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

Compare business credit cards

Rates last updated June 21st, 2018
Name Product APR for Purchases ( Purchase Rate ) Intro APR for Balance Transfer Annual fee Product Description
Applied Bank® VISA® Business
23.99% variable
Turn your hobby or passion into a business with a new Applied Bank® VISA® Business card! This Visa Business card is perfect for sole proprietors and entrepreneurs.
Apply now Read review
Ink Business Cash℠ credit card
14.74% to 20.74% variable
0% Intro APR for 12 months (with whichever is greater, $5 or 5% balance transfer fee)
$0
$500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening
Ink Business Preferred℠ credit card
17.49% to 22.49% variable
$95
80000 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®
Spark® Classic for Business
24.49% variable
$0
Get the credit you want for your business, and unlimited 1% cash back on every purchase, every day
Spark® Miles Select for Business
14.49%, 18.49% or 22.49% variable
$0
Unlimited 1.5X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
Spark® Miles for Business
18.49% variable
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
Spark® Cash Select for Business
14.49%, 18.49% or 22.49% variable
$0
Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day.
Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business
18.49% variable
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Unlimited 2% cash back from Spark Cash could mean thousands of dollars each year going back into your business. No minimum to redeem.
Marriott Rewards® Premier Business credit card
17.49% to 24.49% variable
$0 annual fee for the first year ($99 thereafter)
75000 Bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from your account opening with your Marriott Rewards Premier Business credit card.
United MileagePlus® Explorer Business Card
17.49% to 24.49% variable
$$0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95
50000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card
17.49% to 24.49% variable
$99
Earn 2x points on Southwest® purchases and points on all other purchases. Plus 6,000 anniversary bonus points.
CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®
17.24% to 25.24% variable
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Earn 60000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
19.99% variable
$450
Earn 50000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 all on qualifying purchases on the Business Platinum Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express
SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express
13.99%, 18.99% or 20.99% variable
$0
Earn cash back with buying power to help pay for business needs.

Compare up to 4 providers

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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Kyle Morgan

Kyle Morgan is a writer and editor for finder.com who has worked for the USA Today network and Relix magazine, among other publications. He can be found writing about everything from the latest car loan stats to tips on saving money when traveling overseas. He lives in Asbury Park, where he loves exploring new places and sipping on hoppy beer. Oh, and he doesn't discriminate against buffalo wings — grilled or fried are just fine.

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