The Best Credit Card for a Startup 

by Adarsh Raj Bhatt

Most surveys of entrepreneurs show that credit cards are among the most popular sources of startup financing. For small businesses struggling to find funding, borrowing against a credit card can be an attractive option. Often, it’s the only one available.

What Startups Look For In A Credit Card

Kruze Consulting has detailed the following factors startup founders look for in choosing a credit card.

  • Startup-Centric Rewards
  • A Spending Limit Based on the Company’s Balance Sheet
  • No Personal Guarantee
  • Cheap and Fast Bookkeeping
  • Spending-Management Tools

Detailed Pricing

Brex Card for Startups

Annual Fee: Free

APR: None

Credit Limit: 10-20x higher limits than traditional corporate cards

Rewards: 7x rewards on rideshare apps, 4x on Brex Travel, 3x on restaurants, 2x on recurring software. Partner Discounts for Google Ads, Zendesk, Twilio Sendgrid, AWS, and WeWork.

Divvy

Annual Fee: Free

APR: Unclear

Credit Limit: Depends on bank account and payment

Rewards: 7x rewards on dining, 5x on hotels, and 2x on software subscriptions, although amounts decline if you pay semi-monthly or monthly (vs. weekly)

Stripe Corporate Card

Annual Fee: Free

APR: None

Credit Limit: Based on payment processing and bank history

Rewards: Up to 2% cashback on your top two categories, automatically calculated each month. 1% cash back on other categories. $50,000 in free payment processing after the first $5,000 in spend. Partner Benefits for AWS, Shopify, Notion, DigitalOcean, Zendesk, Intercom, Google Ads, Hubspot, Airtable, and more.

Expensify Card

Annual Fee: Free

APR: None

Credit Limit: Based on bank account balance

Rewards: Partner benefits for AWS, Highfive, Zendesk, Stackoverflow, Gusto, Stripe, and more. Every swipe, Expensify donates to a relevant cause through Karma Points.

SVB Innovators Card

Annual Fee: Free

APR: N/A

Credit Limit: N/A

Rewards: Earn 2 points for every dollar spent and redeemable towards statement credits, gift cards, travel and merchandise rewards.

Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business

Annual Fee: Free

APR: 26.99% variable APR

Credit Limit: Minimum credit line is $500 and is based on the ability to pay

Rewards: Earn unlimited 1% cash back on every purchase for your business, with no minimum to redeem. Comes with travel and emergency-assistance services, auto rental damage waiver, and purchase security and extended protection.

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

Annual Fee: $595

APR: None if you pay the balance in full. The standard APR for Pay Over Time balances is currently 18.24%

Credit Limit: N/A

Rewards: Get 5x Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com. Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership. $200 Airline Fee Credit. Get 50% More Points on each eligible purchase of $5K or more. Up to 1 million additional points per calendar year.

Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card (Chase)

Annual Fee: Free

APR: 0% intro APR for 12 months from account opening on purchases. After that, 13.24%–19.24% variable APR.

Credit Limit: N/A

Rewards: $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. Unlimited 1.5% cash back.

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card (Chase)

Annual Fee: $95

APR: 15.99% to 20.99%, based on your creditworthiness.

Credit Limit: N/A

Rewards: 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, and on advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year. Points do not expire as long as your account is open.

American Express® Business Gold Card

Annual Fee: $295

APR: APR will be a variable rate, 14.24% – 22.24%, based on your creditworthiness

Credit Limit: N/A

Rewards: Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards®points after you spend $5,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Gold Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Get more rewards with 4X Membership Rewards® points on 2 select categories where you spend the most each month. Get 25% points back, after you book a flight using Pay with Points

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card (Chase)

Annual Fee: Free

APR: 0% fixed Intro APR for the first 12 months that your Account is open. After that, 13.24% to 19.24%, based on your creditworthiness.

Credit Limit: N/A

Rewards: $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after 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 purchases–with no limit to the amount you can earn.

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

Annual Fee: Free

APR: 0.0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months from the date of account opening. After that your APR will be a variable rate, 13.24% – 19.24%, based on your creditworthiness.

Credit Limit: Not disclosed but based on payment history, credit record, and financial resources, the bank may give the ability to spend above the credit limit with Expanded Buying Power.

Rewards: Earn 2x Membership Rewards® points on everyday business purchases up to $50,000 with no category restrictions. Earn 10,000 Extra Membership Rewards® points after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership.

Ramp

Annual Fee: Free

APR: 0% including no card fees, no platform fees, no late payment fees or other fees.

Credit Limit: N/A

Rewards: 1.5% cash back on all purchases. “Ramp Savings” to help identify overpayment or double payment of SaaS tools. Partnerships with many partners for rewards.

Offer-Based Comparison

Brex Card for Startups

Foreign Transaction Fees: Free

Eligible Companies: Companies with at least $50,000 in their bank accounts or at least $50,000 in sales each month.

Instant Sign Up: Yes

Employee Cards: Free for 5 employee cards

Virtual Card: Yes

Branded with Company Logo: No

Late Fees: With late fees, but no disclosed.

Divvy Card

Foreign Transaction Fees: N/A

Eligible Companies: Anyone

Instant Sign Up: Yes

Employee Cards: Free for employees

Virtual Card: Yes

Branded with Company Logo: No

Late Fees: No

Stripe Corporate Card

Foreign Transaction Fees: Free

Eligible Companies: Company needs to request invitation

Instant Sign Up: Yes

Employee Cards: N/A

Virtual Card: Yes

Branded with Company Logo: Yes

Late Fees: None

Expensify Card

Foreign Transaction Fees: N/A

Eligible Companies: Active user of Expensify

Instant Sign Up: Yes

Employee Cards: Free for employees

Virtual Card: Yes

Branded with Company Logo: No

Late Fees: None

SVB Innovators Card

Foreign Transaction Fees: N/A

Eligible Companies: N/A

Instant Sign Up: No

Employee Cards: Free for employees

Virtual Card: No

Branded with Company Logo: No

Late Fees: N/A

Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business

Foreign Transaction Fees: Free

Eligible Companies: N/A

Instant Sign Up: No

Employee Cards: Free for employees

Virtual Card: No

Branded with Company Logo: No

Late Fees: 29.4% penalty APR

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

Foreign Transaction Fees: Free

Eligible Companies: N/A

Instant Sign Up: No

Employee Cards: Free for employees

Virtual Card: No

Branded with Company Logo: No

Late Fees: $39 or 2.99% of any past due Pay in Full amount, whichever is greater.

Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card (Chase)

Foreign Transaction Fees: 3% of the amount of each transaction in U.S. dollars.

Eligible Companies: N/A

Instant Sign Up: No

Employee Cards: Free for employees

Virtual Card: No

Branded with Company Logo: No

Late Fees: $39

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card (Chase)

Foreign Transaction Fees: Free

Eligible Companies: N/A

Instant Sign Up: No

Employee Cards: Free for employees

Virtual Card: No

Branded with Company Logo: No

Late Fees: $39

American Express® Business Gold Card

Foreign Transaction Fees: Free

Eligible Companies: N/A

Instant Sign Up: No

Employee Cards: Free for employees

Virtual Card: No

Branded with Company Logo: No

Late Fees: $39 or 2.99% of any past due Pay in Full amount, whichever is greater.

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card (Chase)

Foreign Transaction Fees: 3% of the amount of each transaction in U.S. dollars.

Eligible Companies: N/A

Instant Sign Up: No

Employee Cards: Free for employees

Virtual Card: No

Branded with Company Logo: No

Late Fees: $39

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

Foreign Transaction Fees: 2.7% of each transaction after conversion to US dollars.

Eligible Companies: N/A

Instant Sign Up: No

Employee Cards: Free for employees

Virtual Card: No

Branded with Company Logo: No

Late Fees: Up to $39

Comparative Analysis Based On Reviews

Brex Card for Startups

Positive: A user at Quora recommends Brex because sign up is easy, no personal guarantee and security deposit needed, simple online dashboard, and great customer support.

Negative: Brex only accepts VC-funded startups or have raised >$500K capital

Stripe Corporate Card

Positive: Good UI/UX

Negative: A user is not impressed with this credit card’s cashback capabilities

SVB Innovators Card

Positive: N/A

Negative: N/A

Expensify Card

Positive: Good reviews from current customers at Expensify forums

Negative: A customer review is looking for contactless payment integrations

Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business

Positive: A user says it’s an easy process to get approved even without a credit history

Negative: High APR and low rewards versus other cards

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

Positive: N/A

Negative: A lot of negative reviews such as “Ripped off,” “Stay Away,” “Bad Customer Service.”

Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card (Chase)

Positive: Great credit card for business, according to a user

Negative: Delay payment processing time of 7-10 days, according to a review

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card (Chase)

Positive: N/A

Negative: Bad customer service, according to a review

American Express® Business Gold Card

Positive: A user at Quora recommends this credit card because of sign-up bonuses, big rewards, and $0 introductory fee. (Note: Annual fee is now at $295)

Negative: N/A

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card (Chase)

Positive: Users are happy with their spending limits

Negative: Bad Customer Service

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

Positive: Versatile card, according to a review

Negative: N/A

Ramp:

Positive: High-quality expense management controls. 1.5% cashback on all purchases. Integrations with Quickbooks, Xero, and other tools. No founder personal guarantees.

Negatives: Younger company.

Summary Based On Top Factors

Brex Card for Startups

Startup Centric Rewards: Yes

High Spending Limit: Yes

No Personal Guarantee: Yes

Integration with Accounting Softwares: Yes

Spending Management Tools: Yes

Stripe Corporate Card

Startup Centric Rewards: Yes

High Spending Limit: No

No Personal Guarantee: Yes

Integration with Accounting Softwares: Yes

Spending Management Tools: Yes

Expensify Card

Startup Centric Rewards: Yes

High Spending Limit: No

No Personal Guarantee: Yes

Integration with Accounting Softwares: Yes

Spending Management Tools: Yes

SVB Innovators Card

Startup Centric Rewards: Yes

High Spending Limit: No

No Personal Guarantee: Yes

Integration with Accounting Softwares: Yes

Spending Management Tools: Yes

Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business

Startup Centric Rewards: No

High Spending Limit: No

No Personal Guarantee: No

Integration with Accounting Softwares: Yes

Spending Management Tools: Yes

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

Startup Centric Rewards: No

High Spending Limit: No

No Personal Guarantee: No

Integration with Accounting Softwares: Yes

Spending Management Tools: Yes

Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card (Chase)

Startup Centric Rewards: No

High Spending Limit: No

No Personal Guarantee: No

Integration with Accounting Softwares: Yes

Spending Management Tools: Yes

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card (Chase)

Startup Centric Rewards: No

High Spending Limit: No

No Personal Guarantee: No

Integration with Accounting Softwares: Yes

Spending Management Tools: Yes

American Express® Business Gold Card

Startup Centric Rewards: No

High Spending Limit: No

No Personal Guarantee: No

Integration with Accounting Softwares: Yes

Spending Management Tools: Yes

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card (Chase)

Startup Centric Rewards: No

High Spending Limit: No

No Personal Guarantee: No

Integration with Accounting Softwares: Yes

Spending Management Tools: Yes

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from AMEX

Startup Centric Rewards: No

High Spending Limit: No

No Personal Guarantee: No

Integration with Accounting Softwares: Yes

Spending Management Tools: Yes

Other Notes

Brex Card for Startups

Heads Up: Geared towards well-funded startups, not smaller ventures

Expensify Card

Heads Up: The settlement of payables is directly charged to the bank account integrated with Expensify on a daily basis

The AbstractOps Recommendation

In our opinion, Brex is the best option for startups. However, in order to qualify for a Brex card, a startup must have at least $50K in their account. So, for very early startups, Divvy or Ramp are the best choices.

AbstractOps: An automated back office for early-stage CEOs.