Whether you want to earn points and miles when you’re flying to see clients, want a killer signup bonus, or simply want to keep your work and personal expenses separate, a business travel credit card can be your lifeline. On top of helping you rack up rewards, travel cards often come with perks that make flights and hotels more bearable—lounge access, concierge service, and more.
We’ve searched for the best signup bonuses and top-shelf benefits to bring you the top four business credit cards for travel in 2017.
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Best Signup Bonus: Chase Ink Business PreferredSM
The Chase Ink Business PreferredSM takes home the honors for best signup bonus, offering 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $5,000 in the first three months. Ultimate Rewards Points are worth 1.25 cents each when you redeem for travel booked through Chase’s Orbitz-powered online portal, putting the signup bonus’ value at an even $1,000. But your points can be worth much more—the Ink Business Preferred offers you the chance to transfer your points 1:1 to Chase’s airline and hotel partners, which include Southwest, Marriott, Virgin Atlantic, and Ritz-Carlton.
This means you can take advantage of the British Airways short-haul award flight hack, get a few free nights at high-end Hyatt hotels, or generally use points to combat a night or flight’s high sticker price. With some smart redemption, your points can be worth 3-5 cents or higher. At a value of 5 cents a point, your bonus would be worth a whopping $4,000.
There’s also the card’s ongoing value. In addition to the one-time signup bonus, you earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent annually on:
- Travel, including airfare, hotels, rental cars, train tickets, and taxis
- Shipping purchases
- Internet, cable, and phone services
- Advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines
The $95 annual fee seems high, but there are no foreign transaction or employee card fees—and the bonus is worth at least $1,000 if you redeem for travel.
Best Flat-rate Travel Rewards Card: Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business
The Ink Business Preferred’s signup bonus can potentially be very lucrative—if you’re willing to put in the work when you redeem. If you don’t want to deal with point transfers, bonus caps, or fluctuating rewards rates, the Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business might be for you. It earns a flat 2 No Hassle Miles on every $1 you spend—no bonus categories, no caps, no surprises. Its $59 annual fee is waived the first year, and it comes with a 50,000-mile signup bonus if you spend $4,500 in the first three months. You can redeem your miles at a rate of 100 to the dollar against any travel expense—think taxis, airfare, hotels, and the like. The card also has no foreign transaction or employee card fees.
Compared to other travel cards, the Spark Miles is a little light on the perks and has a smaller signup bonus. Still, if you want to avoid high annual fees and skip the headache of variable point earnings, Capital One is the way to go.
Best Travel Perks: Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN
Speaking of perks, the Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN has benefits galore. You get a credit toward TSA Pre-check or Global Entry, free Gogo and Boingo internet, a $200 airline fee credit every year, and best of all, entry to American Express’ airport lounge network, which includes Centurion, International American Express, Delta Sky Club, and Priority Pass Select.
It also comes with an impressive signup bonus: 75,000 Membership Rewards points—50,000 when you spend $10,000 in the first three months and an extra 25,000 when you spend an additional $10,000 in the same time period. The $20,000 spending threshold is a little steep, and if you don’t think you can clear it in three months, the Chase Ink Business Preferred might be a better choice.
Past the signup bonus, you’re looking at 2 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on travel booked through American Express, 1.5 points per $1 on qualifying purchases of $5,000 or more (up to 1 million points), and 1 point per $1 elsewhere. Like Ultimate Rewards Points, Membership Rewards Points are transferable to the issuer’s airline and hotel loyalty partners, which include Delta, Virgin America and Atlantic, Starwood, and Choice Hotels. Your points can be worth much more than 1 cent each if you redeem strategically. Still, the Amex Business Platinum’s true value is in its perks, not its ongoing rewards.
One final note—the Platinum is a charge card. Carrying a balance on travel credit cards is usually expensive, since they often come with high interest rates, but failing to pay your charge card balance in full every month can be even more costly.
Best Airline Credit Card: CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®
We’ll close out with one of the best airline-branded business credit cards on the market—the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®. The American Airlines card has doubled its usual signup bonus, offering 60,000 miles when you spend $3,000 in the first three months of cardmembership. AAdvantage miles are valued at 1.5 cents each, putting the bonus’ value at $900, but with smart redemptions, you could be looking at a value upwards of 2 cents per point.
Beyond the signup bonus, you get 2 miles for every $1 spent on American Airlines as well as on telecommunications, car rentals, and gas; plus 1 mile per $1 spent elsewhere. The perks are nothing to scoff at, either: a free checked bag for you and up to four companions on the same reservation, priority boarding, reduced mileage awards, and most importantly, an American Airlines companion certificate every year that you spend upward of $30,000. There is a $95 annual fee (waived the first year), but you won’t have to pay any foreign transaction or employee card fees. If you fly American Airlines or its partners often, this is a fantastic combination of a good bonus and strong perks.
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