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The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express provides a simple way for business owners to earn American Express Membership Rewards points. There are no bonus reward categories to keep track of. And with no an annual fee, you can potentially take advantage of this offer completely for free.
Since it’s a credit card (and not a charge card, like many American Express business cards) you’ll also have some flexibility in paying your bill. This could be helpful for managing your business’ cash flow. There are some other benefits and features that could prove useful for running your business too.
We’ll walk through the very simple rewards structure of this card and how it compares with other business credit cards. By the end, you should be able to understand this card and how you could use it to help fund your business.
This card has no annual fee, and a very simple rewards structure. That makes it a great fit for business owners who want to earn rewards without thinking too much about specific bonus reward categories.
If you don’t want to pay a fee or worry about where you spend money, this card would work for you. On top of that it reports your positive activity to a business credit bureau, helping your business to build credit.
Since it’s a credit card instead of a charge card, it can also provide some flexibility in paying for small business expenses. So that’s another plus. And, there’s an introductory 0% APR period, which can be nice for financing larger expenses and paying them off over time.
It may be possible to earn more rewards with other cards depending on your business’ spending habits, or if you pay an annual fee. But in some cases this card can come out ahead when considering the lack of an annual fee and the simplicity of the rewards program. There are also some extra benefits to look into, and a variety of redemption options you can explore.
Keep reading to learn more about the details of the Blue Business Plus card from Amex.
You can effectively earn from 1–2.5% cash back on purchases, or more. The amount you get will depend on how much you spend on the card per year, and how you redeem points.
There is no welcome bonus for spending a certain amount of money in a certain amount of time with this card, unlike some business cards. But the rewards program is pretty valuable considering there’s no annual fee. And it’s very simple and straightforward.
You’ll be earning Membership Rewards points with this card, which can be redeemed in a few different ways.
Your basic options are:
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.
A point transfer may provide the equivalent of up to 2.5% cash back or more, but this will depend on the details of how and when you use the transferred points. We recommend always going for point transfers whenever possible because you can get the best value for your points.
The normal redemption methods are the simplest. The most you can get out of them is the equivalent of 2% cash back. This isn’t bad, though it’s potentially not as good as a point transfer. But this might be the best option for anyone who can’t make use of a point transfer or just wants a simple option.
So, if you spend $50,000 a year you’ll earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points. Those can be redeemed for up to $1,000 in gift cards, or 2% of the amount you spent. Or, a good point transfer that offered a cash back equivalent of 2.5% would yield $1,250. As you spend more above that $50,000 level your effective percentage would go down because you’d only earn 1X point per dollar.
Next, we’ll go through the different redemption methods and provide some examples. We’ll show how your points will have different values depending on how you redeem them. For all of these examples, we 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 2X 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. 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%–2.0%|
|Reserve Prepaid Hotels||Amex Travel||$70||0.7||0.7%–1.4%|
|Plan Vacations||Amex Travel||$70||0.7||0.7%–1.4%|
|Take Cruises||Amex Travel||$70||0.7||0.7%–1.4%|
|Flights and Hotels on Expedia||Expedia||$70||0.7||0.7%–1.4%|
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|
|American Express Gift Card||$50||0.5||0.5%–1.0%|
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%–2.0%|
As you can see from comparing the two tables directly above, you’ll get more cash back with Uber if you use your points at checkout. If you get an Uber gift card you’ll only get a value of $70 for 10,000 points. But if you cash them out with a point-of-sale redemption, you’ll get $100 for the same number of points. This is why it’s important to explore your options a bit to find the best deals.
However, 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.
Your Membership Rewards points can be transferred to many different frequent traveler programs, foreign and domestic. Quite a few big airlines and hotel chains are included, along with the Plenti program. 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 examples, 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|
|AeroMexico Club Premier||Airline||1:1.6||1,000||1,600|
|Flying Blue® Award Miles||Airline||1:1||1,000||1,000|
|Delta Air Lines||Airline||1:1||1,000||1,000|
|Etihad Guest Miles||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, including 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.
Imagine, for example, that you want to take a one-way JetBlue flight from Denver, Colorado, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
For a pair of connecting flights on Tuesday, January 23rd, you would pay $286. And according to JetBlue, those same flights would take 19,600 TrueBlue points, plus $5.60 in taxes and fees. That means your points are worth almost 1.5 cents each in this case.
So, if you wanted to use Membership Rewards points for that flight, how much would you need to spend? And how much cash back would you be earning?
Since the current conversion rate for TrueBlue points is 1:.8, you’ll need to transfer 24,500 Membership Points to get 19,600 TrueBlue points. In addition, that transfer will have a fee of $14.70, because each point costs $0.0006 to transfer.
So, you would need to spend $12,250 to earn those 24,500 points. You’ll then be able to convert them to 19,600 TrueBlue points, and use them for the flights.
In total, you will need to spend $12,270.30 when you add in the extra fees from the transfer and from JetBlue. That will earn you a flight worth $286.
So for this particular set of flights, you’ll end up getting the equivalent of 2.33% cash back. That’s a bit better than the maximum of 2% back you’ll get through the normal redemption methods.
For an example of a point transfer that results in less overall cash back, let’s look at a transfer to Hilton Honors points. In this example we use a one-night stay in a standard room at the Hilton Garden Inn, in Fairfield, California.
This room usually costs $119 on a standard weeknight. Or you can get it for 25,000 Hilton Honors points.
You’ll be able to transfer Membership Rewards points to Hilton Honors points at a 1:2 rate. So that means you’ll need to transfer 13,000 points, because you need to transfer in increments of 1,000 with Hilton.
Since you’ll earn points at a 2X rate, you need to spend $6,500 to earn the 13,000 points. That will end up giving you 26,000 points, enough for the room.
So by spending $6,500, you earn enough points for a room valued at $119. That means you’re getting a cash back equivalent of 1.83%.
This isn’t a great deal because you can easily get at least 2% cash back when you redeem through other methods, like flights or gift cards. And you can get even more than that with other, more valuable point transfers.
This card’s benefits are pretty similar to most other American Express business card offers. They include the suite of Amex benefits, which are features and services specifically designed to help business owners.
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:
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 Blue Business Plus card to improve your business credit, but not your personal credit. However, you can still hurt your personal credit with it. For another card that reports positive activity to more business credit bureaus, see the Capital One Spark Cash for Business.
You can spend a certain amount over your credit limit each billing period. This amount will be determined by your credit history, financial history, use of the card, and other factors.
The amount you spend over your credit limit will need to be paid back in full along with your minimum payment for that period. If you don’t pay it back in full, then the high penalty APR will be applied to your entire account balance going forward.
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 effect the credit of employees using copies of the card.
Designate a trusted Account Manager to manage your Blue Business Plus 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.
Provides an easy way to label and transfer your transaction data into a QuickBooks account.
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|
|Martha Stewart Wine||$75||$25||33.33%|
|Hilton (Gift Cards)||$50||$10||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.
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.
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.
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.
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%.
We’ve only described some of the most interesting benefits here, but this card comes with quite a few others. They mostly consist of shopping and travel protections that you hope you’ll never need to use. But if you get in a jam, they might be able to help you out. See the full set of benefits for the Blue Business Plus card for more.
|Intro Purchase and Balance Transfer APR||Purchase APR||Balance Transfer APR||Cash Advance APR|
|0% for 12 months||14.74–20.74% Variable||14.74–20.74% Variable||None|
|Annual Fee||Foreign Transaction Fee||Balance Transfer Fee||Cash Advance Fee|
|No annual fee||2.7%||Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.||None|
|Penalty APR||Late Fee||Returned Payment Fee|
|29.99% Variable||Up to $39||$39|
One aspect that makes this business credit card offer so appealing is that it doesn’t have an annual fee, but still earns decent rewards (Rates & Fees). For comparison, the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business (Review) offers unlimited 2% cash back, but has a $95 annual fee after the first year. Capital One also offers the no-annual-fee Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business (Review), but that only earns unlimited 1.5% cash back.
So, if you spend over $50,000 per year you may be able to earn more with one of those cards. But it’s clear that the Blue Business Plus rewards program is competitive for not having an annual fee.
Another appealing feature is the introductory 0% APR (Rates & Fees). This can allow you to make large business purchases or balance transfers and pay them off over time, possibly avoiding interest completely. Be careful not to abuse the 0% period by spending more than you can pay off. Paying credit card interest is not fun, and will quickly cancel out the value of the rewards you’ve earned on your business expenses.
Notice there is a foreign transaction fee on this card (Rates & Fees). So if you need a way to make international purchases frequently this isn’t the card for that. Look into some business travel credit cards with no foreign transaction fees if you want to make purchases outside the U.S., like:
|Blue Business Plus 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|
When you call about an American Express business card, you’ll be able to speak with trained business representatives. They seem to be more qualified than what you’ll usually get with an Amex consumer card, which is good for business owners who have questions about their cards.
We called Amex to learn more about the Blue Business Plus card, and spoke with a rep who knew all about it. He told us that to apply for the card you must be an authorized officer of your company, responsible for managing financial accounts. And he said that you can get up to 99 employee cards, which should be plenty.
Next, we called their Credit Bureau Unit to find out how this card’s activity is reported. We spoke with a helpful rep who told us about how Amex business cards are reported. They report positive activity to one business credit bureau, and negative activity to a handful of other credit bureaus (including a business one).
Overall, American Express is well-known to have good customer support. This is even more true when it comes to their business credit cards. But if you don’t already have one of their cards, you should expect them to push you to apply.
American Express has consistently come in either first or second place in J.D. Power’s annual Credit Card Satisfaction Study. In 2017 they came in first, beating out Discover, which also has excellent customer service. We’ve usually found them to be friendly and knowledgeable when we’ve called, though not always.
Occasionally we’ve had to hang up and try again with a different, more helpful representative. In some cases you may find that the rep you’re speaking to doesn’t quite understand, especially if you’re asking more complicated or technical questions. Be patient, and you’ll be sure to find someone who can help you out.
American Express’ website is usually quite easy to navigate and get to where you want to go. We say usually because the major credit card companies often update the layouts of their sites, and sometimes the update is for better or worse.
Their page for the Blue Business Plus contains all the information most potential applicants would want to know. However, it comes across as a bit messy, without a clear organizational scheme. The benefits are scattered without seeming to be categorized in any meaningful way. But you can still get a good overview of the card by scrolling down the page and reading through everything.
Overall the layout is not awful, although sometimes you may wonder about their choices. It doesn’t really take away from the quality of the card, and it’s still pretty good compared to some other card issuers.
We hear from a number of business owners who could benefit from a card like this. They’re spending a lot of money through their businesses, perhaps on a debit card or by check, and realize they could be earning points with a credit card. They don’t want to think much about spending categories, and may not even have a good idea of how much they’ll spend over the course of the year.
This can make it hard to weigh an annual fee against reward earning potential. The Blue Business Plus from American Express seems like a good fit for this type of business owner.
It’s a good starter business card since it has no annual fee and doesn’t require thinking ahead about spending categories. If you’re not earning some form of rewards on business expenses now, there’s no good reason not to get this card. Start putting business expenses on it, and pay it in full each month. That will let you earn rewards at no cost at all and without accruing interest.
It reports your positive account activity to Small Business Financial Exchange, another reason why it’s a good starter card. Some cards that say “business” in the name still only report to the regular consumer bureaus. But this card will help you establish and build up a strong credit history for your business. Remember that negative activity will be reported as well, and on your own personal credit reports.
In the Rewards section above we did some quick math to show how you can easily earn 2% cash back or more. That applies to the first $50,000 you spend with this card, assuming you redeem through one of the normal methods or for a point transfer. That will let you get at least 1 cent per point.
This rewards program is nice because it’s so simple, if you want it to be. You can just redeem for one of the many gift card options. And if you’re a traveler, you can use those points to book flights through Amex Travel or transfer them to a loyalty program.
However, you may be able to earn more if you go with a different card with specific bonus categories, that rewards you more depending on where you spend. Some cards will let you earn more when you pay for office supplies, internet and phone services, shipping, or other business expenses, for example.
If you spend over $50,000 per year on business expenses, you may still like this card for its simplicity. But you probably have the potential to earn more rewards with another card that has an annual fee, or bonus reward categories. For example, check out our comparison of the Blue Business Plus to the mid-range Business Gold Card from American Express.
Even if you have other business credit cards, you may find a good way to fit this card into your rewards-maximization strategy. Since it has no annual fee, there’s no cost for simply having the card.
You’ll need to be an authorized officer of your company, responsible for managing finances, to apply for the Blue Business Plus Credit Card. You can apply securely on American Express’ website.
The application will require your own personal information, along with information about your business. For corporations and partnerships, you’ll also need to provide your Federal Tax ID (the same as your Employer Identification Number, or EIN).
The description above about reporting to business credit bureaus also applies to any American Express business credit cards below.
It’s quite rewarding, providing:
So you’ll be able to earn cash back at a higher rate than you can with the Blue Business Plus. But you’ll be limited to those bonus reward categories. And those 5% and 2% offers only apply to the first $25,000 you spend at those rates, respectively. You’ll get a nice introductory bonus with this card, however, which the Amex card doesn’t have.
Your redemption options will also be more limited with the Ink Cash card. You’ll be getting cash back, and that’s basically all it is. You can redeem it in a few different ways, but 5% back is 5% back no matter how you redeem it. However, you can redeem your cash back as a statement credit for the full value, which you can’t do with the Blue Business Plus. This will make it easier to get the best value for your rewards.
The extra benefits are pretty similar for both card offers. You’ll get some basic shopping and travel protections, along with access to Chase Ultimate Rewards. This is a shopping portal where you can find special deals with merchants, much like Amex Offers. However, you won’t have access to the same kind of business benefits you’ll get through Amex Offers.
The Ink Cash offers 0% Intro APR on Purchases introductory APR for purchases for 12 months, before the regular 14.74% - 20.74% Variable APR starts. That’s the same length as what you’ll get with the Blue Business Plus, but in this case, it doesn’t cover balance transfers.
These cards provide rewards for very different purchases. That means a good strategy could be to actually get them both and use them in combination. Use the Ink Cash whenever you’ll be able to earn 5% or 2% cash back. And use the Blue Business Plus for every other purchase, to earn 2X points per dollar. This will help you earn more rewards and it splits up your spending between the cards, which will be good for your credit.
So you’ll earn points at a pretty good rate with this card, with the potential for a lot of bonus points. Usually your points will be worth 1 cent each, but if you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards you’ll get 1.25 cents each. That will mean you’ll be getting the equivalent of 3.75% cash back when you’re shopping in those bonus categories. Redeeming your points with other methods will mean a smaller cash back equivalent.
The Ink Business Preferred is another card you could use in combination with the Blue Business Plus.
So you can earn rewards at about the same rate but it won’t be limited to just the first $50,000 you spend, like the Amex card. But, you’ll have fewer options for redeeming your rewards: it will just be cash back. You won’t be able to transfer it to any frequent traveler programs. If that was never an important point for you, this could be a better offer for you.
The Spark Cash does come with an annual fee of $95, however, which is waived for the first year. You’ll need to balance that against the potential cash back rewards you can earn. Remember to also factor in the welcome bonus, which will offset the annual fee for five years.
The Spark business cards from Capital One are great for building business credit. They report to three business credit bureaus: Dun & Bradstreet, Small Business Financial Exchange, and Experian SmartBusinessReports. Having your positive card activity reported to more bureaus can be valuable when seeking credit and loans.
The Spark Cash comes with some extra benefits and perks, and many of them are pretty similar to what you’ll get with the Amex card. But the Blue Business Plus includes the Amex Offers service, which the Spark card can’t match. It also includes access to the Amex set of business benefits, which seems more comprehensive than the business benefits you’ll get from Capital One.
The Blue Business Plus also has a 0% APR period for purchases and balance transfers that lasts 12 months (then 14.74–20.74% Variable). This can be pretty useful for paying off large expenses over time, but the Spark card doesn’t offer an intro rate. You can also buy over your credit limit with the Amex card, another feature that could come in very valuable now and then.
There are a handful of other Spark business cards from Capital One. If the Spark Cash doesn’t seem like a good fit, maybe one of these others would be better:
The American Express® Business Gold Card (Review) is more expensive than the other cards above. Coming with an annual fee of $295 (Rates & Fees), it offers 4X Membership Rewards points in the two categories that your business spends the most in every month. This is a charge card, so you’ll need to pay your balance in full every billing period.
|Introductory Bonus Offer|
This card is quite flexible, providing points for the types of purchases you make the most, even if that shifts from month to month. Where most cards have fixed bonus categories, the Business Gold adjusts to fit your business spending as it changes throughout the year.
You’ll earn Membership Rewards points with the Business Gold, so all the redemption options described above for the Blue Business Plus will apply here as well. If you find a good point transfer deal your points could be worth upwards of 2 cents each, which would give you a cash back equivalent of 8% when spending in the bonus categories.
In addition to the other redemption options, you’ll also get 25% of your points back when redeeming for airfare. The other card benefits are similar to the Blue Business Plus, because they’re both Amex cards.
The main differences between these cards are the annual fees, the rewards, and the fact that the Business Gold is a charge card. If you have business expenses that cover a wide variety of categories it may be useful to have both cards. You can use the Business Gold for spending in the categories mentioned above to earn 4X points, and the Blue Business Plus card to earn 2X points for all your other purchases.
This will do a couple different things for you. It will let you earn a whole lot of Membership Rewards points, especially if you use employee cards. It will also split up your spending, and help prevent you from reaching the $50,000 limit on the Blue Business Plus and the $150,000 limit on the Business Gold.
The United℠ Explorer Business Card caters to a specific audience, because it’s a business-oriented travel rewards card meant to be used with United Airlines. It has an annual fee of $95, and offers:
So you’ll earn miles at a decent rate when buying tickets from United, as well as for other business expenses. You’ll need to redeem your miles for United-related purchases to get the best value for them.
The value of your miles will depend on how you redeem them, but you can usually expect to get about 1 cent per mile when redeeming for flights. That means you’ll be earning the equivalent of 2% cash back when making purchases in the 2X bonus reward categories.
There are some other valuable benefits with this card too, like priority boarding for the cardholder and companions on the same reservation. You and your companion’s first checked bag will be free. And you’ll receive two United Club one-time passes per year. You can use these passes to enter United Club airport lounges, where you’ll find a number of comfortable services available (some complimentary, some for a fee).
There’s a high-end version of this card as well, the United MileagePlus® Club Business Card. For an annual fee of $450 you get a different reward structure, a United Club membership, and a variety of luxury benefits.
How do you like your Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express? What are the most valuable features to you? Leave your own review for other visitors, we’d love to hear from you!
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