Any good business credit card will have these 5 benefits - from a high sign-up bonus to purchase protection

small business owner

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Business credit cards can help you earn bonus rewards on common expenses like office supplies.

  • If you own a business or do any freelancing or side gigs, there are plenty of reasons to get a business credit card instead of a personal one.
  • When searching for the right business credit card, look at factors like sign-up bonuses, earning categories and purchase protection.
  • Cards like the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card earn rewards on spending categories that are popular with business owners, and provide valuable coverage including travel and cell phone insurance.
  • See Business Insider's list of the best small business credit cards.

Business credit cards offer a lot of benefits both in common with personal credit cards and in addition to them. Like personal rewards cards, many business credit cards promote attractive sign-up bonuses, extend purchase protection and travel insurance, and in the case of airline and hotel co-branded cards, come with day-of-travel perks like free checked bags and anniversary award nights.

Even without your own small business, you might still qualify for a business credit card - and you might want to do so for a number of reasons. Using a business credit card can help you keep your personal and work expenses separate. That, in turn, can even help raise your personal credit score over time.

There are currently a lot of great business rewards credit cards available, so if you've been thinking about applying for one, now might just be the right time. Before you do, though, here are five benefits you should look for in any business credit card you apply for.

Keep in mind that we're focusing on the rewards and perks that make these credit cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which will far outweigh the value of any points or miles. It's important to practice financial discipline when using credit cards by paying your balances in full each month, making payments on time, and only spending what you can afford to pay back.

A high welcome offer

One of the best reasons to apply for a business credit card is that they often offer introductory bonuses that are as good as, or even better than, their personal counterparts.

For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is currently offering new cardholders 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after they spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Its annual fee is $95.

On the other hand, the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card is offering new cardholders up to 80,000 bonus points after they spend $5,000 in the first three months of account opening, and it also has a $95 annual fee. So you could potentially earn 20,000 more bonus points for $1,000 more in spending by applying for the business card.

The same is true of certain airline and hotel co-branded credit cards. For a limited time, the United Explorer Card is offering up to 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening and the first year's annual fee of $95 waived. But if it's within your budget, you might want to apply for the current limited-time offer on the new United Business Card instead, since you can earn 100,000 bonus miles by spending $10,000 within the first three months (and paying the $99 annual fee).

The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card has a $95 annual fee and its welcome offers is 125,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after you spend $2,000 in purchases in the first three months. Also with a $95 annual fee, the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card is offering 125,000 bonus points for spending $3,000 in the first three months, too. So by applying for the business version, you're not giving up any points.

Bonus earning categories

Like personal rewards credit cards, many business credit cards earn bonus points on particular purchase categories. No matter which business credit card you apply for, you should make sure it earns bonus points or miles where you actually spend the most money. Some business cards even offer a certain amount of flexibility when it comes to maximizing your purchase activity.

For example, the American Express® Business Gold Card earns an excellent 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar on up to $150,000 in combined purchases per year on the two categories where you spend the most each billing cycle from a prescribed list of possibilities that includes airfare purchased from airlines, US gas stations, restaurants, shipping, computer, software, cloud solutions and advertising in select media. So even if your buying habits vary from month to month, you can still take advantage of the card's bonus earning.

Since many small businesses tend to make large one-time purchases, some business credit cards also offer bonus points or miles on big buys, too. For example, the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card now earns 3 miles per dollar on Delta and hotel purchases, but also 1.5 miles per dollar on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more, up to 50,000 miles per year.

Day-of-travel benefits

Many of the best travel rewards card - both business and personal - offer perks that make the travel experience itself that much better. These can include things like free checked bags and priority boarding, like many airline credit cards do, or automatic elite status and free anniversary nights, like those offered by many hotel credit cards.

For example, the CitiBusiness ®/ AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® includes a free checked bag for cardholders and up to four companions on the same reservation plus priority boarding. The Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card confers automatic Marriott Bonvoy Silver elite status with perks like bonus points on stays and late checkout, plus an annual free night redeemable at properties that cost up to 35,000 points.

Aside from privileges with a particular airline or hotel chain, if you spend a lot of time passing through airports, you should consider a business credit card that comes with a statement credit of up to $100 to refund the application fee for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, like the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card or the Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business.

You might also want a card that gets you into airline lounges, like the Business Platinum® Card from American Express, which includes Priority Pass Select access to over 1,300 lounges around the world, plus entry to Amex's own Centurion lounges and Delta Sky Clubs when you're traveling on Delta.

Travel coverage

If you're a frequent traveler and use your business credit card for work trips, you need to think about whether it offers adequate coverage in case things go wrong while you're on the road. Take a look at your card's benefits and make sure it extends protection for things like trip interruption, cancellation, and delays, as well as lost luggage and primary rental car insurance.

One card that offers exceptional travel coverage is the Chase Ink Business Preferred card. If you need to cancel or cut short your trip under certain circumstances, you're covered up to $5,000 per trip for pre-paid, non-refundable travel expenses. It also includes primary insurance on car rentals for business purposes.

For its part, the Business Platinum Amex card now extends trip cancellation insurance up to $10,000 per trip and $20,000 per 12-month period as well as trip-delay insurance that kicks in at six hours and is good for up to $500 per trip in case you need to spend money on things like accommodations or meals.

Purchase protection

Many small business owners need a business credit card specifically to make large purchases - such as for equipment or supplies - for work. If that's your situation, it is imperative to use a credit card that offers sufficient purchase protection in case something goes wrong with the things you buy.

For example, the Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card and the Ink Business Cash Credit Card from Chase will both cover you against damage or theft up to 120 days after you make a purchase with caps of $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account.

Certain Amex cards offer similar coverage, such as the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card, whose purchase protection is good up to 90 days out on claims of up to $10,000 each and $50,000 per account per calendar year. Using a card with purchase protection like this can literally save you thousands of dollars in case something goes wrong with your work purchases.

As a side note, some credit cards offer cell phone protection (usually subject to a deductible) against damage or theft, including the Chase Ink Business Preferred card.

Bottom line

There are plenty of great reasons to apply for a business credit card, and there are also some key benefits you should look for in any business credit card you are thinking of getting. Finding on a product that will not only earn you thousands of bonus points or cash back through a welcome offer and special earning categories, but that will also save you time and money through various travel and purchase protections, is the key to maximizing any business credit card you carry.

Click here to learn more about the Ink Business Preferred card from Chase »

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. We occasionally highlight financial products and services that can help you make smarter decisions with your money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we get a small share of the revenue from our commerce partners. This does not influence whether we feature a financial product or service. We operate independently from our advertising sales team.

Business Insider may receive a commission from The Points Guy Affiliate Network, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.

Please note: While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they're subject to change at any time and may have changed, or may no longer be available.

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