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

9 min read
Brendan Harkness By Brendan Harkness Jun 05, 2019 | Updated Mar 27, 2020

Freelancing can be tough. You’re self-employed, so 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 small 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 and small business owners could probably benefit from a combination of business and personal credit 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 rewards 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

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
(Rates & Fees)
Annual FeeNo annual fee
Regular APR13.24–19.24% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn 2X Membership Rewards® points on everyday business purchases such as office supplies or client dinners. 2X applies to the first $50,000 in purchases per year, 1 point per dollar thereafter.
  • Enjoy the flexibility to put more purchases on the Card and earn rewards when you buy above your credit limit*.
  • You’ve got the power to use your Card beyond its credit limit* with Expanded Buying Power.
  • More buying power for your business means more opportunities to earn points. That’s everyday business with the Blue Business Plus Card.
  • *The amount you can spend above your credit limit is not unlimited. It adjusts with your use of the Card, your payment history, credit record, financial resources known to us, and other factors.
  • 0.0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, 13.24%-19.24%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors at account opening.
  • No Annual Fee
  • Terms Apply
  • See Rates & Fees

American Express is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

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 13.24–19.24% Variable (for transfers requested within 60 days) (Rates & Fees)
  • Annual fee: No annual fee

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

Insider tip

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

Bank of America® Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card

Bank of America® Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card

Our rating
Min. credit levelExcellent
Details
Annual Fee$0.00
Regular APR13.74% - 23.74% Variable APR
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Get a $300 statement credit when you make at least $3,000 in net purchases within 90 days of your account opening – with no annual fee and cash rewards don’t expire.
  • Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice, 2% cash back on dining and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • You’ll get 3% and 2% cash back on the first $50,000 in combined choice category/dining purchases each calendar year, 1% thereafter.
  • 0% Introductory APR on purchases for your first 9 billing cycles.
  • Redeem your cash rewards as a statement credit, check, or have cash deposited into a Bank of America® checking or savings account.
  • Get 75% more cash back on every purchase when you’re a Preferred Rewards for Business Platinum Honors tier member. That means you will earn 5.25% on your selected choice category, 3.5% on dining and unlimited 1.75% cash back on all other purchases.

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 (Review) is one of the best business credit cards for freelancers with diverse spending habits, 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 statement credit when you make at least $3,000 in net purchases within 90 days of your account opening

Key Features

  • Preferred Rewards for Business: Eligible cardholders can get an extra 25%–75% bonus on cash back earned.
  • Shopping and Travel Protections: Including Extended Warranties, Travel Accident Insurance, and more.
  • Purchase APR: 0% for 9 billing cycles, then 13.74% - 23.74% Variable APR
  • Annual fee: $0.00
Insider tip

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

Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR15.49% - 25.49% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

The information related to Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

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 Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card (Review) is our top pick thanks to its high reward rate and lack of annual fee. But if you want a little more, check out the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card, a similar offer with higher rewards and an annual fee.

Rewards

Spending Rewards
  • 3% cash back on:
    • Dining
    • Entertainment
  • 2% cash back at Grocery stores
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • $150 cash back for spending $500 in the first 3 months

Key Features

  • CreditWise: Check your VantageScore 3.0 for free, based on your TransUnion credit report, and keep tabs on that report.
  • Premium Access from OpenTable to help you score reservations
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Purchase and Balance Transfer APR: 0% for 15 months, then 15.49% - 25.49% Variable
  • Annual fee: $0

Read more in our Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card (Review).

Insider tip

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 statement credit, a $100 annual airline statement credit — but a $250 annual fee (Rates & Fees).

Best for Long Distance Driving

Ducks Unlimited Rewards Visa Signature® Card

Ducks Unlimited Rewards Visa Signature® Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR21.24% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • 5% cash back at gas stations and sporting goods stores
  • 1% cash back everywhere else
  • Visa Platinum or Visa Signature benefits, depending on creditworthiness
  • No annual fee
  • Foreign transaction fee of 3%
  • A portion of every purchase goes to help fund wetland conservation

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
Insider tip

For some other options with more diverse bonus categories, check out the Discover it® Cash Back (Review) (on up to $1,500 in spending per quarter, activation required) 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

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelExcellent
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR14.74% - 20.74% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year
  • Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year
  • Earn 1% cash back on all other card purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
  • No Annual Fee

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 Lyft rides
  • 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 14.74% - 20.74% Variable
  • Annual fee: $0

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

Insider tip

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

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelExcellent
Details
Annual Fee$95
Regular APR17.49% - 22.49% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • New Offer! Earn 100k bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,250 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year
  • Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases – with no limit to the amount you can earn
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Redeem points for travel, cash back, gift cards and more – your points don’t expire as long as your account is open
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
  • $95 Annual Fee

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 $550 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 enough in the first three months, check out some creative ways to reach minimum spending requirements.

Rewards

Spending Rewards
  • 5X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on Lyft rides
  • 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
  • 100,000 bonus points for spending $15,000 in the first 3 months after account opening

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.

Insider tip

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 the Business Platinum 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 (Rates & Fees)

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 that in-between realm of self-employment, 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 cash flow 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 if boosting your business creditworthiness is, in fact, a goal.
  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.

The bottom line? 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 credit card companies 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 programs 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 credits with popular business services. 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 on authorized user/employee cards to prevent overspending.
  • Won’t usually affect personal credit history (as long as you use them responsibly): Most credit card 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 credit 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.

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For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.

For rates and fees of The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express, please click here.

For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.

At a glance

Some freelancers prefer business credit cards, while others use personal cards for business expenses. Consider your options carefully, and select a card — or cards — that complements your key business expenditures.

Credit Card Insider receives compensation from advertisers whose products may be mentioned on this page. Advertiser relationships do not affect card evaluations. Advertising partners do not edit or endorse our editorial content. Content is accurate to the best of our knowledge when it's published. Learn more in our Editorial Guidelines.

The information related to Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card and Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card have been collected by Credit Card Insider and have not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of these products.

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