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Small business credit card enhancements from AmEx, Citi and Visa

by Peter Andrew

Three credit card companies unveiled enhancements to their small-business products during the last 10 days of June. Here are the highlights of their announcements.

American Express, the Plum Card and cash flow

First up, American Express, which sets out to help entrepreneurs with their cash flow. For those with the company's Plum Card, this help can take two alternative forms:

  1. Discount for early payments -- If you settle 10 percent or more of your balance within 10 days of your statement's closing date, you stand to receive a 1.5 percent discount on the sum you pay.
  2. Extra time to pay -- As long as you pay at least 10 percent of your due balance on time, you can take up to 60 days from your statement's closing date to pay the rest. And, if you choose to do so, you won't be charged any penalties or interest.

Citi adds to its small business credit cards

Here's an all-new rewards credit card: the CitiBusiness ThankYou® Card. It comes with all the benefits you'd expect from a new entrant in this highly competitive sector. Citi says these include: A sign-up bonus of 15,000 ThankYou points, providing you spend at least $3,000 during the first three months in which you have the card, and those bonus points are redeemable for $150 in gift cards. You can earn three ThankYou points for every dollar spent on eligible purchases in a range of business-relevant categories that change each quarter. These include office supply merchants, advertising and other professional services, computer equipment and software merchants, air travel, car rental and so on. You get a point a dollar for all other purchases outside each quarter's two or three categories. Points you earn have no limits and don't expire. The card carries no annual fee. You also have access to online tools that include one that lets you set an individual credit limit on each employee's card.

Visa's new expense-management application

Visa issues six of its own small business credit cards, and its logo appears on countless others issued by third-party financial institutions. Whether you can take advantage of the company's new online tools will depend on whether your institution has chosen to participate in this new offering.

If you can, the tools look very useful. According to Visa's press release, they're designed to bring "enhanced efficiencies and transparency" to record keeping and expense management.

As importantly, they also deliver an ability to restrict the card usage of individual employees by location, dollar amount and spending category. So, Visa says, a construction company could restrict its drivers' plastic so that only gas purchases were possible, and its foremen's cards so that they could be used only to buy construction materials.

At a time when so many SMEs are struggling to stay afloat, it's good to see these card issuers working to make life easier for entrepreneurs through enhancements to their small business credit cards.

Published 07/03/12 (Modified 04/08/14)


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