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Business Credit Cards for Small Businesses | SME South Africa

Top Business Credit Cards for Small Businesses in South Africa

Updated on May 22, 2024

FNB Business Gold Credit Card - Best for Rewards for Business

    Zero fees on selected purchases

    Advanced card security

    Free Global Travel Insurance

    Flexible repayment options

    Expense management reporting

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Nedbank Small Business Credit Card - Best for Startups and Sole-Proprietors

    Flexible repayment options

    Revolving facility

    Additional cards available

    Receive up to 55 days interest-free

    Free rewards programme

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Standard Bank Business Credit Card - Best for Cardless Payment Solutions

    Control & track spending limits

    Automatic card protection

    Advanced online security

    Links to SnapScan or Masterpass

    Free lost card protection

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Absa Business Credit Card - Best for Business Travel

    Revolving credit facility

    No transaction fees at point-of-sales

    Discounted rates from Elite car park

    Discount on Bidvest lounge access

    Automatic travel insurance

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Introduction

Many business owners make use of business financing to manage cash flow, pay suppliers and buy equipment and office supplies. Business owners can access funding either through the traditional route of taking out a business loan or they can make use of a business credit card.

Business credit cards are not only useful for emergencies, but can also be used for daily necessities such as purchasing fuel, online shopping for office supplies, and withdrawing money to pay suppliers or freelancers. Many financial institutions offer an additional card with the business credit card, or you can opt for an add-on like Purchase Card or Charge Card, which can allow employees to purchase goods or buy fuel on behalf of the business.

Speaking to Hippo.co.za, award-winning certified financial planner (CFP) and entrepreneur, Gerald Mwandiambira said, “Before choosing a card, you need to understand the annual fees charged and, most importantly, the interest rate you’ll pay when you have used some of the available funds.”

There are several factors to consider when applying for a credit card, including annual interest rates and rewards programmes, business travel, and insurance.

Main Features

Purchasing convenience

The biggest advantage of credit cards is convenience. In addition to the main credit card, to help with the smooth running of your business, many financial institutions offer additional cards that can be used by employees to make daily purchases such as office supplies or fuel. Business owners also have the option of having a Purchase Card or Charge Card, as an add-on, which you can pay for on an annual basis.

Another option is Virtual Pay Cards, which allow you to make online purchases without using your credit card. Other alternative ways to pay without using your card are phone apps like SnapScan or Masterpass, which is a feature that some credit cards offer. Most business credit cards charge no fees when you make point-of-sale purchases.

Safe online and in-store purchases

To prevent online fraud or card theft, credit cards are equipped with Chip & PIN technology and other online security features such as a messaging system that keeps you updated with any trading activity happening on your card.

Some business credit cards also come with 3D Secure verification for safe online shopping. This means that you will be asked to validate transactions made over the internet.

Track and manage spending limits

Many business credit cards now come with business reporting tools. These tools enable business owners to view statements and any account activity via the banking app and internet banking. With the reporting functionality you can also manage activities like your spending limits, as well as put spending limits on additional cards used by employees.

Easy access to cash

Some business credit cards offer a revolving credit facility which automatically allows you to borrow money repeatedly up to a set limit. You also have the option to apply in the bank to withdraw cash.

Free travel insurance & other rewards

Free travel insurance, as well as access to 24/7 global customer service are some of the additional benefits you can get with your business credit card along with rewards programmes. You can get points for swiping with your card, making use of a bank’s digital platforms, buying fuel, or for buying at selected retailers. Additionally, you can even get rewarded for making your monthly repayments on time.

Flexible repayment options

Depending on what the terms are, some of the ways to repay the money you owe on your business credit card include: (1) pay a certain percentage per month over a particular period, (2) opt for the budget facility which means you can choose to pay back the money in three to 60 months, or (3) settle the balance within the grace period of interest-free days.

Most financial institutions offer a grace period where you can settle your account’s balance and no interest will be charged during this period. On average you can get between 35 to 55 interest-free days.

Free card protection

Many banks offer free lost card protection, which means that you get automatic protection against card fraud or misuse. Some may ask for an administration fee to get card protection. Generally, you get 24/7 customer service assistance in case you deal with card fraud.

Pricing

Pricing

Most business credit cards have separate fees for every transaction, this can include activities such as; swiping the card, withdrawing cash, making a transfer or having your card replaced.

Consider the following:

Interest rates – These are charged annually and each financial institution has its own pricing/ rates every year, which vary by product. You can ask your bank or financial institution’s relationship manager what their annual interest rates are.

Once-off fees – This could be either a once-off initiation fee (administration fee) or a card replacement fee.

Monthly fees – This is a monthly card fee that excludes the repayment instalment you have to pay each month. Depending on your terms, the monthly instalment can be as little as 3% to 5% of the outstanding balance. This fee also excludes the interest you will be charged annually. Add-ons such as a Business Garage Card can be charged either monthly or annually.

Rewards programme – This can either be free or charged monthly, depending on the financial institution and what they offer.

Additional fees – You may also be required to pay fees for the following: Purchase Card, a Travel Lodge Card, Virtual Pay and a Garage Card.

Buyer's Guide

Consider the following:

Credit limit

Your annual revenue will determine your credit limit. When you apply for a business credit card you will be asked for your annual turnover. This will determine the maximum amount of money a lender (financial institution) will allow you to borrow. Your turnover can also determine what package the financial institution offers you; each package offers different benefits and terms, including the interest rates charged.

Costs

Mandatory costs that you will be required to pay every month are; a service fee and the interest rate charged on the total amount owing.

Interest rates will vary from financial institution to financial institution, as well as credit card products offered.

Other costs you may have to factor in are add-ons such as a Purchase Card or Travel Lodge Card or a Garage Card that each have their own pricing.

With regards to rewards programmes, while many are free, some charge a monthly fee. This also applies with lost card protection which is offered free by most financial institutions, you may have to pay for it with others.

Note that you will be charged per individual transaction such as for cash withdrawals or internet banking transfers. In some cases, transactions such as card swipes are free.

Affordability

Each financial institution has its own annual pricing rates, so do your research to find out what will be charged for.

Your credit limit is also based on your annual turnover and what you can afford.

Application process

Documentation needed to apply for a business credit card includes your ID, income statements or other proof of income such as an earnings letter from your accountant.

Some banks may require that you have existing business bank accounts to apply.

Rewards programme

There are many different types of rewards programmes. Some of the main benefits you can expect from such programmes are discounts, cash-back and points to spend on fuel and office supplies.

Benefits of a Credit Card

  • Manage cash flow – Improve cash flow management by closing cash flow gaps.
  • Access to employees – Allow employees to buy fuel and other office supplies on behalf of your company with a Garage or Purchase Card.
  • Track spending – Manage and track spending limits and budget for expenses.
  • Earn rewards – Get discounts or earn rewards points to spend on flights and other purchases.

Compare our best picks

FNB Business Gold Credit Card

Pros

Rewards programs

Convenience

Improved cash flow

Security

Travel benefits

Multiple card options

Cons

Unlike other business credit cards, you get 35 interest-free days instead of 55 days.

Interest charges

Potential for debt

Creditworthiness impact

FNB offers business credit cards designed to help SMEs manage expenses, improve control, and potentially earn rewards.

Nedbank Small Business Credit Card

Pros

Revolving credit line

Personalized credit limits

Up to 55 days interest-free

Greenbacks rewards

Cons

Interest charges

Minimum turnover requirement

May not be suitable for all businesses

The Nedbank Small Business Credit Card can be a good option for startups and small businesses that are looking for a way to improve their cash flow and earn rewards on their business spending.

Standard Bank Business Credit Card

Pros

Up to 55 days of interest-free credit

Free lost card protection

International acceptance

Advanced fraud protection

Basic automatic travel insurance cover

UCount Rewards for Business

Cons

Monthly fee for UCount Rewards

Annual fee

Interest rates

The Standard Business Credit Card is ideal for business owners who want to have a secured online shopping experience for themselves and their employees.

Absa Business Credit Card

Pros

Interest-free period

Security features

Convenience

Optional features

Cons

Potential fees

Debt trap

ABSA’s Visa Business Revolve Credit Card offers a revolving credit facility which means you can withdraw money and repay. This is ideal for small and medium enterprises that want to manage everyday banking expenses and improve cash flow.

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