If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you rely on at least one business credit card. Ours helps us manage our expenses, make sure spending is accounted for at tax time, and ensures we can always get what we need in a hurry without having to deal with cash — whether it’s a snack at the airport, or that toner cartridge we need in a rush to get through a big project.
You can save even more with business credit cards by taking advantage of the rewards and discounts they offer. Also called vendor savings programs, these programs can help you save on things your business needs every day. (My partners and I are all pretty serious shoppers in our personal lives, and we love getting a deal on copier paper almost as much as on shoes!)
Here’s a rundown of ways you can save with business credit cards:
- Rewards: With some credit cards, every dollar you spend earns you rewards points that you can use towards purchases—typically for air travel or hotel stays.
- Discounts: These are discounts on purchases at participating vendors. For business credit cards, discounts are typically business related and are often offered on hotels, air fare or rental cars; office supply store purchases; restaurants; gas station purchases; courier and shipping services and the like. Some cards, like the Plum Card from American Express OPEN, even let you earn a discount by paying your balance early.
- Cash Back: Many business credit cards offer you a percentage cash back rebates on purchases. Suppose your card offers 5 percent cash back and you spend $20,000 a year on the card. You’d get $1,000 in cash back. That’s a pretty good deal for spending what you would have spent anyway.
- Other Money-Savers: These aren’t discounts per se, but can end up saving you lots of money. They include travel insurance, rental car insurance, identity theft insurance, lost luggage insurance and purchase protection. For instance, my husband owns his own business, and last year he had a dispute with a vendor who delivered shoddy materials and refused to take them back or remove the charges. My husband didn’t know what to do until I pointed out that he had paid for the shipment with his American Express business card. One quick phone call and the charge was taken off his account—plus, he didn’t even have to talk to the vendor.
You probably already have one or more business cards that offer some type of rewards. But rewards programs are changing constantly; so now is a good time to review your cards and what they offer. To get the most savings, you’ll need to assess what your business buys most often. For my company, that’s travel and office supplies. If you or your staff are frequent travelers, focus on cards that offer travel-related rewards and discounts. On the other hand, if your sales team spends lots of time driving around locally and taking clients to lunch or dinner, a card that offers restaurant or gas station rewards or discounts would be a better deal.
Visit credit card comparison sites to compare different offers. When comparing cards, don’t focus solely on the perks. Also take into account the terms, interest rate and fine print. If you end up paying more interest or losing some payment flexibility to gain a 10 percent discount, you haven’t gained anything.
Once you’ve found the right cards, make sure everyone in your company who uses them knows how to take advantage of the rewards. For instance, if your new business card offers office-supply discounts for shopping at a certain store, make sure your office manager uses that card when ordering and shops at that store.