Many credit cards offer rewards for booking an Airbnb as a guest (for example, the American Express Green Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve Card), but what about the hosts? You’ve probably noticed that not many credit cards pitch their rewards programs to vacation rental property owners—that is, until you start thinking of yourself as a small business owner.
Once you shift your perspective and change your title from “Airbnb host” to “small business owner,” you’ll soon realize that there are loads of credit cards out there to help you reduce the overhead on your spending as you set up and maintain your Airbnb.
To simplify your decision process, we’ve found the best credit card for Airbnb hosts—the American Express Blue Business Cash Card. However, the notion of the best credit card is influenced by what type of reward works best for you, so we’ve included a few alternatives.
Benefits of Credit Cards for Airbnb Hosts
The most obvious benefit of having a credit card is earning cash back for your purchases. How does that work? For example, if a credit card offers 1.5% cash back on every purchase, for every dollar you spend you’ll earn 1.5 cents in cashback rewards.
In addition to that, having a dedicated credit card for your business helps simplify recordkeeping. Interest and fees for business expenses can be tax-deductible, so by having all your purchases for the rental property on your small business credit card, you can speed up filing taxes. You won’t need to waste time sorting through receipts wondering whether that Home Depot or Amazon purchase was for your personal residence or your Airbnb as you’ll have it all listed in your credit card transaction list.
Overall, with the help of credit card rewards (cash back, points, miles, or whatever you find to be the best for you), you can offset or reduce Airbnb’s overhead.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Credit Card
To reap the most rewards and in a way that suits your preferences, you’ll need to think about several factors before committing to a credit card. Considering these factors can lead you to the most favorable solution for your specific needs and spending habits:
Your Annual Spending on Your Vacation Rental Property – Account for anything you could pay on a credit card. Don’t just focus on major purchases like mattresses, furniture, or appliances that comprise a huge chunk of spending, but also consider smaller purchases such as furnishings (linens, dishes, decor, etc.), repairs and maintenance, and supplies (everything from toilet paper to shampoo to snacks).
Investigate whether you can make monthly payments by card. This can be useful for paying utility bills, streaming services, WiFi fees, the subscription for vacation rental marketing software, and so on.
APR – Consider whether you’re able to pay off your balance in full each month, or whether you’ll be carrying a balance. This is especially important if you have any big transformational plans for your rental.
If you’re about to invest in renovating your place (with new flooring or a new paint job) or if you plan to make a major purchase (like a hot tub or a set of luxury furniture), you should aim for a card that offers a 0% introductory APR on purchases for 12 months, like the American Express Blue Business Cash Card. With this card, you’ll have more time to pay off your balance without accruing interest.
The Card’s Annual Fee – Annual fees vary, usually falling in the range of $0 to $100. However, there are also outliers with fees in the hundreds of dollars—in exchange for huge sign-up bonuses, like that of AmEx’s Business Platinum Card. Whether that’s worth it to you depends on how much you want to (or can) spend on a monthly fee and what the credit card offers in return.
How You Want To Be Rewarded – Think about what kind of reward will be of most value to you. The most common rewards are cash back, points that can be redeemed toward your credit card statement or loyalty programs, and travel perks like airline miles or hotel stays.
Sign-up Bonuses vs Promotional Period Offers – Some credit cards will offer sign-up bonuses (like the above-mentioned AmEx’s Business Platinum Card which gives their new cardholders 120,000 Membership Rewards Points after spending $15,000 in qualifying purchases on the Card within the first 3 months). Others have promotional period offers like the Chase Ink Business Unlimited card which offers a $750 cashback bonus after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Best Business Credit Card for Airbnb Hosts
After considering and comparing the benefits and drawbacks of different credit cards, we find that the best credit card for Airbnb hosts (and small business owners) is the American Express Blue Business Cash Card (and NerdWallet’s monthly “Best Business Credit Cards” ranking agrees with us).
The American Express Blue Business Cash Card is the best overall choice since you can earn 2% cash back on everyday eligible business purchases of up to $50,000 per calendar year. After that, cardholders earn 1% cash back on every purchase, and it’s automatically credited to your statement. As a new cardholder, you can earn a $250 statement credit if you make $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. The annual fee is 0%.
As an alternative, the AmEx Blue Business Plus Card carries basically the same benefits as the card above, but rather than earning cash, you’ll earn points that you can redeem toward your credit card statement or loyalty programs. New members can earn 15,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $3,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months.
Alternative Business Credit Cards for Airbnb Hosts
If you’re a heavy spender, you might also consider the Capital One Spark Cash Plus card since it comes with 2% cash back on everything. A higher cash back rate of 5% can be earned on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. The drawback is that the annual fee is $150.
Capital One also has a solution for travelers. With Capital One Spark Miles for Business, you can earn unlimited 2x miles per dollar on every purchase without any limits, miles expiration date, or category restrictions. If you spend $4,500 on purchases within the first 3 months, you’ll also get a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles (equal to $500 in travel). The annual fee for the first year is $0, but in subsequent years it comes at a cost of $95.
Alternatives to Small Business Cards
Spending habits and goals can come in many forms, so here are some additional options that can help you benefit from your Airbnb expenditures.
Are you a regular at Amazon? You can get rewarded for your purchases with Amazon Credit Cards. They have several options (Amazon Rewards Visa Card, Amazon Business American Express Card, and more), so you can choose what suits you. For example, with the Amazon Rewards Visa card, you’ll get $60 as a welcome bonus and 3% back when shopping at Amazon. With the Amazon Business American Express card, you can choose between earning 3% back on the first $120,000 in purchases each calendar year or 60-day terms on U.S. purchases at Amazon Business, AWS, Amazon.com, and Whole Foods Market.
If you have big home improvement plans, you can consider the American Express Lowe’s Business Rewards Card. You’ll earn 5% cash back on purchases made on your card at Lowe’s for the first 6 months, and after that, you’ll earn 2% cash back.
Another card that is great for renovation rewards is the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card. You get to pick a category of your choice and earn 3% cashback. For fixing up your property, you can choose the ‘home improvement and furnishings’ category that covers both supplies and contractors (plumbers, electricians, landscapers, and carpenters). You’ll also get 2% back on grocery stores and wholesale clubs on the first $2,500 spent per quarter in these categories combined, and 1% back on all other purchases.
What’s better than earning rewards and reducing your Airbnb costs while spending money on improving your business? When you think about it, not only will you get cash back and other benefits, but you’ll also invest in your short-term rental which will help you attract new guests or justify increasing the price per night. Either way, you can up your revenue and reap rewards along the way.