The best UK business credit cards for 2019

What are the best business credit cards in the UK? Here’s our run-down of the top 16 cards for 2019, plus everything you need to know about how business credit cards work, what they cost, and what alternatives are out there.

By Sooraj Shah on 26/08/2019

Best business credit cards to slip into your working wallet | iwoca
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What would you like to know about business credit cards?

Are you doing research into getting a business credit card for your company? If so, search no further – we compare the UK's main business credit card providers, with details on their top cards and representative rates, as well as the rewards they're currently offering. In the second section of this article, we’ve written up the essential details on how business credit cards work, the costs involved, and the level of protection they can offer.

Plus, we look into the alternative forms of cash financing that are worth bearing in mind when you want to grow your business.

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What is the best credit card for small business?

Let's weigh up the question, who has the best business credit card? Highly-rated business credit card providers in the UK include: American Express, Bank of Scotland, Barclays, Capital On Tap, Cashplus, Clydesdale Bank, HSBC, Lloyds Bank, Metro Bank, NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland, Santander and Yorkshire Bank. Each card has its own slightly different set of terms and features, and depending on your situation, there will be one card that suits you.

For example, for those that need help managing their cash flow, some credit card providers offer longer periods of interest-free credit on purchases, while for those who find it difficult to track their spend, there are business credit cards that provide detailed monthly spend reports. There are some cards better suited to start-ups, and others that are tailored towards small to medium enterprises or larger businesses. Some cards exist just to offer access to exclusive rewards and perks.

Here are some of the most popular, listed in alphabetic order. You can quick-jump to the business credit card in question by clicking on the provider's name in the table below.

Every care has been taken to provide accurate info on each business loan provider. They are ranked in alphabetic order. All facts and stats are correct (according to the credit card providers’ websites) as of 8th August 2019.

Business credit card providerAPR (representative)Fee?
American Express (Gold)N/A£125
American Express (Platinum)N/A£595
Bank of Scotland22.40%£32
Barclaycard Business (Flex)24.90%£0
Barclaycard Business (Select)26.40%£32
Barclaycard Business (Premium)36.20%£100
Capital On Tap39.90%£0
Cashplus24.90%£0
Clydesdale Bank22.40%£28
HSBC22%£32
Lloyds Bank22.40%£32
Metro Bank14.90%£0
NatWest24.30%£30
Royal Bank of Scotland24.30%£30
Santander23.70%£30
Yorkshire Bank22.40%£28

1. American Express

Gold Business Card

Maximum credit: N/A – this is a charge card
Representative APR: N/A – this is a charge card
Fees: Free for the first year, then £125 a year after that
Good for: This is a charge card, so it's a good option for business owners that know they will be able to pay back the cash in full when their statement is issued. Great for those wanting to trial the rewards, while also picking up Membership Rewards points for a year, before deciding if it is worth the £125 fee.

Features

  • 20,000 bonus points when £3,000 spent in the first three months of use.
  • Thereafter, one point is earned for every £1 spent.
  • One additional point for every £1 spent through American Express Travel.
  • 99 supplementary cards for employees.
  • Purchase protection for up to £2,500 on items purchased on card, and stolen or damaged within 90 days.
  • No pre-set spending limit.

2. American Express

Platinum Business Card

Maximum credit: N/A – this is a charge card
Representative APR: N/A – this is a charge card
Fees: £595 a year
Good for: Business owners that know they will be able to pay in full when their statement is issued, as this is a charge card rather than a credit card. This card is also great for previous American Express cardholders (or those with Airmiles or Avios) who are looking to rack up more Membership Rewards points, as well as business owners that want a number of good perks.

Features

  • 40,000 bonus points when £6,000 spent in the first three months of membership.
  • Thereafter, one point for every £1 spent.
  • Access to more than 1,200 airport lounges around the world.
  • No pre-set spending limit – the amount you can spend is dependent on your circumstances and credit history.
  • One complimentary Platinum Card and 99 free business Gold Cards.
  • One additional point for every £1 spent through American Express Travel.
  • Travel accident and inconvenience insurance.
  • Purchase protection for up to £2,500 on items purchased on card, and stolen or damaged within 90 days, as well as refund protection up to £300.

3. Bank of Scotland

Business Credit Card Mastercard

Maximum credit: £10,000
Representative APR: 22.4%
Fees: £32 a year
Good for: Business owners looking for detailed monthly statements, 45 days of interest-free credit, and flexible repayment options. Great for small businesses that want their employees to also have business cards, as each card can have different card limits.

Features

  • Credit limit up to £10,000.
  • Issue up to 20 cards to employees – each additional card costs £32 a year.
  • Internet banking.
  • Can be used abroad.
  • 45 days interest-free credit on purchases.

4. Barclaycard Business

Business Credit Card Mastercard

Maximum credit: Not stated (likely variable)
Minimum APR: Three-month interest free, then 24.9% variable APR
Fees: None
Good for: Start-up owners that may need to invest heavily in their first few months as a cardmember, without having to pay interest on top.

Features

  • Three-month interest-free purchase period.
  • No annual fee.
  • Ideal for start-ups or businesses with occasional cashflow needs.

5. Barclaycard Business

Select credit card

Maximum credit: Not stated (likely variable)
Representative APR: Six-month interest free, then 26.4% variable APR
Fees: No annual charge for first year, then £32 a year
Good for: Start-up owners that may need to invest heavily within a six-month period as a cardmember, without wanting to pay interest on top. Also good for businesses with regular cash flow needs, who want a card with added protection and insurance.

Features

  • Six-month interest-free period.
  • No annual fee for 12 months.
  • Purchase protection and cardholder misuse insurance.
  • £32 a year fee from second year is waived if your business spends £6,000 or more every 12 months.
  • Discounts from suppliers and retailers, plus pre-sale tickets.

6. Barclaycard Business

Premium Plus credit card

Maximum credit: Not stated (likely variable)
Representative APR: Six-month initial interest free purchase period, then 36.2% (variable)
Fees: £100 fee, £75 for each extra card
Good for: Those trading overseas, as there is cashback on travel and trade, and enhanced travel insurance, access to airport lounges and FX savings. Also good for those wanting access to collaborative work spaces in the UK from time to time.

Features

  • 0.5% cashback rewards on purchases (£400 a year maximum).
  • Six-month initial interest-free period.
  • Up to 56 days interest free on purchases thereafter, when you pay in full.
  • Save 2% on foreign exchange fees.
  • Two free visits to airport lounge, as a member of Priority Pass VIP Airport lounge, additional visits at £15 each.
  • Business travel insurance.
  • Purchase protection and cardholder misuse insurance.
  • Five days free access to Eagle Labs and work spaces in nine locations across the UK.
  • Discounts from suppliers and retailers, plus pre-sale tickets.

7. Capital On Tap

Business MasterCard

Maximum credit: Up to £50,000
Representative APR: 39.9% APR (variable)
Fees: No annual charge, but can opt-in to the On Tap Club for £249 a year.
Good for: Businesses that expect to to have a high expenditure on the card.

Features

  • 56 days of 0% interest on purchases each billing cycle, if you clear balance in full each month.
  • No annual fee.
  • No foreign exchange or ATM fee.
  • Up to £50,000 limit.
  • If opting-in to the £99 a year On Tap Club, users can earn one point for every £1 spent, plus get 20,000 bonus points if they spend £5k in first 3 months. Point are redeemable as Avios or as 1p per point cashback.

8. Cashplus

Business Credit Card Mastercard

Maximum credit: Up to £3,000 (reviewed after 6 months)
Representative APR: 24.9% APR (variable)
Fees: No charges
Good for: Businesses that are looking for no frills, low-limit credit card, a simple online application and a product with no hidden fees.

Features

  • 56 days of 0% interest on purchases.
  • No annual fee.
  • Up to £3,000 limit initially but this can be reviewed after six months.
  • Itemised billing to track spending better.
  • Instant decision online.
  • Flexible repayment options.
  • Contactless payments.

top-business-credit-cards-2019 Can I get a business credit card? If you're a start-up or relatively new company that hasn't had the chance to develop a credit score yet then you might not might not be able to get a business credit card. But otherwise, taking an eligibility check with a provider could be a promising step towards acquiring a card.

9. Clydesdale Bank

Business credit card

Maximum credit: Not stated (likely variable)
Representative APR: 22.4% APR (variable)
Fees: Each card is free for the first year and £28 per year thereafter Good for: Businesses looking for additional features such as a savings scheme and an online accountancy tool to track expenditure.

Features

  • Up to 59 days of 0% interest on purchases.
  • £28 annual fee after the first year, which is free.
  • Includes Mastercard Business Savings scheme for discounts on specific retailers.
  • SmartData online accountancy tool free to use, helping you to track and report expenditure.

10. HSBC

Commercial Credit Card Visa

Maximum credit: Not stated (likely variable)
Representative APR: 22% APR (variable)
Fees: First year free, then £32
Good for: Businesses looking for a low-cost card that comes with additional features, such as financial reports and account reconciliation.

Features

  • No annual fee for a year, £32 thereafter.
  • Protected against fraudulent transactions.
  • Up to 56 days interest free credit.
  • Financial reports and account reconciliation.
  • Additional cards available for employees (number unspecified).

11. Lloyds Bank

Business Credit Card

Maximum credit: £10,000
Representative APR: 22.4% APR (variable)
Fees: £32 per card
Good for: Existing Lloyds Bank business current account holders who will be spending up to £10,000 within a 12 month period. Also available to sole traders, partners and directors.

Features

  • Only available for existing Lloyds Business Current Account customers.
  • £32 annual fee.
  • 45 days interest-free credit.
  • You can offer up to 20 cards for your employees.
  • Available to sole traders, partners and directors.

12. Metro Bank

Business Credit Card

Maximum credit: Not stated (likely variable)
Representative APR: 14.9% APR (variable)
Fees: No fee
Good for: Those looking for a low interest rate credit card and free transactions in Europe

Features

  • Must be an existing Metro Bank business or commercial current account customer.
  • No annual fee.
  • Free transactions in most of Europe.
  • Low rate of 14.9% variable APR.
  • Branches open seven days a week.
  • 56 days interest-free credit when you pay balance in full.

13. NatWest

Business Credit Card

Maximum credit: Not stated (likely variable)
Representative APR: 24.3% APR (variable)
Fees: No fee for first year, £30 a year thereafter, unless you spend £6,000 or more every year
Good for: Sole traders, limited companies, limited liability partnerships, partnerships, charities, clubs and societies that will spend more than £6,000 per year.

Features

  • Turnover of business must not exceed £2 million.
  • No annual fee after first year if £6,000 per year is spent.
  • Free transactions in most of Europe.
  • 56 days interest-free credit when you pay balance in full.
  • £30 per additional card holders.
  • ClearSpend app to manage account.
  • Business Plus credit card is £70 per year and is eligible for cashback up to 2% on trade/business suppliers, 1% on fuel and accommodation and 0.5% on everything else. £400 cashback limit per customer.

14. Royal Bank of Scotland

Business Credit Card

Maximum credit: Not stated (likely variable)
Representative APR: 24.3% APR (variable)
Fees: No fee for first year, £30 a year thereafter unless you spend £6,000 or more every year
Good for: Sole traders, limited companies, limited liability partnerships, partnerships, charities, clubs and societies that will spend more than £6,000 per year.

Features

  • Turnover of business must not exceed £2 million.
  • No annual fee after first year if £6,000 per year is spent.
  • Free transactions in most of Europe.
  • 56 days interest-free credit when you pay balance in full.
  • £30 per additional card holders.
  • ClearSpend app to manage account.
  • Business Plus credit card is £70 per year and is eligible for cashback up to 2% on trade/business suppliers, 1% on fuel and accommodation and 0.5% on everything else. £400 cashback limit per customer.

15. Santander

Business Credit Card

Maximum credit: Not stated (likely variable)
Representative APR: 23.7% APR (variable)
Fees: £30 per year, additional cards free
Good for: Businesses looking for some cashback on their purchases, as well no foreign transaction fees.

Features

  • £30 account fee.
  • Additional cards for no cost.
  • 1% cashback on all business spend.
  • 56 days interest-free credit when you pay balance in full.
  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases abroad when paying in the local currency.
  • Optional service to control amount each cardholder can spend, as well as monthly spend limits.

16. Yorkshire Bank

Business card

Maximum credit: Not stated (likely variable)
Representative APR: 22.4% APR (variable)
Fees: Free for first year, £28 a year thereafter
Good for: Businesses that prefer to use Mastercard credit cards and are looking for free accounting tools and flexible repayment options.

Features

  • Must hold a Business Current Account with Yorkshire Bank to be eligible.
  • Up to 59 days interest free credit on purchases, if balance is paid in full by due date on your previous and latest statements.
  • No annual fee for the first year.
  • Access to SmartData online accounting system.
  • Includes Mastercard Business Savings scheme where you can receive special discounts at participating retailers.

For more information and impartial financial advice on this subject, visit the Citizens Advice website.

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Business credit card guide

What is a business credit card?

A business credit card is very similar to a normal credit card, just for a business instead of a person. Business owners and nominated employees can use business credit cards to buy items or services for a company on credit, which then has to be paid back – often within 56 days – or else interest will be charged on the amount due.

Companies of all shapes and sizes can use a business credit card, and whilst an employee’s name is printed on the card, it is the business itself that is responsible for paying off the credited amount. The card acts pretty much how you would expect a personal credit card to work and there are no extra penalties for it being a business credit card; you can even use them to get additional rewards and perks, such as air miles and cash-back.

The only thing to bear in mind when applying for a business credit card is that there is a different application process and – because they’re not intended for individual use – the cards aren’t covered by the Consumer Credit Act.

How do business credit cards work?

Business credit cards work by allowing a business to spend money up to a pre-agreed limit, which the business then has to repay back to the credit card company. There is usually a minimum repayment needed every month, plus an interest rate added to amount due if the borrower has gone past the interest-free grace period.

Business credit cards are a useful tool for bridging small cash flow gaps, making purchases (such as buying office supplies) or keeping oversight over employee spending, as well as building your business’ credit profile.

The limit you can borrow up to is determined by how much you're approved for by the card provider, and is dependent upon a variety of factors such as your personal and business' credit history. It's worth bearing in mind that start-ups and sole traders can sometimes find it difficult to get approved for business credit cards – or may be charged a high interest rate – so be sure to shop around if you fall into one of those categories, or if you have an imperfect credit history.

Can I get a business credit card?

If you are a business owner – listed as an active director of your company on Companies House, or as a sole trader, then you may be able to get a business credit card. Lenders will also usually look for reassurances that you’ll be able to repay the debt, for instance that you have a minimum turnover of over £2,000 a month and no unsatisfied County Court Judgements currently against you.

Many business credit cards providers allow you to have multiple cards on the same account at the same time, so that employees of your business can also use a credit card. Just remember, each card is unlikely to have its own credit limit and, instead, will probably all be subject to same the overarching credit limit for the account.

How do you get a business credit card?

If you’re eligible, it’s fairly simple process to get a business credit card with most lenders. Simply go to your preferred lender and supply them with your business and personal details, plus why you’d like the funds.

Business details. Likely including business name, address, years trading and monthly turnover.
Personal information, such as your name, age and personal address.
Credit usage. How much credit you’d like, when you need it by, and for what reason.

They’ll then make an eligibility assessment, which – if positive – means you’ll get a business credit card. Remember, some bank business credit cards are only available if you already have an existing account open with that bank.

How much do business credit cards cost?

The average cost of business credit cards on our shortlist is £32. However, a number of cards don’t charge an annual fee for using their account, and some charge considerable more (up to £595), but also come with considerable greater rewards, such as worldwide access to 1,200 airport lounges.

It’s worth bearing in mind that that’s just the annual fee for the account. A business credit card can also cost you in the following ways:

  • Interest. If you don’t repay your balance due every month then a set amount of interest will be charged on the outstanding amount. This is usually expressed in Annual Percentage Rate (APR) terms when you receive the card, indicating the amount of interest you’d be charged over the course of a full year.
  • Late fees. If you fail to pay the minimum payment of the card, then you may be charged a late payment fee.
  • Going above your credit limit. You’ll also likely incur a penalty if you spend above and beyond the maximum amount set out in your credit agreement.
  • Spending abroad. Foreign transactions are often cause for the lender to add on additional charges. However, some companies such as TransferWise are actively working to minimise this cost for small businesses.
  • Cash withdrawals. Like with a personal credit card, using your business credit card to withdraw money from a cash machine can often cause a fee to be added to the amount withdrawn.

best-business-credit-cards Do you know which card is right for your business?

What rewards do business credit cards offer?

The perks and rewards that business credit cards can offer fall into four broad buckets: cashback, points, discounts and insurance.

  • Cashback. Where a set proportion of the money you spend is given back to you, often between 0.5 and 1%
  • Discounts. Sometimes credit card providers team up with other vendors and service providers to offer discounts on popular goods.
  • Rewards: Business credit cards can sometimes come with point schemes, where purchases accumulate points that can then be exchanged for ( generally) travel-related perks, such as discounted or free flights.
  • Insurance: a number of cards also come with free travel insurance as an additional reward.

Why get a business credit card?

There are five main reasons why a business owner should get a business credit card: building the business credit profile, separating personal and business spending, managing expenses, controlling cash flow and reaping the card’s rewards.

  • Building a credit profile. Many new businesses have what’s called a thin credit file, where the credit reference agency (and by extension the lender) have little or no credit history on you. Responsibly using a business credit card is a great way to give a positive signal to lenders that you’re capable of receiving a larger amount of credit in the future.
  • Separating personal and business spending. Especially with younger businesses, it can be a confusing hassle for a business owner to separate their personal spend from that of the business. Having all your business transactions in one place allows for easier management.
  • Managing expenses. Having a centralised account that all your employees use to make purchases allows for easier, more time and cost-efficient ways of managing expenses.
  • Controlling cash flow. Sometimes your monies out don’t always tally neatly with what’s coming in, maybe a vendor is late in paying you, for example. For smaller amounts, a business credit card can be a useful way to bridge this cash flow gap until the payments start coming in again.
  • Getting the rewards. As discussed above, business credit cards can come with all sorts of perks and rewards for using them.

Do business credit cards require a personal guarantee?

Yes, business credsit cards often require a personal guarantee. Credit cards offer an unsecured line of credit, meaning that the money you borrow is not secured against an asset (like property, for example).

Instead, the card agreement requires the business owner to sign a personal guarantee. This means that she or he is personally and legally liable for repaying the money borrowed.

How do I choose a business credit card?

To choose a business credit card, it’s best to weigh up what’s most important to your business. If you need to spread the cost of a purchase over several months, then a card with a lower APR is likely the most important factor to consider. If however you just want to manage expenses better, then a business credit card with added perks and cashback benefits could be better suited for you.

Likewise, if you have a lot of employees needing to expense purchases then a business credit card provider who can supply multiple cards is most useful. Whereas if you do a lot of overseas business, then a card that doesn’t charge large amounts in foreign transaction fees might win the day. Think of the benefits you need most, then find the card provider who supplies them.

Will I get the same protection from a business card as I do with my personal credit card?

Unfortunately most business credit cards do not have the same level of protection as personal credit cards, because they are not covered by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act (where the card provider is as responsible as the retailer or trader for the goods or services supplied to you). Your personal card usually comes with some automatic protections against fraudulent purchases, damaged goods or billing errors, but a lot of business cards usually don’t offer the same level of cover services. On the plus side, you often have a longer interest-fee period to pay off your purchases, up to 56 days with many card providers.

What are the disadvantages of a business credit card?

Business credit cards have five main disadvantages: a lower credit limit than alternative forms of finance such a business loan, annual fees, plus charges for cash advances and foreign transactions too. Finally, as touched on above, purchases are not protected under the Consumer Trade Act. In more detail:

  • Lower credit limits. One of the main drawbacks of a business credit card is that the amount most lenders are willing to offer is significantly lower than other finance options such as a business loan.
  • Cash advance fees. A number of card providers charge you a fee to withdraw money from a cash machine.
  • Foreign transaction fees. Likewise with business credit cards you have less control of the fees you are charged for foreign transactions than with other solutions, such as overseas-focused prepaid debit cards and bank accounts.
  • Annual fees. Many business credit cards also cost a recurring annual fee.
  • No consumer credit protection Business cards are not protected by the Consumer Trade Act, so the card provider is not obligated by law to protect you in the event of faulty goods or erroneous transactions.

What are the alternatives to a business credit card?

In short, alternatives to a business credit card include unsecured business loans, business overdrafts, merchant cash advances, and asset finance.

In more detail, if you’re planning to get a business credit card, it’s worth considering which other finance options might also be available for your business. First off, our shortlist includes both charge cards and credit cards. The difference is that charge cards don’t extend credit – so you'll need to pay off the full amount of money each month. Credit cards, however, let you to pay off expenditure over time, though you will likely be charged interest on any balance you carry forward.

Credit cards with a high limit can be very difficult to obtain from a bank, so other types of borrowing – such as a business loan or credit facility – can unlock access to larger amounts of money and alternative ways of funding your business need.

FAQ

If you’d like to explore how a credit facility or business loan might be a more suitable option for your business than a credit card, why not get in touch using the contact details above, or by clicking the blue Intercom button on the bottom right of the screen. If, however, you’d like to now know about the best credit card providers in the UK, do keep reading.

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Sooraj Shah is a freelance business, technology and financial writer. He is a contributing editor of the New Statesman and a regular contributor to Forbes, specialising in cloud computing, dev-ops, the internet of things, cyber security, big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.