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If you run a small business, you’ll want something more than a personal card, but you probably don’t qualify for a corporate card. This niche is filled with small business credit cards.
Small business credit cards are available to businesses, be they sole proprietorships or smaller corporate entities. These cards offer you several benefits, including higher credit limits, the ability to separate personal and business purchases for accounting purposes, and business perks on things like travel and shopping.
The downside, especially when compared to corporate cards, is that you can be held personally liable for any debt incurred on behalf of your business.
So, you need to consider your options carefully.
There’s a lot of information about credit cards for small business, and we’ve covered all the key detail you need to know.
If you’re looking for specific information, jump to the following sections:
- Compare credit cards to find the right option for your small business
- 8 popular business credit card providers
- How to get a business credit card
Credit Cards for Small Business Owners
There are a variety of small business credit card options available on the market, and that’s because one size does not fit all. The best option for you depends on the nature of your business and its financial situation above all.
What Is The Best Credit Card for Small Business Owners?
When choosing a card, be sure to compare the following features and special offers. The specific ones that you get will likely depend on what your credit score is (the higher your credit score, the more the credit card companies will offer you to entice you to pick their product).
Consider the following perks when you make your selection:
- Proffered interest rates (frequently displayed to customers as the APR -the APR is your yearly interest rate and your interest rate is how much it costs for you to borrow money if you do not pay off your statement balance each month)
- Grace periods and billing cycle adjustments (or whether there is a period of time that can elapse before you must begin making at least the minimum monthly payment)
- 0% intro annual percentage rate (APR) on purchases and balance transfers
- Whether you can request employee cards or not so that you can allow those who work for you to make business purchases without resorting to using their own money or having to file expense reports
- Rewards and reward programs (including statement credits, which is where you receive cash back in the form of funds credited to your account, or rewards points you can exchange for travel purchases or other goods)
- Additional fees and charges like annual membership fees or foreign transaction fees
- Application fees
- Bonuses offered by the credit card company (for example, you might get a large, lump-sum cash back if you spend $X dollars within the first three months)
As an overview, here is a comparison of several business credit cards from each of the providers we detail below:
|Initial 0% APR Offer||Variable APR*||Annual Fee||Best for...|
|American Express Blue Business Plus||12 months||15.24% to 21.24%||None||Frequent travellers will benefit from travel rewards|
|Bank of America Platinum||7 billing cycles (1 cycle is typically 1 month)||11.49% to 22.49%||None||Business looking for low interest rates|
|United Club Business||None||17.99% to 24.99%||$450||Frequent travellers, especially regular United Airlines flyers|
|Southwest Rapid Premiere||None||17.99% to 24.99%||$99||Southwest flyers, especially regular international travellers|
|Spark Cash Select||9 months||15.24% to 23.24%||None||Businesses looking fr non-specific cash-back options|
|Wells Fargo Business Platinum||9 months||7.99% to 17.99%||None||Spending-based rewards|
|Citi Business Platinum Select AAdvantage||None||17.74% to 25.74%||$99 (after first 12 months)||Regular international travellers|
|Chase Ink Business Preferred||17.49% to 22.49%||$95||Travel rewards, points for cash back and gifts cards|
*Variable APRs on purchases and balance transfers at the time of publication.
Disclaimer: We do not explicitly recommend any of the above credit cards – the information presented is for the sake of comparison.
Finally, consider your limitations. Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted, but retailers who accept American Express (AmEx) or Discover can be harder to find.
8 Popular Providers of Business Credit Cards
There are many business credit card providers available today, but we’ve curated some of the most popular & widely advertised towards small business owners.
American Express Business Credit Cards
American Express offers a line of business credit cards with a variety of benefits. They currently offer 14 cards, with varying benefits like:
- Travel rewards for flights, hotels, and access to airport lounges
- Cash back
- Membership rewards that convert to cash back, flights, hotel accommodations, and more
- Some have no annual fees
- 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers
Best for: frequent travelers who can benefit from the large number of travel-oriented benefits
Pro: No annual fees on some cards
Cons: For cards with annual fees, you could end up paying $595
Bank Of America Business Credit Cards
Bank of America offers a range of Visa and Mastercard credit cards specifically toward small business owners. This line is further divided into cash reward cards, travel reward cards, and lower interest cards. Depending on the option you choose, you can expect:
- Points redeemable for cash back
- Credit for travel-related purchases like airfare and accommodations
- A competitive APR and 0% introductory APR on purchases (but not balance transfers) for the first seven billing cycles
Best for: those looking for low interest rates and some basic rewards offerings
Pro: No annual fees on selected cards
Con: Basic rewards compared to other cards
United Business Credit Cards
United offers two business cards: the Explorer Business Card and the Club Business Card.
The Explorer Business Card terms include:
- A $95 annual fee
- A business credit card welcome offer of up to 100,000 bonus airfare miles
- Cash back on most purchases
- Two one-time access passes to United Clubs, one free checked bag, and priority boarding
If you’re interested in the Club Business Card, you’ll get up to 50,000 bonus miles, cash back on purchases, United Club membership, two free checked bags, and premier travel services.
Both cards come with no foreign transaction fees as well as purchase and travel protection.
Best for: frequent travelers, especially those who do most of their flying with United Airlines
Pro: Suite if travel benefits for United Airlines passengers
Con: Most travel perks tied to one airline
Southwest Business Credit Cards
Offered in conjunction with Chase Bank, Southwest offers two different credit cards. The specific terms you receive depends on the option you choose, but both offer:
- Reward points on your purchases and balance transfers (redeemable for flights)
- Upgraded boarding
- In-flight WiFi credits
- Credit for TSA (Transport Security Administration) Global Entry or Pre-Check
- No foreign transaction fees
Best for: frequent flyers on Southwest, especially those who travel internationally
Pro: Generous bonus points
Cons: $99 annual fee
Capital One Spark Business Credit Cards
Capital One’s Spark Business Credit Cards allow you to earn unlimited rewards. The form of the rewards depends on the choice you make when signing up:
- Spark Cash Back Rewards gets you a one-time cash bonus, plus 2% cash back on all future purchases. This “line” includes three different cards, and the one you qualify for is based on your credit history; the better your credit history, the more you get in terms of rewards and new cardmember offers (e.g., larger cash bonus when you spend a certain amount within the first three months of opening your account)
- Spark Miles Rewards gets you a one-time mileage bonus, plus double reward miles
Regardless of which option you choose, you’ll also get:
- A year-end summary to making accounting/tax time easier
- Easy integration with some of the major accounting suites
- No foreign transaction fees
Best for: those who want cash back that isn’t tied to specific redemption rules (e.g., travel-only)
Pro: No annual fees
Con: High interest rates
Wells Fargo Business Credit Cards
Wells Fargo offers three different credit cards geared toward small businesses from which you can choose:
- The Platinum Visa comes with a welcome offer of cash or points redeemable for rewards, as well as future cash back or points on all purchases and a 0% introductory rate for the first nine months on purchases. Balance transfers don’t qualify for the introductory rate.
- The Secured Mastercard features either cash back or reward points on all purchases, no annual fees, and zero-liability protection against fraudulent charges.
- The Elite Visa Signature Card offers a sign-on bonus of cash or reward points, cash back or points on all future purchases, reimbursement for travel fees up to $100, and no annual fee for the first year.
Best for: those looking to maximize the rewards they receive based on spending
Pro: Redeem points for a wide range of rewards, like travel and gift cards
Con: Points expire after a certain time period
Citi Small Business Credit Cards
Citi offers two business credit cards through airline or retail partnerships:
- CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard: Earn up to 60,000 bonus miles within 3 months of signup, and additional points on future purchases redeemable for airfare and other travel benefits. There is no annual fee for the first year.
- Costco Anywhere Visa Business Card By Citi: Earn cash back for all purchases with no annual fee; you only have to pay for a Costco membership.
Neither card incurs foreign transaction fees.
Best for: international travelers
Pro: Generous welcome bonus if you meet minimum spending requirements
Cons: $99 annual fee
Chase Ink Business Preferred
The Chase Ink Business Preferred Card is a solid option that offers a large number of cardmember benefits, including:
- 80,000 bonus points (which is equivalent to $1000 toward travel rewards) after spending $5000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
- The ability to earn 3 points per $1 spent on the first $150,000 spent in the following categories: travel, shipping, internet, cable, and phone services, and advertising services with social media sites and search engines
- The ability to earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchase (no limits)
- No foreign transaction fees
The annual fee for the card is $95.
Best for: those looking to earn as much toward travel as possible; though you can redeem points for cash back, gift cards, and more, they are worth most as travel
Pro: Generous and flexible rewards system
Con: High APR
How do I Get a Business Credit Card?
Applying for a business credit involves a few simple steps.
1. Establish a Business or LLC
You don’t need an incorporated business to you can apply for a business credit card; some providers allow sole proprietors as well.
Any for profit organization can apply, no matter the size of the operation.
2. Build your Business Credit
Your personal credit is separate from your business credit. If your personal credit rating is low, yo likely won’t quality for a business credit card.
Here is more detail on how to improve your personal credit.
3. Apply for an EIN
You’ll need an Employer Identification Number to apply for a business credit card. An EIN number is issued by the Internal Revenue Service. You can apply online.
Freelancers can use their social security numbers.
4. Gather all the Required Information
To get a card, you’ll need to apply for one. The process is similar to applying for a personal credit card, but you’ll need to provide additional information related to your business, such as:
- Your business name
- A tax ID, if it’s separate from your personal social security number
- Your business type and the industry in which you are operating
- Business address, phone number, and other contact details
- Length of time in business
- Number of employees
- Annual revenue and estimated monthly spending – you will likely have to “prove” that these values are legitimate by providing tax returns and bank account statements to the credit card company
5. Find the Right Business Credit Card for your Needs
Study the options to find the credit card for your business. We’ve collected eight of the most popular business credit cards.
In general, we found that most credit cards do not ask for an application fee, but be aware that there are some that do. Whether you should proceed with an application that requires a fee depends on your situation — you may decide that the card offers you enough benefits and that you are a strong enough candidate that the benefits outweigh the costs.
Can I Get A Business Credit Card With Bad Personal Credit?
Approval for your first small business card is likely dependent on your credit score, especially if you’re starting out or have minimal business credit history. As with all credit cards, the better your FICO credit score, the better the terms you’ll get.
However, don’t write off the possibility of a business credit card just because you have bad personal credit and you are just getting started rebuilding (either your personal credit or your business credit). There are cards available to you even if you have bad personal credit. It may take some time to find the right options, but they are out there.
As we have mentioned, a lot of the perks that come with having a business credit card require good credit scores, but there are still companies that work with those who are rebuilding. You may receive fewer benefits and your interest rate may be higher, but obtaining one of these is a stepping stone toward improving your credit history and working your way toward a better card (assuming you are responsible with your finances from this point on!).
Finally, you’ll probably be asked to personally guarantee your debt, which means that you’re responsible for payments in the event the business fails. Depending on what you are using your credit for, you might find this compromise acceptable as you work on improving your credit history
What is a Business Credit Score?
One of the primary factors in determining the type of card you can get, as well as what benefits the credit card company offers you is your business credit score. However, what is this exactly?
In short, a business credit score is similar to a personal credit score. Credit reporting bureaus will collect information about your prior business-related behaviors, and based on that information, they will generate a number between zero and one hundred that represents your credit worthiness.
The closer your credit score is to 100, the less likely you are to default on your debt. Credit card companies reward this by extending lines of credit with lower interest rates and better perks, such as rewards.
Checking Your Credit Score
If you aren’t sure where you stand when it comes to your business credit score, you can find out by contacting any of the major credit reporting agencies (such as Equifax, Experian, and Dun & Bradstreet) that work with businesses. You will likely have to pay a fee to pull your credit history and get your credit score.
We understand it can be costly to pull multiple credit reports, but if you can afford it, we highly recommend requesting reports from multiple agencies to get a complete picture of where your business credit stands.
Each agency uses a different set of measurements to calculate your credit score, so it’s a good idea to see what the range is likely to be (for example, one agency might rate your credit as “Good” while another says that your credit is “Excellent” — the specific agency with which the credit card company works will influence what interest rate and other bonus offers you get).
Furthermore, you will want to make sure that all agencies are recording things appropriately; one company might be 100% accurate, while another mistakenly says that you’ve missed a utility payment. If there are mistakes, you can reach out to the company and have it fixed — but to do this, you need to be aware that there was a mistake in the first place!
How do I improve my credit score?
In short, building your credit for your LLC or other incorporate business or improving your credit score requires time, and there’s no real way around this. However, what are some of the things you can do as time elapses?
First, pay your bills on time. If you own a brick-and-mortar business, make sure that your utility payments and the like are on-time. Many companies will report missing payments, and when your credit is bad (or nonexistent), even one black mark can hurt your score significantly.
Make sure that you open up business banking accounts (e.g., check and savings accounts) and keep those in good shape (i.e., do not overdraft your checking account).
Make sure that your credit utilization ratio is healthy; credit card companies frown on those who appear, to them, to be leveraged to the hilt. Pay off some of your debts (or make multiple payments each month so that the balance doesn’t grow too much), but don’t close down your lines of credit. You can also ask the credit card companies to extend your limit.
If you work with one or more suppliers regularly, establish lines of credit with them. This is information that, if positive and reported to credit agencies, can help you.
As we mentioned, though, all of these things take time. You may have to accept that the credit card you get might come with bad terms. Work with what you get, make timely payments, and slowly prove that you are responsible with and can handle offers of credit extended to you.
Can I get a new business credit card if I’m just getting started?
It depends. Some credit cards are available only to those who have an established business credit history, but there are some that are available even to those without a business credit history. Do note, however, that the terms might not be as favorable (e.g., your APR is higher, and you get fewer cardmember bonuses).
Like those with bad credit, you may also be asked to personally guarantee your debt, so you’ll be on the hook for what you’ve spent even if your business fails.
Is It Worth Getting A Small Business Credit Card?
Business credit cards fill the niche between personal and corporate cards. If you own a small business, obtaining one of these cards can help you fund your day-to-day business operations, earn rewards, and build your business’ credit history.
There are many business-oriented credit cards available, but in this article, we covered seven of the most popular providers to help you narrow down the choices to determine the one that’s best for you.
Choosing a Business Credit Card Wisely
Remember, such cards aren’t one-size-fits-all, so before you sign on the dotted line, be sure to consider what the credit card company offers in terms of interest rates and financial perks.