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10 secrets to maximizing credit card rewards for your business

(Business Finance) Credit card rewards are an easy way to cash in, but most people don’t know how to use them properly or where extra money is hiding – here, we tell you how to find it!

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Mo’ money, less problems

Sorry, but Notorious B.I.G. was wrong – more money doesn’t mean more problems, it means less problems like being able to pay staff and keep the lights on. When you lead a company, you’re responsible for squeezing every penny out of profits that you possibly can, so whether you’re a solopreneur or running a Fortune 500 brand, there may be one more stone unturned – credit cards.

When credit cards are issued for executives and various staff, there are rewards just waiting to be claimed that thousands fail to do. That just doesn’t make financial sense. So how exactly can you maximize credit rewards for your business? Matthew Goldman, CEO & Co-Founder, Wallaby Financial offers ten secrets below in his own words that you’ll only see here on AG:

  1. Charge everything you can: It sounds simple, but more than half of B2B payments are still done by check according to the 2013 AFP Electronic Payments Survey. Many vendors, large and small, will accept credit cards for purchases, sometimes up to $25,000 per charge. As we’ll see in the other tips, you can earn a lot of money with credit cards.
  2. Use a business card, not a personal card: For many small businesses, the owner makes most of the purchases and just uses his or her own credit card. These cards aren’t designed or optimized for businesses. The best business cards give bonus points at office supply stores, on gas and other big business expense categories.
  3. Know your travel and get the right card: If travel is part of your business, you probably find that you go to the same places on the same airlines and stay at the same hotels over and over. But do you have the right card? With a business airlines or hotel card, you will earn bonus points on those purchases which you can redeem for a well-earned vacation or to save costs at the office.
  4. Take advantage of built-in discount programs: There’s more than just rewards out there. American Express business cards come with OPEN, which offers cash back discounts at FedEx Office, Hertz Rentacar and HP, among other partners.
  5. Look for relationship benefits: Banks such as Bank of America, and some community banks, will boost your rewards (up to 75%) for having large deposits or investment accounts with them. This can make a mediocre card into an amazing rewards card.
  6. Redeem frequently: Points often lose value over time. As a business, you may be spending in excess of $250,000 per year on credit cards and earning hundreds of thousands of points. Don’t let them lose value or expire, use them frequently for travel, discounts, and cash back.
  7. Use transferrable points to stack up the rewards: Cards like American Express Membership Rewards Cards or Chase Ink business cards have transferrable points. This means you can take those Amex Membership Rewards Points or Chase Ultimate Rewards points and deposit them in another program (like American Airlines or Hilton Hotels). When you do this, the points stack up faster leading to bigger and better redemptions.
  8. Take advantage of built-in protections: Many business cards come with rental car, travel and other insurance protections. It’s not cash back, but it can save you big money to decline expense insurance and warranty coverage at the store and you can depend on your card issuer to take care of it.
  9. Have a solid 2% everywhere card: Whether you pursue the strategy of using multiple business cards to maximize your rewards or not, your everyday business card should be earning you 2% cash back on everything. Capital One’s Spark Cash Card just does this, meaning you pay less on everything you charge.
  10. Take advantage of lucrative sign-up bonuses: Now that you’re ready to go sign-up for some new credit cards, get the ones with the biggest sign-up offers. Many cards will waive a first year fee and provide 10,000 to 100,000 points for achieving spending in the first few months. These can be worth hundreds–even up to $1,000. These bonuses will get you kicked off to a great rewards start.

How many of these tips had you taken action on? And how many had you not considered? If you’re like most professionals, you just found some extra dollars to line the company pockets, congrats!

The American Genius is news, insights, tools, and inspiration for business owners and professionals. AG condenses information on technology, business, social media, startups, economics and more, so you don’t have to.

Business Finance

Ramp: Corporate card launches to push you to spend LESS

(FINANCE) Ramp up your biz with higher credit lines and simple tools for expense monitoring. Ramp wants to take your worries away with their features.

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You launch your startup. You get the business going and need corporate cards for expenses. Standard issuers may decline to serve you because they see your business as a risk. Or, they offer you a low credit limit. But, you need to purchase pens, paper, coffee, and beer (you are a startup).

Before you head down the rabbit hole of “how will we pay for all those breakfast tacos?” there’s a new corporate card company ready to serve your needs. Ramp launched recently with the goal of providing higher limit corporate cards for startups.

Not only does Ramp provide corporate cards, it makes it easier for businesses to control employee spending. Rather than giving everyone a card with unlimited spending amounts, or only giving cards to certain employees, Ramp allows you to create spending rules and set spending limits for employees.

Also, there are no fees for using the cards. Every employee can have their own white card without any fees attached. The company plans to earn income through transaction fees, just like other card companies.

And, according to this story in Tech Crunch, Ramp allows you to integrate with some accounting software and to centralize receipts and attach them to expenses.

The company has launched with $25 million in backing and has several high-profile startups already using its services, including Candid, Truebill, 8 Sleep and Ro.

To make things easier for companies, Ramp offers a flat 1.5% cashback rate across the board on all purchases, whether you take a ride share or purchase computers, you get the cashback regardless. Ramp said startups can expect limits set 10 to 20 percent higher than traditional card companies.

The company may create competition for Brex, which launched in 2017. Unlike Brex, which has a more complicated points systems, Ramp aims to make cashback, monitoring and setting spending limits a simpler process.

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Business Finance

Why product liability insurance is critical for companies

(BUSINESS FINANCE) The best way to protect your company, and more importantly your customers, is product liability insurance. It keeps your standards up, and lawsuits down.

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If your small business manufactures products, you need to think about product liability insurance. No matter how good your designs are, or how polished your quality assurance strategy is, there’s a chance one of your products could come to harm a customer. And if that happens, your customer could contact a personal injury attorney and bring a case against you. Personal injury cases are somewhat common, and could cost you hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars if you’re not protected.

Product liability insurance coverage could protect you in the event of such a case. But what exactly is it, how does it work, and how are you supposed to get it?

The Basics of Product Liability Coverage

Let’s start with a high-level overview of product liability insurance. While different carriers and different policies will afford you different types and levels of protection, most product liability coverage is designed to shield your business from the fallout of a company-produced product that causes injury or harm to third parties.

Product liability insurance typically covers the legal fees associated with any product liability lawsuit, as well as medical costs, compensatory damages, and business damages that arise from the incident.

How Products Can Fail

How does a business become liable for a harmful product?

There are four main ways consumers can be harmed:

• Design flaws. If your product is designed in some flawed way, and the consumer gets hurt because of it, they could have a case against you. For example, if you create a deep fryer product with a locking mechanism to prevent burns, but that locking mechanism is weak or easily overridden, a customer could get burned as a result of using the product.

• Manufacturing flaws. There could also be manufacturing flaws. The design itself might be practically perfect, but if a batch of products are made with an incorrect material, or aren’t made to specifications, they could still fail in a way that harms a consumer; for example, a skateboard with a loose wheel might cause someone to fall.

• Marketing flaws. Your product could also be marketed or advertised in a way that eventually leads to consumer harm. If you falsely advertise the capabilities of your product, and a consumer follows them and hurts themselves in the process, they could hypothetically sue you. The same is true if you claim there are no downsides to a product that has downsides.

• Misuse. Even if a consumer misuses your product, your company may still be held at fault. For example, if you don’t specifically warn a customer that misuse could lead to harm, and caution them against specific forms of misuse, they could ultimately bring a case against you.

As you can see, there are many ways your products could lead to a customer getting hurt—and some of them are hard to see coming. While you can implement safeguards at every stage of the process, there’s always going to be a chance that one of your products fails in some unseen, unpredictable way.

The Extent of Damages

You may wonder if you truly need product liability insurance. After all, in the unlikely event that a product fails, you may be able to cover the costs yourself. However, this is extremely risky. The costs of a single product liability case can be devastating, and if you face a class-action lawsuit, or multiple lawsuits, there may be no chance of recovery. Remember, you could be responsible not only for compensating the customer for their injury and their pain and suffering, but also for covering the legal fees of both sides.

Some cases can cost millions, or even tens of millions of dollars.

Product Liability Insurance Rates

Most product liability insurance policies require you to pay a monthly, or other type of regular premium for your coverage. These rates will vary based on a number of factors, including the size of your business, the type of product you’re manufacturing, the extent of your distribution, and how much coverage you desire. Some insurance companies may also want to conduct inspections, reviewing the design and manufacturing of your product firsthand so they have a better sense of your safety standards.

Still, product liability insurance rates are typically reasonable. Shop around for the right insurance provider, and consider bundling your product liability insurance policy with other policies to lower your rates even further.

Conclusion

If your business designs or manufacturers products, product liability insurance is a practical must. It’s easy to get a policy, and most policies are relatively inexpensive, but this safety net could save you from shelling out millions as a result of an unforeseen product flaw. No matter how safe your operations are, or how many supervisory checks you conduct, there’s always going to be a chance that someone is injured while using your product—and that’s when your policy will kick in.

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Business Finance

Small metros may have cheaper homes, but they might not have the jobs

(BUSINESS NEWS) Study by Indeed finds that small to mid-sized metros offer higher adjusted salaries, but don’t pack your bags just yet because your job may not be there

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When I told my parents how much my partner and I would be paying for rent at our new apartment, they quickly pointed out that I could purchase a home for that kind of money in my hometown.

Indeed recently published a study where they determined which cities have the highest salaries after accounting for the cost of living, an adjusted salary. Every city on the list is a small or mid-sized metro area which is why they dubbed their findings, “the small-city advantage.” No surprise to me, my hometown made the list.

My parents are right, I could literally buy a home for the amount of money I pay in rent every month to live in a large metro area. But the equation that determines where I, and many other workers should live, is more complex than salary minus housing.

Indeed’s study also shows that bigger metros have faster job growth and lower unemployment compared to these small to mid-sized metros. This is why the number one city on their list, Brownsville-Harlingen, TX, also has a higher unemployment rate than the national average. Some of the other cities on the list are Fort Smith, AR-OK, Toledo, OH, Laredo, TX, and Rockford, IL.

These areas are cheaper to live in, in part, because they may not offer the kind of job opportunities, and therefore social mobility, you see in larger metro areas. Sure, I could make my money go further in my hometown, but the chances of me finding a job in my industry there are smaller.

Your field of work does matter when considering whether or not the “small-city advantage” could work for you. If you work in tech or finance, two traditionally high-paying fields, then this advantage doesn’t apply.

“Before adjusting for living costs, typical technology salaries are 27% higher in two-million-plus metros than metros with fewer than 250,000 people. Even after adjusting for those costs, tech salaries are still 5% higher in the largest metros than in the smallest ones,” finds Indeed.

If a huge tech company offering thousands of high-paying jobs moved into a city like Brownsville-Harlingen, TX, over time it would get more expensive to live there. This is why people were freaking out so much when Amazon was trying to decide where to locate HQ2. It’s the hamster wheel that is currently driving income inequality in some of America’s largest major metro areas.

Finding the right place to call home is never going to be a single factor decision. Yes, salary is a huge factor, as is the cost of living, but there are also lifestyle factors to consider. What kind of opportunities would you have in this city? How much will it cost to move there? How will this effect the other members of your household?

It’s nice to play the ‘ditch the corporate world and buy a country house’ fantasy after a long day at work, but the reality is far more complex.

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