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  • Alexandra Cain
    Business Journalist

    Alexandra Cain writes regularly for the small business sections of The Age, Sydney Morning Herald and Australian Financial Review

    Alexandra Cain
    Business Journalist

    Alexandra Cain writes regularly for the small business sections of The Age, Sydney Morning Herald and Australian Financial Review

    It could be argued that a credit card is one of the absolute-must have tools of trade for small businesses. But every card has different options and benefits and it’s important to understand what these are before deciding which is the right card for you, your staff and most importantly, your business.

    Two credit cards sit side by side

    American Express: Optimum value

    American Express offers a number of different choices to suit business’ individual needs. There are gold and platinum options, as well as rewards tie-ins with both Qantas Frequent Flyers and Virgin’s loyalty program, Velocity. The right selection for you will depend on how much you spend each month on business travel, as well as your preferred airline partner.

    Like every provider, American Express offers an interest-free period with each card, which helps businesses buy necessary items now and pay for them down the track.

    Some cards also come with travel insurance and business expense cover, and statements are compatible with most major accounting packages, making monthly reconciliation super easy for businesses that are on the road regularly.

    MasterCard: A perennial favourite

    One of the main benefits of MasterCard’s commercial cards is the ability to set up separate cards and spending profiles for each cardholder in the business. This gives you oversight over the spending patterns of individual staff members, using near real time statements. The card is also accepted right around the world, which makes it easy to access funds and pay for purchases when travelling.

    The limit you set for each card will depend on your business’s needs, and every bank offers different loyalty and rewards options for each card. It’s worth doing research to find out which rewards options delivers you the most benefits.

    In addition, MasterCard provides a spending and analysis tool that gives cardholders insight into business cash flow and spending, helping to stay on top of company expenses.

    Visa: Access to credit

    The third option for business owners is Visa. It offers both credit card and debit card options, in case you prefer to access business funds from your bank account, but still enjoy the ease of making payments with a credit card.

    Visa’s statement functionality allows you to effortlessly track staff expenses and set limits for each employee, giving you a bird’s eye view of your cash flow. Some cards also provide travel and medical assistance when you’re working overseas.

    All the major banks offer American Express, MasterCard and Visa choices. The right card for your business will depend on how you use the card, how much the business’ outgoings are and the loyalty and rewards packages you’re looking to take advantage of, so chat to your financial institution to find what works for your business. 

    What to look for in your credit card

    1. Match your card with your business type. Many cards have ancillary benefits such as travel insurance or points that can help you travel. Choose one that will help you get more from the money you spend in the day-to-day operations of the business
    2. Look for flexibility. Looking to have multiple staff use the card? Ensure you can set limits for different staff members and monitor usage to keep on top of cash flow
    3. Interest-free terms and rates. The benefit of a credit card lies in giving you access to purchases for your business before you’re ready to spend your money on it, but once you go outside of the interest free period, it can get costly. Keep on top of rates and interest-free periods 
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