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Best Credit Cards for Small-Business Owners in 2013

Alain Filiz
Getty Images
Alain Filiz

If you have to accumulate charges on plastic to launch or build your business, you ought to be using one of the best credit cards out there so that you get money back and earn rewards.

The credit-card comparison website CardHub.com today is releasing its analysis of more than 1,000 business and personal credit cards for small-business owners. The analysis ranks them by four categories:

  • Earning rewards
  • Longer-term funding
  • Decreasing the cost of existing debt
  • Building a credit history

Surprisingly, in this analysis consumer credit cards are sometimes the best option for small-business owners, CardHub.com says. The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act, known as the CARD Act, which was passed in 2009 and went into effect in 2010, instituted measures of transparency and accountability in the credit-card industry. However, the protections were not extended to business credit cards.

Here is a look at the recommended credit-card options from Washington, D.C.-based CardHub.com, by personal finance priority.

(Read More: Visa, MasterCard Seek Court Approval of Card Fees)

Rewards credit-cards:

1. Ink Plus Business Card from Chase: This is a charge card, which means that you will need to pay your balance off in full each month. You should be trying to do that anyway, says CardHub CEO Odysseas Papadimitriou, in the report. Because the CARD Act protections do not extend to business credit-cards, your interest rates can be changed at any time on credit cards specifically designated for businesses. If you spend $5,000 in the first three months of signing up for the Ink Plus Business Card, you will receive 50,000 bonus points. Also, for every dollar you spend on office supplies and telecommunications services, you can earn another five points, up to $50,000 per year. For every dollar you spend on gas and hotel accommodations, you can earn two points, up to $50,000 per year. The annual fee on this card is $95 after the first year.

2. Club Carlson Business Rewards Credit Card from Visa: This card is especially good for entrepreneurs who spend a lot of time living out of a suitcase and like Radisson hotels. The card offers 50,000 bonus points after your first purchase and 35,000 additional points if you spend more than $2,500 in the first three months of signing up. Those 85,000 points can be exchanged for as many as 18 free nights in Club Carlson hotels. If you book more than two consecutive nights at a hotel with Club Carlson, the last night is free. While Club Carlson may not be a familiar brand for you, it is the parent company of chains including Radisson, Park Plaza and Country Inn. There is a $75 annual fee.

3. Capital One Spark Cash for Businesses: This credit-card gives you two percent cash back on any purchase, and while that is slightly less than you can get back for specific categories of purchases on other cards, that this card offers some cash back on all purchases makes it especially convenient, the report says. Also, if you spend $1,000 in the first three months, you will get $100 as a bonus. If you authorize an employee to use your card, you get another $50 bonus. The annual fee is $59 after the first year.

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Business funding:

1. Citi Diamond Preferred: Approximately one-third of small-business owners use credit-cards for financing, according to the most recent National Small Business Association access to capital report. If you are looking to finance a larger purchase on a credit card, having an extended period of time where you don't accrue interest is key. This credit card from Citi offers zero percent interest rate for 18 months, the longest in the industry, according to CardHub.com. The Citi Diamond is a consumer credit-card. Not only are consumer-credit cards protected under the CARD Act, but also they tend to have longer periods with zero interest, says Papadimitriou.

2. Bank of America Cash Rewards for Business MasterCard: Bank of America is the only large, primary card issuer to have voluntarily applied the CARD Act protections to its small-business offerings. This credit-card offers no interest payments on new purchases for nine months. Also, you can get three percent cash back at gas stations and office supply stores, two percent at restaurants and one percent for all other purchases.

Lower the cost of debt:

1. No Balance Transfer Fee Slate Card from Chase: About half of small-business owners carry credit-card debt from month to month, CardHub.com says. If you are one of them, the Slate Card from Chase is your best option because there are no fees for transferring your balance, says Papadimitriou, who is "amazed" this option is available anywhere because it is not a profitable offering for card issuers. Also, once you transfer your debt to the Slate Card, there are no finance charges for 15 months. There is no annual fee.

Build credit:

1. Capital One Spark Classic for Business: Building a good credit history takes time. The only way a specific credit card will help is by having no annual fee, says Papadimitriou, allowing you to use all your cash to pay off debt. Also, the Capital One Spark credit-card gives one percent cash back.

(Read More: Financial Literacy Education Not Making the Grade)

2. Harley-Davidson Secured Credit Card: If you don't have credit, or have bad credit, the Harley-Davidson Secured Card is a way to build credit. You have to make a security deposit to open the credit card and you can spend only as much as you have deposited. You can add more cash to your deposit to increase your credit limit. A bonus to this card is that it waives the annual fee for the first year.

_By Entrepreneur.com's Catherine Clifford

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