Travel can be an essential part of owning and operating a small business, especially for those with clients, customers, vendors and colleagues in different locations throughout the country or even around the world. If this describes your business, you may have wondered if a travel rewards credit card may be right for you and members of your staff. If you already have a travel rewards card, you may not be sure if it's the best fit for your business needs. Either way, we've rounded up some of the best travel rewards business cards available today.

First, though, let's take a look at how travel rewards cards work and how you can benefit from using them.

Benefits of a Business Travel Credit Card

Beyond convenience and security, business travel credit cards are helpful to travelers in two distinct ways. First, there are the travel rewards. Whether they come as frequent flyer miles, hotel points or points that can be redeemed for travel or upgrades, it's these rewards that set these cards apart and serve as a discount toward your business travel expenses. Some cards allow you to redeem travel rewards through the issuer's travel agent, making redemption smooth and easy. With some, you can even redeem rewards for employee travel or give them away as incentives.

Second, there are the travel benefits. On top of the rewards on purchases, many cards offer perks like airport lounge access, TSA Precheck and Global Entry application fee waivers, discounts on in-flight purchases, priority airline boarding, early check-in and late check-out at hotels, car rental upgrades and free checked bags. On top of that, many cards allow you to earn rewards on all purchases, not just what you spend on travel itself. And like standard consumer credit cards, many of these business cards offer some of the same protections such as trip delay, interruption and cancellation insurance, and coverage for lost or delayed baggage.

As with most things in life, however, there's always at least one drawback.

Disadvantages of Business Travel Credit Cards

As with most rewards credit cards, business travel rewards cards tend to have higher annual percentage rates (APR). We mention this because, while the rewards may be fantastic, if you plan to finance business purchases over time on your card, you may offset any rewards benefits with those higher APRs. If that's the case for your business, you may want to consider a simple card with a much lower APR, at least until you are able to pay off your balances monthly.

Keep in mind that annual fees for these cards can often be higher as well. You may be able to write this off as a business expense, but it's best to check with your accountant and, if you can't review whether the rewards you'll receive will offset the expense of the fee.

How to Choose the Right Card for Your Small Business

As with any rewards card, it's smart to compare cards based on those that offer rewards in categories you use most. Do you use predominantly one airline for travel? Your best choice may be a card that rewards that loyalty. Do you prefer the flexibility of staying in a number of different hotels? A card that gives you rewards redeemable with many different chains may be the right choice for your business.

Most importantly, it can really pay off to take the time to compare a number of cards in order to determine which is best for you, your business and even your employees. With that in mind, here are some of the top travel rewards credit cards for small businesses.

Please remember that the while the fees, features and rates listed in this article were accurate at the time of publication, they could change. So, be sure to check current terms and rates on the credit card issuers' web sites before you apply.

American Express Business Platinum Card

The American Express Business Platinum Card offers cardholders a up to 75,000-point signup bonus - though you'll need to spend $5,000 within three months to qualify for the full bonus. . It also offers access to over 1,200 airport lounges in 130 countries and reimbursement of TSA Precheck and Global Entry application fees.

It has an annual fee of $595, but if you can write that off as a business expense you'll quickly see the benefits of the five points for every dollar you spend on travel booked through, unlimited Boingo Internet access and upgraded Hilton Honors and Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status. This is a charge card so there's no set APR. You're expected to pay off the balance monthly.

American Express Business Gold Rewards Card

The American Express Business Gold Rewards Card offers rewards in several categories, but as a small business owner who travels, you'll probably be most interested in the fact that it offers triple rewards whenever you buy plane tickets directly through an airline.

After spending $5,000 within the three months of opening an account, cardholders earn 35,000 points. The annual fee is $295, but it's waived the first year. This is no longer just a charge card.  There is an APR of 16.49 to 24.49% determined based on your credit worthiness at the time the account is opened.

Chase Ink Business Preferred Card

The Chase Ink Business Preferred Card card from Chase Bank offers the best signup bonus on the market at the time of this writing - 80,000 bonus points if you spend $5,000 in the first three months after signing up. That amounts to $1,000 in travel rewards right out of the gate.

The card also offers three points on every dollar of the first $150,000 spent in the first year on travel. Like some other cards on this list, you can also give additional cards to your employees and co-owners, which will give you more buying power and let you rack up the rewards points even faster. The card comes with an APR of 18.24% to 23.24% depending on creditworthiness.

CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World MasterCard

Another option for American Airlines fans is the CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard. It's currently offering 60,000 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles to anyone who spends $3,000 within the first four months of opening an account.

Your first checked bag is free on all domestic flights, and cardholders get 25% off of inflight Wi-Fi. Members also get preferred boarding and earn two AAdvantage miles for every dollar spent on qualifying American Airlines purchases and car rentals, in case you have to drive to the boonies after your flight lands. There's no annual fee in the first year, and it's $99 every year after that. The card has a regular APR of 18.24% to 26.24%.

Bank of America Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard

If you're looking for a basic, meat-and-potatoes card to suit your small business travel needs, the Bank of America Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard is worth considering. It offers members 25,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in the first 60 days of opening the card.

It also offers 0% APR on all purchases for its first 12 billing cycles, then it has a variable APR from 13.49% to 23.49%. There's no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, no blackout dates and no booking restrictions, and your points never expire. So, if you're looking for a no-frills card for your small business travel, this is a solid consideration.

Using Personal Travel Rewards Credit Cards for Small Business

If you're on the hunt for a credit card for your small business, you may have noticed that there are plenty of consumer oriented credit cards just as attractive if not more attractive than the the business travel rewards credit cards you've come across. There are other benefits to using personal credit cards - namely that they are bound by the rules of the 2009 Card Act we mentioned earlier. Some business credit cards, on the other hand, may have better terms and it may be easier to provide cards for employees using business credit cards. If you do choose a personal credit card as your go-to card for business purchases, make sure you only use it for business purchases. Don't intermingle personal and business spending with the card. Here are some personal credit cards popular among small business travelers.

Bank of America Premium Rewards Visa Card

If your small business requires you to travel outside of the country, the Bank of America Premium Rewards Visa Card is a solid card. It charges no foreign transaction fees and if you're traveling to a far-flung destination that's brand new to you, Visa Signature Concierge service is there to help you find your way around. It offers 50,000 bonus points to new members who spend $3,000 or more in the first 90 days, which is a $500 value. The card comes with an APR of 18.24% to 25.24% based on creditworthiness.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card from Chase Bank offers cardholders 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within the three months of opening an account. That's the equivalent of earning $625 for hotels or airfare, or $500 in cash.

Like many other cards on the list, the Sapphire Preferred card also offers trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance, zero liability protection, round-the-clock access to customer service specialists and baggage delay insurance. Plus, you won't pay any foreign transaction fees and there's no annual fee for the first year. The card comes with an APR of 18.24% to 25.24% based on creditworthiness.

Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard

If you like American Airlines, you may want to consider the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard, which offers members 60,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months of opening an account. And if you spend $6,000 within the first year of membership, you'll get an additional 10,000 miles. The $99 annual fee is waived for the first year.

Members also earn two AAdvantage miles for every dollar they spend on American Airlines purchases and one AAdvantage mile for every dollar spent on other purchases. Members also enjoy priority boarding and free baggage check on the first article of luggage. The APR ranges from 18.24% to 26.24%, based on creditworthiness.

United MileagePlus Explorer Visa Card

The United MileagePlus Explorer Visa Card from United Airlines offers 60,000 bonus miles to members who spend at least $2,000 on purchases in the first three months after opening an account. These miles can be used for flights on United Airlines, restaurant meals, wifi, and other travel expenses you can't do without.

Members can check their first bag for free, and that also goes for one other person they happen to be traveling with, a savings of up to $120 on every round-trip flight. There's no annual fee in the first year, and $95 every year afterwards. The card has a variable APR of 18.24% to 25.24%.

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Published on: Dec 24, 2018