Self-employed? Learn how to be approved for a credit card | finder.com
self-employed credit card

How to apply for a credit card when you’re self-employed

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Am I eligible to apply for a credit card if I am self-employed?

Absolutely. If you’re self-employed and want to begin utilizing a credit card to either manage expenses or free up some cashflow, you can still apply for most credit cards.

You’ll likely have to prove that you have a steady income to show that you will be capable of making payments. That means you may be asked for documents such as a tax return or a profit and loss statement — it is smart to have any records on file that will help prove to a credit issuer that you are actually self-employed

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Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual Fee
5% back at US office supply stores and on US wireless telephone services on up to $50,000 annually (then 1%). 3% on a chosen category on up to $50,000 annually, then 1% after and on everything else
14.49%, 19.49% or 21.49% variable
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Save on interest with a 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months. After that your APR will be 14.49%, 19.49% or 21.49% variable.
2x points on everyday business purchases on up to $50,000 annually, then 1x points
15.49%, 18.49% or 21.49% variable
$0
Earn 2x Membership Rewards® points on everyday business purchases on up to $50,000 with no category restrictions.
3x on travel, shipping, Internet, cable, phone and online ads up to $150,000 combined annually; then 1x after and on all other purchases
18.24% to 23.24% variable
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80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel rewards when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
5% on office supplies, Internet, cable and phone up to $25,000 combined annually; 2% on gas and dining up to $25,000 combined annually; 1% on all other purchases
15.49% to 21.49% variable
$0
$500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months
1.5% cash back on all purchases
15.49% to 21.49% variable
$0
$500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening
12x points at Hilton hotels, 6x points on select business and travel purchases and 3x points on all other purchases
17.99% to 26.99% variable
$95
Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of card membership.
Earn 2x miles on every purchase made directly with Delta and earn 1x miles on all other purchases
17.99%, 21.99% or 26.99% variable
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Earn 30,000 bonus miles after you make $1,000 in purchases on your new card within your first 3 months. Plus earn $50 after you make your first Delta purchase in the same timeframe.
4x points on two categories on up to $150,000 in combined purchases annually, then 1x points after that and on all other purchases
16.49%, 20.49% or 24.49% variable
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Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Gold Card within the first 3 months of card membership.
5x points on flights and prepaid hotels through Amex Travel, 1.5x points if you spend $5,000 on a single eligible purchase on up to 1 million additional points per year and 1x points on all other purchases
None (Charge Card)
$595
Earn 50,000 points after spending $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after spending an additional $10,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
2x points on purchases through Amex Travel and 1x points on all other purchases
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Earn 5,000 Membership Rewards® points after your first purchase on the card within the first year of card membership.
1.5% discount when you pay early, with no cap on what you can earn back
None (Charge Card)
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($250 thereafter)
Get a 1.5% discount when you pay early, with no cap on what you can earn back.
6x points at Marriott Bonvoy hotels; 4x points at US restaurants, US gas stations, and on US wireless telephone and shipping services; 2x points on all other purchases
17.99% to 26.99% variable
$125
Earn 100,000 bonus points after you use your new card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of card membership.
2x miles on direct Delta purchases and 1x miles on all other purchases
17.99%, 21.99% or 26.99% variable
$450
Earn 40,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in your first 3 months.
2x miles on direct Delta purchases and 1x miles on all other purchases
17.99%, 21.99% or 26.99% variable
$195
Earn 5,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) plus 35,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months. In addition, earn a $100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months.
7x points on rideshares, 4x points on travel booked through Brex Travel, 3x points at restaurants, 2x points on software subscriptions and 1x points on all other purchases
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The first corporate card for startups. No personal liability or security deposit needed, meaning your personal credit score won't be affected.
N/A
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60-day interest-free financing for e-commerce businesses.

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What will I need to apply?

  • Proof of earnings. You’ll typically need to show documents that verify a self-sustained income for at least the last two years. It can be anything from a tax return, paycheck stub, expense report, a profit and loss statement, or anything else that shows you have money coming in. If you have an accountant who can verify your income, you’ll have a much easier time when applying for a card.
  • Savings. Your ability to save will show lenders that you’re able to manage money and that you will not be a high risk for for missing payments.
  • Credit history. The better the credit history, the better chances you’ll have of being approved. This seems obvious but is worth repeating because it is what lenders will evaluate when deciding whether or not you’ll be approved for a credit card or loan in the future.
  • Referrals. This ranks low as a factor will have any serious weight when deciding if you’re approved or not, but anything helps.

If you are applying for a credit card for either business or personal related expenses, be sure you stay within your means and have a budget and repayment plan lined up. This will ensure that you’ll get the most out of your credit card and help you steer clear of debt.

What if my credit card application has been denied?

Don’t stress. There are other options that can help get a credit card in your hands.

  • Secured credit card. Secured credit cards can build credit and are a great way to roll your credit history down the right path. This type of card operates just like a regular credit card, but it is preloaded with funds that will act as security incase you default on payments .
  • Cosigner. While this option will greatly improve your chances of being improved, it is important to know that when your cosigner signs the dotted line, they become responsible for any debt you acquire if you’re unable to make payments.
  • Authorized user. This option is only available if someone who is in good credit standing will vouch for you and link a card to their account with your name on it. Only use this option if you’re sure that you’ll be able to use your card responsibly since it is linked to somebody else’s account and could negatively affect their credit.

Mistakes to avoid

Applying without researching

If you’re self-employed, you’ll need to provide additional documents and meet special eligibility requirements to receive approval. Rejected applications will have a negative impact on your credit file, so you want to conduct the necessary research to improve your chances of approval in the first place.

If you do your research beforehand to ensure you’ve met the eligibility requirements and have the necessary documents, you’ll increase your approval chances on your credit card application.

Applying for several cards in a short time period

If you’ve applied for a card and been rejected, don’t apply for another one right away, as this may put a mark on your credit file. Instead, do some research to figure out why your application was denied. If you didn’t have all of the correct documents, make sure you have all of the most recent versions of them when you apply again in a few months.

If you were rejected because of your credit history, you can start improving your credit history to increase your chances of approval next time.

Bottom line

If you’re self-employed, you should have no trouble applying for a credit card as long as you prepare beforehand. If you follow this guide, ensure you meet the eligibility requirements and organize the necessary documents, you should have no trouble applying for a credit card.

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