eCommerce is one of the fastest-growing business platforms over the last 10 years. And the COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly accelerated such growth in 2020. According to Forbes (H/T), there has been a 129% increase in American and Canadian ecommerce orders as of April 21, 2020. This percentage has almost certainly increased over the last six months. Fortunately, credit cards are the easiest way for small business owners and consumers to pay for goods over the internet. That presents a plethora of opportunities to earn points and miles. Therefore, this post presents the best credit cards for ecommerce.
However, the importance of ecommerce cannot be emphasized enough. The first section provides the survey results and a brief analysis before the best cards.
The Importance of eCommerce
Chase’s Ink Division recently did a survey (H/T to Inc.com for their excellent analysis) that asked small business owners about their top business expenses. The top three were social media expenses (26%), ecommerce platforms (24%), and search engine advertising (23%). Plus, 27% of surveyed small business owners saw most of their business expense increases relate to shipping. In other words, more small businesses are shipping more products because of ecommerce.
These results show that ecommerce is one of the most important and valuable methods of doing business today. And the COVID-19 pandemic has only magnified this. In fact, 35% of the surveyed small business owners said that they would have been out of business because of COVID-19 without the help of ecommerce. That is a staggering percentage considering how many small businesses there are in America today.
On the other hand, the results show that consumers are shopping for more products and services online. That may seem obvious to most because of the pandemic, but the numbers are proof. This increased demand for online goods and services is also a derived demand for businesses to partake in ecommerce.
Fortunately, there are lots of businesses changing their overall models and strategies to focus on ecommerce. 19% of surveyed small business owners began selling products online or shipping to customers for the first time in 2020. And 23% of surveyed small business owners used digital advertising methods to promote their business for the first time in 2020.
Transferrable Points Cards
Business owners who would like to travel for business or pleasure should check out the following credit cards:
Chase Ink Business Preferred
The Chase Ink Business Preferred is my top recommendation for small business owners who engage in ecommerce. Its earning structure is the cream of the crop among business credit cards. The Ink Business Preferred earns 3x Ultimate Rewards (UR) points within the following categories:
- General Travel
- Cable & TV Services
- Internet Services
- Phone Services
- Social Media & Search Engine Advertisement Purchases
This card earns bonus points for many of the top expenses of small business owners who do ecommerce. And for many business owners, these categories are worth the card’s $95 annual fee (NOT waived the first year). The Ink Business Preferred also earns one point per dollar on non-bonus expenses.
Furthermore, the Ink Business Preferred offers a sign-up bonus worth 80,000 UR points. This bonus can be earned by spending $5,000 within the first three months. This is tied for Chase’s highest sign-up bonus on cards that earn UR points.
American Express Business Gold Card
The American Express Business Gold Card is a great alternative for business owners who prefer American Express’ transfer partners over Chase’s. Fortunately, the Business Gold Card is one of the most valuable business cards in the industry.
It earns 4x Membership Rewards (MR) points within two of the following categories:
- Advertising (TV, Radio, and Online only)
- Airfare (booked directly with the airline)
- Select Computing Merchants
- US Gas Stations
- US Restaurants
Plus, it earns 2x MR points in the categories you do not select. Categories may be changed at the beginning of each calendar year. The Business Gold Card also earns one point per dollar on non-bonus expenses. This card earns bonus points for many of the top expenses of small business owners who do ecommerce. It’s also a direct competitor to the Chase Ink Business Preferred Card.
However, the Business Gold Card is expensive. It has an annual fee of $295 (NOT waived the first year), which can be unattractive for some business owners. But it also comes with some decent perks including access to the Amex Hotel Collection, Baggage Insurance, and Trip Delay Insurance.
American Express Blue Business Plus
Smaller business who do not want a credit card with an annual fee might like the American Express Blue Business Plus. This is a simple, but valuable credit card. It earns 2x MR points for the first $50,000 in annual expenses. Thereafter, it earns just one point per dollar.
Businesses who have less than $50,000 per year in expenses would love this card, especially if those expenses are varied. Smaller companies might be missing out on large multipliers with this card but saving money on annual fees can compensate.
Unfortunately, this card does not offer a public sign-up bonus or have any substantial perks. But points earned can be transferred to American Express’ partners just like any other MR point-earning card.
Two of the best credit cards for ecommerce are co-branded travel cards. Hilton and Southwest Airlines currently stand above their competitors for small business owners with ecommerce related expenses.
American Express Hilton Honors Business Card
The Hilton Honors Business Card is one of the best overall co-branded credit cards for small businesses. It earns 12x Hilton Honors (HH) points on Hilton hotel purchases and 3x HH points on non-bonus expenses. But it also earns 6x HH points on the following business and travel expenses:
- Airfare (booked directly from airlines)
- Car Rentals (booked directly with agencies)
- Cell Phone Services (purchased directly from a provider)
- Gas Stations
- US Restaurants
Furthermore, the Hilton Honors Business Card offers a sign-up bonus worth 125,000 HH points. This bonus can be earned by spending $3,000 within the first three months. It also has a $95 annual fee (NOT waived the first year), which can easily be justified with perks.
The Hilton Honors Business Card offers Hilton Gold Elite Status, 10 Priority Pass airport lounge passes per year, and so much more. It is akin to the Hilton Surpass Card in the way of benefits.
Chase Southwest Performance Business Card
Chase and Southwest’s flagship business card is called the Chase Southwest Performance Business Card. And it is an underrated option for small business owners. This card has a $199 annual fee (NOT waived the first year). But it also has the best earning structure among the Southwest Airlines credit cards.
It earns 3x Rapid Rewards points per dollar on Southwest Airlines purchases and just one for non-bonus expenses. Plus, it earns 2x points on the following categories:
- Internet, Cable, and Phone Services
- Social Media and Search Engine Advertising
These categories cover some of the biggest expenses of ecommerce. This is great for business owners who want to travel around North America and the Caribbean with Southwest Airlines.
Moreover, the Southwest Performance Business Card offers a sign-up bonus worth 80,000 Rapid Rewards points. It can be earned by spending $5,000 within the first three months. This bonus is awesome because you can get very close to earning a coveted Southwest Companion Pass. The threshold for earning a Companion Pass is 125,000 Rapid Rewards points.
This post featured some of the best credit cards for ecommerce expenses. eCommerce is one of the most important methods of doing business today. Fortunately, credit card issuers such as Chase and American Express are there to help small business owners earn rewards for their biggest expenses. Just like regular consumers, small business owners could earn free or discounted travel if they play their cards right.