Business Credit Cards: How to Make Them Work for You & Not Against You
Feb 18, 2020
If you’re not using a credit card in your business, you might be leaving money on the table.
Some people hesitate to use credit cards out of fear of debt or high interest limits, and believe me, I get that.
In this blog I’ll discuss how business credit card can benefit you, how to avoid getting sucked in to debt, and things to consider when getting a business credit card.
We want to ensure you’re business credit card will work for you versus against you.
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Also, check out the following blogs that help you know your numbers, increase profits, and avoid mistakes:
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How to Increase Income by Setting a Simple Sales Strategy
Where to Start When Starting a Biz
How Being an S Corp Can Save You Money
How to Keep Your Small Biz Expenses Organized
Venmo for Business - Is It Bad?
I’m super debt averse but use my credit card whenever I can
Something you should know is I’m super debt averse. I’ve literally never had debt.
My parents got me my own credit card as a teenager, maybe 15 or 16, when I was already working. They told me to never use it unless I had the money and I was the biggest rule follower around so I was VERY strict with this.
To this date, nearly 18 years later, I’ve never carried a balance on a credit card unless it was 0% interest.
I started really small and only used it to charge gas. Then I’d take the cash I had from working and physically go to the bank and pay it off periodically throughout the month. I always paid before it was due.
In college I took a personal finance class that said paying cards before they’re due is basically giving the bank a 0% loan so then I switched to paying in full on the due date every month.
Slowly, I started adding on other charges. A lunch here and there, until I was better managing carrying a balance and still having the cash to pay for it at the end of the month.
Now I use a credit card for both business and personal expenses (on separate cards of course) whenever possible because earning points and building credit is just plain smart.
Long story short - use your business credit card in the same capacity and get one that earns rewards and you’ll be making money from your purchases.
Last month my business card made me $33 just from charging expenses I was going to pay anyway.
2 main reasons to get a business credit card
- Earn rewards
If you're going to be spending money anyway, why not get a little kick back for that spending? If you're only purchasing from your checking account or via PayPal or any equivalent, you're leaving money on the table. On the low end credit cards earn 1% cash back, which can really add up throughout a year.
- Build your credit
You can build your credit by using your credit card for necessary business purchases that you're making anyway. Of course, make sure to pay your balance in full each month to avoid interest charges or late penalties that can have an adverse effect.
3 Things to consider when choosing a business credit card
Picking the right credit card for your business really depends on your unique business. Here are three things to consider when choosing the right fit for you.
- Rewards program
If you are running social media ads, you might want to look into the Chase Ink Business Preferred card, which earns 3x points on social media advertisements. If you spend a lot of money on Amazon in your business, perhaps the Amazon Prime Rewards card, which earns 5% on Amazon purchases, is best for you.
- Annual fees
Does the card have an annual fee? If so, it may still be worth it but you need to factor the cost of the fee into your determination.
Let's do an example here. Say you spend $20,000 per year on a credit card. You are choosing between Card A, with $0 annual fee earning 3% cash back and Card B with a $95 annual fee earning 5% cash back.
Card A: $20,000 x 3% = $600 cash back = $600 net benefit
Card B: $20,000 x 5% = $1,000 cash back - $95 annual fee = $905 net benefit
In this case, Card B is the right choice. But if you only spent $2,500 a year then Card A would be better suited for you.
Card A: $2,500 x 3% = $75 cash back = $75 net benefit
Card B: $2,500 x 5% = $125 cash back - $95 annual fee = $30 net benefit
- Interest rates
If you're doing as I suggest and only purchasing what you can afford and paying your card in full by the due date each month then this should be a non-factor for you. But if you must pay interest, you should always consider the interest rate of a card.
How to avoid getting into debt when using a business credit card
- Start small
If you've never had credit before or if you have personal debt and are afraid of getting your business into debt too, then I recommend starting small. Begin by making only small recurring purchases that you always have the money for and cannot be increased by not paying attention to your spending. Examples are monthly recurring software subscriptions that you've been managing to pay monthly from your checking account. Think Zoom, GSuite, Calendly, utilities, etc.
As you get used to paying this off and see you're able to stay out of debt, you can gradually increase what you're charging.
- Only buy what you can afford
Only charge what you have enough money in the bank to cover. This will help you avoid getting upside down. That means checking your bank balance BEFORE swiping your card. Don't have it? Don't charge it. Simple as that.
- Pay the card off in full each month on or before the due date
As I mentioned earlier, it's generally frowned upon from a financial perspective to pay bills before they're due. However, if this is to keep you in line on money management and prevent you from spending money in your checking account that is allotted for charges on your credit card, I give you permission to throw this out the window and pay your card off early to prevent overspending else where and finding yourself getting hit with interest and into a cycle of overspending.
- Start by making regular payments shortly after charges
Taking the last step a step farther, if you are really scared of spending the money before the bill is due, then start as small as checking your bank balance, charging the transaction on your credit card, and immediately transferring the money from your bank to your credit card. This will allow you to make the payment, avoid interest, build credit, and still earn points. Eventually you will get your habits under control and go from paying immediately, to paying every few days, to paying weekly, then twice a month, and eventually monthly.
How to make your business credit card work for you
- Charge any expenses that don’t bill you an extra credit card processing fee
Once you're in a healthy cycle of only charging what you need and can afford, make it a rule to charge any item that you can, so long as it doesn't charge you a processing fee greater than the rewards points.
- Pay your balance in full each month to avoid paying interest
This is worth repeating. Make sure you're making full payments on or before the due date or the cost of the interest will outweigh the benefit of the rewards.
- Regularly review your selected rewards category to be sure you’re choosing the one that will earn you the most rewards
Credit cards often have many rewards categories and you can choose your category. Be sure to really look at your spending and choose the category that will give you the greatest reward. Review these categories quarterly to be sure you still have the most beneficial selected.
If you ever accidentally miss a deadline by a day or two, call the bank and ask that they reverse the late penalty and interest as a one time courtesy based on your excellent payment history
⭐️ Charge what you can afford
⭐️ Pay your balance in full
⭐️ Get a card that earns rewards
⭐️ Make sure the rewards category is the one that will earn you the biggest rewards (I review this quarterly or so and Bank of America even shows you which one is best for you based on your history of purchases
⭐️ Sign up for a card when they’re running promotions and you’ll often get up to $200-300 in rewards for meeting certain purchase thresholds
⭐️ I hoard rewards like a hidden savings account and redeem them on rainy days
⭐️ If you ever accidentally miss a deadline by a day or two, call the bank and ask that they reverse the late penalty and interest as a one time courtesy based on your excellent payment history
⭐️ ⭐️ If you run Facebook ads, look into Chase Ink, which offers higher rewards for that
Debt is a tricky subject, but being too debt averse can actually be costing you money.
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