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Business credit cards vs. personal cards

Each card type offers advantages based on your spending volume, business size and expense categories.

Updated

Fact checked

You’re a small business owner, and your operation is growing. At this time, you might be wondering whether you should stick with your personal credit card or get a business card. Both card types have advantages and disadvantages and — depending on your business — one could work far better than the other.

6 differences between a business credit card and personal card

Business credit cardPersonal credit card
Credit limitTypically higher credit limits, depending on creditworthinessTypically lower credit limits, depending on creditworthiness
Rewards
  • Accelerated rewards for business categories such as shipping, advertising, office supplies and travel
  • Fewer options for flat-rate rewards
  • Accelerated rewards for categories such as groceries, gas, dining and entertainment
  • More options for flat-rate rewards
Spending controls
  • Designed to have employees added to the account
  • Extensive tools to manage spending, including downloadable purchase records, spending summaries and expense controls
  • Some issuers, such as American Express, let you set spending limits for authorized users
  • You can ask your issuer to lower your credit limit, but this could lower your credit score
Build your credit score
  • Helps you build business credit
  • May help you build personal credit depending on the issuer, but this usually isn’t the case
  • Helps you build your personal credit score as long as your issuer reports payment activity to credit bureaus
  • Doesn’t help you build business credit
Consumer protections
  • Interest rates can increase at any time
  • Issuers not required to mail credit card bill at least 21 days before due date
  • Late fees not capped; no limitations on overlimit fees
  • Payments above minimum not required to be applied to highest-APR balances
  • 45-day notice for interest-rate increases
  • Credit card bill must be mailed at least 21 days before due date
  • Late fees capped; limitations on overlimit fees
  • Payments above minimum applied to highest-APR balances
Personal guaranteeLikely requires a personal guaranteePersonally responsible for debt incurred, along with any cosigners

Advantages of a business credit card

  • Separate business and personal spending.
    Keeping your finances separate can make it easier to track your spending and file tax returns. Remember that most issuers will stipulate in your terms that your business card may be used only for business expenses.
  • Higher credit limits.
    You’ll often get access to higher credit limits with a business credit card, which can be helpful if you have a high-expense business.
  • Employee cards and spending controls.
    With a business card, you can add employees to your account. Your issuer will also likely give you expansive tools to monitor and control spending.
  • Higher welcome offers.
    Business cards typically have higher welcome offers — but keep in mind these bonuses often have higher spending requirements.
  • Rewards for business categories.
    Business cards often pay business-focused rewards you won’t find with personal cards.

Some consumer protection laws don’t apply to business credit cards

Here’s one reason you might use a personal credit card over a business card: Personal cards have more consumer protections from the Credit CARD Act of 2009. These are a few advantages they have that business cards don’t:

  • Notifications for interest rate increases. With a personal card, your provider must notify you at least 45 days in advance if it will increase your interest rates. With a business card, it can increase your interest rates at will.
  • Minimum grace period. If a personal card has a grace period on interest, the period must be at least 21 days. With business cards, the period can change each month.
  • Caps on late fees. For personal cards, there are caps on late fees. These caps don’t exist for business cards, meaning providers can charge heavy fees if you pay late.

If you want a business card, gauge your ability to pay off your debt. The better prepared you are, the more likely you’ll be able to roll with the punches if your provider changes your card terms.

Why do I need a personal guarantee for a business credit card?

Most business card providers require a signed personal guarantee for approval. This guarantee is a promise between you and the creditor that you’re personally liable for your business debts. It’s similar to a business-loan personal guarantee.

This agreement protects the creditor from any unpaid debts on the card but exposes you to seizure of your personal finances or assets if you find yourself unable to pay back what you borrow.

What credit card type should I get?

You can use your personal credit card for business expenses, but you might find it more beneficial to use a business card. The latter will help you build business credit, and it’ll probably come with a higher credit limit and rewards for business categories.

Consider a business credit card for …Consider a personal card for …
Building business credit.Consumer protections.
Higher credit limits.Rewards for everyday categories.
Rewards for business categories.A sole proprietorship with very low expenses.
Expense-management features.

Can I use my business credit card for personal expenses?

Yes, but we don’t advise it. For starters, a top benefit of a business credit card is organizing your business spending. When it comes time to work out accounting and taxes, you’re a step ahead with business spending on a designated card. You also decrease the risk of your business spending affecting your personal credit score.

On top of that, if potential lenders or credit bureaus find out that you’re using a business credit card for personal purchases, it could potentially signal to them that you’re not able to successfully manage your expenses.

Compare business credit cards

There are many strong credit cards that might work well for your business. Pay attention to the rewards each issuer offers, as well as helpful benefits you might need.

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Rewards Purchase APR Annual fee
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
3x points on the first $150,000 on travel and select business categories annually, then 1x after and on all other purchases
15.99% to 20.99% variable
$95
100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. That's $1,250 toward travel rewards when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card
5% at office supply stores, on Internet, cable and phone up to $25,000 combined annually (then 1%), 2% on gas and dining up to $25,000 combined annually then 1% after that and on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 12 months (then 13.24% to 19.24% variable)
$0
$500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months.
Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card
1.5% cash back on all purchases
0% intro for the first 12 months (then 13.24% to 19.24% variable)
$0
$500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening.
United℠ Business Card
2x miles on United, transit and rideshares, and at gas stations, office supply stores and restaurants, and 1x miles on all other purchases
16.49% to 23.49% variable
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($99 thereafter)
Earn 60,000 miles once after spending $3,000 in your first 3 months.
Universal Premium Mastercard®
3 cents off per gallon when you buy 30,000 or more gallons in a month plus 3 cents off at the Retail Savings Network
27.24% variable
Up to $120
Earn 3 cents off per gallon when you buy 30,000 or more gallons in a month plus 3 cents off at the Retail Savings Network.
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Bottom line

Pick a business credit card — especially a best-in-market business card — if you need a higher credit limit, want to build business credit or want rewards for specific categories. At the same time, you might have very few expenses or not need robust expense-management features. In the latter case, pick one of the many strong personal credit cards.

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