(Submitted by Brad Bapst, Director, Small Business Development Center, OSU South Centers)
Since I have been a freelance consultant for a while, and I am interested in maximizing my credit card rewards, I have made the decision to maximize the rewards I earn on both personal and business expenses. Although it can be tricky to keep it all separate, several strategies I employ make the process a whole lot easier.
Here’s what I do.
As we have seen most rewards credit cards offer bonus rewards in certain categories of spending. I sought out a business credit card that earns more points in categories that my personal rewards credit card does not.
For me, Chase has the best combination of personal and business cards on the market right now. For business, I use my Chase Ink Bold®, which earns 5x points on cell phone service, internet service, landline service and office supply stores plush 2x points on gas and hotels. I pair that card with my personal Chase Sapphire Preferred®, which earns 2x points on travel and dining.
I put all of my gas and hotel stays on my business card even if it is for a family trip. This way I earn 2 points per dollar which is better than if I used my personal card. I also put my internet service on my business card so I earn 5 points per dollar even though most of that service is personal, and only a portion gets deducted based on my home office square footage.
If I am out to eat with a client, a business expense, I use my personal Chase Sapphire Preferred® instead of my Chase Ink Bold® because I earn double points with the Sapphire Preferred®.
If I spend on an item outside of any of these bonus categories, I still earn 1 point per dollar, so I’m always earning.
Using the Same Rewards Platform
What I like about these two cards is that they are both on the same rewards platform so I am able to combine the points where I wouldn’t if I paired a Ink Plus® Business Credit Card with the personal rewards card from American Express.
Two added advantages of the Chase Ultimate Rewards platform are transferring points and redeeming points for travel. Both the Ink Plus® Business Credit Card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® transfer points to frequent flier partners on a 1:1 basis AND both cards’ points are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel through the UR platform.
The result is that when you have the same rewards platform, you have added flexibility to combine and redeem points. If you have business and personal cards on different networks, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
What to Watch Out For
Because I combine my expenses, I have developed a great system of tracking, keeping notes and accounting for which expenses are business vs. personal. This approach is not for the faint of heart. You need to keep up on tracking these expenses at all times. If you fall behind it can be a nightmare to sift back through your calendar, credit card statements and memory to put the right pieces of the puzzle together.
How to Avoid These Problems
First, Jot from Chase Business is great. I can tag expenses and take pictures of receipts. The only tag I really use is “Business” to denote a business expense I want to transfer to my accounting software.
For my personal card I use Expensify. This is essentially the same thing as Jot, but you can use it for any expense whereas Jot only works with your Chase business credit card.
With Expensify, I take a picture of my receipt only for purchases I want to use as business expenses. Expensify saves each receipt and any information I manually input. I then transfer these expenses to my accounting software at the end of each week.
I use Quickbooks for all of my accounting, which lets me keep detailed notes on all my expenses. Once I transfer my expenses, I make sure to add each receipt picture to my digital tax files, so I can back up any expense easily if I ever face an audit.