Restaurateurs have plenty to think about from day to day. If you’re not making sure that your delivery comes in on time or that your wet bar stays stocked ahead of the Sunday brunch rush, maybe you’re finding a way to pay for a new stand mixer for your rockstar pastry chef.

Keeping your business running smoothly means balancing long-term investments, business-as-usual invoices, and more than a few fire drills. And as different as those three things seem, they all stem from the same question: How can I pay for this?

Sometimes, your answer is clear—for the big stuff, you’ll want a small business loan. But as you get down to the smaller purchases, the question gets a little murkier. You might be able to pay off a medium-sized transaction… or maybe not. You could pay in cash for those short ribs… but should you?

This is where a business credit card is so helpful.

Using a credit card for your restaurant expenses means flexibility of paying for purchases once a month, being able to buy emergency supplies, empowering your employees to purchase goods, and perks that can put cash back into your restaurant. And all the while, you’ll be building your company’s credit score and ability to borrow money in the future.

Benefit 1: Credit Cards Help Track Expenses

You know better than anyone that restaurant budgeting is in a class of its own. You’re buying supplies, groceries, and other materials from multiple suppliers—and sometimes you don’t have the time to plan it out, either.

A business credit card will automatically categorize purchases, and keep track of your spending habits for both the regular and unexpected expenses you incur—you know, that thing you don’t have any time to do.

Most credit cards come with a suite of online tools to help monitor where you spend your cash, and how much money goes out the door every month. Some business credit cards and prepaid business debit cards will even hook directly into your business accounting software to make things even easier.

Once you start to see trends and patterns, you’ll be able to not only create better spending habits, but maybe even make some of those orders in advance by detecting trends—allowing you to save some cash along the way.

Benefit 2: Earn Perks to Directly Benefit Your Business

If you’re not making your expenses work for you through credit card points and cash back, you’re leaving a slew of perks on the table, even free money.

As a restaurant owner, you might want to take advantage of a business credit card that offers points for every dollar you spend. These can be redeemed for travel (for that vacation you never take but definitely need) or just straight cash back that you can reinvest right into your business.

Some cash back business credit cards offer a flat rate on all spending. But since you likely spend on more categories than others—dining and food likely being a couple of them—you can also pick a card that rewards you more points for spending in specific ways. And you can rack up points pretty easily if you pay invoices and recurring bills with your credit card.

If you’re in early or expansion stages, you should also consider an introductory 0% APR business credit card. This means you can make purchases without having to pay interest for a set amount of time—essentially a free-money loan. And we’ve seen periods up to 15 months! This can be a great way to make larger purchases that you can pay off over time, all while avoiding interest payments and earning points on your card.

Benefit 3: Make Emergency Expenses More Manageable

Unexpected purchases are a necessary evil—especially when you’re in the restaurant biz.

Whether you need to buy emergency limes or 50 new soup tureens without warning, a credit card allows your business to easily pay for the little (and not so little) things that pop up. If your plumbing or air conditioner tanks right before you open for dinner service, you’ll need to pay someone to do the job ASAP, so you don’t lose the evening’s revenue.

If you rely solely on cash, you simply won’t have the flexibility—and you can’t let your business’s success hinge on that.

Benefit 4: Give Your Employees Purchasing Power… But Not Too Much

Any great restaurateur knows that delegation is key. But being terrified of giving anyone access to spend on your behalf is justifiable.

An upside to business credit cards for your restaurant is the ability to empower employees while setting a spending limit. Not only do most business credit cards allow you to provision cards to multiple employees, but the majority also allow you to cap how much employees can charge. Some will even let you go as granular as setting category restrictions, too.

It’s a nice feeling to know that you can ask for help without jeopardizing your business’s credit score. Take advantage of it!

A Credit Card Now Will Help You Prepare for Your Financing Future

Getting a business credit card now will help your business earn perks and manage expenses, but these aren’t even the biggest benefits. As you’re paying off your bills on time and in full, you’ll also be building your business’ credit history.

A strong credit score, combined with a good business track record, means you’ll have your pick of options for all types of business loans and other financing options down the line. This means that the second location or global franchise you’ve always dreamed of comes that much closer to becoming a reality.

Author bio

Meredith WoodMeredith Wood is the Editor-in-Chief at Fundera, an online marketplace for small business loans that matches business owners with the best funding providers for their business. Specializing in financial advice for small business owners, Meredith is a current and past contributor to Yahoo!, Amex OPEN Forum, Fox Business, SCORE, AllBusiness and more.

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