits: While it might be fun to think of ways to earn an endless torrent of reward points, your carrier is one step ahead of you. Some carriers will limit the number of top tier points you can earn. Others may stop rewarding points or cash for the year after you hit a spending threshold of, say, $150,000.
Remember that your business credit card should match your existing spending habits. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you should have a specific card just because it’s popular or even well-reviewed.
Need help getting started? Check out our 2018 business credit card comparisons.