Best Business Credit Cards for Travel of January 2020

A great business travel credit card lightens the load and cuts expenses, too

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The best business travel credit cards not only make it possible to rack up travel rewards, but also provide extra perks that can elevate your travel experience. Cards for specific airlines and hotel chains are only worthwhile if you fly or stay with those brands, but we included some of these co-branded cards because of their stand-out value for business travelers. Whether you regularly travel for your company or for fun, here are our top choices for business owners looking for a travel credit card.

Best Business Cards for Travel

AAdvantage® Aviator® Business Mastercard®

Best Overall

,

Best for Air Travel

Our Rating Among Business Travel Cards
3.4
AAdvantage® Aviator® Business Mastercard®
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 17.49% - 26.49% variable
Annual Fee $95
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 2 miles per $1 on eligible American Airlines, office supply, telecom, and car rental merchant purchases. 1 miles per $1 on all other purchases.
Cash Advance APR (%) 26.74%
Cash Advance Fee Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

Why We Chose This Card

This card is our top pick overall, and the best business card for air travel if you want to use your rewards to fly on American Airlines or one of its 18 partner airlines. The sign-up bonuses are worth more than $1,500 combined, based on our valuation of the miles. New accounts earn 65,000 miles after spending $1,000 within 90 days and another 10,000 miles if an employee card is used to make just one purchase during that same time. You’ll also receive 2 miles for every $1 you spend on eligible American Airlines purchases and at office supply, telecom, and car rental merchants. Plus, this card has valuable travel perks for big spenders.

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

Best for Flexible Travel

Our Rating Among Business Travel Cards
4.0
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Excellent
Regular APR (%) N/A
Annual Fee $595
Rewards Earning Rate Get 5X Membership Rewards points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com. 1x for each dollar spent on other eligible purchases.
Cash Advance Fee This card does not offer cash advances.

Why We Chose This Card

There’s no need to stay loyal to a particular airline or hotel chain with this card, which makes it perfect for business travelers who want or need options. You can use your points to book travel with any provider offered through amextravel.com, or you can transfer them to a loyalty program offered by any of its 22 airline and hotel partners. You'll have to swallow a $595 annual fee, but if you value VIP perks like airport lounge access, it may be worth it. You'll also earn 75,000 points if you spend $20,000 in the first three months, a welcome offer worth almost $900 when using transfer partners, based on our research.

United Explorer Business Card

Best Sign-Up Bonus

Our Rating Among Business Travel Cards
3.0
United Explorer Business Card
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 17.49% - 24.49% variable
Annual Fee $95
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 2 miles per $1 on United purchases, at restaurants, gas stations and office supply stores. 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Cash Advance APR (%) 26.49%
Cash Advance Fee Either $15 or 5% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.

Why We Chose This Card

There’s a stellar two-part new cardholder bonus for those who can make this their go-to business card. First, you’ll earn 50,000 miles by spending $5,000 within three months of opening an account. Then you’ll get another 50,000 miles if you spend $25,000 total within your first six months. That’s an amazing total bonus worth $2,160, based on our calculations. This card has decent long-term value, too. You’ll get double miles per $1 spent with United and at restaurants, gas stations, and office supply stores, and valuable travel perks that easily make this card worth the low annual fee.

Marriott Bonvoy Business™American Express® Card

Best for Hotel Stays

Our Rating Among Business Travel Cards
4.1
Marriott Bonvoy Business™American Express® Card
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 17.24% - 26.24% variable
Annual Fee $125
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 6X points for every $1 spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 4X points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. purchases for shipping, and 2X points everywhere else.
Cash Advance APR (%) 26.74%
Cash Advance Fee Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

Why We Chose This Card

For travelers who prefer to stay loyal to a certain hotel chain, this card gives you the best value. Not only do you earn Bonvoy points at very high rate, you’ll also have the potential to earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first three months. Other perks include automatic Silver Elite status with a path to Gold Elite, a free night award each year (plus a second one if you exceed $60,000 in spending in a calendar year), elite night credits, and more.

Business Advantage Travel Rewards credit card

Best With No Annual Fee

Our Rating Among Business Travel Cards
3.4
Business Advantage Travel Rewards credit card
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 12.74% - 22.74% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on all purchases. Earn 3 points per $1 spent on travel booked through the Bank of America Travel center - powered by Expedia
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 9 Billing Cycles
Cash Advance APR (%) 25.74%
Cash Advance Fee Either $10 or 4% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater

Why We Chose This Card

Easy rewards for business expenses and travel are what this card’s all about. You’ll get 3 points per $1 spent on all travel booked through the Bank of America Travel Center online, and 1.5 points on all other business expenses. Rewards are easy to use for travel, too. Book trips anywhere using the card and simply ask for a statement credit to cover the expense later. That all adds up to a quality business card with no annual fee.

Find Your Credit Card Match We believe it's most important to consider interest rate, rewards, and annual fee when you choose a business credit card for everyday use, but we know you might have different priorities. See what suits you best.
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Who Can Get a Business Credit Card?

You have the potential to qualify for a business credit card as long as you have a business. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need employees or a business license, though. Based on the IRS’ definition, business income can include any income you receive from the sale of a product or service.

What Are Travel Credit Cards?

Travel credit cards offer travel-related rewards and perks that can help you save money on your next vacation, and potentially enjoy a better travel experience. 

What Are the Different Types of Travel Credit Cards?

  • General travel credit cards: These cards offer general travel rewards you can typically redeem for all sorts of travel-related expenses, without booking with a particular travel company. 
  • Co-branded airline credit cards: Airline cards offer rewards with the frequent flyer program of the card’s co-branded airline. While they don’t offer as much flexibility as general travel cards, they often come with airline-specific perks.
  • Co-branded hotel credit cards: As with airline credit cards, co-branded hotel cards offer rewards and perks with a specific hotel brand. 

Pros & Cons

Travel credit cards can provide a lot of value, but they’re not the best fit for every business owner. 

Pros

  • Sign-up bonuses to new cardholders

  • Valuable travel-related perks and insurance protections

Cons

  • Annual fees, some of which are in the hundreds of dollars

  • Potential blackout dates or award restrictions

What's Better: A Travel Card or a Cash-Back Card?

Both travel and cash-back credit cards can provide value, but neither option is inherently better than the other. As a result, it’s important to know what works best for you and your business. Here’s a quick comparison to help you decide.

If you can relate to the following statements, a travel rewards card may be the way to go:

  • I want a big sign-up bonus
  • I prefer travel-specific benefits
  • I don’t mind paying a big annual fee
  • I want to use rewards to get better value from my travel

A cash-back credit card may suit you better if these ring true:

  • A sign-up bonus isn’t a huge priority
  • I like very flexible rewards
  • I don’t spend frequently in other countries
  • I want card benefits I can use when I’m not traveling

Should You Pay an Annual Fee for a Travel Rewards Card?

If you’ve never paid an annual fee on a credit card before, you may balk at the idea of doing so now. Depending on the card, though, it can be easy to get enough value to make up for the yearly cost. 

As you compare travel credit cards, look at each card holistically and compare the costs and the rewards and perks to see which one will give you the biggest net benefit. 

How Should You Choose a General Travel Card?

For starters, look at the flexibility of the redemption options. Having the chance to book through the card issuer’s travel portal is nice, but it may be nice to have the option to shop around and book wherever it is cheapest. Also, the option to transfer your points to an airline or hotel loyalty program could open up a whole new set of valuable redemption choices.

Also consider other features, such as how much the annual fee costs, what kind of benefits you get and how valuable they are to you personally, and whether they offer bonus rewards on your most common business expenses.    

How Should You Choose an Airline Card?

Unlike with general travel credit cards, it may be easier to pick an airline credit card, especially if you’re already loyal to one. If you’re not, think about which airline you’d get the most benefit from, based on your local airport and your frequent destinations. 

Tip

Some airlines have a bigger international footprint and partners that can give you access to more redemption options.

Finally, consider the perks each card offers. Some, for instance, may offer a free checked bag for more people, and others may add in more benefits, such as a discounted companion pass or airport lounge access.

How Should You Choose a Hotel Card?

Picking the best hotel credit card also typically comes down to which hotel brand has your loyalty already. If you haven’t picked one yet, though, consider the hotel chain’s presence in your frequent destinations. 

Also, consider what level of elite status a card may offer and whether there’s a path to a higher status based on your spending. Then also look at how valuable the sign-up bonus, whether you’ll earn bonus rewards on business-related spending and the value of the extra perks you’ll receive.

How Should You Compare Travel Cards?

There’s no single best travel credit card out there for everyone, so it’s essential to know what you’re looking for in a card for your business. Here are just a few features to consider as you compare options:

  • Sign-up bonus
  • Rewards rates
  • Redemption flexibility
  • Annual and foreign transaction fees
  • Additional travel-related perks
  • Insurance protections
  • International acceptance

How Can You Maximize Travel Credit Card Rewards for Your Business? 

As a new cardholder, the best way to maximize your credit card rewards is to make sure you spend enough in the first few months to qualify for the card’s sign-up bonus. 

Then, it’s important to use the card whenever possible to rack up rewards quickly. This will work best if you’ve chosen a card that offers bonus rewards on some of your biggest expense categories, or a card that offers a high, flat rewards rate on everything. 

When it’s time to redeem your rewards, take some time to learn about which redemptions will give you the most value.

Note

The rule of thumb with credit card rewards is you’re getting a good value if your points or miles are worth at least 1 cent each. 

What Can You Redeem Travel Rewards For?

Depending on which card you choose, you may have a few or several redemption options. As you learn how to travel for free with rewards, here are some of the more popular ways to do it:

  • Book travel through the card issuer’s online tool.
  • Use your points or miles to get a full or statement credit against eligible transactions.
  • Transfer your rewards to one of the card’s transfer partners, typically hotels and airlines. If you go this route, it’s ideal to transfer at a 1:1 ratio at least to avoid losing value.

What Kinds of Perks Do Business Travel Cards Come With?

In addition to a rewards program, many business travel credit cards also provide extra perks. Depending on the card, some of the more common perks include:

  • Insurance protections
  • Reimbursement for TSA Precheck or Global Entry application fees
  • Airport lounge access
  • Reimbursements for travel-related fees
  • Free checked bags, priority boarding, and in-flight discounts 
  • Elite hotel status
  • Free anniversary night’s stays 

Methodology

We collect data on hundreds of cards and score more than 55 features that affect your finances. We do this because it's our mission to give you unbiased, comprehensive credit card reviews.

Our reviews are always impartial: No one can influence which cards we review, the way we present them to you, or the ratings they receive.

About This List

We determine this list of cards each month or whenever there's a drastic change in the travel-rewards credit card market. We start by filtering our database of cards to show only those classified as business credit cards, then we filter for cards with airline, hotel, or general travel rewards and benefits. Unlike our Best Travel Credit Cards list (which includes only consumer cards), this list includes co-branded airline and hotel cards, because there are fewer general travel credit cards specifically for business owners on the market.

What We Score

The driving factors in our scores for travel credit cards are the value of a credit card's points or miles and the highest rewards-earning rate the card offers. We determine a point or mile's value by examining American's travel habits, the ways a cardholder can redeem rewards, and the average cost of flights and hotel stays.

Next, we look at the maximum value of the sign-up bonus and how much you have to spend to earn it. Bonuses with higher values and lower spending requirements get the highest scores. Equally as important are the number of airlines you can redeem your points with, as well as how widely accepted the credit card network is. Because travelers need the freedom to use their card wherever they go, cards on networks with higher acceptance rates receive higher scores.

Important

Visa and Mastercard are the most widely accepted card networks, both nationally and internationally, according to the Nilson Report. Discover comes in third, and American Express comes in a distant fourth.

Those factors—point value, highest rewards-earning rate, sign-up bonus value, sign-up bonus spending requirement, airline partners, and card acceptance—account for more than half of a product's score on our Best Business Credit Cards for Travel list.

Beyond those main features, credit cards for travelers who prioritize flexibility should offer a variety of perks, especially those we consider "excellent" perks:

  • Global Entry/TSA Precheck application fee reimbursement
  • Travel fee reimbursement
  • Airport lounge access
  • Insurance coverage for trip cancellation, interruption, or delay
  • Insurance coverage for lost or delayed luggage
  • Travel accident insurance
  • Emergency medical/dental and evacuation benefits
  • Primary rental car collision insurance
  • Cellphone insurance coverage
  • Free towing and other roadside services

Cards with several common perks—like rental car insurance that kicks in after your personal policy or concierge services—receive higher scores than those with fewer benefits, though excellent perks have greater bearing on scores.

Travelers should get a lot of value from their cards, so we look closely at fees. Following all the above features, we favor cards with low annual fees, no foreign transaction fees, and long introductory purchase APRs, which are perfect for spreading out the cost of a one-time dream vacation.

Warning

Whenever you use an introductory purchase APR, make a plan to pay off your balance before the period ends. Otherwise, you'll end up with debt subject to double-digit interest rates.

Other Things We Consider

Travel-specific features make up about three-quarters of our scoring system for our Best Business Credit Cards for Travel, but we also account for several things we think make a quality credit card. We favor cards with low APRs, few fees, outstanding security features, and easy-to-access customer service. You can read more about everything we evaluate in our full methodology.