Do you have good credit? Can you spend wisely on your credit cards, pay on time and stick to your plan?
Here's what I recommend.
Set up an LLC for your business if you haven't already.
Start building up your business credit. Apply using your EIN and company name, NOT your SSN. They won't give you much at first, but over the years you'll get a lot. I've been in business since 2010 with the same LLC, and have been working up my lines of credit since.
Now I have 6 figures in unsecured lines of credit that I can use, as well as a tremendous credit score. The best part? It's in the business' name. Not that I would ever seek to default on it, but that's a nice thing to remember.
Open accounts in your business name (I recommend the following cards in order: Amex Platinum, Amex SPG rewards, Capital One Venture, Spark Business (if they'll still give you 2 points for each dollar you spend or 2% of purchases)
Spending in this way also makes my taxes WAY easier since I never need to save receipts. I just print out my year end statement for all my business cards and send them to my accountant at the end of the year. That and banks and brokerages and K1s and a million other things, but at least I'm not digging through bags of receipts, because I know exactly where all my money went. Autopay linked to the appropriate checking accounts, all tracked through Mint with email reminders, and you're all set. All banking done in 10 minutes a month.
Someone mischarged you? Capital One and Amex have been stellar in working with me and my team to dispute transactions and get my money back. If you pay merchants with cash, good luck.
The points you get work out to be between 2 and 3% cash value of whatever you purchase AND they give you preferred rates.
So on my Cap one cards, I get free uber, lyft, train tickets and plane tickets. I spend for business on the business cards and personal on the personal cards. I then transfer the miles from my personal card to my business, and since all my travel is business travel, all the points go to redeeming that. Just this morning I got $250 in free stuff by redeeming my points using their travel eraser.
On Amex Plat, you get some even more interesting perks:
Priority Pass, which gets you into most airport lounges (usually at least 1-2 in each airport)
Gold status at hotels (Starwood Preferred, which is the next thing I'm going to recommend) Hilton, etc.
Gold status at rental cars, and a bunch of other rewards.
Upgrades and discounts for just having the card at random places.
NO foreign transaction fees. You get the exact bank rate at the time. (Same with the venture card)
On Amex SPG you get 2 SPG points for every dollar spent, which with my spending ends up being A LOT of free hotel nights a year. Plus with Amex I get gold status, so I get additional points and perks when I stay, like better rooms, bonus points, and more cool stuff.
Capital one Venture and Spark are very convenient, accepted most places Amex is not, and give a solid 2% cash back on every purchase you make, which can be redeemed for any travel purchase you make.
There are many other benefits which I did not outline, but I estimate I get $10000+ worth of free stuff (retail price) after the fees in any given year.
I've had other cards that I signed up for and canceled because the bonus points were good but the ongoing perks were kinda meh, so as a general rule I shoot for cards that give me 2% or more on my purchases. Most cards charge a merchant 3-3.5% so you might as well get that cash value back from them when you spend your money.
Now the key is not overspending, as studies have shown that using credit causes you to spend more. Which I have found to be true.
Here's some tips for that: If you cannot control your spending, don't use credit. Just stop and use a debit card/cash until you can keep your spending in control for an entire calendar year. The damage you will do otherwise will far outweigh your perks, and the companies and banks are counting on this.
Leave your cards at home or locked in the hotel safe when you go to events where you anticipate you will be sold to.
Leave your cards at home when you go out drinking, bring cash and a cell phone for an uber and that's it.
Plan ahead and spend according to the plan.
Associate and reinforce good feelings to saving and earning, (saving is sexy, earning the most powerful thing you can do) instead of feelings of anxiety, doubt or fear.
Over time, the habit will form. Just be consistent.
Enjoy the perks!
P.S. As one of my mentors always says: points are a pain in the ass, just focus on earning more cash, and forget about the points. I agree with this statement, but a little bit of set up can go a long way toward padding your travel experiences and enjoying the finer things in life.
Here's a link to a promo that Amex is running right now, where you can get bonus points (equivalent to 5 hotel stays) for signing up.
Here's another card called the Amex Business Platinum Card, with another host of benefits, including their Working Capital Terms program which allows you to float cash for up to 90 days with very low interest.
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