Whether you're a freshly minted entrepreneur with a fledgling business or an experienced business owner, I'm sure you've learned at least two things that all companies have in common: You're going to have expenses, and business credit cards can be a handy tool to help you manage those expenses.
That's not surprising news.
What is surprising, though, is how little some entrepreneurs understand about the basic ways business credit cards work, their advantages and strategies for using them to their advantage.
That's okay…school's in session!
Factors to Consider
When you're comparing business credit cards, you'll find a number of variables that can make your decision seem harder than it actually is.
Here are the things that really matter:
- Annual percentage rate (APR): Your business credit card's APR is basically what you pay for the convenience of being able to use a card for all your purchases. You want to shop around for the lowest APR for the features you want from your card.
- Annual fee: Another cost of doing business. Annual fees vary dramatically: Some cards have no fee, while others can run you hundreds of dollars per year. Like APR, your goal should be to get the annual fee figure down as low as possible, while still getting all the features your business needs.
- Introductory offer: Every time I think I've seen a great introductory offer, another comes out that impresses me even more. It's common to be able to find a zero APR for a period of time, coupled with a healthy bundle of rewards benefits after qualifying purchases have been made.
- Rewards programs: I'll go into greater detail later, because this feature is huge. But basically, it's beneficial to find a business credit card with rewards that meet your company's needs.
Here's the fun stuff! One of the biggest arguments for using business credit cards to pay your company's expenses is the fact that you can rack up cash back, travel rewards or loads of other benefits when you select a card with a rewards program.
Finding the card with the right set of benefits at the right price is important, and understanding the basics makes that decision much easier.
Some cards let you customize your benefits to accrue bigger rewards for purchases in designated categories. That means it makes sense to do a little homework and set your card up properly to take advantage of the best business credit card offers.
One of the most underused features of certain business credit cards is the ability to make and even automate vendor payments.
Why is this such a fabulous benefit?
Think about it…when you write a check, that money is gone. If you were to pay the same vendor with your business credit card, you're buying yourself a little additional time to cover the purchase.
The ability to push vendor payments out for a few weeks helps you bring in revenue from your vendor purchases, which may consequently open up options for greater discounts for bulk purchasing.
In addition to accruing rewards for vendor payments, some cards offer programs that make processing payments quick and easy. Learning how to pay your vendor with a credit card can be a worthwhile investment of a modest amount of time.
Once you've sorted through your options in terms of APR, annual fee and rewards programs, I encourage you to look a little deeper. I've often found that many business owners have benefits they're completely unaware of.
If you do any business with international vendors, for example, or if international travel is part of your business, your credit card may offer reduced—or even zero—foreign transaction fees, a feature that can quickly add up to real money. You may also be able to get reimbursement for checked bag fees, as well as access to travel lounges in airports, depending on your business credit card.
When I reflect on all the many business decisions we have to make each day, choosing the right credit card is a biggie! Finding the card with the right set of benefits at the right price is important, and understanding the basics makes that decision much easier. From vendor payments to cash back rewards, select your card carefully.
Read more articles on credit-card financing.
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