Which is the best credit card to earn Avios from spending by your small business?
There are four contenders:
- Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa (£105, convertible to 10,500 Avios, bonus)
- British Airways Accelerating Business American Express (2,200 On Business points bonus)
- American Express Business Platinum (40,000 Amex points bonus = 40,000 Avios)
- American Express Business Gold (20,000 Amex points bonus = 20,000 Avios)
Our last review of American Express Business Platinum is here. This card has a generous bonus of 40,000 Membership Rewards points if you can spend £6,000 in six months. You qualify for the bonus as long as you haven’t had any personal or business Platinum, Gold or Green Amex cards in the past six months. You can apply here.
There is also American Express Business Gold. This offers a sign-up bonus of 20,000 Membership Rewards points if you can spend £3,000 in six months. Our full review of Amex Business Gold is here. This card is FREE for the first year. You can apply here.
Which of the dedicated Avios-earning cards is the best?
Today I want to do a ‘compare and contrast’ on the two new kids on the block. 2019 saw the launch of the British Airways Accelerating Business American Express and the Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa credit card.
Our full review of the British Airways Accelerating Business American Express credit card (2,200 On Business points sign-up bonus) is here. Our full review of the Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa credit card (£105 bonus, convertisble into 10,500 Avios) is here.
Both cards seem to take advantage of a loophole in the EU interchange fee regulations which means that they do not apply to corporate products. SME cards are now far more lucrative for issuers and we can expect to see more of them. We can also expect to see issuers pushing the boundaries over what counts as a ‘small business’. Sell a few things on eBay? Got a ‘buy to let’? This may soon be enough, although (at least for eBay sellers) it won’t be enough at present.
In the blue corner ….. BA Amex Business
This funky looking card launched in September 2019:
The full name is the British Airways American Express Accelerating Business credit card, but I’ll stick with ‘BA Amex Business’.
You can apply, and find full details, on this page of the Amex website.
Interest rate information: representative APR 80.3% variable, including the £210 annual fee, based on an assumed credit limit of £1200. The interest rate on purchases is 22.2%.
Here are the headline details:
Annual fee: £210
Sign-up bonus: 2,200 On Business points if you spend £3,000 within six months (this is equivalent to around 9,000 Avios if used for Economy flights, or 4,500 Avios if used for Business Class flights)
Earning rate: 1.5 Avios per £1 spent
Additional benefits: An additional 0.5 On Business points per £1 spent with British Airways, an additional 3,000 On Business points if you spend £20,000 in a card year
Foreign exchange fee: 2.99%
If you don’t know much about the British Airways On Business loyalty scheme, my review is here. The review includes a promo code for an extra 1,500 On Business points when you sign up.
The eligibility rules are complex. The On Business scheme requires you to have a VAT number in order to join. This creates a de facto turnover minimum of £85,000 per year, and excludes charities and other businesses which do not charge VAT.
However, I spoke to American Express and they told me – in writing – that you can override this requirement by applying for the BA Amex Business credit card. If you are accepted, an On Business account will be opened for you even if your company does not meet the VAT threshold.
This statement contradicts the application website, however, which says “You understand and meet the British Airways On Business requirements.”
You also cannot apply if your company is a travel agency, ticket brokerage firm or consolidator or your company has an existing corporate incentive agreement with British Airways, Iberia or American Airlines.
There are few other requirements to get BA Amex Business. To quote:
- The business has a current UK Bank or Building Society account
- You/The business have/has no County Court Judgements for non-payment of debt
- You are aged 18 or over
- You have a permanent UK home address
- You will pay the annual Cardmembership fee of £210
Basically ….. as long as you have a business bank account, you should have no trouble meeting the other criteria.
In the slightly darker blue corner ….. Capital On Tap Business Rewards
The Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa card looks like this:
You can apply, and find full details, on this page of the Capital On Tap website. Don’t forget to use promo code headforpoints for a higher bonus – see below.
Interest rate information: Your interest rate is based on your business profile and can be as low as 9.9% APR. The standard interest rate for marketing purposes is 39.9% APR.
Here are the headline details:
Annual fee: £99
Sign-up bonus: £100 cashback or 10,000 Avios if you spend £5,000 within 90 days (this is increased to £105 cashback or 10,500 Avios if you apply using promo code headforpoints)
Earning rate: 1p cashback or 1 Avios per £1 spent
Additional benefits: None
Foreign exchange fee: None
The Capital On Tap cards are aimed at sole traders as well as small businesses. The company appears to be flexible in who they accept:
if you are a UK limited company or limited partnership with turnover of £24,000+ then you should be eligible
if you are a VAT registered sole trader then you should be eligible.
if you are a sole trader under the VAT threshold but above £24,000 then applications are looked at on a case by case basis – if you have a functioning website and are clearly in business then I am told you should be eligible
Applicants must not have a CCJ against themselves or their business in the past 12 months.
Which card comes out on top?
As usual, it isn’t as simple as that. British Airways American Express Accelerating Business and Capital On Tap Business Rewards are not entirely comparable.
Let’s look at two key factors first:
BA Amex Business is, well, an Amex. Capital On Tap Business Rewards is a Visa. There is a substantial difference in the acceptance rate of Amex vs Visa in the B2B sector. Even if you get the BA Amex Business card, it won’t be accepted everywhere.
BA Amex Business has a 2.99% FX fee. Capital On Tap Business Rewards has no FX fees. If you spend a lot of money outside the UK, this is a key differentiator.
Let’s do some maths
For simplicity, let’s assume that:
- 100% of your spending could be done with an Amex, and
- you value an Avios at 1p, and
- all your spend is in Sterling, and
- your British Airways spend is nominal
These calculations ignore the value of the sign-up bonus in Year 1.
Annual spend of £15,000:
- BA Amex Business – £210 fee offset by 22,500 Avios earned (1.5 per £1, £225-worth), net gain of £15
- Capital On Tap – £99 fee offset by £150 cashback or 15,000 Avios earned (1 per £1, £150-worth), net gain of £51
Annual spend of £25,000:
- BA Amex Business – £210 fee offset by 37,500 Avios earned (1.5 per £1, £375-worth) PLUS the annual bonus of 3,000 On Business points (equivalent to 12,000 Avios of value @ 1p per point) for a net gain of £285
- Capital On Tap – £99 fee offset by 25,000 Avios earned (1 per £1, £250-worth), net gain of £151
Annual spend of £50,000:
- BA Amex Business – £210 fee offset by 75,000 Avios earned (1.5 per £1, £750-worth) PLUS the annual bonus of 3,000 On Business points (equivalent to 12,000 Avios of value @ 1p per point), net gain of £660
- Capital On Tap – £99 fee offset by 50,000 Avios earned (1 per £1, £500-worth), net gain of £401
As you can see, for higher spenders the BA Accelerating Business card is more attractive – on paper.
In reality, I’m not sure the numbers above mean much because of the issue of Amex acceptance amongst B2B suppliers. Capital On Tap, in the real world, will perform better because Visa credit cards are accepted more widely.
The 3% FX fee also cuts the Amex return sharply. In the £50,000 annual spend example, if just £10,000 of that spend was in foreign currencies then the £300 FX fee incurred would wipe out the additional rewards and leave Capital On Tap on top.
In Year 1, Capital On Tap is also a no-brainer even if you get BA Amex Business for the long term. As long as you use the headforpoints promo code, you’re getting £105 cashback or 10,500 Avios for the £99 fee.
Both BA Amex Business and Capital On Tap Business Rewards have something to offer small businesses.
In general …..
Small spenders may do better with Capital On Tap, larger spenders may do better with BA Amex Business
Those with lots of overseas spend may do better with Capital On Tap, those with mainly UK spend may do better with BA Amex Business
Those with lots of suppliers who do not take Amex may do better with Capital On Tap, those with a lot of Amex-friendly spend (hello, heavy Google Adwords and Facebook advertisers) may do better with BA Amex Business
Those with substantial British Airways spend may do better with BA Amex Business due to the bonus On Business points
You can apply for the British Airways American Express Accelerating Business card here.
You can apply for the Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa here. Don’t forget to use the headforpoints promo code for your extra £5 / 500 Avios sign-up bonus.