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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 businesses, and we’ve covered all the key detail you need to know to help you make an informed decision.
If you’re looking for specific information, jump to the following sections:
- Compare credit cards to find the right option for your small business
- Scan 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.
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 your credit score. 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 cashback 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 of 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
- Membership rewards that convert to cashback, 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 a large number of travel-oriented benefits
Pro: No annual fees on some cards
Con: 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 cashback
- 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
- Cashback 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, cashback 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
Con: $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% cashback 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 cashback 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 cashback 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 cashback 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, cashback 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 cashback 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 the likes of cashback, and gift cards
Pro: Generous and flexible rewards system
Con: High APR
How do I Get a Business Credit Card?
Applying for business credit can seem daunting, but when you break down the process, it involves a few simple steps.
1. Establish a Business
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. What that means is that even if you’re a freelancer or a solopreneur selling goods online, you’ll be able to apply for a business credit card. Of course, some people will opt to form a registered business or LLC, but it’s not a prerequisite for obtaining a business credit card.
2. Build your Business Credit
Your personal credit is separate from your business credit. If your personal credit rating is low, you likely won’t qualify for a business credit card.
Fortunately, you can increase your credit rating. And if you’re worried about your credit score, it’s a good idea to improve your rating before you apply.
FICO, a predictive analytics company focused on assessing personal credit data, highlights common myths about credit scores, including:
- Carrying a credit balance will increase your rating: maintaining a balance on your credit card won’t impact your credit score
- Your share your score with your spouse: the only time your romantic relationship will impact your credit score is if you open a joint bank account or take out a loan together.
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
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
As part of this process, you might need to pay an application fee.
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.
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.
Here are some answers to common questions we receive about business credit cards.
What is a business credit score?
A business credit score reflects your business’s payment history. Dun & Bradstreet collects and processes your payment history and generates what it calls a Paydex score, which is a number between zero and 100. A score between 80-100 is considered good. Business credit scores are also tabulated by Experian and Equifax.
How do I check my credit score?
To check your personal credit score, you can obtain a report from myfico.com. That report will contain scores from all three consumer reporting bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. To check your business’s credit score, contact Dun & Bradstreet, Experian, or Equifax. You will likely have to pay a fee to obtain your credit reports.
Can I get a business credit card with bad personal credit?
Yes, it’s likely you can obtain a business credit card even if you have poor personal credit. Your options may be a secured card and/or one that requires a personal guarantee. You may receive fewer benefits and your interest rate and fees may be higher, but such a card can help you improve your credit history.
How do I improve my credit score?
Building your business credit for your LLC or other incorporated business or improving your personal credit score requires time and education. Practical steps include paying your bills on time, maintaining a good credit utilization ratio, and monitoring your credit. Explore Dun & Bradstreet’s CreditSignal service for monitoring and helpful educational articles on business credit.
Can I get a new business credit card if I’m just getting started?
Yes, it’s possible to obtain a business credit card if your business is brand new. In this scenario, the bank will base its decision mainly on your personal credit score and history as well as your annual income. Be prepared to provide your EIN and business formation documents.
Is getting small business credit card worth it?
Obtaining a business credit card can help you fund your day-to-day business operations, earn rewards, and build your business’ credit history. 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.
There are many business-oriented credit cards available. 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.