The Best Business Credit Cards For Startups in 2023

9 min read

Executive Summary

As a high-growth startup, you want to maximize your post-raise cash with the best rewards and competitive APY. Here are the best credit cards (and platforms) that help you do that.

Disclaimer: Our first priority is giving you the best financial advice for your business. Tillful may receive compensation from our partners, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions or recommendations in the content on our website. Editorial note

🎉 Tillful is now part of Nav! Compare business credit cards at Nav

Startups have unique needs, and thus, require tailored solutions in the way of credit cards, financial software, and financing products. We’re going to walk through our top credit cards for startups, and how we chose them.

How we’re defining “startups”

For the purposes of this article, we’re defining “startups” as those that are either currently equity-backed (through a venture capital firm, private equity firm, coin raise, or similar) or are considering equity funding in the future as their primary capital source. In other words, we’re looking at startups that do not necessarily require good business credit as a means to acquire debt funding.

We’re not talking about new small businesses that are planning on bootstrapping and/or taking a more “traditional” small business funding route. If you’re a new small business looking for starter credit cards that are relatively easy to get and that help you build business credit, check out our roundup of best business credit cards for poor credit.

So-called “Silicon Valley Small Businesses” who are mixing bootstrapping principles with “traditional” equity raises may find a combination of this guide, plus a few others we’ve listed at the end, to be helpful.

What to look for in a business credit card for startups

When we think about our own early days as a startup, we are partial to all-in-one platforms. Today, there are a number of new spend management platforms that come with corporate cards.

A key feature to look for is an ability for the platform to scale with you. This means that you should be able to quickly change your setup to meet your rapidly changing needs. In addition to that, minimal fees, unlimited cards (virtual or otherwise), rewards that help you maximize your savings, and the right features for your industry are key. You’ll likely only be able to find out if a platform truly aligns with your needs through a demo.

As for more traditional credit cards, you’ll likely want one that comes with a good rewards program, as you’ll likely find yourself spending a good amount in your bid to scale.

The best spend management platforms with corporate cards for startups

Best for well-funded startups: Brex

Brex is arguably the best known expense management platform for startups (and for good reason). As a Y Combinator company, it is the preferred platform for YC companies, as well as many others. In the wake of the Silicon Valley Bank collapse, Brex was a top of mind choice for startups looking to transfer their funds elsewhere.

Brex is a solid platform designed for well-funded startups and/or those with growth potential. Its corporate cards are on a monthly billing cycle, and feature a robust rewards system with a large network of companies, including Uber and Apple.

Other features startups may find useful include its runway tracker and unlimited virtual cards for employees. This is a good platform overall, and comes with a solid network of other startup companies that Brex does a good job of featuring and connecting.

Revenue and time in business requirements

$1M annual revenue, $50K cash, or 50+ employees, plus equity investment. Startups may be able to get in without fully meeting these requirements if referred by another Brex customer.

Card features

  • Monthly billing cycle
  • Unlimited virtual cards with spend limits
  • No personal guarantee
  • 1.5x rewards, with a tiered structure
  • Other rewards, including billboards, executive coaching, offsite planning, and mental healthcare
  • No fees
  • Account callout: 4.22% APY, plus $6M total FDIC coverage

Best for startups of all stages: Mercury

Mercury is a great flexible choice, especially for startups that may not have funding yet, and/or are still considering whether they want to bootstrap or pursue equity investment. Mercury allows businesses to have a free bank account to start, and once they hit at least $50K in deposits, they can apply to have a card with their account.

In addition to being for startups more generally, Mercury caters to specific companies such as those in e-commerce, Web-3, and SaaS. If your business fits one of those categories, it’s especially worth exploring what Mercury has to offer.

Finally, Mercury also has a venture debt funding program, meaning that they can support your financial journey from the very beginning to later stages.

Revenue and time in business requirements

$50K in a Mercury bank account

Card features

  • Monthly billing cycle
  • Unlimited virtual cards with spend limits and merchant locks
  • No personal guarantee
  • 1.5% cash back
  • No fees
  • Account callout: up to 4.65% APY, plus $3M total FDIC coverage with Vaults

Best for lean startups: Ramp

Ramp’s positioning is all about helping you save money. It’s best for startups that don’t just want a place to manage their money, but something that actively helps them stay lean. Ramp has features such as vendor negotiating, savings insights that help you optimize your bills, and automated budgeting.

Its card is a charge card, which is why there are no fees. However, in addition to its corporate card, Ramp has Ramp Flex, a product where Ramp will pay your vendors, and you pay Ramp back in 30, 60, or 90 days.

Note that while Brex and Mercury both provide bank account solutions with cards, Ramp is an expense management platform that comes with cards. They do not provide banking solutions.

Revenue and time in business requirements

$75K in cash reserves

Card features

  • Monthly billing cycle
  • Unlimited virtual cards
  • No personal guarantee
  • 1.5% cash back
  • No fees

Best for flexible repayment terms: Rho

Rho is unique in that it allows for flexible repayment terms, up to 60 days. However, this feature comes at a price: startups must have greater than $1 million in revenue, or over $1 million in equity capital raised to qualify.

Rho, like Brex and Mercury, offers a checking account (or treasury account) that pairs with their cards. The rewards system is tied to the repayment terms — the faster you pay off your card, the more cash back you get.

Rho is ideal for well-funded startups and/or more established startups who need flexible payment terms as they scale, and are willing to sacrifice the extra rewards that they could get with other platforms.

Revenue and time in business requirements

Greater than $1M in revenue or $1M+ in equity capital raised

Card features

  • Monthly billing cycle
  • Unlimited virtual and physical cards
  • Flexible repayment structure (daily, monthly, 40 day, and 60 day terms)
  • Cash back up to 1.75% (1.75% with daily payments, 1.5% with monthly payments; 1% with 40 day payments; 0% with 60 day payments)
  • Account callout: up to $75M FDIC coverage with a Treasury Management account

The best traditional credit card for startups

American Express Business Platinum Card

The American Express Platinum card is the best traditional credit card for startups. Since startups tend to spend a lot, we chose this one for its robust rewards program. There’s also no preset spending limit; instead, the credit limit “adapts based on factors such as your purchase, payment, and credit history.” This appears to make it similar to Brex, which features dynamic spending limits based on cash flow and other factors.

It comes with some of the best rewards out there, including a 5x bonus on flights and hotel, as well as credits for Indeed, Dell and phone services. Though it comes with a hefty $695 annual fee, you can more than make that back by taking advantage of all the credits and redeeming rewards.

This one is best for startups that are putting a lot of expenses, especially travel, on their cards. If you’re not there yet, then you can look into the American Express Business Gold Card for similar rewards, but at a lower annual fee. And, if your personal credit is falling a bit short, then their Blue Business Cash card is also a good option.

Revenue and time in business requirements

Excellent personal credit; this card requires a personal guarantee

Card features

  • No present spending limit
  • Credits for Indeed, Dell, phone services, Adobe, and more
  • 5X points on flights and prepaid hotels
  • $695 annual fee

Platforms and credit cards for startups that didn’t make the list


While Divvy is a great platform, it seems to be designed more for small businesses that already have revenue than for startups. Their minimum requirement (according to different sources) appears to be around $10K in transactions per month and $20K in a Divvy account. They also have features that are better suited for bootstrapped small businesses, such as the ability to build business credit with their card.

With many similar features to other platforms we went over, yet perks that don’t seem especially catered to funded startups, it’s hard to make an argument for Divvy over the other options presented. That said, if you’re interested in Divvy, by all means schedule a demo call. That’s the best way to figure out if it, or any platform on here for that matter, is best for your needs.

Popular starter business credit cards

Many starter business credit cards such as the Chase Ink line (including Chase Ink Unlimited), American Express Blue Business Cash, and Capital One Spark line (including the Capital One Spark Classic 1%), are great cards that are designed for small businesses that are just getting started. If you’re a funded startup that’s going to be making a lot of purchases, it may be better for you to opt for a card with higher rewards. That’s why we picked the American Express Platinum Card.

Again, none of these cards are bad, in fact, just the opposite: they are pretty popular among business owners. They’re still good options if you want to look into them, especially if you want to get a card from a bank that you already have a relationship with.

How did we compare these cards?

We looked at the public information available on each of these platforms’ sites, and dug into terms and conditions where possible. We also conducted a poll of startup founders, asking them what platform they used. We got a mix of responses from startup founders and relatively established small business owners, which helped us separate which credit cards appear to be best for each group.

When comparing the different credit cards, we looked at:

  • How steep the basic requirements were
  • The platform’s ability to scale with the startup
  • Rewards that were relevant to tech startups

As a high-growth startup, you want to maximize the chunk of cash you get after a raise through rewards and competitive APY. You probably aren’t as interested in building business credit for the purposes of taking on debt. So, we ranked these credit cards and their associated platforms accordingly.

Learn more about business credit cards credit card for startups

Just because you’re a startup doesn’t mean you can’t use techniques that bootstrapped small businesses use to grow. In fact, you might find the “Silicon Valley Small Business” model to be quite compelling. From leveraging store credit accounts to getting started with business credit as a potential funding option that limits dilution, here are some other resources to look into:

Our top picks for store credit cards

The best business credit cards for poor business (and personal) credit

What a good business credit score can do for you

About the author

Catherine Giese

Written by Catherine Giese

Catherine is the Brand Content Manager at Tillful. She writes answers to our most-asked questions and covers the news updates that small business owners need to know.

You may also like

Is your business getting the credit it deserves?

Sign up to take control of your business’s financial health today.

Get Your Free Score

Tillful Advertiser Disclosure

Our first priority is giving you the best financial advice for your business. Tillful may receive compensation from our partners, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions or recommendations in the below content or content throughout our website unless expressly stated. Our partners cannot pay for favorable reviews, and they don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content.

Tillful may receive compensation from third-party advertisers, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions on the services or products we cover in our content. Our marketing partners don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge when posted.

Any personal views and opinions expressed are the author's alone, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of Tillful. Editorial content is not those of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Reviews are not provided or commissioned by the credit card, financing and service companies that appear in this site. Reviews have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card, financing and service companies and it is not their responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Your business’ success, future and financial well-being is our first priority.

Every time.

We believe everyone should be able to make financial decisions with confidence. And while our site doesn’t feature every company or financial product available on the market, we’re proud that the guidance we offer, the information we provide and the tools we create are objective, independent, straightforward — and free.

So how do we make money? Our partners compensate us. This may influence which products we review and write about (and where those products appear on the site), but it in no way affects our recommendations or advice, which are grounded in thousands of hours of research. Our partners cannot pay us to guarantee favorable reviews of their products or services.

Back to Top