American Express is my favourite overall credit card provider in Canada. Not only do they offer a large selection of personal cards with good earning potential on everyday spend and industry-leading welcome bonuses, they also have a range of small business cards that can be instrumental in accumulating points quickly and easily. Many people are unaware they qualify for an American Express Business Card, as most assume the application process is tedious and requires proof of business ownership. While this is true of a Corporate Card, the small business cards are relatively simple to apply for and the process is not much different than getting a personal card!
Why Everyone Should Consider An American Express Business Card
Similar to the personal cards, the small business cards are a great way to earn Membership Reward points or Starwood Preferred Guest points on everyday spend. However, the small business cards are superior in a few regards:
- The small business cards offer higher sign-up bonuses than the personal cards, some with a first year annual fee waiver
- The referral program is usually more rewarding than the personal counterparts
- The cards are eligible for repeat welcome bonuses (can cancel and reapply at a later date to receive the welcome bonus again, which was recently limited to once per lifetime per card on the personal cards, as per the terms and conditions)
Which American Express Business Card Would I Recommend?
Well, there are 3 actually, and each could serve a purpose depending on your travel goals, spending habits, and comfort level in paying annual fees for additional benefits.
The American Express Business Gold Rewards Card
Currently my favourite of the small business cards and a product I recommend almost everyone get. Currently offering:
- 30,000 Membership Reward points after spending $5,000 in the first three months of membership
- Comprehensive travel/purchase insurance
- Earn 10,000 Membership Reward points per eligible referral
The Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card
The SPG card is another one of my favourites since I consider Starwood to be one of the best reward programs for Canadians (especially when redeemed for hotel stays or transferred to Marriott). Highlights include:
50,000 American Express Membership Reward points after spending $1,500 in the first three months of membership.Update 2019-02-26: Please note that the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) American Express Card Canada is no longer available. It has been replaced by the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card. Get the details here!
- Earn 2 SPG points for every dollar spent at Marriott and SPG properties, and 1 SPG per dollar on everything else
- $150 annual fee (not waived)
- Earn 5,000 SPG points per eligible referral (can cross-refer to the personal SPG card)
The American Express Business Platinum Card
This used to be my favourite American Express Business Card for the generous welcome bonus and increased referral opportunities, though recently American Express made some changes to the card and increased the annual fee, so it’s now not as competitive as the Personal Platinum card, though still worth considering depending on your travel goals. Highlights include:
- 40,000 Membership Reward points after spending $5,000 in the first three months of membership.
- Earn 1.25 Membership Reward points per dollar on all purchases
- Comprehensive trip/purchase insurance
- Access to American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts
- Priority Pass Airport Lounge Membership
- Marriott and Starwood Gold Status
- Earn 15,000 Membership Reward points per eligible referral
- $499 annual fee (not waived)
How To Apply For An American Express Business Card
Most people assume to apply and be approved for a small business card they must in fact own a small business. In reality, you only need to have any sort of part-time or side income in order to qualify. American Express extends credit for small business cards based entirely on personal income and creditworthiness. In other words, the income generated by your business is irrelevant so long as you have decent personal credit and a regular source of income.
The application process is much the same as applying for a personal card, with just a few additional questions regarding business dealings. Let’s take a look at the application for the Business Platinum card:
The first page of the application is fairly straightforward. If you don’t actually have a separate office space and telephone number, complete this part of the application using your home postal code and personal phone number.
The second page of the application asks for your business address. Again, if you don’t have a separate office, just put your home address.
The third page of the application is where you may need to get a little bit creative. American Express asks for your personal annual income. This is not just your business income, but the total gross amount you earn annually.
What you choose as your business profession is entirely up to you. When I was in college, I used to sell my used textbooks twice a year, which made me an online retailer. So, for application purposes, I could declare:
- Industry: Wholesale/Resale
- Occupation: Proprietor
- Occupation Description: Other
- Describe Occupation: Online Book Sales
*under occupation, most applicants will choose proprietor, meaning you are the sole owner (and operator in most cases) and not a partnership or executive on behalf of a business.
For years in business, use however long you’ve been engaged in your part time side business, or if it’s new, choose 1 year. Number of employees can be one if you are the owner operator.
I’ve had success applying for small business cards through American Express and other credit card issuers in Canada by identifying as a business selling used textbooks (the college days). I’ve also had clients be approved because they sell goods or services online (eBay, Amazon, Craigslist), have an annual garage sale, sell items at a farmer’s market or swap meet, by offering consulting services, and various other side jobs. Ultimately, American Express is using your personal credit information and gross annual income to extend credit, and the business details shouldn’t be of concern, especially for current or previous cardmembers in good standing with American Express.
Applying for an American Express Business Card can be a great way to boost your reward balances quickly by taking advantage of the generous welcome bonuses and more opportunity to leverage the referral program. Apply today and reach your travel goals sooner!