Amex woos small business with another 'gold' card

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Right on the heels of securing a partnership with Amazon to benefit small business owners, American Express is launching a new Business Gold Card designed to reward spending in key categories and offer extra management tools.

The metal Business Gold Card allows users to earn four times the rewards points for expenditures on the top two categories in which the business spends the most each month. The rewards incentive covers the first $150,000 spent each calendar year.

In addition, the card offers a 25 percent airline bonus on eligible airfare purchases, and gives cardholders access to a year's subscription to G Suite Basic office tools from Google and the ZipRecruiter online employment marketplace.
"Amex quarterly earnings were strong and the Amazon deal was off the charts, so why not hone the other products and keep them sharp?" said Brian Riley, director of card services for Mercator Advisory Group. "It's just a good idea."

Amex revealed the Amazon Business American Express card last month, creating a partnership to benefit its business owners who order often from Amazon while also creating a win-win for Amex — with the business owners not only accepting Amex cards but also using them to buy supplies.

In many ways, Amex is testing different complementary products to help keep the Amazon partnership exciting, Riley added. "Giving discounts with relevant vendors is kind of a refreshing approach, and the suite of values is really good too," Riley said.

Any time major card issuers engage in offering business or consumer cards that feature new twists for earning points or rewarding usage, it creates a "volleying back and forth" between competing products for consumer attention, Riley said. "That's always good for the cardholder."

Two months ago Discover revealed business rewards and perks for small businesses through the "It" card, a move seeking a competitive edge with Chase or Amex business products.

Amex has established six categories from which Business Gold Card users' spending will be tracked, with the top two categories obtaining the extra rewards points. The categories are airfare purchased directly from the airlines; and U.S. purchases at restaurants, for advertising media, gas stations or shipping and with technology providers of hardware, software or cloud solutions.

“We understand that business owners want a simple way to earn rewards customized to the way they do business, and stay productive,” Courtney Kelso, head of U.S. commercial card products at American Express, said in a Thursday release. “Based on those insights, we designed the new Business Gold."

The card's features take the guesswork out of earning rewards, and represent a "business solution designed to truly help businesses focus their time and energy on what matters most — running and growing their business,” Kelso said.

After a few months of card use, businesses would be eligible to use Amex's Working Capital Terms for short-term financing, or Business Loans for access to term loans for working capital and financing.

The card connects with Spend Manager for organizing company expenses and receipts, and the transactions automatically transfer to Quickbooks. The card carries an annual fee of $295.

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