How do two new American Express & Amazon cashback credit cards compare?
Though I focus mainly on personal finance, I know a lot of you will be running your own business, so I like to share the odd review of things like free business current accounts, and here business credit cards.
I don’t have huge expenses with my business, and I’ve never bothered with a separate credit card. When I do spend I tend to use a PayPal debit card which offers 0.5% in cashback (more on this below).
But this month we’ve seen two brand new cashback business credit cards from American Express released. So I wanted to see if they’re worth getting, or whether you are better off elsewhere.
Who is a business credit card for?
If you run your own business, or manages the finances for a company, you could benefit from a specific business credit card.
Though anyone, from a self-employed sole trader to a company director, can get one, not all sole traders will be eligible for all the different cards.
And of course, you might be rejected – there’s no guarantee you’ll get one if you apply.
Do you need a business credit card?
Ok, to start off it’s worth thinking about the reason to get one.
Obviously, credit cards can be expensive if they aren’t cleared each month by paying off the full balance. The interest added on top of anything left over will often cost more than getting a loan. Not a good idea.
So let’s assume you’re considering a card for another reason. Credit cards do have benefits if you manage them well. You’re probably thinking there’s Section 75 protection for a start.
Well, it really depends on whether you’re a sole trader or a ‘corporate’ business’ – i.e. something like a limited company or partnership.
Business credit cards if you run a limited company and partnership
Right, the bad news… Section 75 doesn’t apply for these types of businesses. So there’s no added legal benefit to using a credit card in a company. Instead, you’ll need to use a personal credit card and claim the money back if you want to get this protection on purchases over £100.
However if you run a limited company it’s much cleaner to have spending made directly via the business rather than claiming it back as an expense. Particularly if you have any employees.
Most business credit cards will give you suplementary cards tied to the same account that you can give to others to use. So once more there’s no more expenses admin, plus it allows you to track individual spending. Of course you need to keep track to make sure there’s no abuse!
Another feature is earning rewards in the form of cashback or air miles. There are a handful that offer this on purchases, and I’ll list them in this article. But they do come with a fee – which can wipe out much of the cashback if you’re not a big spender.
You’ll need to calculate just how much you’re likely to earn in cashback after the fee to work out if they’re worthwhile. But say you spend £5,000 a year earning 0.5%, you’ll make £25.
Business credit cards if you’re a sole trader
If you’re a sole trader then any credit card you apply for to use for your business is still a personal credit card. Applications will be based on your credit rating and you’ll be personally liable for any debts you build up.
That means I think most sole traders will probably be better off with a personal credit card. that’s used just for businesses.
You can still take advantage of Section 75 cover, earn cashback with lower annual fees (if any), and even get fee-free spending overseas with some cards.
One of the few areas a business credit card is better for a sole trader than a personal credit card is you might also get a much higher credit limit. That can help on large purchases. But of course, you need to be able to pay it back!
However, there’s an Amex loop-hope I’ll share more on below.
Best non-business credit card alternatives
Personal credit cards
Even if you’re not a sole trader you can still spend on one of the best personal cashback credit cards. The downside is you’ll have to claim the expenses back and the accounting won’t be neat.
PayPal Business Debit Card
You don’t actually need a credit card for most of the benefits listed above. If you have a PayPal business account you can apply for a PayPal Business debit card.
The big advantage is that this card pays 0.5% in cashback on each full pound spent for no fee.
I’ve got one of these and it either deducts the money from the PayPal account, or pulls money through from my linked Starling Business account.
It doesn’t always work – even though it’s a debit card I can’t get it to work for VAT or tax payments. But overall it’s worked well for my level of spending.
There are no foreign exchange fees and PayPal also says that you’ll soon be able to have additional cards linked to the same account.
Your business bank account debit card
If you don’t fancy or can’t get the PayPal card, you might be better off just using your business debit card. The money will come straight out of your account and it won’t cost you anything if you get a free business account.
The best business cashback credit cards
I think cashback is the big reason to go for a business credit card. You can beat the PayPal card rates if you are a big spender, even after the fees, and there are some welcome bonuses and increased rates available at Amazon.
Here’s my pick of the top cards, including both those new Amazon / Amex cards.
American Express Business Gold card
Best for a welcome bonus
- JOINING BONUS: 20,000 points (worth £100) if you spend £3,000 in the first three months
- REWARD: Earn 1 point per £1 spent (the equivalent of 0.5%)
- FEE: £125 a year (Free in first year)
This long-running card from Amex is my top pick – even above the PayPal debit card.
Spending wise you’ll get 0.5% back in points which can be converted to gift cards. If you collect Avios then you can also swap the Rewards points for these. You can do what you want with these converted points, including using them for personal purchases or trips.
But the big bonus is the 20,000 points you’ll get if you spend £3,000 in the first three months. You need to meet the full £3k spend to get the bonus. Spend even 1p less and you won’t get any of it.
This is also the only card I’d recommend to sole traders – as long as they’ve already had a personal Amex. A few years ago American Express changed the rules on welcome bonuses on personal cards. You now can’t get one unless you’ve not had a card in your name for two years or more.
However, this bonus is available is you’ve not had one for just six months. So it’s a great way to take advantage of both offers.
However, I’d only have this card for one year. Afterwards, the £125 fee kicks in. Instead I’d look at one of the other business credit cards with a lower fee.
Amazon Prime Business American Express Business credit card
Best for big Amazon users
- JOINING BONUS: One year free Prime Business (worth £80 + VAT) or £50 Amazon voucher
- REWARD: Earn 2% in Amazon Rewards at Amazon on the first £12,000 each year, then 1%. 0.5% elsewhere.
- FEE: £50 a year (Free in first year and in future years if you spend at least £8,000 a year)
This is one of two new Amex/Amazon co-branded credit cards that offer Amazon Rewards when you spend. The 2% return is higher than you’ll get anywhere – even on a personal cashback credit card. But it’s only for Amazon, Amazon Business or Whole Foods.
That’s great if your business spends a lot with the online giant and you’re happy to sign up to Amazon Prime. Though you’ll get that free in the first year, you’ll have to pay £80+VAT a year to keep it.
And then there’s the £50 annual card fee on top – though that’s wiped out if you spend £8,000 in each preceding year.
For spending outside Amazon you’ll get 0.5% – the same as with the Gold card.
The Amazon Rewards you earn can be redeemed on Amazon or Amazon Business, and American Express tell me you can also apply them to your credit card statement to reduce what you pay. Of course, using them on Amazon means you can technically use them for personal purchases.
Personally I’d only go for this if you already use Prime Business and will hit the minimum spend to make it fee free.
Capital on Tap Business Reward credit card
Best welcome bonus for non-Amex spending
- JOINING BONUS: 10,000 points (worth £100) when you spend £5,000 in the first three months
- REWARD: Earn 1% back on every £1 spent
- FEE: £99 a year
Sadly not all retailers accept American Express credit cards so it might be worth having a backup. This card from Capital on Tap is a VISA so should be accepted everywhere. It also comes with a £100 welcome bonus if it’s the first time you have the card.
The 1% return is better than any of the other cards listed above (apart from spending at Amazon), but the large fee means you’d need to spend £9,900 a year before you actually start making any money (technically it’ll be more as the cashback is only given on each full £1 spent).
But if you’ve had the free first year of the Amex Gold for the bonus, and think you’ll spend that much then it’s worth considering.
There are no fees for spending abroad, also handy for making overseas purchases from the UK.
You can also use this on Curve to move purchases around – something you can’t do with any of the Amex business credit cards.
Again, I’d only have this card for one year to get that bonus then cancel it for the next card.
Santander Business Cashback credit card
Best for ongoing cashback
- JOINING BONUS: None
- REWARD: Earn 1% back
- FEE: £30 a year
This card has a lower fee than the Capital on Tap card but pays the same 1%. So you need to spend £3,000 a year to cover that £30 fee. This makes it a better option if you’ve already had the bonus offer from Capital on Tap.
It also has no transaction fees for overseas spending.
Amazon Business American Express card
Best if you spend at Amazon but don’t want Business Prime
- JOINING BONUS: £25 Amazon voucher
- REWARD: Earn 1.5% back at Amazon for the first £12,000 each year, then 1%. 0.5% elsewhere.
- FEE: £50 a year
This is the second new business credit card from Amex and Amazon.
It could be a better option in the long run than the other cards, especially the Prime Business card. For a start you don’t need Prime Business membership to get it.
You do have a £50 annual fee but that’s less than the Gold card charge from year two onwards, and less than the Capital on Tap £99 fee.
That makes it a cheaper option if you spend mostly at Amazon, though the reward rate at Amazon is slightly lower at 1.5%. You get 0.5% elsewhere.
Sole-traders who shop regularly at Amazon could be better off getting the personal Amazon Platinum credit card as it pays 1.25% at Amazon and 0.2% elsewhere, but comes with no fee. You’ll need to work out the return based on your spending.