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Separate Your Business and Personal Expenses With the Best Credit Cards for the Self-Employed

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Separate Your Business and Personal Expenses With the Best Credit Cards for the Self-Employed

Benji StawskiSeparate Your Business and Personal Expenses With the Best Credit Cards for the Self-EmployedMillion Mile Secrets Team

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INSIDER SECRET: You may be more eligible for a business credit card than you think — freelance jobs like providing paid childcare and writing could qualify you. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re a freelancer just getting off the ground or are already running your own enterprise; if you’re self-employed, you need to separate your business expenses from personal ones, and the best way to do that is with a business credit card.

Basically, any freelance gig that’s generating (or at least trying to) some income could make you eligible for a business card. Contrary to common belief, you don’t need to have a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or an Employer Identification Number (EIN) to apply. If you’re a sole proprietor, you can use your own name as the business name on your business card application and social security number as the business tax ID.

Aside from making it easier to separate expenses, business credit cards can give your business the spending power it needs to grow and unlock additional points-earning opportunities for spend categories that personal credit cards don’t cover.

To help you decide which deserves a spot in your wallet, we’ve compiled a list of the best credit cards for self-employed individuals.

Best Credit Cards for Self-Employed

If you’re self-employed, you need a business credit card to keep personal and work expenses separate.

The Best Credit Cards for Self-Employed Workers

1. Ink Business Preferred Credit Card

Apply Here: Ink Business Preferred Credit Card

Read our Chase Ink Business Preferred review

If there’s one credit card that deserves a spot in every self-employed individual’s wallet, it’s the Chase Ink Business Preferred. With it, you’ll earn 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

That’s worth a whopping $800 when redeemed for cash back, $1,000 for travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal — or potentially more when transferred to one of the Chase transfer partners, such as Hyatt and United. Currently, 80,000 points is the highest welcome offer on any Chase Ultimate Rewards points-earning card.

Transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards Points From the Ink Business Preferred to United Airlines for Award Flights

The Ink Business Preferred has a $95 annual fee, which is NOT waived the first year, and earns bonus points for the broadest range of expenses you might incur as a self-employed individual. It earns 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases each account anniversary year on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites, and search engines.

It also offers a comprehensive suite of travel and shopping protections, such as primary car rental insurance and purchase protection, as well as some other perks like cell phone insurance when you pay your monthly cell phone bill with the Ink Business Preferred.

2. Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business

Apply Here: Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business

Read our Capital One Spark Cash Card review

If it’s cold, hard cash you’re after, you’ll need a cash-back card like the Capital One Spark Cash. New card holders can earn a $500 cash bonus after spending $4,500 on qualifying purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. The card has a straightforward earning structure and a reasonable $95 annual fee that’s waived for the first year, so you can earn the welcome bonus and test-drive the card before paying a fee.

With the Capital One Spark Cash, you’ll earn unlimited 2% cash back on every purchase, so by meeting the spending requirement for the welcome bonus, you’ll really be walking away with $590 in cash back. Plus, you’ll pay no foreign transaction fees abroad.

Cash-back credit cards make it easy to offset non-travel business expenses

You can redeem the cash back you earn with this card at any time, with no minimum redemption amount. Key benefits of the card include primary car rental insurance when renting for business purposes (coverage is secondary for personal rentals), as well as purchase protection and extended warranty coverage.

Something to be aware of is that unlike most other cards, Capital One small business cards do appear on your personal credit report. So if you’re trying to stay under Chase’s 5/24 rule, know that this card will add to your count.

3. Ink Business Cash Credit Card

Apply Here: Ink Business Cash Credit Card

Read our Ink Business Cash Credit Card review

The Chase Ink Business Cash packs a lot in for a card with no annual fee. New card holders get a $500 cash back bonus after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Even better, if you have an Ultimate Rewards card like the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, you can convert the cash back earned with this card into fully transferable Ultimate Rewards points. So, that $500 cash back bonus converts to 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which is a fantastic offer for a no-annual-fee card.

The card is ideal for those who spend a lot on office supplies, telecommunications services, and gas — tutors and ride-share drivers, for example. It earns a terrific 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 (5% cash back) on the first $25,000 in combined purchases each account anniversary year at office supply stores and internet, phone, and cable TV services, plus 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points at restaurants and gas stations (on the first $25,000 in combined purchases each account anniversary year).

Ride-share drivers can get 5% cash back on their cell phone bills and 2% cash back on gas with the Chase Ink Business Cash!

While it’s a bummer that the card doesn’t provide cell phone insurance, it does offer benefits like primary rental car insurance when you rent for business purposes and purchase protection, which is pretty solid for a no-fee card.

4. Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card

Apply Here: Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card

Read our Chase Ink Business Unlimited review

If you have an Ultimate Rewards points-earning card, you’ll also want to consider the Ink Business Unlimited. The card offers the same fantastic welcome bonus as the Chase Ink Business Cash: a $500 cash back bonus (50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

Best of all, you can get the welcome bonus on each of the three Chase small business cards discussed. So, by applying for the Ink Business PreferredInk Business Cash and Ink Business Unlimited, you could walk away with a total of 180,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points! That’s worth at least $2,250 in airfare, hotels, and rental cars if you move points to your Ink Business Preferred card and book through the Chase travel portal.

This card earns an unlimited 1.5% cash back (1.5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1) on all purchases, making it a solid pick for everyday non-bonus spending, such as for non-office supplies  you need to run your business, as well as legal and professional fees.

5. Capital One Spark Miles for Business

Apply Here: Capital One Spark Miles for Business

Read our Capital One Spark Miles review

If it’s simplicity you’re after, then the Capital One Spark Miles for Business might be your best bet. The card offers a welcome bonus of 50,000 Spark miles (worth at least $500 in travel) after spending $4,500 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. It has a $95 annual fee that’s waived for the first year.

You’ll earn a flat 2X Spark miles on all purchases made with the Capital One Spark Miles for Business. Like the Capital One Spark Cash, there are no bonus categories to keep track of and no cap on the miles you can earn. Plus, the card has no foreign transaction fees.

Miles can be redeemed at a fixed value of 1 cent apiece toward booking travel through Capital One or “erasing” a travel purchase you’ve made with the card in the last 90 days. That’s the simplest option and best for those that don’t want to worry about blackout dates or finding available award seats.

However, you can potentially squeeze more value out of your miles by transferring them to one of Capital One’s 14 airline transfer partners, which include Air France-KLM (Flying Blue), Avianca (LifeMiles) and Etihad, among others. The transfer ratio is 2:1.5 for most partners, so the welcome bonus on the Capital One Spark Miles for Business is essentially equivalent to 37,500 airline miles or 44,250 airline miles when you factor in the miles you’ll earn for meeting the minimum spending.

You can redeem 44,000 Etihad miles to fly Business Class on Brussels Airlines from New York – JFK to Brussels!

6. The Blue Business®️ Plus Credit Card from American Express

Apply Here: The Blue Business®️ Plus Credit Card from American Express

Read our AMEX Blue Business Plus Review

If you like the idea of paying no annual fee, but do want to earn travel rewards, then The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express might be your best option. This card has a simple earning structure and earns full-fledged AMEX Membership Rewards points, which can be transferred to AMEX transfer partners like Delta, Hilton, and British Airways, among many others.

The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express earns a flat 2X AMEX Membership Rewards points on all purchases, but only on up to $50,000 in spending per calendar year (then 1X), which can be restrictive for individuals running larger businesses.

7. The Business Platinum® Card from American Express

Apply Here: The Business Platinum® Card from American Express

Read our American Express Business Platinum Card Review 

If it’s premium travel perks you’re after or you make a lot of large purchases, then you’ll want to consider the AMEX Business Platinum. The card is currently offering a tiered welcome bonus of up to 75,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points — 50,000 points after spending $10,000 on purchases in the first three months, and an additional 25,000 points for spending an additional $10,000 within the same time frame.

It earns 5X AMEX points per $1 when you book airfare and hotels through the AMEX travel portal, and 1.5X points per dollar on all purchases of $5,000+ (up to 1 million additional points per calendar year, then 1X). Just note that this is a charge card, as opposed to a credit card, so if you use it to make big purchases, you’ll need to pay off your balance in full each month.

With an annual fee of $595 (See Rates & Fees), the AMEX Business Platinum doesn’t come cheap. However, its plethora of perks can easily offset the annual fee.

The card offers up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for airline incidentals with your selected airline (luggage fees, in-flight food and drink, etc.), up to $200 annual Dell statement credit ($100 from January to June, $100 from July to December) and access to more lounges than any other credit card (Delta, Priority Pass, Airspace, and American Express Centurion Lounges).

Plus, if you enroll by December 31, 2019, you’ll get one year of Platinum Global Access from WeWork, which is especially useful for freelancers, as it grants you access to 300+ premium work spaces in 75+ cities.

Other perks include:

  • 35% of your points back for ALL First Class or Business Class flights booked through the AMEX travel portal using Pay With Points
  • 35% of your points back for all flights, including coach tickets, booked with your selected airline through the AMEX travel portal using Pay With Points (up to 500,000 points per calendar year)
  • Free Hilton Gold status (free breakfast and upgrades when available)
  • Free Gold Marriott Bonvoy elite status
  • Elite car rental status with Avis, Executive status with National Car Rental, and Gold Plus Rewards with Hertz
  • 10 free Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi passes each calendar year
  • Statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck (up to $100 every four years)
  • Ability to book hotel stays through AMEX Fine Hotels & Resorts

Bottom Line

There are many advantages to carrying a separate business credit card as a self-employed individual and it’s relatively easy to get approved for one. Plus, most of the best ones either have an annual fee under $100 — or no fee at all.

If you’re a sole proprietor, filling out a business card application isn’t all that different from a personal card application. When applying for Chase business cards, you’ll want to keep in mind that they are subject to the Chase 5/24 rule, though they won’t add to your count. Likewise, AMEX small business cards don’t appear on your personal credit report so opening new AMEX business accounts won’t add to your count.

Here’s a summary of the best cards for self-employed individuals by category:

Want to know more about the best cards for your travel goals? Check out these posts:

For the latest tips and tricks on traveling big without spending a fortune, please subscribe to the Million Mile Secrets daily email newsletter.

For the rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card from American Express, please click here.

For the rates and fees of the Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express, please click here.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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I applied for the Chase Ink Cash on April 9. I just received their letter 4 days ago stating I need to prove my business address. When I called them today to check in about what would count as proof, they said that the application is only open for 28 days so even if I provide them the letters of verification, it would have needed to be in their hands by today!! How soon can I try again and apply for a Chase business card? Should I apply for different one such as Ink Unlimited? Or should I apply for same one, Ink Cash? Thanks for any help with my situation!

What a lot of people have done in the past is apply for an EIN through the IRS. There have been many reports in online forums that this has satisfied Chase’s business documentation requirements.

It’s completely free, you can do it online, and you can receive proof of your EIN instantly.

You can apply for the EIN here:

https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/apply-for-an-employer-identification-number-ein-online

Greatly appreciate it. I do have an EIN yet they are still asking for proof of address. The problem is I received their letter on day 24 and when I finally spoke with Chase on day 28, they said application is only open for 28 days so don’t even bother sending letter. My question us how soon can I try to apply again for business card (with proof ready to go)? Also should it be same Chase card (Ink Cash) or better if it’s a different card (Ink Unlimited)?

I don’t recall hearing of any time limit to reapply, so you should be good to re-app as soon as you’re ready.

As for which one to apply for specifically, I’d look at my spending habits to see which one best suits your needs. These 2 posts might help:

https://millionmilesecrets.com/reviews/ink-business-cash-credit-card/

https://millionmilesecrets.com/reviews/chase-ink-business-unlimited/

Sorry should have clarified. I was asking which card in case Chase has a wait period before I could reapply for same card which means I’d have no choice but to apply for a different one. However it sounds like you don’t know of any restrictions for reapplying. Many thanks!!!