Owners of small businesses need every advantage they can get. Unfortunately, many business owners don’t fully understand just how many perks and benefits they leave on the table by failing to use the right credit card.
While the debit card vs. credit card debate might tip toward debit in your home life, you should have at least one or two credit cards to maximize the power of your company’s spending.
Not sure how credit card perks can help grow your company? Check out some of the highly useful perks you might be missing out on.
Elite Traveler Status
If you travel for work more than once or twice a year, you should have at least two credit cards: one for your airline and one for your hotel chain. Most hotel-branded credit cards provide a free status upgrade to cardmembers; while those upgrades don’t mean much on their own, they can greatly accelerate the path toward top-tier status, where hotels provide impressive benefits to their loyalists. When you find yourself in need of a room at a sold-out property, you can even flex your elite status to kick someone else out.
Examples: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless, World of Hyatt
TSA Precheck and Global Entry
Another perk for frequent travelers, TSA Precheck makes the airport experience a breeze. Keep your shoes on, keep your laptop in your bag, and enjoy a separate (and typically much shorter) line through security. Global Entry includes TSA Precheck while also accelerating international re-entry to the U.S. Dozens of credit cards now reimburse cardmembers for signing up for these programs. You have to pass a background check and an interview, but the benefits are worth the inconvenience.
Examples: Capital One Venture, Citi AAdvantage Executive
Extra Free Hotel Nights
You know your credit card earns you points, but did you know that certain spending thresholds and stay behaviors provide even more free nights? Some hotel companies reward you for trying out different brands or spending more money on their cards. When reviewing potential credit cards, look beyond the signup and category bonuses to consider how often you might earn those extra free nights.
Examples: Hilton Honors American Express Aspire, World of Hyatt
Free Checked Baggage
The more you fly for your business, the more you realize how expensive bags can be. Most savvy traveling salespeople avoid checking bags when possible, but if you don’t have that option, make sure you have a card to cancel out the baggage fees. You could also fly Southwest, which permits two free checked bags per person.
Examples: United Explorer Card, Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select
Tired of doing all the work yourself? Credit cards that include concierge services typically carry higher annual fees, but the extra attention more than makes up for the cost if you use the service frequently. If you’re looking at cards in this tier, though, don’t just go for one perk. Look at the whole suite of benefits before you make your decision.
Examples: American Express Business Platinum Card, Luxury Card Mastercard Black Card
Cell Phone Insurance
Thousands of people who have this benefit don’t even know it exists. If you accidentally shatter your phone or get back to your hotel and discover someone pickpocketed you, certain cards will cover the loss of your phone up to a specific amount. In a few cases, these cards don’t even charge annual fees — not bad for hundreds of dollars’ worth of protection. As always, different cards offer different coverage levels, so read the fine print.
Examples: Wells Fargo Platinum, Ink Business Preferred
When you find yourself routinely sending employees on errands, they may need cards of their own. Most small business cards offer free employee card add-ons, but American Express charges a fee for each card. Employee charges show up on the main account, so you don’t have to worry about someone going rogue and buying a new TV on your dime.
Examples: AAdvantage Aviator Business Mastercard, Capital One Spark
Several airlines offer companion passes that allow you to bring another person with you on a trip. Some cards give you a companion ticket or a reduced fare certificate if you spend a certain amount on the card within one year. Nothing beats the companion pass from Southwest Airlines, though. While you can’t earn a companion pass directly from a Southwest credit card, you can accelerate your path to the necessary 120,000 Rapid Rewards points by earning a signup bonus and using the card frequently.
Examples: Southwest Airlines Performance Business, Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select
Office Equipment Credits
Certain classes of credit cards offer different cash-back percentages for different purchases. In some cases, you can even pick your own categories to earn boosted rewards. For business owners who spend thousands every month on office supplies, advertising, and other services, a few extra percentage points in cash back can make a massive difference.
Examples: Chase Ink Business Cash, American Express Business Gold
Credit cards empower business owners to streamline processes, earn rewards, and travel in style (or at least comfort). Don’t be afraid to open more than one card after a few months of using the first.
Use your cards responsibly, don’t buy things you don’t need just to earn points. Take advantage of all the perks that make life as a business owner a little easier.