This Spotlight on Business Credit Cards is brought to you by American Express OPEN, the leading issuer of small-business credit cards and charge cards in the U.S. OPEN offers business owners products and services to help them run and grow their businesses.
Many of us are accustomed to shopping for, and making the most of, credit-card reward programs for personal use. But small businesses can also benefit from them as well, especially when it comes to one of the most expensive items on most companies’ balance sheets: Travel.
Whether your business is shelling out for airfare, accommodations, smartphones or smaller costs such as gas reimbursements and per diem rates, you can probably find a small-business credit card that will reward you for the money you’re spending on the road. It usually takes a bit of research and reflection to find the one that works best for your situation.
Many credit-card companies offer some version of a travel-rewards card that you can use to build up points for free or discounted airfare or hotel accommodations. These cards often assign higher point values for money spent on airfare or gas, upping the incentive to make every business trip worthwhile.
Are you and your employees often flying the same airline or patronizing the same hotels, restaurants and so on? Consider using a rewards program through your favorite airline, most of which have some type of travel-rewards program. Some of us go with the carrier that has most endeared itself to us over the years, while others base the decision on simpler realities like geography (businesses based in Atlanta and other southern U.S. locales may gravitate toward regional heavyweight Delta Air Lines, while Texans may prefer Southwest Airlines; international trips can impose their own preferences as well).
Hard workers and hardy travelers will appreciate programs that allow businesses to reward deserving employees with perks such as seat upgrades and flyer miles for personal use. It’s a form of compensation that doesn’t hit the company’s bottom line like bonuses or pay raises.
Other forms of travel, such as taking a train, may also offer a travel-rewards program. This might be especially helpful for those based in the northeast U.S., who often find themselves taking a train due to the region’s constantly congested roads and skies.
Hotel chains are also big players in this field. Some hotel-chain credit cards are often praised for their cardholder services and flexibility in transferring points between dozens of airlines’ frequent flyer programs, while the companies’ sizes and scope offers a diverse range of brands to choose from for rewards.
Consider whether a program from a regional or community bank might deserve your patronage. Many regional or community banks offer the same type of travel rewards as a nationwide card company, plus attentive customer service and ancillary perks like free employee checking. Plus, your business and its clientele may appreciate a deeper attachment to the local community, both in terms of perception and reality.
If you decide to use multiple travel-reward cards or programs, you may want to check out Points.com, a helpful website that enables you to manage the points, mileage and other rewards accumulated from many different programs in one place. It works with more than 100 loyalty programs.