Best Credit Cards for Freelancers: Office Supplies, Travel, Dining, and More

Brendan Harkness

Brendan Harkness | Blog

Jun 05, 2019 | Updated Jul 19, 2019

Credit Card Insider receives compensation from some credit card issuers as advertisers. Advertiser relationships do not affect card ratings or our Best Card Picks.

Credit Card Insider has collected card information independently. Issuers did not provide the details, nor are they responsible for their accuracy.

Learn more about how we rate cards

Freelancing can be tough. You’re all on your own. And not only do you need to find each new gig yourself, you also need strong self-management skills to get the work done.

The last things you need are financial headaches, or missed opportunities that could cost time and money. But credit cards can help.

The right credit card can help you do all of the following and more:

  • Separate business from personal spending
  • Deal with unexpected costs
  • Make budgeting easier
  • Build business credit (if that’s what you want to do)

If you have repeated costs every month you could probably put them on a credit card, earning rewards and using benefits rather than just seeing the money disappear from your bank account.

You don’t need an official business credit card for this, you can put your business expenses on personal cards too. Any card can work if it fits your business spending, and many freelancers could probably benefit from a combination of business and personal cards.

Top 6 Credit Cards for Freelancers

Freelancers come in all shapes and forms, so there’s no one-size-fits-all credit card for freelancers.

Although we’ll focus mostly on business cards in this post, don’t limit yourself to them. Think about cards that would fit your lifestyle. What do you buy often, and where do you spend your time? You won’t always need excellent credit to qualify for excellent credit cards.

Road warriors, for example (like Uber/Lyft drivers or business travelers), may get a ton of value from a personal gas credit card or travel credit card. Although some travel cards have both business and personal versions (like The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum® Card from American Express), there are other great options you’ll only find by looking through personal cards (like the Chase Sapphire Reserve®).

If you love to work in cafes, downing overpriced coffee and sometimes resisting the pastries, a credit card with restaurant rewards could make you feel 4% better about these, ahem, necessary business expenses. You’ll find some cards offering 4% back or more on dining (plus equally high rates on other business essentials) below.

So explore the cards here, but take some time to check out the best credit cards in other categories as well.

Best for Flat-Rate Rewards

The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express (Review) could be your go-to option for any purchases that don’t fit into the bonus categories of your other cards. Although there’s a spending limit, it’s pretty high and most freelancers probably won’t have to worry about hitting it.

2X points on any random purchase is pretty good. And since this card allows point transfers to partner airlines and hotels, you could get a return of 4% or more on your spending (with good transfer deals).

There’s no public introductory bonus offer for this card, which is too bad because they can be pretty valuable. But keep an eye on your mail and email, especially if you have any other Amex credit cards, because you may be targeted with a private bonus offer (I was once offered 20,000 points for spending $3,000 in the first three months).

Rewards

Spending Rewards
  • 2X Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on the first $50,000 in purchases each year
  • 1X Membership Rewards point per dollar spent on all purchases after that

Key Features

  • Point Transfer: To a variety of airline and hotel loyalty programs, including Delta, JetBlue, Hilton, and Marriott Bonvoy
  • Amex Offers: Earn extra points and discounts at a changing selection of merchants, including (at the time of publication) Samsclub.com, Adobe, Showtime, and more
  • Complimentary ShopRunner membership: Enroll in ShopRunner to get free two-day shipping and returns from select online merchants
  • Shopping and Travel Protections: Including Purchase Protection, Roadside Assistance, Travel Accident Insurance, and more
  • Reports to Business Credit Bureaus: Amex business cards report positive activity to Dun & Bradstreet and Small Business Financial Exchange, and negative activity to the consumer credit bureaus along with D&B
  • Purchase and Balance Transfer APR: 0% for 12 months, then 15.49% - 21.49% Variable (for transfers requested within 60 days)
  • Annual fee: No annual fee

Read more in our Review of The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express.

There are some other good flat-rate options, like the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business (Review): This credit card offers 2% cash back on everything, with a nice welcome bonus, but it has a $95 annual fee after the first year. If the card is no longer valuable to you after that, you may want to downgrade to the no annual fee Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business (Review), which offers less in rewards.If you expect to fly, check out the Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business (Review), which is similar to the Spark Cash but comes with a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit and allows point transfers to airline partners.

Best for Varied Business Spending

If you make different types of purchases from month to month, you’ll need a credit card that can handle that. The Bank of America® Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card is one of your best choices, with a flexible 3% cash back category featuring six options you can choose from each month.

Rewards

Spending Rewards
  • 3% cash back in one category of your choice each month:
    • Gas
    • Travel
    • Office supply stores
    • TV/telecom & wireless services
    • Computer services
    • Business consulting services
  • 2% cash back at:
    • Restaurants
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Spending limit: 3% and 2% rewards only up to $50,000 per year, then 1%
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • $300 cash rewards bonus for spending $3,000 in the first 90 days
    • Return on spend: 10%

Key Features

  • Preferred Rewards: Eligible cardholders can get an extra 25–75% bonus on cash back earned.
  • Shopping and Travel Protections: Including Extended Warranties, Travel Accident Insurance, Price Protection, and more.
  • Purchase APR: 0% for 9 billing cycles, then 14.49%–24.49% Variable
  • Annual fee: $0
Don’t forget about Amazon’s diverse marketplace, which is a great resource for freelancers looking for deals or particular equipment they can’t find locally. Amazon Prime members can get 5% back on all their Amazon purchases with the Amazon Business Prime American Express Card, while non-Prime users can get 3% back with the Amazon Business American Express Card (there are personal versions of these cards too).

Best for Working in Cafes

No need to pay full price for coffee (or anything else at a restaurant). You have a few good options for restaurant purchases, ranging from no annual fee to a fairly high fee.

The Uber Visa Card (Review) is our top pick thanks to its high reward rate, the ease of redeeming cash back, and the lack of annual fee. But check out our tip below for some options with higher intro bonuses and the potential to get a better return on your spending.

Rewards

Spending Rewards
  • 4% cash back on Dining, including restaurants, bars, and UberEATS
  • 3% cash back:
    • Hotels (including vacation home rentals)
    • Airfare
  • 2% cash back for Online purchases, including Uber
  • 1% cash back for all other purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • $100 cash bonus for spending $500 in the first 90 days after account opening
    • Return on spend: 20%

Key Features

  • $50 Online Subscription Credit: A $50 annual credit for online subscription services after spending $5,000 or more with the card in a membership year
  • Free Credit Score: Check your FICO Score 8 for free, based on your TransUnion credit report
  • Shopping and Travel Protections: Including Cell Phone Insurance, Price Protection, Extended Warranty Protection, and more
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual fee: $0

Read more in our Review of the Uber Visa Card.

The Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card (Review) also provides 4% back on dining, with a bigger welcome bonus than the Uber Visa and a complimentary one-year   subscription. But it has a $95 annual fee after the first year, so if the card is no longer worth it after that you may want to downgrade to the less-rewarding Capital One® SavorOne℠ Cash Rewards Credit Card (Review). The American Express® Gold Card (Review) could also be good for some freelancers: 4X points at restaurants worldwide, point transfer opportunities to increase your return on spend, a $120 annual dining credit, a $100 annual airline credit — but a $250 annual fee.

Best for Long Distance Driving

Uber and Lyft drivers end up spending a lot of money taking care of their cars, and that includes buying quite a bit of gas every month. If you’re not getting some kind of discount on that fuel, you’re missing out.

The Ducks Unlimited Rewards Visa Signature® Card can put a dent in all that spending, with an easy 5% back on gas. If you’re spending $150 to $500 per month on gas, that would save you $90 to $300 per year. It’s not a ton of money, but it should help you pay for some of those inevitable car repairs.

Rewards

Spending Rewards
  • 5% cash back:
    • Gas stations
    • Sporting goods stores
  • 1% cash back for every other purchase

Key Features

  • Free FICO Credit Score: Check your FICO Bankcard Score 9 for free, whenever you’d like
  • Visa Platinum Benefits: Basic Visa Platinum protections may include Roadside Dispatch and an Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver
  • Possible Visa Signature Benefits: May include Purchase Protection, Return Protection, Trip Delay Reimbursement, and others
  • Annual fee: $0
For some other options with more diverse bonus categories, check out the Discover it® Cash Back Credit Card (Review) and Chase Freedom® (Review). They have rotating 5% categories which usually include gas for at least one quarter. Consider buying gas gift cards when that category is active to use throughout the year.

Best for Office Supplies/Internet Expenses

If you’re like many freelancers, you’ve crafted some version of a home office to create a more productive work environment. The Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card (Review) provides a simple way to get rewards for office supplies and internet/phone services, and the intro bonus could pay for that new monitor or chair you’ve had your eye on. (Several other cards on this page would work well here too.)

Rewards

Spending Rewards
  • 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent each year (then 1%):
    • Office supply stores
    • Internet, cable, and phone services
  • 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent each year (then 1%):
    • Gas stations
    • Restaurants
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • $500 bonus cash back for spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening
    • Value: $500–$1,000 (assuming 1–2 cents per point)
    • Return on spend: 16.67–33.33%

Key Features

  • Shopping and Travel Protections: Including Purchase Protection, Extended Warranty Protection, Travel and Emergency Assistance Services, and more
  • Reports to Business Credit Bureaus: Chase business cards report positive activity to Equifax Business, Experian Business, D&B, and SBFE; negative activity is reported to the consumer credit bureaus
  • Purchase APR: 0% for 12 months, then 15.49% - 21.49% Variable
  • Annual fee: $0

Read more in our Review of the Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card.

If you also have a Chase Ultimate Rewards points card, you could transfer your Ink Cash rewards to that card to get a better return on your spending (as much as 10% or more). The eligible cards are:

Best for General Travel/Signup Bonus

Who doesn’t like points? The Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card (Review) will provide a ton of them, with the biggest intro bonus currently available on any Chase Ultimate Rewards card (bigger even than the $450 Chase Sapphire Reserve®). You’ll earn points on travel at a competitive rate, and there are a few other bonus categories that should prove useful to certain freelancers.

If you’re not sure if you can spend $5,000 in the first three months, check out some creative ways to reach minimum spending requirements.

Rewards

Spending Rewards
  • 3X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on the first $150,000 spent per year (then 1X):
    • Travel
    • Shipping
    • Internet, cable, and phone services
    • Advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines
  • 1X Ultimate Rewards point per dollar spent everywhere else
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • 80,000 bonus points for spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
    • Value: $800–$1,600 (assuming 1–2 cents per point)
    • Return on spend: 16–32%

Key Features

  • 25% point bonus: When redeeming for travel expenses through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Point Transfer: At a 1:1 rate to a variety of airline and hotel loyalty programs, including British Airways, United, Marriott Bonvoy, and Hyatt
  • Shopping and Travel Protections: Including Cell Phone Protection, Purchase Protection, and a primary Auto Collision Damage Waiver
  • Reports to Business Credit Bureaus: Chase business cards report positive activity to Equifax Business, Experian Business, D&B, and SBFE; negative activity is reported to the consumer credit bureaus
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual fee: $95

Read more in our Review of the Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card.

If you travel often and are looking for a serious upgrade, consider The Business Platinum® Card from American Express (Review). It may seem intimidating and a bit extra for many freelancers, but frequent travelers can get more out of this card than they put in thanks to airline and Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credits, a Dell credit, and the best airport lounge access on any credit card. With a $595 annual fee you don’t want to apply on a whim — check out the rewards and benefits, and see if you’ll use them enough to offset the high fee and come out on top after that.

8 Advantages of Credit Cards for Freelancers

Credit cards are useful tools for people in their daily lives, and for businesses as well — so freelancers, who live somewhere in between, can take advantage of cards designed for each group.

Some key benefits of using credit cards:

  1. Earn rewards: A little bit of cash back or a few points per dollar can add up to a lot over time. Pair the right card with your business spending, and you could see returns of 5%, 10%, or even more with certain card setups.
  2. Split personal and business spending: To easily separate your finances, designate some cards for personal spending and other cards for business spending. Pay the former from your personal bank account, and the latter from your business bank account (if you have one).
  3. Budget and analyze spending: You need a budget as a freelancer. Credit cards will itemize your purchases, giving you a clear perspective on what you’re buying and how much you’re spending. This makes it simple to track your spending over time, and you can check in as often as you like to make sure you’re staying on budget.
  4. Help with taxes: Separating and itemizing your business expenses will make tax season a (relative) breeze. Keep all your expenses on certain cards to speed up the collecting and sorting of all that info (especially useful if you’re paying a tax accountant by the hour).
  5. Provide some startup funds: Maybe you want to buy a standing desk, or get your car detailed so it looks nice for your first rideshare job. A credit card can help you pay over time, but you should look for a card with a 0% intro rate on purchases or balance transfers to avoid paying interest
  6. Deal with unexpected costs: Surprise expenses will happen (if they haven’t yet, just wait). A credit card can give you some time to come up with the money, or let you pay off the debt for a year or more (again, find a card with a 0% intro rate on purchases or balance transfers).
  7. Build business credit: Building business credit isn’t as simple as getting a business credit card, or declaring a personal card to be used for business purposes. But having a business card can help that process along.
  8. Save when purchasing in foreign currency: If you travel abroad or make purchases in foreign currency for work, you may find yourself dealing with exchange and foreign transaction fees. You can avoid them with a card without foreign transaction fees (business card options here).

Business or Personal?

Smart freelancers seek out every advantage, whether they’re spending for their business, planning for tax day, or getting the work done.

A business credit card is not required but you may find it useful. As far as the IRS is concerned, any credit card can be designated as solely for business purchases.

You should know that business cards are not protected by the CARD Act, which prevents issuers from raising interest rates in certain situations and provides some other consumer protections.

So, many solopreneurs prefer to stick with personal cards, also known as consumer cards. Both types of cards are secured with the applicant’s personal credit, and business cards do not necessarily create or build business credit (but they can help accomplish that).

Overall, however, you shouldn’t be scared away by business cards. Plenty of people choose them over consumer cards for their different rewards and benefits, and most of the time it works out fine. As long as you use credit cards responsibly and maintain good financial habits in general, you’re unlikely to have any problems.

Some reasons to consider business cards instead of (or in addition to) personal cards include:

  • You can probably get one: Maybe you didn’t realize it, but as a freelancer you should easily qualify for business cards.
  • Business-focused rewards: Compared to personal cards, business cards tend to have bonus categories that suit businesses, just as you’d expect. Reward categories often include office supplies, phone and internet services, shipping, advertising, and travel.
  • Business-focused benefits: You can find simple benefits like management tools to track and analyze spending, along with more valuable perks like a year’s membership with WeWork. Protection benefits, like purchase protection or trip delay insurance, may come with higher reimbursement limits than personal cards as well.
  • Higher credit limits: Business credit cards usually come with higher credit limits than personal cards, so they’re more convenient if you have a lot of spending to do each month.
  • Separate personal finances from business spending: If you have a bunch of credit cards, you may find it easiest to keep your personal expenses on consumer cards, and put all your business spending on business cards (but most freelancers will probably be best off with a mix of consumer and business cards).
  • Control employee spending: If you have any employees or provide payment methods for anyone else you work with, a business card can let you set limits to prevent overspending.
  • Won’t usually affect personal credit (as long as you use them responsibly): Most issuers won’t report business cards to the consumer credit bureaus as long as they’re paid on time, so they won’t show up on your personal credit reports (Capital One and Discover are exceptions). This could be a good thing if you’re carrying a balance, or reporting a high balance each month, because it won’t affect your credit utilization ratio.

So don’t limit yourself to just business or personal cards — find a card or two that complement your business spending and the life you want to live as a freelancer.

Keep your options open, and commit to using credit cards responsibly: Ideally, that means paying off your full statement balance each month to avoid interest. At the minimum that means paying your bills on time, every time. This will help you get the most out of your cards without accruing expensive debt.

What credit cards do you use to fund your freelance business? What other financial strategies do you use? Let us know in the comments below!

Freelancing encompasses a wide variety of jobs and tasks. If you didn’t find the right card for you here, take a look at the Best Credit Cards for different lifestyles and spending habits.
Was this helpful?

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by bank advertisers. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by bank advertisers. It is not the bank advertisers' responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

The Insider

Sean Messier
2019 List of “Major” Credit Card Companies and How to Get Their Cards
Sean Messier | Jul 15, 2019

Learn about what types of credit cards are considered "major" credit cards, and the difference between credit card issuers and credit card networks.

Read More
Brendan Harkness
Best High Limit Credit Cards: Spend More, Earn More, Do More
Brendan Harkness | Jul 10, 2019

Your credit limits depend on your credit scores and your income, but some cards are known for giving higher limits. See all the best high limit cards here.

Read More
Brendan Harkness
The Best Military Credit Cards: Low APRs, Waived Annual Fees, and More
Brendan Harkness | Jul 08, 2019

Members of the military have access to special credit card terms. Under the SCRA, interest rates are capped, and some issuers also waive annual fees.

Read More