It’s the question on every startup owner’s mind: “What can I use to pay for all this?”

As an entrepreneur, I’m quite familiar with that struggle. When I started my business, I knew I had to get creative to make sure everything was paid for on time and in full. My solution? Credit cards. And I didn’t just use credit cards to get started—I used them throughout my company’s life cycle.

I did my homework and compared the pros and cons for all kinds of credit cards to determine which would work for me. If you’re wondering which credit cards would be best for the current stage of your startup or small business, consider these recommendations:

Stage 1: Seed and Development

During the early stages of starting my business, I needed the flexibility of a card without a hard spending limit. I turned to my American Express card, and it served me well. Using the card allowed me to pay without cash and gave me extra time to bring in funds before bills were due.

In 2003, there were very few credit card options for startup owners and even fewer perks for everyday credit cards. But today, so many options are available that your choice should be based on what you ultimately need in order to get your business up and running. If you’re traveling often, for example, a card with airline perks is a better option than one that offers a small percentage of cash back on certain purchases.

Recommendation: American Express or a card that earns airline miles

Stage 2: Stable Startup

Once your business plans are set, it’s time to get to work. The costs of contractors and supplies can add up quickly, so a card with a lower interest rate and a longer payoff period will likely be your best bet. At this stage, I used my Discover Cash Back Rewards credit card for the majority of my recurring monthly expenses. I knew what my balance would be at the end of every month, and I liked having the option of getting more cash back rewards for my purchases.

The card worked during my company’s startup phase, and I continued to rely on it as the business grew. I made sure things like renewing my website and domain registry was set to auto-renew with my Discover card on file.

Consider the specific items you need to purchase for your business, and if you have similar recurring expenses, Discover will offer you similar benefits.

Recommendation: Discover

Stage 3: Maturity and Possible Exit

By the time I got to the exit stage with my company, I had all of my business expenses—even contractors I paid through PayPal—tied to my American Express credit card. Why? It’s simple: For accounting purposes, it was easier to manage one credit card account, one payment each month, and one set of statements to review come tax time.

My business had a very steady income, and paying the bill was never an issue. I took advantage of the generous rewards program and used points to get supplies and upgrade my smartphone. When it came time for prospective buyers to review my accounting, expenses, and the overall financial health of the business, the painstaking process of reviewing the books was easier because I was using just one account.

Recommendation: American Express

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For more information, take a look at my in-depth analysis of various credit cards at CreditLoan.com to see if there’s one that suits your business’s unique needs best. 

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Daniel Wesley

Daniel Wesley is a Florida-based entrepreneur with a degree in nuclear medicine. His work has been featured in Forbes, WSJ, CBS MoneyWatch, and TIME Magazine. He is the founder and editor-in-chief at creditloan.com. You can find him on Twitter.

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