Edited by: Jessica Merritt
& Juan Ruiz
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Some of the biggest benefits of being an independent contractor include being your own boss, setting your own schedule, building a business from the ground up, and even a higher earning potential in some cases. Another benefit: the ability to get a business credit card.
According to the IRS, a person, business, or corporation is an independent contractor if it provides goods or services under a written contract or a verbal agreement — this is also known as freelancing.
So let’s say you’re an independent contractor. One of the first things you need to do is organize your finances.
As an independent contractor, you might just mix your personal and business finances. But this isn’t an organized way to conduct business.
To avoid massive headaches with your accountant and/or bookkeeper, you should consider getting a separate credit card for your business. That’s what this guide is for — to show you the best credit cards for independent contractors.
First and foremost, a credit card for independent contractors must separate business expenses from personal ones.
It should also allow you to add employee cards, set credit limits, and transfer data to accounting programs (such as QuickBooks).
Another must is being able to view and analyze expense reports seamlessly.
Almost all of the business credit cards from major banks have all of these features built in — so what’s left to differentiate between the choices? The answer: rewards and benefits.
You’ll want to use a business credit card that earns the most rewards for your specific expenses. Remember, every independent contractor will make different business purchases, so be sure to choose one that aligns with your spending.
Additionally, if you’d like to earn travel benefits from your credit card, you’ll need to specifically look for one that offers travel benefits, as opposed to shopping benefits, for example.
With all that being said, we’ve done the homework and identified the best business cards for independent contractors. We’ve focused mostly on travel rewards and benefits, though as you’ll find out, many of these choices are superb even for those seeking cash-back.
Let’s dive right into it.
|Card||Welcome Bonus and Annual Fee||Benefits for Independent Contractors|
Our absolute staff-favorite business card for independent contractors is the Amex Business Platinum card, which, as you can imagine, is fully loaded with travel perks and the ability to earn some of the most amazing rewards out there.
Rewards start with an incredible welcome bonus, worth more than $2,000+ by itself. You’ll also earn 5x points on flights and prepaid hotels booked via Amex Travel.
Cardholders get unrivaled lounge access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection. This includes over 1,400 locations around the world at the following lounges:
We’re just getting started with the travel benefits of the Amex Business Platinum card! You will also get:
In addition, the Amex Business Platinum card earns 1.5x points on eligible purchases in key business categories (U.S. construction material and hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers, software and cloud system providers, and shipping providers), as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else (up to $2 million in these purchases per calendar year).
To finish off the travel benefits, you will get state-of-the-art travel insurance that covers trip cancellation and interruption, trip delays, and lost/damaged baggage, along with secondary car rental coverage and emergency medical transportation.
And you can bet that you’ll also get top-of-the-line benefits not related to travel, including QuickBooks integrations, purchase protection, return protection, extended warranty coverage, and no foreign transaction fees (rates and fees).
Let’s take a few moments to talk about the power of Amex Membership Rewards. First of all, not all points are created equal. Amex Membership Rewards points are the most valuable at approximately 2.2 cents per point, according to our valuations.
That means if you earn 5x points, you’d get a return on spend of 11%! So, how can you get outsized value from Amex points?
You can choose from the following redemption options:
Here at Upgraded Points, we love using Amex points for luxury travel because of how much value you can get from your points.
The Amex Business Gold card is the little sister of the Amex Business Platinum card for a few reasons. Ultimately, it’s difficult to compare the 2 cards, but here’s what we can tell you about the Amex Business Gold card.
You’ll get a huge welcome bonus, which could be worth more than $1,500 by itself.
As an independent contractor, you might have different expenses from one month to another — the Amex Business Gold card is one of the few cards that automatically adjusts your bonus categories for you based on where you’d earn the most points every month. That way, you can just focus on growing your business!
If you max out the $150,000 in purchases earning 4x points every calendar year, you’ll get 600,000 Amex points, which is worth a whopping $13,000+! With 4x Amex points, your return on spend is equal to about 8.8%!
The Amex Business Gold card’s rewards structure is second-to-none — but it doesn’t offer anywhere near the same travel benefits the Amex Business Platinum card does, including lounge access or a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit.
Nonetheless, it does offer valuable benefits including purchase protection, extended warranty, secondary rental car coverage, travel insurance, and business integrations with QuickBooks.
You can add up to 99 employee cards with no annual fee (rates and fees) after the first employee card ($50 annual fee).
Also, this card doesn’t have a preset spending limit, and it doesn’t have any foreign transaction fees (rates and fees).
Hot Tip: Trying to figure out if the Amex Business Platinum card or Amex Business Gold card is a better fit for your business? We weigh the pros and cons of each card in our helpful head-to-head comparison.
The king of business credit cards has officially made an appearance! The Ink Business Preferred card offers incredible well-rounded benefits, starting with the massive welcome bonus worth $2,000+ alone!
On top of that, this credit card allows you to earn the amazing Chase Ultimate Rewards points at a rate of 3x points on the first $150,000 (1x points after that) in combined purchases across these categories:
Maxing out these bonus categories would net you 450,000 Ultimate Rewards points every year — that’s worth up to $9,000!
You’ll also earn 1x points on all other purchases. For a limited time through March 2025, you’ll also earn 5x points on Lyft purchases.
Another underrated benefit is the ability to redeem your Ultimate Rewards points for 25% more value at a rate of 1.25 cents per point for any travel booked through the Chase travel portal or via Pay Yourself Back.
The Ink Business Preferred card offers purchase protection, extended warranty, top-notch cell phone protection insurance, travel insurance (including primary car rental insurance), and more.
There are no foreign transaction fees or employee card fees.
Chase Ultimate Rewards points are among the most valuable available, second only to Amex Membership Rewards. Worth around 2 cents each, earning 3x points is approximately equal to getting a 6% return on spend.
As you can tell from the earning structure above, it’s ridiculously easy to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
These points can be redeemed for cash-back, merchandise, gift cards, charity, travel booked through the Chase travel portal, or for amazing business and first class flights such as Singapore Suites and Emirates first class via the Chase transfer partners.
The Amex Blue Business Plus card is our favorite business credit card for everyday purchases. You can earn 2x points on everyday business purchases, up to $50,000 per calendar year (1x thereafter). Plus, there’s an awesome 0% introductory APR offer as shown in the table above. This card is a favorite because 2x Amex points are equal to a return on spend of around 4.4%. Not too shabby, right?
This card is one of the rare no-annual-fee cards that allows you access to a transferable rewards system and earnings of 2x transferable points per dollar. Other crucial perks include no additional fees for employee cards, Expanded Buying Power, purchase protection, extended warranty, and access to Amex Offers (rates and fees).
Both of these labels are partially correct in the sense that this credit card offers awesome rewards on everyday business purchases.
Specifically, you’ll earn 1.5% cash-back on all of your purchases with no caps! You’ll also enjoy a 0% introductory APR benefit for the first 12 months.
Although this card doesn’t earn Ultimate Rewards points by itself, the 1.5% cash-back rewards you earn can be converted to 1.5x Ultimate Rewards points if you also hold an Ultimate Rewards credit card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. That’s equivalent to a return on spend of 3%!
This no-annual-fee credit card has unlimited employee cards for no additional fee, zero liability fraud protection, primary car rental insurance, purchase protection, extended warranty, and many more benefits.
Our first and only Capital One entry in this list, the Capital One Spark Miles card is Capital One’s flagship business credit card, and you’ll see why.
Starting off, you’ll usually find a great welcome bonus to jumpstart the earning opportunities you have on the card.
Business owners holding the Capital One Spark Miles card will earn an unlimited 2x Capital One miles on every purchase with no blackouts, minimum amount to redeem, or seat restrictions.
Additionally, you will earn 5x miles on hotel and rental car bookings made through Capital One Travel.
This premium credit card offers cardmembers a $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit, no-fee employee cards, roadside assistance, zero fraud liability, purchase protection, extended warranty, and no foreign transaction fees.
Capital One Miles is a terrific rewards program that has access to some amazing transfer partners, both airlines and hotels. Capital One miles are worth around 1.8 cents each, which translates to a 9% or 3.6% return on spending when earning 5x or 2x miles.
You can use your points for statement credits, gift cards, Amazon purchases, and more.
But the undisputed winning redemption is transferring your Capital One miles to transfer partners and redeeming them for a tremendous value.
The Ink Business Cash card gives you some incredible potential for solid cash savings, thanks to its thoughtful business bonus categories.
You’ll almost always find a fantastic welcome bonus on the card. It is also a 0 APR business credit card, which could save you thousands of dollars on interest accrual.
After that, you’ll earn up to 5% cash-back per the following structure:
Earning 5% cash-back on a no-annual-fee card is amazing, even if it has a cap of $25,000 every account anniversary year.
Also, this credit card comes with primary rental car coverage, roadside dispatch, purchase protection, extended warranty, and employee cards for no additional annual fees.
Your cash-back can also be converted to Ultimate Rewards points if you have a credit card such as the Ink Business Preferred card. That means 5%, 2%, and 1% cash-back is equal to 5x, 2x, and 1x Ultimate Rewards Points. If you maxed out the 5% cash-back and converted it to Ultimate Rewards points, you could get a 10% return on spend!
Our very last credit card pick is a superb choice if you’re looking for straightforward cash-back to reinvest into your business as an independent contractor.
The Amex Blue Business Cash card will earn you 2% cash-back on all eligible purchases (up to $50,000 per calendar year), then 1% cash-back.
This card is awesome because the cash-back rewards you earn are automatically credited to your statement, which means you don’t need to worry about using your rewards!
Also, you’ll find a 0% intro APR perk to help you avoid interest fees in the first 12 months of your account opening. Regular APR, as shown in the table above, will apply after the introductory period.
There is no annual fee, and the Amex Blue Business Cash card gives cardholders Expanded Buying Power, extended warranty coverage, purchase protection, secondary car rental coverage, access to Amex Offers, and no additional fees for employee cards (rates and fees).
Without a doubt, you have lots of choices when picking the best credit card for your independent contractor business.
Even though the universe of suitable business credit cards is diverse, there are clear winners and losers. The winners will offer the best rewards, benefits, and of course, typical business credit card perks including expense management and transaction separation.
In this guide, we showed you our top picks of the best credit cards for independent contractors — study the information in this guide carefully, make the decision that’s best for your needs, and put your spending on your shiny new card!
Information regarding the Capital One Spark Miles for Business was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Business Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of The American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card, click here.
It’s always best to use a business credit card to separate your personal and business expenses. If you’re self-employed, you’re probably running a business. Therefore, we always recommend having a business credit card so you can keep track of what’s a personal expense and what’s a business one.
The best credit cards for contractors, in our opinion, are the Amex Business Platinum card, Amex Business Gold card, Ink Business Preferred card, Amex Blue Business Plus card, Ink Business Unlimited card, Capital One Spark Miles card, and Amex Blue Business Cash card.
You should consult your bookkeeping/accounting professional for advice, but we recommend that you keep a personal credit card for personal expenses and a business credit card for business/contractor expenses.
The best banks for self-employed workers are American Express and Chase, which offer the biggest benefits. Capital One is solid, too, but the 2 best banks for rewards and perks are American Express and Chase.
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UP's Bonus Valuation
This bonus value is an estimated valuation calculated by UP after analyzing redemption options, transfer partners, award availability and how much UP would pay to buy these points.