Business credit cards

Dedicated business credit cards offer many tools personal credit cards don't have. They can save you money, help track expenses and simplify taxes.

By   |   Verified by David Boyd   |   Updated 12th November 2020

Comparing business credit cards

American Express Platinum Business Card

On American Express' website

Apply by 13 January 2021

American Express Platinum Business Card

Rewards program

Membership Rewards Ascent

Points per $1 spent

2.25 points

Sign up bonus

150,000 points

Annual fee

$1,750.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Receive 150,000 bonus Membership Rewards points when you apply by 13 January 2021, are approved and spend $5,000 on your card within the first 3 months. New American Express Card Members only.
  • Earn up to 2.25 pts per $1 spent.
  • Higher earn rate of 1 pt per $1 spent on ATO payments.
American Express Gold Business Card

On American Express' website

Apply by 13 January 2021

American Express Gold Business Card

Rewards program

Membership Rewards Ascent

Points per $1 spent

1.5 points

Sign up bonus

100,000 points

Annual fee

$169.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Receive 100,000 bonus Membership Rewards points when you apply by 13 January 2021, are approved and spend $1,000 on your card within the first 2 months. New American Express Card Members only.
  • Earn up to 1.5 Membership Rewards point for every $1 spent.
  • No pre-set spending limit means more flexibility.
NAB Qantas Business Signature Card

On NAB's website

NAB Qantas Business Signature Card

Rewards program

Qantas Frequent Flyer

Points per $1 spent

0.66 points

Sign up bonus

100,000 points

Annual fee

$295.00 for 1st year

Highlights

  • 100,000 Bonus Qantas Points when you spend $4,000 on everyday purchases in 60 days.
  • Earn 1 Qantas Point per $1.50 spent on everyday business purchases.
  • Fast online application.
American Express Business Explorer Credit Card

On American Express' website

Apply by 5 December 2020

American Express Business Explorer Credit Card

Rewards program

Membership Rewards Gateway

Points per $1 spent

2 points

Sign up bonus

100,000 points

Annual fee

$149.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Receive 100,000 bonus Membership Rewards points when you apply by 13 January 2021, are approved and spend $3,000 on your card within the first 3 months. New American Express Card Members only.
  • Enjoy a low interest rate of 3.99% p.a. on new purchases for the first 6 months of Card Membership (reverts to 19.99% p.a. thereafter).
  • Get up to two entries per year to the American Express Lounge.
American Express Velocity Business Card

On American Express' website

American Express Velocity Business Card

Rewards program

Velocity Frequent Flyer

Points per $1 spent

1 point

Sign up bonus

N/A

Annual fee

$249.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on Virgin Australia services and up to 1 point per $1 spent on other purchases.
  • Enjoy 2 complimentary single entry passes to the Virgin Australia Lounge at selected domestic airports every year.
  • Simply pay for business travel with your Card to be covered at home and abroad – includes cover for you and any Employee Card Members.
NAB Rewards Business Signature Card

On NAB's website

NAB Rewards Business Signature Card

Rewards program

NAB Rewards

Points per $1 spent

1.25 points

Sign up bonus

100,000 points

Annual fee

$175.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • 100,000 points when you spend $4,000 on everyday purchases in 60 days.
  • Earn triple points when travelling overseas or overseas purchases made here in Australia.
  • Earn double points on purchases made in major department and hardware stores.
American Express Business Card

On American Express' website

American Express Business Card

Rewards program

Membership Rewards Ascent

Points per $1 spent

1.5 points

Sign up bonus

N/A

Annual fee

$109.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Earn 1.5 Membership Rewards points for each dollar spent.
  • No pre-set spending limit means more flexibility.
  • Extend your cash flow up to 51 days.
American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card

On American Express' website

Apply by 13 January 2021

American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card

Rewards program

Qantas Business Rewards

Points per $1 spent

1.25 points

Sign up bonus

120,000 points

Annual fee

$450.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Get 120,000 bonus Qantas Points + 75 bonus Status Credits when you apply by 13 January 2021, are approved and spend $3,000 within 2 months from account approval date. New American Express Card Members only.
  • Earn triple Qantas Points for your business when employees fly on eligible Qantas flights and pay using their American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card.
  • Earn 2 Qantas Points per $1 spent on Qantas products and services.

Overview

Business credit cards have extra features to make your business life easier. Businesses of all sizes – from a sole trader to a company with many employees – can derive benefit from a dedicated business credit card. Besides offering many tools that personal credit cards just don’t have, they provide an opportunity for both business owners and employees to track business expenses and keep them completely separate from personal expenses. They can also save you money and simplify taxes.

Qualifying for a business credit card

You can apply for a business card if your business has an Australian Business Number (ABN). So a business credit card can be used by both micro businesses and large corporations (although the latter may be better served by a corporate credit card). If you are applying for a credit card to use for your own business, the bank may check your credit score during the application.

Deciding between a business credit card and a business charge card

Cards for business use come in two flavours: credit cards and charge cards.

A credit card for business, much like a personal credit card, has a definite credit limit as well as the option to defer payment of some of the purchases balance beyond the due date. Interest charges are incurred, but the available line of credit can prove very useful.

Business charge cards, on the other hand, do not have a fixed credit limit (although the credit provided is not limitless) and you will be expected to clear the balance in full each month, on or before the due date. The lack of a fixed limit offers extra flexibility for a business with seasonal or unpredictable purchasing spikes, but there is no option to postpone payment and pay interest.

Understanding who is responsible for business credit card debt

If you run a business and have an ABN but your business is not incorporated (i.e. not a company), you will be personally responsible for all transactions on your business card. You will have liability as an individual for the debt incurred by all primary and supplementary cards on the account.

Partnerships may be able to choose a 'joint and several liability' business card. This means that although all partners have agreed to be jointly responsible for the debt, in the event of a payment default the bank could, if it chose, pursue any single partner for the entire debt.

The difference between a business credit card and a corporate credit card

Larger corporations will be most likely to opt for corporate liability cards. In this case the company is the entity responsible for the debt. Sizeable organisations may be better served by a corporate credit card account, with the possibility of issuing multiple cards on a single account to a larger number of employees.

Larger credit limits

Business credit cards tend to have larger credit limits than personal ones, for obvious reasons. The expenses of a business are usually far larger than those of an individual or family. This means that you will need to have a very good personal credit history (for a business card with individual or joint and several liability), or that your business will need to demonstrate a history of both profitable operation (probably via supplying copies of tax returns when applying for the card) and timely payment to its creditors.

As well as a global credit limit for the account, it is possible to set individual limits for supplementary cards issued to employees.

For more about the benefits and drawbacks of raising your credit limit, click here.

Expense tracking and data exporting

One of the most useful features of most business card accounts is a superior expense tracking and reporting capability. Business expenses are now already separate from personal ones (in the case of a sole trader), but additional tracking tools are available on most types of business cards. Expenses for each supplementary card in each month can be listed in detail and in total, and the data can usually be exported to a spreadsheet or directly into your accounting software. For small businesses in particular, this can save hours or work at tax time.

Rewards and complimentary benefits

Business cards often come with the same kinds of rewards and benefits as those attached to personal credit cards: rewards points, frequent flyer points, complimentary travel insurance, airport lounge access and even free flights. These benefits can deliver real savings for your business. Rewards points can be exchanged for office equipment or employee incentive gifts, for example. If you or your employees travel frequently, frequent flyer points, travel insurance, lounge access or free flights will all reduce your business expenses.

Some cards offer travel insurance specifically tailored to business needs, including card account balance waiver or expenses for business trip completion by an alternative employee, in specified emergency circumstances.

Compare the business cards on this page to find one that is suitable for the size, structure, number of supplementary cards required and spending pattern of your business.

Learn about business credit cards

  • Pros & cons

  • Tips

  • FAQs

  • Guides

Business-oriented functionality

Business card account statements have a level of detail and headings which match the way businesses record expenses in their accounting system. Expenses incurred can also be tracked online, either in real time or very quickly after they occur, and there is a variety of options available for smooth transfer of figures into popular accounting software programs.

Tailored travel insurance cover

The free travel insurance policy accompanying many business cards is designed especially for the needs of business travellers, although it covers personal travel too if it is paid for using the card.

Easy access to a line of credit

It can often be easier and quicker to be approved for a business credit card than for a bank loan or overdraft, and it gives you access to a line of credit that your business can draw on as needed.

Rewards program points or frequent flyer points

Many business credit cards earn rewards or frequent flyer points (e.g. Qantas Points) on purchases, often at a higher rate than personal credit cards.

Tax benefits

If you use a business credit card for your business expenses, rather than a personal card, you might find it easier to justify your business expenses for tax purposes in the event of ATO queries or an audit. And you should be able to claim the card's annual fee, and any other fees incurred on the card, as a business tax deduction.

Card balance waiver

Some business credit cards waive the card account balance if the primary cardholder dies or suffers a serious illness or accident resulting in loss of income.

Special customer service

Business cardholders usually have access to a dedicated customer service team for business cardholders only, making it quicker and easier to have questions answered and problems resolved.

Personal liability for unincorporated businesses

Sole traders and partnerships, unlike companies, are personally responsible for debts incurred on their business credit card. If the business runs into trouble and cannot meet its debts, the card issuer will pursue you as an individual for debt recovery, and your personal credit score could be badly damaged.

Fees can be high

Depending on which card you choose, the annual fee for a business card can be quite high. And if you also have a personal credit card, you're going to be paying two annual fees (unless you have a 'no annual fee' personal card).

Fees for additional cardholders

Business credit cards are more likely than personal cards to charge a fee for supplementary or additional cardholders on the account.

Potential for unauthorised use

When you issue additional cards to your employees you need to have strict policies in place to monitor usage and prevent unauthorised purchases.

Factors to consider when choosing a business credit card

It is essential to understand the features available, and how to match them with the specific financial requirements of your business. This will enable you to find the card that is right for your circumstances. Make sure that you check the following:

  • Available credit limit. The card you choose should have a credit limit that could cover all the monthly expenses of your business if necessary.
  • Interest rate. Even if the card issuer gives you a large credit limit limit, you should still aim to clear the balance each month. However, the purchase rate applied to your credit card is still an essential feature to consider, since any ongoing debt incurs this interest rate. Your cash flow’s ups and downs may see you needing to use your line of credit from time to time.
  • Interest-free days. Credit cards usually come with either 44 or 55 days interest free on purchases if there is no carried-over balance from the previous month. With 55 interest-free days, your business has longer access to free credit.
  • Expense tracking functionality. Look for monthly statements listing each supplementary card’s expenditure in detail and in total, and the ability to export data to a spreadsheet or your accounting software for extra reporting flexibility and time-saving.
  • Rewards program. If the card features a rewards or frequent flyer points program (such as Qantas Points), make sure it suits the way you and your staff spend, and offers rewards that can help reduce business costs. As a rule of thumb, ensure that the value of the benefits likely to be derived from the rewards program each year is at least equivalent to the annual fee.
  • Sign-up bonus. If there are significant sign-up rewards or frequent flyer points on offer, there may be a possibility for a sizeable one-off reduction in your expenses. E.g. the bonus points may be enough for several free business flights.
  • Complimentary benefits. Built-in free travel insurance for cardholders could provide serious cost savings for your business. (Read the insurance product disclosure statement , however, to make sure that the cover is sufficient for your needs.) Some business cards may offer a free domestic flight annually, or airport lounge access. It all adds up to either reduced expenses or a better experience for your employees.
  • Introductory offers. Look out for introductory offers. Banks may offer introductory rates to new customers, such as low purchase interest rates for an initial period. This can be helpful for new businesses to make essential purchases, but you should be wary of how the deal changes at the end of the promotional period. Always check the revert interest rate and the offer expiry date. It may be that a card with a higher initial rate is better, because its ongoing, long-term rate may be lower. Balance transfers are typically not offered on business credit cards.
  • Annual fee. Credit cards for businesses often have a higher annual fee than personal credit cards. This fee covers all the extra business-specific features, reward schemes, insurance policies and other benefits, and provides access to larger credit limits and greater spending power. Ensure that the annual fee is affordable and that the extras you are paying for are genuinely beneficial to your business.

Use a business card to improve cash flow management

Both business credit cards and business charge cards allow you to postpone payments until well after the end of the monthly billing cycle. This means that you can usually get 44-55 days of free credit on your business purchases, depending on the terms applicable to the card you choose. This is much more beneficial than paying with cash, cheque, EFT or BPAY, because the cash resources of your business stay in your bank account for longer, potentially earning interest or reducing interest expense. It’s even preferable to negotiating credit terms with your suppliers, who may want to be paid within seven days and rarely grant more than 30 days credit before they start getting impatient.

You can achieve maximum benefit for your cash flow by arranging with your suppliers to have deliveries – and payments – made at the very beginning of the monthly billing cycle for your card. (Suppliers will probably jump at the chance of prompt payment, even though they will have to pay a merchant fee for accepting your card.) Alternatively, ask your card issuer to set your monthly billing cycle to begin on the day your suppliers normally expect to be paid. 

Business credit cards have the additional feature of allowing you to postpone full repayment of your account balance in any month when your business finances are tight. Provided you are still within your credit limit and are prepared to pay interest charges of up to 20% p.a. (or possibly more) for a short period, you can smooth out the bumps in your cash flow.

Business charge cards don’t have this feature, requiring full repayment of the account balance every month. However, they do have the additional benefit of having no fixed credit limit. This does not mean unlimited credit – your card provider will have an implied limit recorded on your file based on your payment history, credit records and spending patterns – but it does provide more flexibility, especially if you discuss your fluctuating credit requirement pattern with your card account manager.

Pay attention to fees and charges

Business cards on the whole have fairly high annual fees and interest rates, reflecting the additional benefits they often provide. However, just as with personal cards, it is possible to find a business credit card with introductory offers such as temporary lower interest rates (or even permanent lower rates), reduced or waived annual fees in the first year, and sign-up bonus points.

If you expect to issue a large number of cards to employees, you will need to check the annual fee for additional cards. This could be anything from zero to $100 or more per card.

Other fees to take into account are foreign transaction fees, late payment fees and over limit fees. Fortunately, if the card is used solely for business expenses, all fees, including the annual fee, should be tax deductible.

Who qualifies for a business credit card?

Any business with an Australian Business Number (ABN) can apply for a business credit card. In the case of a sole trader, the individual ABN holder will apply for the card. Fora company small business credit card, it may be the business owner or director. For larger companies, a senior finance employee may be responsible for applying.

What kinds of business cards are available?

  • Varying card issuers: Just as with personal cards, a business card can be a Visa, Mastercard, American Express or Diners Club card. However, American Express has the largest choice of business cards in Australia.
  • Varying card features: Features such as rewards and frequent flyer points (e.g. Qantas Points), sign-up bonus points, complimentary insurance, other travel benefits, and even low interest rates, are all available with business cards. However, business cards with low annual fees may have few or none of these features.
  • Credit card or charge card: A business card may be a credit card, with a fixed credit limit and the option to defer payment and pay interest, or a charge card with no set credit limit and the strict requirement for full timely payment of the account balance each month.

How are business cards different from personal credit cards?

In many ways, business cards function identically to personal credit cards, allowing users to make purchases including online and over the telephone, make withdrawals at ATMs and buy foreign currency.

However, business cards are issued to a business with an Australian Business Number (ABN), not to an individual, although a business with an ABN may in fact be operated by a sole trader or partnership rather than being incorporated.

Regardless of the business size, multiple cards on the one account can be provided to members of staff. Equally, a sole trader may need just one card.

Who is responsible for the debt on a business card account?

Depending on your business structure, the card provider will require a specific liability arrangement:

  • Individual liability for a sole trader.The sole trader is personally responsible for repayment of the debt, including any debt incurred on supplementary cards issued to employees.
  • Joint and several liability for a partnership. The business partners are jointly responsible for the debt, but each of them could also be held responsible for the total debt.
  • Corporate liability: For an incorporated business, the card account is usually held in the name of the company. The company has liability for the debt.

Can employees with supplementary cards spend as much as they like, up to the card account credit limit?

Where cards are issued to the employees of a business, it is normal for each card to be assigned a fixed limit which will usually be much lower than the global account limit. E.g. total account limit $50,000, with cards issued to ten employees with limits of $5,000 each (or varying limits, but still with a total of $50,000).

It is also possible to limit the kind of expenditure permitted. E.g. a procurement officer may only be allowed to purchase business stock or equipment from certain suppliers, but not use the card for travel and entertainment.

How can I tell how much has been spent by each card on the business card account?

Most business cards cards offer special financial tools to help with expense tracking, budgeting, accounting and taxation. Online access means that most transactions will be visible shortly after they are made. And each card’s monthly transactions are itemised in detail in the monthly statement, as well as being reported in total.

The ability to track transactions is a major advantage of a business credit card, replacing hours otherwise spent tracking down transactions. Data can usually be exported from your online card account into a spreadsheet or into accounting software such as MYOB, Xero and QuickBooks.

What is the difference between a business credit card and a business charge card?

A business credit card, just like a personal credit card, provides access to a revolving line of credit. This means that the business can use a credit facility up to an agreed amount. At the end of the month the balance may be paid in full if there are sufficient cash resources to hand. Otherwise, if there is a temporary lack of liquidity it is possible to make only a small part repayment and pay interest on the balance, provided the credit limit is not exceeded.

A business charge card, however, is not a revolving line of credit. Although payment for incurred expenses is deferred until after the end of the monthly billing cycle, when the payment due date arrives the balance must be paid in full. There is no provision for carrying over a balance and paying interest. Charge cards also have no fixed credit limit, which normally means that greater and more flexible spending power is granted. However, extremely large charges which far exceed the normal spending pattern and repayment capability of the business may be declined unless discussed in advance with the card issuer. If repayment is late or not made at all, large late payment fees or liquidated damages may be incurred.

Why can’t I just use a personal card for my business?

You can, of course, use a personal credit card for your business expenses, especially if you are a sole trader. But this will make your accounting system more complicated. You will need to separate your business and personal expenses each month, and either make two distinct repayments of the balance – one from your personal account and one from your business account – or create a major headache for yourself at the end of the tax year.

Mixing your business and personal expenses may also leave the ATO unconvinced that your business expenses are truly only for business. It’s best to keep them completely distinct by charging them to a separate card, and if it’s a business card you should be able to claim the annual fee as a business expense.

What size does my business need to be before I can use a business card?

You can be anything from a sole trader to a small business with several employees, or a larger business with up to 99 staff members requiring supplementary cards. You will need to check the number of supplementary cards allowed on the particular card you have in mind, because the number is not unlimited, and also take into consideration whether the supplementary cards come free of charge or whether there is an additional annual fee to pay for each one.

How does the supplementary cards for employees system work?

Credit cards and charge cards for small businesses are normally issued in the name of the principal – the business owner. Where the business is incorporated, liability for repayments may be shared between the business owner personally and the company, or by the company alone. If supplementary cards are issued to employees, each employee may also the liability with the business and its owner, but only for charges made with their individual card. (Corporate cards, issued to very large organisations, have a different arrangement: the corporation itself normally carries sole liability.)

Monthly business card account statements will normally list the charges for each supplementary card separately, providing for ease of reconciliation with expense reports submitted by employees. The statement may also consolidate expense types regardless of which card incurred them, for example reporting total travel expenses or total entertainment expenses. This facilitates transfer of the figures directly into your accounting system under the required headings.

Some business cards allow a limited number of supplementary cards free of charge, typically up to four. If you need more than this you may need to choose a card which charges an additional annual fee for supplementary cards, although it should be an amount significantly lower than the primary card annual fee.

It will usually be possible to have individual credit limits placed on supplementary cards, rather than allowing supplementary cardholders unlimited access to the primary card’s global limit. Alternatively, internal business controls may be needed in order to set each employee’s credit limit.

Who gets any rewards points available – the business owner or the individual cardholders?

It’s entirely up to you. Even though you may issue supplementary cards to employees, they should only be using them for expenses related to your business, not for personal use. (You will need to have strict company rules in place to ensure this.)

Since it’s your business, you may decide to keep for your personal use any rewards points generated by supplementary cardholders. But be aware that an excessive number of points (250,000+) earned by a business card in any one year may attract the notice of the tax man. In this case the safest thing to do is to convert the rewards points into a cash offset against the card account, if this option is available, thus reducing business expenses rather than getting a personal gain. Another possibility is to utilise the accumulated points to reduce business expenses by using them for business travel or to purchase company assets.

Alternatively, you may decide to let your employees keep the rewards points themselves. In this case it becomes a worthwhile staff incentive, and it shouldn’t have any FBT implications unless it is obvious that most of the expenses of the business are deliberately being directed through a particular employee’s card in order to create an incentive.

Is it difficult to be approved for a business credit card as a sole trader, and how can I improve my chances?

To be successfully approved for a business credit card, you need to have a good credit rating. Once a year you should request a free report from one of the Australian credit bureaux (Equifax, Experian and illion) to make sure everything is in order and there are no mistakes on file. A healthy credit history means the bank will be more willing to provide a higher credit limit, a low rate and better financial options.

What documents do I need to apply for a business card?

For an individual or joint and several liability card, you need to be over 18 years of age, be a resident or citizen of Australia, have a good credit history and earn above a certain annual income threshold, which varies from card to card. You also need to provide your financial records and ABN.

Companies will be required to provide detailed financial statements (Balance Sheet, Profit & Loss Statement, possibly tax returns).