Brex vs Ramp -  Which card is best for startups?

Our startup clients collectively spend over $60 million using these cards per quarter, and we have extensive experience training and advising our clients on how to get the most out of both Brex and Ramp. The great news is that you can get started on either one for no cost - they may money on the basic offerings through the card interchange fees - so there really is no excuse to not pick one and go. 


Our tldr; recommendation for Brex vs Ramp

Both Brex and Ramp are great card solutions for VC-backed startups. Brex is 100% focused on VC-backed startups, offers solid points for card spending, and - a key -differentiator vs Ramp - has a cash management tool that can function as a checking account. Ramp works for both startups and SMBs, offers a great 1.5% cash back and we love it’s expense management tools. 

So, if you prefer points or are looking for an additional banking-type relationship, Brex is better. 

If you prefer the simplicity of cash back, or are not VC-backed, choose Ramp.

*Note that we are members of both Ramp and Brex’s partner programs, which means if you sign up through our links you typically get higher sign up bonuses, and we receive modest commission. * And Brex isn’t a bank, they power their banking like products using an underlying bank partner.

A little bit more on how Kruze knows so much about Brex and Ramp

As a leading accounting and finance consulting firm that has worked with startups that have collectively raised over $15 billion in funding, we have some strong opinions on which card is right for you and why. Our team spends all day helping founders manage their books and finances - and we see which tools and cards they are using. Our opinions are based on the experiences of hundreds of companies that spend many millions per month.

We recommend pretty much every client choose one of these cards, although the biggest quality competitor we see these days is Mercury, who has a good option that is bundled with their banking-like products (not Mercury is technically not a bank, but many of our clients use it instead of a bank). 

First, what to look for in a credit card for your startup

Traditional business owners are usually looking for a low-fee product that gives them travel points, and they expect their line of credit to be based on their personal credit score.

Funded startups need something different:

  • Rewards that appeal to a tech, biotech and ecommerce companies
  • A credit or spending limit that is based on the company’s balance sheet
  • No personal guarantee on the Credit Card
  • Cheap and fast bookkeeping with accounting software integrations
  • Team spending management tools 

What is a Brex credit card?

Brex is a great card for a funded company - but is totally the wrong choice for a bootstrapped or traditional small business. They has an amazing points program for funded companies, with perks and rewards that a VC-backed corporation can actually use. Additionally, Brex offers a generous spending limit based on the company’s funding and performance. They also have increasingly good cash/bank-like features, including some level of FDIC insurance on cash deposits. Sign up here

What is a Ramp credit card?

Ramp combines a corporate card with expense management tools like expense report creation and analysis, personal reimbursement and expense policy creation. The company offers pretty high cash-back, at 1.5% of spend, which is a very easy way for a busy founder to get something back for the startup from the card use without having to deal with redeeming points. Ramp is strongest for Series A to Series C companies who are dealing with the rapid increase in the number of people paying for software, travel, etc., although their recent updates have made them a good option for seed funded startups as well. 

Comparing Brex and Ramp’s cards

This chart details the key differences between the Ramp card and the Brex card.

  Brex Ramp
Built for Funded Startups Yes Yes
Good for SMBs No Yes
Spending Limit Generous Generous
Rewards Points for spending, including higher points for key startup expense categories 1.5% cash back on all purchases. No exceptions or complicated “point” programs
Personal Guarantee Not Required Not Required
Checking Account Yes No
QuickBooks Online Sync Yes Yes
Expensify Sync Yes, but Brex can replace Expensify No, but Ramp replaces Expensify
ACH Payments Free Free
Netsuite Integration Yes Yes
Bill Pay Feature Yes Yes
Easy Bookkeeping Yes Yes
Instant Sign Up Yes Yes
Ability to Carry Balance No No
Robust Spending Controls Yes Yes
Website Visit Brex Visit Ramp

One of the most important things for founders to realize is that both of these options, Ramp and Brex, give good spending limits based on your company’s bank account balance (among other factors). Neither requires a PERSONAL GUARANTEE, which VC-backed founders need to consider at the top of their list of requirements.

A Quick Note on Brex Leaving the SMB Market

In June of 2022, Brex rather awkwardly announced that they were exiting the small business market. This caused a lot of confusion, as they sent cancellation emails to a large number of their clients - even some Kruze clients got cancellation notices from Brex! However, Brex clarified that they were still servicing and adding startups that had raised professional funding. So that’s Kruze clients! We were able to get them to reinstate our clients. However, small business owners should probably not try to work with Brex, that’s not the client base they are trying to serve. Note that Ramp is still trying to service SMBs, and requires only $75k in the bank to apply for an account, so small businesses may want to consider them. Watch our video on their decision below:



Reviews of Brex and Ramp’s cards

Brex is a great option for early-stage companies because they are more established and have a more mature product on the market. Ramp, however, may be a better option for companies as they grow, have more employees and expenses as it offers great spend control and easy accounting. Ramp also offers a generous, no exception or complicated point 1.5% cashback and savings program.

We’ve collected reviews of Ramp and Brex from our team (that has run millions and millions in expenses through both systems). You can read these review on our best credit cards for startups page - read Brex reviews here and Ramp reviews here. Both are highly rated as of the time of us updating this review.

Brex vs Ramp vs Stripe

Another player that our startup founders occasionally ask about is Stripe’s card offering. We really haven’t seen as many companies use the Stripe offering vs Brex and Ramp. Overall, our team thinks that the Stripe card is fine for a company already using other Stripe products, but it doesn’t have the same level of integration with QuickBooks Online (so accounting is a bit harder) and Brex and Ramp are really, really pushing the expense management features in a way that Stripe just hasn’t kept up with.

Mercury vs Ramp and Brex

Mercury is taking dramatic market share in the startup banking market, including it’s corporate card tool. It’s got a lot of good features that compare favorably to Ramp and Brex, and we consider it a solid option when paired with the Mercury banking products. Of course, the folks at Mercury remind us that they aren’t technically a bank, lol. Like Brex, they provide banking-like services through a bank that powers their solutions.

Do we recommend Brex or Ramp?

Brex is better for early stage companies because they are more established and have a more mature product in the market. Early-stage companies (<15 people) typically don’t have the need or ability to use and/or manage many of the internal controls and process features that Ramp contains, until they have a finance-centric individual in-house. The full suite of benefits that Brex has means that it can more or less be a one-stop-shop for an early-stage company’s complete banking needs at no cost. That is a valuable for a small company early on. (Although we still recommend that a company consider a startup-focused bank like SVB or FRB).

Ramp, on the other hand, is a better credit card option for larger, more-established companies that have greater streamlined approval, expense management, and control needs. Their bill pay is excellent, and doesn’t require you to open a ‘savings/cash’ account with them - you can just connect it to an existing bank account. This makes it even easier to switch to them, and is another reason that they are a great option to switch to as a later stage company.

There is another option for mid to later stage companies looking for tight expense management, accounting integrations and other finance controls/features - companies like Airbase or Procurify. These vendors combine cards with heavy-duty finance controls. They don’t make sense until you’ve got a full time VP of Finance or CFO in seat - provisioning and managing these tools takes time. But if you are looking for a heavy-duty, more “late-stage” (or dare I say enterprise) alternative to Ramp, they may be worth looking at.

Brex vs Ramp in Review

Brex Card - the better option for funded, early-stage companies. With a generous spending limit based on the company’s funding and performance, and no personal guarantee, it’s truly built for the Silicon Valley-style startup. Kruze Consulting clients can now get a 125,000 point sign-up bonus after depositing $500,000 into a Brex business account and an additional 25,000 point sign-up bonus after spending $10,000 on Brex card(s). Sign up now through Kruze.

Ramp Credit Card - likely a good option for established companies. Ramp is more focused on later-stage companies with features like expense approval, reimbursement control, and other process controls that are helpful for growth stage companies that have finance teams in place and more internal control. Also, unlike othercards that entice you to spend with complicated reward programs,Ramp is the onlycard built around keeping money in your bank. It is a corporate card that strengthens your finances. Ramp offers companies that sign up through Kruze’s links **

$500 $750 cash back - a generous offer that you can’t get other places. Visit Ramp now to sign up

Biggest Perk - AWS CRedits - Brex vs Ramp

A perk that our clients regularly ask about is Amazon Web Services credits. Which startup card company - Brex or Ramp - offeres the best AWS credits? Brex has a slight lead here; however, there are nuances in how Amazon runs their web services program, with our latest understanding after talking with them that there are two options to get credits, one of which is $100k - but it has to be used in 2 years. If your startup can’t use that much in AWS in 2 years, then sometimes smaller amounts that last indefinitely are better. But, getting down to brass-tacks, here are the AWS offers that the two card companies have (note that they may change these offers without telling us, so check their sites to make sure it’s the most current offer):

  • Brex AWS Credit offer: $5k AWS Active offer + up to $100k in credits
  • Ramp AWS Credit offer: Up to $25k in AWS credits

Which has higher credit limits - Brex or Ramp?

In our experience, Brex offers a higher credit limit to many funded startups than Ramp. With Ramp, we have seen clients successfully (and easily) request a higher limit; the limit for both companies hasn’t really been an issue in our mind. And, more importantly, both vendors offer generally much, much higher spending limits than traditional card companies like Amex or Citi.  Ramp recently launched a new form of credit to companies generating revenue, bill pay financing.

Deep dive into Ramp’s bill pay financing - Interesting for SMBs, not so Much startups

Ramp’s bill pay now has a financing feature called “Ramp Flex.” This integrated into their normal bill pay workflow. With this “Flex” feature, you can have your vendors paid immediately, but actually get the money taken out of your bank account 30, 60 or 90 days later. 

The reason this may not be great for VC-backed startups is that this will cost 1% a month, which will compound to a rather large interest rate vs. what a startup can get as yield in a money market account. And since startups often have a lot of cash (VC-backed startups that is!), why pay interest when you have the cash available? 

However, for traditional, bootstrapped SMBs this could be an interesting option. This bill pay feature shows how Ramp is trying to continue to service the SMB market, where as Brex has chosen to only focus on VC-backed companies.  

A side note on travel

One item that we’ve become increasingly pleased with from both Brex and Ramp are their development of travel features for startups with teams. Both providers are rapidly developing features to make it easier for companies at scale to manage their spend. For companies with teams who travel, Ramp in particular has excellent features that help keep travel spend in policy, visualize the company’s travel budget and more. Both have solid mobile apps. For example, the Brex mobile app is pretty amazing for travel. After you use it, say at a restaurant, you’ll get a notification on your phone. Simply click into the Brex app, take a snapshot, add some data like who you were with (depending on your startup’s expense policy) and viola, you are almost done with your reimbursements! It’s pretty great, and does push us slightly to preferring Brex if you have a high-travel company.

Want a detailed review of the best credit cards for startups? Click here to read our breakdown of the top players we see our clients using. We list out the pros and cons of each of the cards we see with major market share. 

Does Brex charge a fee?

No, Brex doesn’t charge fees to have the basic corporate card. They make their money from the interchange, and do not charge monthly fees, transaction fees, etc. However, Brex does have a more advanced Brex Empower expense management solution that does cost money, and is charged as a per-user fee - starting at $12 per month per user. We haven’t seen too many of our clients have to pay this fee - both because we asked Brex not to charge our customers (yes, we have a tight relationship) and because not every startup needs the more robust feature available in Brex Empower. But, we do expect more and more of our clients to adopt this paid feature set as they grow, add headcount, need more advanced features, etc. 

Does Ramp Charge a Fee?

No, Ramp also doesn’t charge fees for the basic corporate card. That means there are no transaction fees, monthly fees, etc. It’s a low-cost option for startups. However, they do have a more advanced Ramp Plus that has more advanced controls and user settings for expense management, better travel features, international subsidiary support and more. The items that we think our clients will most likely end up paying for are the advanced accounting workflows. Kruze clients will pay $9 per month per seat, but the list price is $12 per month per seat.

In summary - don’t go with a standard card if you are a VC backed company! Get a solution like Brex or Ramp! They are built for you, especially because they don’t have a personal guarantee, have great tools for founders, good rewards, and more.