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The American Express Business Gold Card is an interesting and flexible card. It’s designed to help fund your business expenses, and is good for making a variety of different purchases.
Most reward cards come with a set of bonus categories that you have to either take or leave. But the Business Gold gives you six bonus category options. The two categories that your business spends the most in each month will earn 4X Membership Rewards points, which will be retroactively applied to all eligible purchases.
That means you’ll earn more points in the two categories that you spend the most in each month, a good situation for businesses that have a variety of spending. This is a fairly unique offer, customizing the rewards to fit your most frequent business expenses. You can get 25% points back after you use points for all or part of an eligible flight booked with Amex Travel, up to 250,000 points back per calendar year.
You can earn a cash back equivalent of upwards of 8% with this card, if you transfer your points to airline or hotel loyalty programs. Other redemption methods will provide less value.
You’ll also get one free year of both ZipRecruiter Standard and G Suite Basic. Just pay for those memberships during your first year of card use and you’ll get up to $2,988 in statement credits for ZipRecruiter, and up to $200 for G Suite Basic.
The Business Gold card costs $295 per year and is a charge card, which means that you can’t carry a balance from month to month (except for purchases of $100 or more). You’ll need to pay it off in full every billing period. Also, take note that this is a business card, so it’s a bit different than other cards.
Is this a good card to help you pay for business expenses? You may be able to earn a bit back while getting some good value out of the other benefits. Keep reading to find out!
Our Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
We gave this card 5 out of 5 Stars because it’s one of the better high-level options out there for business owners.
Why we like this card
- Get 4X Membership Rewards points in the two categories your business spends the most in each month.
- There are six bonus categories in total, which is a lot for any credit card. And they’re all useful for businesses.
- One free year of ZipRecruiter Standard, and one free year of G Suite Basic.
- This card provides Membership Rewards points, which are valuable and can be redeemed in a wide variety of ways.
- There are a few perks and benefits available while traveling if you have to make any business trips.
- You can get free employee cards to distribute.
- American Express provides tools like spend tracking and account management options to make life easier.
- There are no foreign transaction fees, although Amex isn’t accepted very widely outside the U.S.
- American Express has relatively good customer support, especially for business cardholders.
This is a pretty solid card all around, but it doesn’t have everything. Check out some other good business cards with different rewards and benefits below.
Insider Advice: Using This Card as Part of Your Credit Card Strategy
- Use this card for your business spending to earn 4X Membership Rewards points per dollar in the two categories that your business spends the most in each month, with 1X point for all other purchases.
- Enjoy one free year of ZipRecruiter Standard. Pay with your card to get up to $2,988 in statement credits for a ZipRecruiter membership during your first year of card membership. That’s enough for one year of the Standard plan, but you’ll get credits for any membership purchases.
- Take advantage of your one free year of G Suite Basic, with up to $200 in statement credits for G Suite purchases during your first year with the card. That’s enough for one year at the Basic membership level.
- You can use this card to build and improve your business credit. Pay your bill on time and in full each month to avoid interest and prevent your account from ever entering a negative status.
- You’ll need to pay your balance in full every billing period with this card. So be sure never to charge more than you can pay back by the due date. The exception is purchases of $100 or more, which can be carried from month to month at interest.
- You can get up to 99 employee cards for free, and set individual spending limits. Use them to manage spending and earn rewards more quickly.
- The flight and gift card redemption methods are easiest, offering up to 1 cent per point. But you can transfer your points to a partner loyalty program to potentially get a better value.
- Your spending limit will change over time. Pay your bills on time and be a responsible credit user to increase that limit.
- Check out the Amex Offers benefit to find discounts at a wide variety of merchants. This gives you a way to earn more rewards more quickly.
This card can provide the equivalent of 4% cash back when you use the normal redemption methods. Or if you use a point transfer, you can potentially get over 8% cash back.
As you can see, this card is pretty versatile. You’ll get more points for the types of purchases you make the most, with 4X points in the two categories that your business spends the most in each month. That makes this a good rewards program for businesses that have a variety of spending throughout the year.
The 4X rate will apply to the first $150,000 spent at that rate in combined purchases per year. After that you’ll earn 1X point.
The Membership Rewards points you earn with this card can be redeemed in a few different ways.
Your basic options are:
- Normal redemption methods (flights, hotel reservations, gift cards, point of sale): 0.5–1.0 cents per point, 25% points back for airfare, up to 5% cash back equivalent
- Statement credit: 0.6 cents per point, up to 2.4% cash back equivalent
- Point transfer to frequent traveler loyalty program: highly variable cash back, equal to over 8% in some cases
Cashing in points for statement credits will only get you 0.6 cents per point, so we don’t recommend that. The other methods can provide up to 1 cent per point, with the exception of point transfers which can yield more. Airfare booked through Amex Travel will provide a 25% bonus, in the form of 25% of your points back, so that’s a decent option too. It basically means you’re getting 1.25 cents per point, as long as you end up redeeming those returned points for 1 cent each.
So we recommend transferring your points to a loyalty program whenever possible. If you can’t do that, booking airfare and getting the 25% bonus will be your next best option. The statement credit method is the simplest, but it provides the least value per point.
As an example, say you earn a total of 10,000 Membership Rewards points. You can redeem them for flights or certain gift cards at 1 cent per point, which comes to $100. When booking for airfare you’d get 25% of those points back, which would be 2,500 points, so you could value those redemptions at $125. Or you can redeem them for a point transfer, where you may get a value of 2 cents per point or more depending on the details of the transfer, coming to a value of $200. A statement credit, at 0.6 cents per point, would only provide $60.
Below, you’ll find more information and examples of some normal redemption methods (travel, gift cards, and point-of-sale). Then you can go through a good and a poor point transfer example. Or you could jump down to some cards for earning points or miles directly with an airline or hotel.
We’ll show how your points will have different values depending on how you redeem them. For all of the following examples, we’ll assume that you’ll be trading in 10,000 Membership Rewards points.
The cash back equivalent you get on any redemption will depend on how you earned your points, so we show ranges below. If you earn at a rate of 4X points per dollar, you’ll get the higher end of the range. If you’re only getting 1X point per dollar, you’ll get the lower end of the range.
When redeeming for travel expenses you’ll have several options, but the most valuable is for airline flights because you’ll get 25% of your points back. The main way is to redeem through American Express Travel, though there are a couple other travel services you can use as well. You’ll be able to redeem 10,000 points in the following ways.
|Redemption Method||Travel Service||Redemption Value||Point Value (in cents)||Cash Back Equivalent|
|Find Flights||Amex Travel||$100||1.0||1.0%–5.0%|
|Reserve Prepaid Hotels||Amex Travel||$70||0.7||0.7%–2.8%|
|Plan Vacations||Amex Travel||$70||0.7||0.7%–2.8%|
|Take Cruises||Amex Travel||$70||0.7||0.7%–2.8%|
|Flights and Hotels on Expedia||Expedia||$70||0.7||0.7%–2.8%|
So if you redeem 10,000 points for airfare, at 1 cent per point, you’ll get 2,500 of those points back. That means you’re getting a 5% cash back equivalent when spending in the 4X categories, assuming you went on to redeem those returned points for 1 cent each. This is basically like getting 1.25 cents per point.
For 10,000 points, you can get a gift card of up to $100 for a variety of merchants. Here are just a few.
|Merchant||Gift Card Redemption Value||Point Value (in cents)||Cash Back Equivalent|
|The Capital Grille®||$100||1.0||1.0%–4.0%|
|Chili’s Grill & Bar||$100||1.0||1.0%–4.0%|
|Fairmont Hotels and Resorts||$100||1.0||1.0%–4.0%|
|The Cheesecake Factory||$85||0.85||0.85%–3.4%|
|Delta Air Lines||$70||0.7||0.7%–2.8%|
|American Express Gift Card||$50||0.5||0.5%–2%|
Point of Sale and Entertainment
You can use your points at checkout with the following merchants. 10,000 points will get you:
|Merchant||Total Redemption Value||Point Value (in cents)||Cash Back Equivalent|
|New York City Taxis||$100||1.0||1.0%–5.0%|
We recommend that you actually avoid using your points to pay for purchases at checkout. When you do, you won’t earn any points on that purchase. So pay for purchases as normal to earn points, and then redeem your points in other ways.
Transferring to Loyalty Programs
You can transfer Membership Rewards points to a variety of different loyalty programs. Some are based in the U.S., while others are not. Many popular airlines and hotels are represented.
We’ll go over the basics of point transfers, and then provide two real-world examples: one showing a good deal, and one showing a poor deal.
Most transfers are at a 1:1 rate, though some are different. And there are also limited-time offers and special deals occasionally. There’s a fee of $0.0006 per point when transferring to US airlines, with no charge for any other transfers. And different programs will allow you to transfer points in different increments, like 500 points at a time or 1,000 points at a time.
Here are some example programs, along with their transfer rates and a point conversion example. Take note that offers may change.
|Loyalty Program||Type||Transfer Rate||You Give||You Get|
|ANA Mileage Club||Airline||1:1||1,000||1,000|
|Flying Blue® Award Miles||Airline||1:1||1,000||1,000|
|Delta Air Lines||Airline||1:1||1,000||1,000|
Let’s go through some examples to illustrate the potential value of Membership Rewards points after you convert them to a frequent traveler program. Keep in mind that there are many factors that influence the price of flights and hotel rooms. They include time of year, demand, availability, and special events. Airlines and hotel chains offer special deals and packages pretty frequently, as well. All of this will affect the value you get from your points.
While the following are actual real-world examples, the point transfer values you find for your flights and rooms may differ from what we show here.
Good Value — Flying Blue Award Miles
For this example, imagine you want to take an AirFrance flight from Barcelona, Spain, to Paris, France. AirFrance uses Flying Blue, which is one of the transfer partners.
The cheapest flight from the Barcelona-El Prat Airport to the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris will cost $229. And the cheapest award mile option available is 10,500 miles. In this case, your miles would be worth about 2.47 cents each. This is for a flight on Thursday, February 7th.
So how many Membership Rewards points would it take to pay for this same flight? Well, you can transfer Membership Rewards points to FlyingBlue award miles at a 1:1 rate. But you also need to transfer in increments of 1,000. That means you’ll have to transfer 11,000 points in total.
Let’s say you earn those 11,000 points at the best possible rate of 4X points per dollar. That would require spending $2,750 at that rate. Then you can transfer those points to Flying Blue award miles, and book the flight.
In this example, you spend $2,750 to earn a flight worth $229. This is a pretty good deal, because it means you’re getting a cash back equivalent of about 8.33%. That’s pretty high compared to most cards. And you’ll even have 500 miles left over to use for next time. But if you earned any miles at less than the 4X rate, it would require more spending and your cash back equivalent would be less.
This shows the value you can get from certain point transfers, but they aren’t all so great.
Poor Value — Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints
To see an example of a point transfer that results in a poor value, let’s look at Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG).
Say you just flew to Paris in our previous example, and now you want to book a hotel for a night. Specifically, the night of Thursday, February 7th, at the Sheraton Paris Airport Hotel & Conference Centre.
This room will cost €190, which is about $234 USD at the time of publishing. This same room will take 20,000 Starpoints to stay in.
So, how much do you need to spend with your Business Gold card to earn enough points for this room? Membership Rewards points don’t transfer at a very good rate to Starpoints. The conversion rate is only 1:.33, meaning you’ll get 333 Starpoints for every 1,000 Membership Rewards points you transfer.
You’ll need to transfer points in intervals of 1,000. This means you’ll need to earn 61,000 Membership Rewards points. You can transfer them to get 20,313 Starpoints, which is enough for the room.
To earn 61,000 Membership Rewards points, you’ll need to spend $15,250 at the 4X rate. If you earn points at a lesser rate, you’ll need to spend more and your cash back equivalent will drop.
In this example you spent $15,250 to earn a room valued at $234. This means the cash back equivalent is just 1.53%. In this case your Membership Rewards points were worth about 0.384 cents each. That’s not a very profitable deal, especially compared to the point transfer above.
Although SPG Starpoints can be quite valuable, this is not a good way to get and use them. The Starwood Preferred Guest® for Business Card from American Express (Review) provides a way to earn a ton of Starpoints, and comes with other great benefits too.
How to Offset the Annual Fee
This card has a $295 annual fee, which is waived for the first year. After that first year you’ll want to earn enough points to offset that fee, so this card doesn’t end up costing you money.
How much do you need to spend, and how many points do you need to earn? That depends on two things.
- The rate that you earn points: 4X per dollar, 2X, or 1X
- The value you get per point when you redeem
You’ll need to earn enough points to equal $295 when you redeem. If you want to spend as little as possible, you’ll have to earn points at the highest rate and redeem them for the best value possible. But if you earn at a low rate and use a bad redemption method, you could end up spending many times that amount.
We’ve found that if you use a normal redemption method, at 1 cent per point, you can spend a minimum of $7,375 to offset the annual fee. If you redeem for airfare and get 25% of your points back, you could spend $5,900. And if you use a point transfer that grants 2 cents per point, you can spend as little as $3,688.
All of those spend amounts assume you’re earning at the 4X rate.
The exact amount you’ll need to spend depends on the rate at which you earn the points. You may not always get to choose what and where you buy, but you can control how you redeem your points. So be sure to redeem them for the best possible value you can get. The easiest way to do this is for airfare, where you’ll get 25% of your points back. You can also use point transfers to get an even better deal, but this might not be good for everyone. The value you get will vary and it requires you to travel to make use of it.
The following table shows how much you’ll need to spend to offset the annual fee in a variety of ways. You can see how much you’ll need to spend at each rate to reach the equivalent of $295. Most people will have a mix of spending, of course, so it won’t be so clear cut as this. But you can use this as a guide to see how much you’ll need to spend to earn those points.
This table shows how much to spend if you get a good value for your points. Here, that means earning 1 cent per point for the normal methods. And we’re also using 2 cents per point for the point transfer, which would be a pretty good value if you can get it. But remember, the value of your points when you transfer them will vary. We’ve also included statement credits to show how bad of a redemption choice they are.
As you can see, the normal and point transfer methods require the least spending, especially at the 4X rate.
|4X points||2X points||1X point|
|Statement Credit: 0.6 cents per point||$12,292||$24,584||$49,167|
|Normal Methods: 1 cent per point||$7,375||$14,750||$29,500|
|Point Transfer: 2 cents per point||$3,688||$7,375||$14,750|
These are relatively good redemption examples, but remember that if you redeem in some ways you’ll get a lower value for your points. This could happen if you choose a normal redemption method that only offers 0.5 cents per point. Or, if you make a point transfer that only grants 1.5 cents per point, for example.
So, no matter what rate you earn points at, redeem them for the best value you can get. And if there are no options that seem particularly appealing, you can hold on to your points until you see something you like.
Reports to Business Credit Bureaus
All American Express business credit cards will report your card activity to the credit bureaus in the same way. They let you improve your business credit, although there are also consequences for irresponsible behavior.
As long as your account is in positive standing, the activity will be reported to Small Business Finance Exchange. This is a large and commonly-used business credit reporting bureau.
But if your account enters a negative status, such as having unpaid collections or unpaid charge-offs, the activity will be reported to other bureaus. An account with a negative status will be reported to:
- Dun & Bradstreet
So your positive activity will be reported to one business credit bureau. But your negative activity will be reported to a different business credit bureau, plus the typical consumer credit reporting agencies.
This means you can use the Business Gold card to improve your business credit, but not your personal credit. However, you can still hurt your personal credit with it. For a different card that reports positive activity to more business credit bureaus, see the Capital One Spark Cash for Business.
One Free Year of ZipRecruiter Standard
Cardholders will get up to $2,988 in statement credits during the first year when paying for a ZipRecruiter membership with the card. This is enough for one full year of a ZipRecruiter Standard membership, at $249 per month.
You can choose other membership plans as well and you’ll still get credits, but only up to $2,988. This benefit applies to the first year of card membership only.
One Free Year of G Suite Basic
Cardholders get up to $200 in statement credits during the first year when paying for a G Suite membership with the card. That’s enough for one full year of G Suite Basic, with three users, at $15 per month plus taxes.
You can pick other membership plans if you’d like, but you’ll only get up to $200 in statement credits. This benefit applies to the first year of card membership only.
The Hotel Collection
Cardholders can receive a credit for up to $75 to cover eligible expenses at hotels. This can be a nice way to save a bit of money when traveling. But there are quite a few guidelines and limitations you’ll need to be aware of:
- $1 of credit will be given for every $1 spent on eligible purchases, up to $75
- eligible purchases do not include the cost of the room, gratuities, taxes, or fees (additional exclusions may apply at certain hotels)
- the credit will be received at checkout, can’t be carried over to another stay, and is not redeemable for cash
- limit one credit per room, per stay
- must book the room either through Amex Travel, Business Platinum Travel Service, Platinum Travel Service, or Centurion Travel Service
- payment must be made in full with the Business Gold card
Lowest Hotel Rates Guaranteed
If you book an eligible prepaid hotel room through Amex Travel and then find the same room being advertised online for a lower price, you can be refunded for the difference. You must submit your claim before the check-in date, and be sure to check your card details because some restrictions apply.
You’ll have access to discounts at a wide variety of merchants — currently there are about 80 different offers available, and the selection changes now and then.
You just need to head to the Amex Offers program and click ‘Add to Card’ for the deals you want. Then, just use your card as you normally would to make a purchase with that merchant. Your savings will appear as a statement credit later on, reducing your account balance. You may or may not earn additional rewards at the regular rate — this will depend on the particular offer.
Many of the deals can be quite valuable, saving you from $5 up through more than $100 for some of them. For most of them, you’ll need to spend a certain amount to get a certain discount. Some of the current offers include:
|Merchant||Need to Spend||Cash Back||Maximum Savings|
|Omni Hotels & Resorts||$300||$60||20%|
There are many fantastic deals waiting to be had here, though many other credit card issuers will offer a similar service. For example, Chase provides the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, Bank of America has its BankAmeriDeals offers, and Citi has the EasyDeals service. You’ll find a range of discounts in all of them.
Save 10% on Some Utilities
Occasionally you’ll be given the opportunity to save 10% on your cable, satellite TV, and/or cell phone bills. Just find the offer and click ‘Add to Card,’ and then use your card to pay for the utility as normal.
Tier One Program
Some businesses will be eligible for the Tier One Program from American Express. This comes with benefits that are “designed to streamline and enhance the business’s experience with American Express.”
At the beginning of every year, American Express will select businesses out of the pool of eligible candidates at its own discretion. Meeting the following criteria does not mean you’ll be selected.
To be eligible for the Tier One Program, a business must:
- Be named on one or more U.S.-issued business charge cards or corporate cards from Amex
- Have made eligible purchases totaling $5 million or more during the previous year on those cards
- Have its billing address in the United States
- Not have been enrolled in any Amex hardship program or have any transitional recovery products from Amex during the previous year
- Not have any business or corporate card that has been 30 days or more past due in the previous year
Additional guidelines and limitations apply. Check your card’s Guide to Benefits for more details.
This benefit, also called Membership Experiences, provides pre-sale tickets to a variety of sports, music, and cultural events, as well as access to certain exclusive experiences. You’ll be able to search by interest, artist, event, or venue.
One offer that was available when this review was written is preferred seating at Lorde concerts all around the country. Another is an exclusive invitation to a hotel opening, with overnight accommodations, a private 4-course dinner, and an interactive cocktail class. This one is on the expensive end, though, at $1,850 per ticket.
American Express Personal Loans
Cardholders have the opportunity to apply for a loan through American Express (but only if they have been pre-approved). Loans are offered from $3,500 to $25,000, with fixed interest rates from as low as 6.90% up to 19.97%.
You can get a up to 99 employee cards for free. Individual spending limits can be set for the cards. Take note that there are certain purchases where the spending limit won’t apply, like restaurant tips and extended hotel stays.
The primary cardholder is responsible for all charges made to the account. The card activity will not affect the credit of employees using copies of the card.
Designate a trusted Account Manager to manage your Business Gold account. Must be at least 18 years old.
A tool to help manage your spending throughout the year. Allows you to add receipts and notes to transactions, making tax time easier.
Connect to QuickBooks®
Provides an easy way to label and transfer your transaction data into a QuickBooks account.
No Preset Spending Limit
This card has no preset spending limit, which does not mean you can spend an unlimited amount.
Instead, this means that your purchasing power will adjust over time. It will change based on your card activity, payment history, credit record, and other financial resources.
Pay Over Time
This is a charge card, which means you typically need to pay the full statement balance each month. However, the Business Gold card also allows you to pay over time for purchases of $100 or more. If you choose that option you’ll accrue interest on those purchases at your given APR.
Purchases of $100 or more will be automatically included in the Pay Over Time program, unless you change your personal settings to prevent this. You must always pay the minimum amount due for Pay Over Time balances. You’ll be given a specific Pay Over Time limit, and any purchases that go over that limit will not be included in this program.
Other Benefits and Perks
We’ve only described some of the most interesting benefits here, but this card comes with some others as well. For the most part, they are protections like:
- Travel Accident Insurance
- Baggage Insurance Plan
- Purchase Protection
- Extended Warranty
- Fraud Protection
These aren’t the most valuable benefits, but they could help out if you need them sometime. Check out the full set of benefits for the Amex Business Gold card for more.
The Costs & Fees
|Regular Purchase APR||Balance Transfer APR||Cash Advance APR|
|Pay Over Time: 16.49%–24.49% Variable||None||None|
|Annual Fee||Foreign Transaction Fee|
|Late Fee||Returned Payment Fee|
|$38 or 2.99% of any past due Pay in Full amount, whichever is greater||$38|
This is a charge card, so you typically need to pay the statement balance in full. But if you choose to use the Pay Over Time feature for purchases over $100, those expenses will accrue interest at the rate above. We recommend always paying your statement balance in full to avoid interest.
The terms are very simple for this card. As long as you don’t make any late or returned payments, you’ll just have an annual fee to pay after the first year. If you feel like that fee is too high, check out some no-annual-fee business credit cards.
Charge card users may save money compared to credit card users, because many people will revolve a balance from month to month on their credit cards. This isn’t a great strategy because you’ll keep accruing interest, adding to your overall credit card debt. Whether you have a charge card or a regular credit card, we always recommend paying off your balance in full every billing period.
|Business Gold Application Line||1-888-781-6736|
|Amex Business Customer Support||1-800-492-3344|
|Pay Bill by Phone||1-800-472-9297|
|Check Application Status||1-800-567-1085|
|Credit Bureau Unit||1-800-874-2717|
American Express is known to have good customer support. They tend to come in either first or second in J.D. Power’s annual U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Survey, which ranks every credit card issuer. Customer service is part of this survey, along with card features, terms, and billing.
But Business Gold cardholders have it even better. If you have an issue of any kind with your card or account, you can call their Relationship Care Service by dialing the number on the back of your card. You’ll reach a customer support representative that is specially trained to advise you about business credit cards, and small business strategy in general.
The American Express website is usually pretty intuitive to navigate. You’ll generally be able to find the card you want easily.
The main features of the Business Gold card are displayed prominently. By scrolling around the page and reading through the sections, you’ll be able to get a good idea of what the card is all about. Some of the benefits seem to be categorized and ordered in a bit of an odd way. But overall this doesn’t really take away from the main points of the page.
The Bottom Line
The American Express Business Gold Card is definitely a contender if you’re looking to earn points on your business expenses.
Take a look at the reward categories — do you spend a lot of money in at least a few of these? If you travel often, there are some good options here. You’ll be able to pick the reward category that you spend the most in, and still get points in the others. For frequent business trips, the airfare and gas rewards are especially useful.
The extra benefits are pretty nice too, especially the valuable statement credits for ZipRecruiter and G Suite. You might be able to use some of them to find discounts at the merchants you spend the most with.
The annual fee may seem high at first. But if you take into account the rewards you can earn and the value of the benefits, the cost should seem pretty reasonable. Just make sure that you’ll spend enough with the card each year to make the fee worth it. You can extend your reach by assigning cards to your employees, gaining rewards whenever they spend.
There are many more business credit cards out there. Check out some alternatives to the Business Gold card below.
How to Apply for the Business Gold Card
You can apply for this card securely on the American Express website. You’ll need to be an authorized officer for your business, responsible for managing finances.
To apply, you’ll need your personal and business information. For corporations and partnerships, you’ll also need to provide your Federal Tax ID (the same as your Employer Identification Number, or EIN).
Alternatives to the Business Gold Card
- The Business Platinum® Card from American Express (Review): $595 annual fee; 5X Membership Rewards points at Amex Travel, good perks and benefits
- Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card (Review): $95 annual fee; 3X points on various business expenses, 80,000-point bonus for spending $5,000 in the first 3 months
- Airline and Hotel Business Credit Cards: Often have annual fees, provide brand-specific rewards and benefits
- Bank of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard®: No annual fee; 0% intro APR for 9 months, then 13.24%–23.24% Variable; up to 3% cash back
- Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business (Review): $95 annual fee, waived the first year; 2% cash back, $500 cash bonus when you spend $4,500 in the first 3 months of opening your account
The Platinum card has a $595 annual fee, so it’s much more expensive than the Business Gold.
But for that fee, you’ll get:
- 5X Membership Rewards points per dollar on flights and prepaid hotels at Amex Travel
- 1.5X Membership Rewards points per dollar on eligible purchases of $5,000 or more (0.5 additional points per dollar, up to 1 million additional points per year)
- 1X Membership Rewards point per dollar for all other purchases
- Introductory bonus: 50,000 Membership Rewards points for spending $10,000 in the first 3 months of card membership
- Introductory bonus: 25,000 Membership Rewards points for spending an additional $10,000 in the first 3 months of card membership
So you’ll be able to earn quite a lot of Membership Rewards points with the Platinum card. You’ll be able to redeem your Membership Rewards points in all the ways described above. That means at the 5X rate you can get the equivalent of up to 5% cash back with the normal redemption methods. And as much as 10% cash back or more through point transfers.
Not only that, you’ll get a nice set of benefits that can help save you money while traveling. These include an annual $200 airline fee credit, good for one airline of your choice per year. This credit is for incidental fees only, like checked bags and in-flight refreshments. It doesn’t apply to ticket costs.
Cardholders can access a variety of airport lounges, including American Express Lounges, Priority Pass Select, and Airspace Lounges. A fee credit is available for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® to speed you through the terminal. And there are a variety of other perks to make your trips more comfortable, like complimentary Hilton Honors Gold Status.
The Business Platinum card will cost much more than the Business Gold card. But that’s because it’s meant for people who travel quite often, enough to make the annual fee worth it. If you use the $200 credit every year, you can offset the annual fee by spending at least $7,900 per year through Amex Travel. That’s if you use a normal redemption method. If you get a great deal on a point transfer, you may be able to offset it by spending as little as $3,950.
- 3X points per dollar on the first $150,000 spent per year on the following (then 1X):
- shipping purchases
- Internet, cable, and phone services
- Advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines
- 1X point per dollar on all other purchases
- Introductory bonus: 80,000 bonus points for spending $5,000 in the first 3 months after account opening
- Redemption bonus: 25% point bonus when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards
As you can see, some of these categories overlap with the Business Gold. But in this case you get 3X points in all of them, rather than choosing just one. That comes out to 3% cash back normally. But with the 25% bonus you’ll end up getting 3.75% cash back if you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Like the Business Gold card, you’ll be able to transfer your points to other loyalty programs with the Ink Business card. Many of the same frequent traveler programs are included by both. And you can transfer at a 1:1 rate, so you’ll get about the same value for both cards per point.
The extra benefits for the Ink Business Preferred are a bit simple compared to the Business Gold. You’ll get some basic shopping and travel protections, but that’s about it.
The bonus categories are similar between these cards, but there may be one or two that would be especially valuable for you. The real value of the Ink Business card lies in earning rewards and redeeming them through Chase Ultimate Rewards. If you can do that, it may be a good low-cost alternative to the Business Gold.
Read more in our Review of the Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
Airline and Hotel Business Credit Cards
There are many valuable business cards that are co-branded with airlines or hotels. These cards are made to be used with that specific brand, and are less useful elsewhere.
We’ll take a look at an airline card and then a hotel card. Do you always find yourself flying with one particular airline or staying at one particular hotel? If so, a branded credit card might be a great way to save some money and access extra benefits.
Airline Business Credit Card
The Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express (Review) is made for flying with Delta, and costs $195 per year.
This card comes with:
- 2X miles per dollar for purchases made directly with Delta
- 1X mile per dollar for all other purchases
- Introductory bonus: 35,000 miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) for spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
- Introductory bonus: $100 statement credit for making a Delta purchase with the card in the first 3 months
- Miles Boost: Earn 10,000 miles and 10,000 MQMs after spending $25,000 or more in a calendar year
- Miles Boost: Earn an additional 10,000 miles and 10,000 MQMs after spending 50,000 or more in a calendar year
You can redeem your miles for Delta flights, where they’ll usually be worth about 1 cent per mile. Or you can transfer them to a number of airline partners. The Medallion Qualifying Miles you earn can be used to upgrade your status, which comes with better perks.
But besides the rewards, the value of many co-branded travel cards comes from their benefits. With the Platinum Delta SkyMiles you’ll get quite a few.
They include discounted access to the Delta Sky Club lounge for you and up to two guests. Entry will cost $29 per person. You’ll also get one free companion ticket per year, good for one economy-class round trip when you buy an eligible adult ticket. Your first checked bag is free too, for you and up to nine companions. And you can skip the wait with Priority Boarding.
And there are even more airline-related benefits included with the card than that!
Hotel Business Credit Card
The Marriott Bonvoy Premier Plus Business Visa Signature has an annual fee of $99. It offers:
- 6X points per dollar spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels
- 2X points per dollar spent at:
- Gas stations
- Internet, cable, and phone services
- 1X point per dollar on all other purchases
- Introductory bonus: 75,000 points for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months after account opening
So you’ll be able to earn points at a 6X rate at Marriott Bonvoy properties with this card. You’ll be able to redeem for one-night stays starting at 7,500 points. And there are a variety of other ways to redeem your points as well. This card is pretty similar to the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card (Review).
The extra benefits are pretty good too, with an annual free stay at a category 1–5 hotel. You’ll get automatic Marriott Rewards Silver status, granting a level of exclusive or complimentary services at Marriott locations. And a fast track to Marriott Rewards Gold Elite status, which comes with even better perks.
There are no foreign transaction fees, so it’s a good card for traveling anywhere in the world. If you’re spending a lot of time at Marriott Bonvoy hotels for business, you might as well take advantage of some of the benefits you can get with a card like this.
The Bank of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard® is a simple but rewarding option. If you don’t like the annual fee of the Business Gold, this one might suit you better.
For no annual fee, it offers:
- 3% cash back at gas stations and office supply stores (up to $250,000 in combined purchases annually)
- 2% cash back at restaurants
- 1% cash back on all other purchases
- Introductory bonus: $200 statement credit for spending $500 in the first 60 days after account opening
So your bonus reward categories are much more limited. And there’s only one business-oriented category, the office supply stores (gas and restaurant categories are included on many consumer reward cards). The signup bonus is quite good, however, with an easy threshold to hit compared to other cards.
There’s also a 0% intro APR period of 9 months for purchases. This is a nice feature to have for businesses with startup expenses who need some time to pay them back.
The extra benefits are pretty basic for the most part. They’re mostly shopping and travel protections, along with some account management tools.
Although it’s not the flashiest business card, if you spend a lot in those reward categories it offers a free way to earn cash back. Just pay your bill on time each billing period to avoid interest and fees.
The Business Gold doesn’t include office supply store. So if you need a card for those kinds of purchases as well, you could use both of these cards together. Since the Business Advantage Cash Rewards has no annual fee, you won’t need to pay anything extra.
Unlike many rewards cards, which have bonus categories, this card offers:
- 2% cash back on every purchase you make, with no limit
- Introductory bonus: $500 cash bonus for spending $4,500 in the first 3 months from account opening
So this card will just provide 2% cash back, anywhere you spend. This makes it very flexible and easy to use. No worrying about reward categories, figuring out how to earn the most points for every purchase.
As a Visa Signature, this card comes with an upgraded set of extra benefits. The most valuable are probably the travel-related services and discounts you can get through the Luxury Hotel Collection. And Capital One also provides business-specific benefits to help you out, including trained customer support representatives.
If you make purchases of many different kinds or don’t want to deal with reward categories, this card could be a good option. You’ll need to spend $4,750 per year with it to offset the annual fee. So if you regularly spend more than that you could end up with a profit. If you spend enough per year, consider using it along with the Business Gold to cover any purchases that fall outside of that card’s bonus reward categories.
Read more in our Review of the Capital One Spark Cash Back Business Credit Cards
Do you use the Business Gold Card from American Express? How do you like it? Leave your own review, we’d love to hear from you!
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