The originator of transferrable points, American Express is well known for its accommodations for entrepreneurs and business owners. This extends to their lineup of business credit cards, which are some of the best tools for earning Membership Rewards (MR) points. There are currently 14 American Express business cards, four of which earn MR points.
For this post, I will be focusing on Amex’s three most lucrative business cards: the Business Platinum, the Business Gold, and the Blue Business Plus. The Plum Card is a great alternative for businesses with high receivables. However, it does not earn MR points and its not a great card for travelers.
Keep reading to see which card is best for you and your business.
With an annual fee of $595 (NOT waived the first year), the Business Platinum is one of the most expensive charge cards on the market. The Business Gold Card has an annual fee of $295 (NOT waived the first year). And the Blue Business Plus has no annual fee, making it the winner of this category.
The winner of this category depends on how much expenses your business has.
The Business Platinum has a two-part sign-up bonus. The first part will net you 50,000 UR points after spending $10,000 in the first three months. The second part will net you another 25,000 points after spending another $10,000 within the same time period. That’s a total of 75,000 UR points for a whopping $20,000!
The Business Gold Card is the most balanced bonus for a lot of businesses. This card’s bonus is worth 35,000 MR points. It can be earned by spending $5,000 in the first three months. This card’s bonus wins for most business owners and entrepreneurs because it offers a decent amount of points for ¼ of the Business Platinum card’s minimum spend.
The Blue Business Plus does not have a sign-up bonus. However, it had a bonus worth 10,000 points when it was first released.
All three cards have different earning structures by design. This is nice because business owners can get and use multiple cards without any redundancies.
The Business Platinum has the weakest earning structure of the bunch. But that doesn’t mean it’s terrible. This card earns 5x MR points for flights booked directly with the airline and travel from amextravel.com. It also earns 1.5x points for all non-bonus purchases of at least $5,000. This is a nice boost for larger businesses with heavy expenses. Furthermore, all non-bonus spend under $5,000 will earn just one point per dollar.
The Business Gold Card earns 4x MR points on two categories of choice (for the first $150,000 in purchases). It also earns 2x points on the remaining categories and 1x points on all other purchases.
The categories to choose from are:
- Advertising (TV, radio, and online only)
- Airfare (booked directly with the airline)
- Select Computing Merchants
- US Gas Stations
- US Restaurants
This structure is more expansive than that of the Business Platinum card. But it can only be lucrative if your business has heavy expenses within the categories.
The Blue Business Plus has a much simpler earning structure than its counterparts. It earns 2x MR points for the first $50,000 in annual purchases. Thereafter, this multiplier halves to just one point. This card is the best for entrepreneurs and businesses with limited and varied expenses. It also works great as a complement to the Business Gold or Platinum cards given its high flat earning rate.
This category is a point of indifference between the American Express business cards. All of them (including the Blue Business Plus) let cardmembers transfer points to Amex’s transfer partners
Like its personal counterpart, the Business Platinum card is the richest in the industry in the way of perks. There are so many perks that they required their own post. My favorite Business Platinum perks include:
- Hilton and Marriott Gold Statuses
- Centurion Lounge and Suite access
- Airport Lounge access (including Priority Pass)
- $200 in annual Dell Credits
- $200 in Airline Incidental Credits
These perks are the reason why the card has a nearly $600 annual fee. However, you can derive thousands in value from the perks if they’re used often enough.
The Business Gold card does not have the perks of its “bigger sibling”, but it doesn’t leave cardmembers empty handed. Access to the Hotel Collection, baggage insurance, and extended warranty are the highlights of this card’s perks.
The Blue Business Plus does not have any non-standard Amex perks. This is typical for Amex’s no annual fee cards, both business and personal.
The Business Platinum wins this category hands down. The only card that can top it in the industry is the Amex Centurion (Black) Card, which is invitation-only.
Charge or Credit?
This is an important question for many business owners and entrepreneurs. It can also influence your decision.
The Business Platinum and Gold cards are both charge cards. These cards have no interest rates, but they do require cardmembers to pay in full each month. This is important because charge cards are not advised for businesses with uneven cash flow. Businesses with receivables that aren’t coming in on time might also be better off without a charge card.
Conversely, the Blue Business Plus is a regular credit card. It has an interest rate and you don’t have to pay in full each month. However, I strongly suggest paying in full each month to avoid interest that will eat at your rewards.
American Express’ three most popular and lucrative business cards are great for different types of businesses. Each one has its strengths and weaknesses that must be accounted for:
The Business Platinum’s perks are second to none. But that’s why it has such a high annual fee. Its sign-up bonus can be a strength if you can hit both parts. Otherwise, its one of the card’s weaknesses. The Business Platinum is not a good earner unless you spend heavily on flights and large purchases.
The Business Gold card strengths lie in its earning structure and relatively balanced sign-up bonus. Its weaknesses are a lack of perks and a high annual fee.
Furthermore, the Blue Business Plus’s strengths are its generous earning structure, lack of annual fee, and its ability to transfer points to partners. Weaknesses are its lack of sign-up bonus and perks.
Know that your mileage may vary. Just because a card works for one business does not mean that it works for another.