The 11 Best Credit Cards for Freelancers (Plus Tricks for Using Them at Tax Time)

by
Margaret Wack
Updated 
October 26, 2022
October 26, 2022
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Reviewed by
Sarah York, EA
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Reviewed by
Sarah York, EA

Sarah is a staff writer at Keeper and has her Enrolled Agent license with the IRS. In 2022, she was named one of CPA Practice Advisor’s 20 Under 40 Top Influencers in the field of accounting. Her work has been featured in Business Insider, Money Under 30, Best Life, GOBankingRates, and Shopify. Sarah has nearly a decade of public accounting experience, and has worked with clients in a wide range of industries, including oil and gas, manufacturing, real estate, wholesale and retail, finance, and ecommerce. Sarah has extensive experience offering strategic tax planning at the state and federal level. During her time in industry, she handled tax returns for C corps, S corps, partnerships, nonprofits, and sole proprietorships. Sarah is a member of the National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA) and maintains her continuing education requirements by completing over 30 hours of tax training every year. In her spare time, she is a devoted cat mom and enjoys hiking, painting, and overwatering her houseplants.

The 11 Best Credit Cards for Freelancers (Plus Tricks for Using Them at Tax Time)
by
Margaret Wack
Updated 
October 26, 2022
October 26, 2022
Icon check
Reviewed by
Sarah York, EA

Did you know that self-employed people are eligible for business credit cards?

As a freelance writer, I use mine to pay for everything from digital marketing tools to printer paper. That way, I earn rewards every time I buy something for work.

Business credit cards come with a lot of the same perks as personal credit cards. But they also have bonus categories that make them especially useful for independent contractors, business owners, and people who do freelance work. (One example: extra cash back on things like office supplies and business travel.)

Using them can also help you:

  • Earn extra cash with welcome bonuses
  • Take advantage of 0% interest rates with an introductory APR
  • Get money back for big work-related purchases you were going to make anyway 

Contents

The 11 best business credit cards for the self-employed

The best business credit cards in general have:

  • Generous welcome bonuses
  • A great rewards program
  • Low annual fees
  • Low APRs

The right credit cards for sole proprietors and other small business owners in particular offer great perks — without you having to spend as much as a huge company. 

Whether you’re a full-time freelancer, have a side hustle, or own your own business, a good card can help you to achieve your financial goals. Best of all, if you use it just for work purchases, everything you buy with your card is a business write-off — and so is the interest you pay on it.

Don’t want to waste time looking through your account statement every month to find write-offs? Use Keeper, and we’ll automatically keep track of those savings for you. (If you do happen to mix up some personal expenses on a normally business-only card, our software can detect those for you, so you don’t accidentally write them off.)

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Now, let’s take a closer look at the best credit cards for freelancers.

Name Welcome Bonus Rewards Annual Fee Intro APR APR
Ink Business Unlimited $750 1.5% cash back rewards on all purchases $0 0% intro APR for 12 months 15.49% to 21.49% variable APR
Ink Business Cash $750 5% cash back
At office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services, 2% cash back on gas and dining, 1% cash back on all other purchases
$0 0% intro APR for 12 months 15.49% to 21.49% variable APR
Ink Business Preferred 100,000 points 3 points per $1 on shipping purchases, online advertising, internet, cable and phone, and travel, and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases $95 none 18.24% to 23.24% variable APR
Amex Business Gold 70,000 points 4X points on the 2 categories where your business spent the most each billing cycle, plus 1X on all other purchases $295 none 16.49% to 24.49% variable APR
Amex Business Platinum 120,000 points 5X points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, 1.5X points on eligible purchases at construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers, software and cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else $695 none 16.49% to 24.49% variable APR
Amex Blue Business Cash $250 2% cash back on all eligible purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1% cash back $0 0% intro APR for 12 months 15.49% to 23.49% variable APR
Amex Blue Business Plus 15,000 points 2x points on everyday business purchases up to $50K per calendar year, 1x points on all other purchases $0 0% intro APR for 12 months 15.49% to 23.49% variable APR
Capital One Spark 2% Cash Plus $1,000 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, 2% cash back on all other purchases $150 none No APR; you must pay off your balance in full every month to avoid a 2.99% late fee
Capital One Spark 1.5% Cash Select $500 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, 1.5% cash back on all other purchases $0 none 18.74% to 24.74% variable APR
Bank of America Business Advantage Customized Cash Rewards $300 3% cash back in the category of your choice, 2% cash back on dining, 1% cash back on all other purchases $0 0% intro APR for 9 months 14.49% to 24.49% variable APR
Bank of America Business Advantage Unlimited Cash Rewards $300 1.5% cash back on all purchases $0 0% intro APR for 9 months 14.49% to 24.49% variable APR

1. Ink Business Unlimited

Best if: You need a budget-friendly option that gives cash back

  • Welcome bonus: $750
  • Rewards: 1.5% cash back rewards on all purchases
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Intro APR: 0% intro APR for 12 months
  • APR: 15.49% to 21.49% variable APR

Chase’s Ink Business Unlimited Card is a great choice if you’re looking for a simple, efficient cash back credit card for your work purchases.

With a $750 welcome bonus, 0% APR for the first 12 months, and a generous 1.5% cash back rewards rate, there’s plenty to like about this card.

Plus, it comes with no annual fee. That makes it a good, accessible choice no matter how much — or little — your business makes.

2. Ink Business Cash

Best if: You drive for work or grab a lot of business meals

  • Welcome bonus: $750
  • Rewards: 5% cash back at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services, 2% cash back on gas and dining, 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Intro APR: 0% intro APR for 12 months
  • APR: 15.49% to 21.49% variable APR

The Ink Business Cash is similar to the Ink Business Unlimited. But one important detail is different. This one comes with a tiered cash back rate instead of a flat rate. That means you can earn extra cash back for purchases in specific categories, like:

  • 🖊️ Office supplies
  • ⛽ Gas
  • 🍽️ Dining
  • 📺 Cable

The first three are common write-offs for freelancers. But depending on what you do for work, cable TV can count as business purchase too. For example, it might be a partial write-off for Airbnb hosts who make it available for guests, or a full write-off for private practice doctors who screen it in the waiting room.

Even if you can’t write off your cable, this card is a great choice if your freelancing has you constantly driving for work or grabbing business lunches with clients.

If you’re deciding between the Unlimited and Cash versions of the Ink Business card, look at your monthly expenses to see which one will earn you more cash back on average.

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3. Ink Business Preferred

Best if: You run an online store

  • Welcome bonus: 100,000 points
  • Rewards: 3 points per $1 spent on specific categories (see below); 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual fee: $95
  • Intro APR: None
  • APR: 18.24% to 23.24% variable APR

Another option from Chase, the Ink Business Preferred is a great choice if your work involves spending a lot on:

  • 📦 Shipping
  • 📱 Online advertising
  • 🌐 Internet
  • 🗺️ Travel

Paying for these earns you three points every dollar you spend. That means self-employed people in ecommerce can get a lot out of this card.

The Ink Business Preferred card comes with a hefty welcome bonus of 100,000 points –- worth at least $1,000, depending on how you choose to redeem the points. (Some redemption options include cash back, gift cards, and travel.)

A potential downside: It doesn’t offer an intro APR period. So if you’re looking to pay off a big purchase over time, it’s not the best fit. In addition, does come with an annual fee, so you should make sure you’ll earn enough rewards to justify the cost.

4. Amex Business Gold

Best if: You take a lot of business trips

  • Welcome bonus: 70,000 points
  • Rewards: 4X points on the two categories where your business spent the most each billing cycle, plus 1X on all other purchases
  • Annual fee: $295
  • Intro APR: None
  • APR: 16.49% to 24.49% variable APR

The American Express Business Gold is a great choice if you have a lot of business expenses in a specific category. You’ll get four times the points on the two categories where your business spent the most each billing cycle, with choices like:

  • 🛫 Airfare
  • 🪧 Advertising
  • ⛽ Gas
  • 🍽️ Restaurants

The card comes with a $295 annual fee. So you should make sure that the other benefits of this card outweigh the cost.

5. Amex Business Platinum

Best if: You have a high-earning business and want a premium card

  • Welcome bonus: 120,000 points
  • Rewards: 5X points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, 1.5X points on eligible purchases at construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers, software and cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else
  • Annual fee: $695
  • Intro APR: None
  • APR: 16.49% to 24.49% variable APR

Looking for a top-tier business credit card with plenty of extra benefits? Then American Express’s Business Platinum card could be a good fit. 

This card is best for a contractor with a thriving business — it comes with a whopping $695 annual fee. But it also nets you five times the points on flights and hotels on amextravel.com. You also get 1.5x points in categories like:

  • 🚧 Construction material and hardware suppliers
  • 🖥️ Electronic goods retailers
  • 💽 Software and cloud system providers

That makes it an especially good fit for someone in IT or the trades.

It even comes with luxury perks, like complimentary access to over 1,400 airport lounges globally.

6. Amex Blue Business Cash

Best if: You’re looking for a high flat cash back rate and have less than $50,000 in expenses every year

  • Welcome bonus: $250
  • Rewards: 2% cash back on the first $50,000 you spend per year, then 1% cash back
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Intro APR: 0% intro APR for 12 months
  • APR: 15.49% to 23.49% variable APR

The Amex Blue Business Cash offers a competitive cash back rate of 2% on up to $50,000 in purchases. After that, you earn a standard 1% cash back.

Do you spend less than $50,000 a year on work and buy things in a lot of different categories? Then the 2% cash back rate is hard to beat. Plus, the card comes with a 0% intro APR for the first 12 months, and it has no annual fee.

7. Amex Blue Business Plus

Best if: You want to redeem Amex points for travel expenses

  • Welcome bonus: 15,000 points
  • Rewards: 2x points on everyday business purchases up to $50K per calendar year, 1x points on all other purchases
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Intro APR: 0% intro APR for 12 months
  • APR: 15.49% to 23.49% variable APR

The Amex Blue Business Plus is a lot like American Express’s Blue Business Cash option. But it earns points instead of cash back.

Points give you more flexibility if you’re looking for travel rewards in particular. (It even comes with an airline bonus if you like to fly with American Airlines.) Whether you roll your travel rewards into your next work trip, or treat yourself to a vacation for some much-needed self care  — that part is up to you. 

You can rack up double the points on every dollar you spend on work-related purchases, up to $50,000. Redeem these for:

  • Cash back
  • Gift cards
  • Points with travel partners like American Airlines or Hilton Honors

The welcome bonus is only 15,000 points — a little lower than some competing cards. But with no annual fee and 0% APR for 12 months, this card still has plenty to like.

8. Capital One Spark 2% Cash Plus

Best if: You’re looking for a big welcome bonus and can pay on time

  • Welcome bonus: $1,000
  • Rewards: 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, 2% cash back on all other purchases
  • Annual fee: $150
  • Intro APR: None
  • APR: No APR; you must pay off your balance in full every month to avoid a 2.99% late fee

The Capital One Spark 2% Cash Plus card has a lot to offer, including its welcome bonus and generous cash back — especially for travel.

There’s an annual fee, but some cardholders may find their cash back earnings far outstripping the $150. For example, if you use it to pay for $1,000’s worth of expenses each month, you’ll get over $240 in cash back over the course of the year.

One unique feature: There’s no APR. Instead, borrowers have to pay off their balance completely every month. Those who don’t get charged a 2.99% late fee.

9. Capital One Spark 1.5% Cash Select

Best if: Your credit is good, but not great

  • Welcome bonus: $500
  • Rewards: 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, 1.5% cash back on all other purchases
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Intro APR: None
  • APR: 18.74% to 24.74% variable APR

The Capital One Spark 1.5% Cash Select card is a lot like the Spark 2% Cash Plus option. But it’s designed for borrowers with good — instead of excellent — credit. (Think around the low 700s.) Its perks are similar, just slightly dialed down.

Compared to the Spark 2%, you’ll get half the welcome bonus and a cash back rate that’s 0.5% less. But that’s still plenty competitive with other cards — especially for borrowers with less-than-perfect credit.

Plus, with no annual fee, this card is a good fit for a wide range of budgets.

10. Bank of America Business Advantage Customized Cash Rewards

Best if: You have expenses in categories that vary from month to month

  • Welcome bonus: $300
  • Rewards: 3% cash back in the category of your choice, 2% cash back on dining, 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Intro APR: 0% intro APR for 9 months
  • APR: 14.49% to 24.49% variable APR

The Bank of America Business Advantage Customized Cash Rewards card is a strong choice if you’re looking for a cash back card that rewards spending in particular categories, which you get to change every month. (That’s what the “customized cash rewards” refer to.) Some popular ones include:

  • Gas
  • 🖊️ Office supplies
  • 🗺️ Travel
  • 💻 Computer services
  • 👔 Business consulting services

This unique feature makes the card a good fit if you’re running a business with certain seasonal cadences. For example, maybe you take most of your business trips in the summer and get a regular IT tuneup around the New Year. That way, you can set your rewards so that you get more for travel from June to August and more for computer services in January.

The welcome bonus of $300 is less than some competitors offer. But there’s no annual fee, and you get a 0% intro APR for your first months. That makes this a good choice for cost-conscious freelancers.

Keep in mind: If you have a business bank account with Bank of America, you could get up to 75% more cash back depending on your balance.

11. Bank of America Business Advantage Unlimited Cash Rewards

Best if: You’re looking for a flat cash back card and already bank with Bank of America

  • Welcome bonus: $300
  • Rewards: 1.5% cash back on all purchases
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Intro APR: 0% intro APR for 9 months
  • APR: 14.49% to 24.49% variable APR

The Bank of America Business Advantage Unlimited Cash Rewards — like the Business Advantage Customized Cash Rewards card — can net you cash back if you already bank with BofA. The main difference: It earns a flat 1.5% cash back rate for all purchases. There’s no ability to customize your categories. 

This rewards rate falls short of the flat 2% rate offered by some other cards. But it still gives you plenty of opportunity to rack up cash back.

With a nine-month 0% intro APR period and a $0 annual fee, it’s a good choice if you’re looking for a flat cash back card — especially if you already bank with BofA.

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Can freelancers apply for business credit cards?

Yes, freelancers can apply for business credit cards. So can anyone who’s self-employed, working a side hustle, or running a small business.

You can apply using your personal credit score, just as if you were filling out a personal credit card application. You don’t need to have a separate business credit score. (More on those down below.)

How to maximize your chances of qualifying for a card

Before applying, try to boost your credit score as much as possible. 

Aim for a credit score of about 700, considered good to excellent. This will up your odds of getting approved.

How a business credit card affects your credit score

Once you open up a business credit card, you’ll start to establish credit history as a business.

Your business credit is separate from your personal credit. You’ll get an entirely separate credit score. (This goes from 0 to 100, instead of from 300 to 850 like a personal credit score.)

Will your business card affect your personal credit score?

No. As long as your account is in good standing, a business credit card won't affect your personal credit score.

The best ways to use a business credit card

Not sure how you should use your credit card? Here are my top tips for making the most of a business credit card if you’re self-employed.

Tip #1: Time your application with the welcome bonus in mind

Everyone likes free money. But most credit cards that come with a welcome bonus have a catch: you have to spend a certain amount to earn it, usually in your first few months with the card.

To get your bonus more easily, apply for the card when you’re about to make a big, short-term purchase for work — like hiring a designer to revamp your website, or going on a month-long business trip.

You’ll also want to think about your personal finances and overall cash flow. Before you kick off the application process, make sure you:

  • Double-check how much you’ll need to spend to qualify for your bonus
  • Know that’s within your budget

Tip #2: Take care of big purchases during your intro APR

Here’s another way to be strategic about timing your card usage: take care large purchases during your intro APR period. This gives you more time to pay them off before you’re on the hook for any interest.

Your first year with the card is a great time to make the bigger investments that you’ve been eyeing for your business.

Tip #3: Try not to carry a balance

It’s a good idea to pay off your balance in full each month. That way, you can take advantage of all the benefits of a business credit card without the hefty interest charges.

That said, on a business-only card, any interest you do accrue is tax-deductible. (More on that later.) So if you have to make the occasional big purchase that you can’t pay off right away, don’t sweat it.

Tip #4: Use it as often as you can

As long as you don’t rack up too much interest, try to put as many business expenses as you can on the card.

That lets you maximize your rewards and get plenty of cash back to pocket — or reinvest in your business. 

How to use your business card to handle your taxes

Business credit cards are useful for freelancers because they help you grab rewards just for buying things you would have bought anyway. They can also come in handy when it’s time to do your taxes.

Here’s how you can use your business credit card to your advantage when you’re dealing with the IRS.

Tip #1: Write off your credit card interest

Like I’ve mentioned, you can deduct credit card interest for business purchases. Just put it on line 16 of your Schedule C.

How much of your credit card interest is deductible?

With a dedicated business card, 100% of your credit card interest is tax-deductible. That’s because everything you buy with the card is tax-deductible. 

Plus, if you link your card with Keeper, we’ll automatically scan 18 months of past purchases for tax write-offs you might have missed. When tax time rolls around, we can even lock in those savings by filing your taxes for you.

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Tip #2: Consider making strategic tax payments by card

In some cases, it makes sense to use your business credit card to pay your taxes — strategically, of course.

Pay taxes with your card when you’re trying to earn your welcome bonus

It makes the most sense to pay your taxes with your business card in your first few months with the card. That way, you can:

  • Put it towards the required spending for your welcome bonus
  • Take advantage of intro APR

This is a great time to:

Taking care of your tax payments will also help you avoid IRS penalties while you’re earning rewards — making it a win-win.

Pay taxes with your card when you’re at least four months late on a payment

If you’re outside your welcome bonus window, it can make sense to pay by card solely to avoid tax penalties — but only if you expect to beat least four months late otherwise. That’s when the penalty you’ll owe starts to outweigh the fee the IRS charges for credit card payments.

Here’s how the numbers break down:

Since you’re charged 0.5% per month, four months gets you up to 2% — more than than the IRS card processing fee.

Here’s an example where it’s fine to pay with your business credit card. Say you’re four months late on a tax payment of $1,000:

  • Penalty: You’re only on the hook for $20 in IRS penalties — $5 per month (since $1,000 x 0.005 = $5), multiplied by the four months
  • Credit card processing fee: If you make a late payment with your card, you’ll be charged at least $18.70 ($1,000 x 0.0187 = $18.70)

You’ll be saving $1.30 ($20 - $18.70). That’s not a huge sum, but it’s enough for you to break even on credit card processing fees.

Now, say you owed the max 25% penalty (meaning you were 50 months late). That would get you a full penalty amount of $250 — making the $18.70 processing fee more than worth it. You’d be saving $231.30!

Don’t pay taxes with your card all the time

It doesn’t always make sense to pay your taxes by card. It’s best to avoid it if you’re:

  • Outside the welcome bonus window
  • Not on the hook for penalties that would outweigh the card processing fee

For example, here’s a situation where you shouldn’t pay with a card. Pretend you’re only two months late on a $1,000 tax payment:

  • Penalty: You’re only on the hook for $10 in IRS penalties — $5 per month, since $1,000 x 0.005 = $5
  • Credit card processing fee: If you make your tax payment with a card, you’re charged at least $18.70

Your credit processing fee would be $8.70 more than the penalty you’re trying to avoid, so it doesn’t make financial sense to put that payment on your card.

Paying taxes by credit card also isn’t a good long-term plan. High credit card interest rates can make your balance balloon over time. 

Business credit cards can be powerful tools in the hands of a self-employed worker — as long as you’re strategic about how you use them. Enjoy your cash back, and don’t forget to write off what you’re buying with your dedicated work card.

Margaret Wack

Margaret Wack

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Margaret Wack is a freelance writer and poet. She’s covered topics including personal finance, insurance, small business and entrepreneurship, and loose leaf tea for US News & World Report, Investopedia, MoneyGeek, Money Under 30, Angi, Insurify, and ArtfulTea. When she’s not writing for work or pleasure, she’s usually curled up with a cup of tea and a good book.

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