The 4 best credit cards for earning cash back on your small-business purchases, no matter what you buy

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If you have a business, or even if you have a freelancing gig that you do on the side, using separate credit cards to keep your business and personal expenses separate will streamline your finances and save you some headaches when it comes time to prepare your taxes.

When it comes to business credit cards, there are a lot of great options out there, which makes it difficult to choose "the right one." Business owners who don't want to think about maximizing points and deciding between hotel points vs. airline miles might find cash back to be the best value.Advertisement

Cash back is simple and you can use your rewards for virtually anything you want. If that sounds good to you, here are the four best business credit cards for earning maximum cash back.

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.

1. Ink Business Cash Credit Card

Annual fee: $0

The Ink Business Cash card from Chase has several things going for it that earn this top ranking. To start, the card offers a $500 welcome bonus after you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first three months. That's pretty solid for a cash back card with no annual fee.

Beyond the welcome bonus, cardholders earn 5% cash back on the fist $25,000 spent at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phones services every account anniversary year. Additionally, the first $25,000 spent at gas stations and restaurants earns 2% cash back every year. These are pretty lucrative categories for many business owners. If you want extra employee cards to help you earn even more rewards, there's no additional fee for that.Advertisement

Click here to learn more about the Ink Business Cash card »

2. Bank of America® Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card

Annual fee: $0

The Bank of America® Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card has no annual fee and offers a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 within 90 days of account opening. But what makes this such a great cash-back business credit card is that it earns 2% on dining and 3% in one of the following categories (you get to choose which):

  • Gas stations
  • Office supply stores
  • Travel
  • TV/telecom and wireless
  • Computer services or business consulting services
Bonus cash back on the above spending categories is limited to the first $50,000 in combined purchases every calendar year. You can switch your 3% bonus category on a monthly basis. All other purchases earn 1% cash back, which is fairly standard.Advertisement

What makes the Bank of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards Card potentially lucrative is that if you're a preferred Business Platinum Honors member in the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program, you'll get 75% more cash back.

For example, if you manage to earn $1,000 worth of cash back in a year, Bank of America will give you a $750 bonus. That's incredibly generous, especially considering you can easily change your bonus categories on a monthly basis to ensure you're earning the most rewards possible.

3. American Express® Blue Business Cash Card

Annual fee: $0Advertisement

The Blue Business Cash card from American Express is a great choice if you value simplicity. The card earns has no annual fee and offers 2% cash back on the first $50,000 spent per calendar year. After you hit that threshold, you'll earn 1% cash back.

While it lacks a welcome bonus, the Blue Business Cash card has a unique feature that could be worth more: Amex Offers. Amex Offers is an exclusive American Express cardholder benefit that consists of cash-back and statement-credit offers at popular merchants like Adidas, J. Crew, and Macy's. These include retailers, travel merchants, and even insurance and utility companies.

Read more: The best Amex Offers available nowAdvertisement

I once saved over $440 in a single month from statement credits through Amex Offers - that's higher than the welcome bonus on the Bank of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards Card. The Blue Business Cash card can be a great way to earn lots of rewards and score substantial discounts on necessary business expenses.

Click here to learn more about the Amex Blue Business Cash card »

4. Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business

Annual fee: $95 (waived the first year) The Capital One Spark Cash for Business earns an unlimited 2% cash back on all spending, offers free employee cards and a $500 welcome bonus after you spend $4,500 in the first three months. So why is it the last card on this list? For starters, the spending requirement is quite high for a $500 bonus. The Ink Business Cash card requires just $3,000 to be spent for the same amount.Advertisement

Another downside of this card is that while the annual fee is $0 during the first year, it goes up to $95 after that. Paying $95 per year for a 2% cash-back card isn't ideal, especially since the Amex Blue Business Cash card offers the same rewards without an annual fee.

Some business owners may prefer this over the Blue Business Cash card for a pretty valuable benefit: Auto rental damage waiver. Essentially, this provides primary coverage for your rental car in case of an accident or theft. For those who travel often for business, the savings from declining this coverage at the rental car desk can be worth the $95 annual fee.

Click here to learn more about the Capital One Spark Cash for Business »

Which card is best for you?

If you're looking to earn maximum cash back, the best business card for you ultimately depends on your spending patterns. If you have substantial expenses that fall into the office supply store, internet, cable, and phone services categories then the Chase Ink Business Cash card's 5% category bonus is tough to beat.Advertisement

If you want more flexibility to choose your bonus category based on varying spending patterns, then the Bank of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards card could be your best bet. For those who don't like to think about category bonuses and just want to earn a generous flat cash back rate across the board, the Blue Business Cash card from American Express or the Capital One Spark Cash for Business could make the most sense.

See Business Insider's list of the best business credit cards »

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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.