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

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

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.

Compare business credit cards

Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual fee
Premium Capital on Tap Business Credit Card
2% cashback on all purchases
9.99% to 34.99% variable
Earn 2% cashback on all purchases. One of the highest unlimited cashback rates you'll find on a business card.
Ramp Visa® Commercial Card
1.5% cashback on all purchases
Replace expense reports with unlimited virtual and physical cards. Automate your accounting, lower your bills, and earn 1.5% cash back on everything.
Brex 30 Card
8x points on rideshares, 5x on Brex Travel, 4x at restaurants, 3x on software subscriptions and 1x points on all other purchases
The first corporate card for startups. No personal guarantee or security deposit needed, meaning your personal credit score won't be affected.

Compare up to 4 providers

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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