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How to get a business credit card

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Getting a business credit card is simpler than you might think. Here’s exactly what to do.

Your business is in full swing and you think it’s time for a business credit card. The only problem is, you’re not quite sure how to get one.

Fear not: Applying for a business card is fairly straightforward. And there are myriad benefits of having one, such as separating your personal and business finances and having access to expense-management tools.

How to get a business credit card

Applying for a business card doesn’t have to be a drawn-out process. Here are the steps:

Let’s talk about these steps in depth.

1. Form a business.

There’s a low bar to jump for qualifying as a business. You’re eligible if you have a formal business structure such as a limited liability company (LLC) or S corporation. However, you can also apply as a sole proprietor. That means you qualify if you make money through freelance work — for example, as a photographer-for-hire or an Amazon seller. Just make sure you can produce documentation that proves you make money outside of regular employment.

If you have a formal business structure, you’ll enter your tax identification number while applying for your card. If you’re applying as a sole proprietor, you’ll simply enter your Social Security number.

2. Establish business credit.

Every provider will check your personal and business credit. Your personal credit weighs most on the provider’s decision, but having strong business credit will increase your odds of approval.

To build business credit, start by obtaining vendor credit. Put your phone and utility bill under your business name. And ask your vendors — such as your office supply store or advertising agency — if you can start small lines of credit with them. You might also want to apply for a business loan. As you make consistent on-time payments of at least the minimum amount due, you’ll build your business credit.
How to build business credit

There are many excellent cards on the market, and the perfect pick will depend on your specific needs. Here are a few key factors that will help you choose between different cards.

  • Annual fee. It’s a good idea to first check a card’s annual fee. You’ll want to get enough out of your card to offset this fee, which might mean earning a sufficient signup bonus or significant rewards.
  • Rewards. You’ll find big differences here. Consider your business spending and see whether certain cards offer accelerated rewards for your preferred categories. If your spending is relatively even across categories, you might like a card that offers a flat rewards rate for all spending.
  • Intro APR. Getting a 0% APR on purchases or balance transfers can be very helpful, especially when your budget is tight. For business cards, zero-interest periods tend to top out at around 15 months.
  • Signup bonus. Business credit cards are a competitive category, and providers are generally willing to offer big bonuses to attract business owners. A signup bonus alone can pay for your annual fee many times over.

Compare the best Mastercard business credit cards

Compare business credit cards

Updated September 21st, 2018
Name Product APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for Purchases Introductory Purchase APR Annual Fee
None (Charge Card)
$450
New cardholders can earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® bonus points by spending $10,000 for the first 50,000 points and then another $10,000 for the next 25,000 points on their new card in the first 3 months
$0 annual fee for the first year ($250 thereafter)
This Charge Card gives you the option to pay in full each month or to carry a balance for up to 60 days with no interest.
$0 annual fee for the first year ($175 thereafter)
13.99%, 18.99% or 20.99% variable
0% for the first 9 months (then 13.99%, 18.99% or 20.99% variable)
$0
Save on interest with a 0% intro APR on purchases for 9 months; after that your APR will be 13.99% - 20.99% variable.
14.99% to 20.99% variable
0% for the first 12 months (then 14.99% to 20.99% variable)
$0
$500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months
17.74% to 22.74% variable
$95
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®.
17.74% to 24.74% variable
$99
75,000 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.
24.74% variable
$0
Get the credit you want for your business, and unlimited 1% cash back on every purchase, every day
14.74%, 18.74% or 22.74% variable
0% for the first 9 months (then 14.74%, 18.74% or 22.74% variable)
$0
Unlimited 1.5X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
18.74% variable
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Unlimited 2 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
14.74%, 18.74% or 22.74% variable
0% for the first 9 months (then 14.74%, 18.74% or 22.74% variable)
$0
Unlimited 1.5 cash back on every purchase, every day.
18.74% 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.
17.74% to 24.74% variable
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
17.74% to 24.74% variable
$99
Earn 2x points on Southwest® purchases and 1x point on all other purchases. Plus 6,000 anniversary bonus points.
17.49% to 25.49% variable
$0 annual fee for the first year ($99 thereafter)
For a limited time, earn 70,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $4,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening

Compare up to 4 providers

4. Apply and wait for a decision.

Once you’ve picked a business card, it’s time to apply. You’ll need to provide information about yourself, including:

  • Your name, residential status and residential address.
  • Your Social Security number and date of birth.
  • Your email address and phone number.
  • Financial information, like your annual income and source of income.

You’ll also need to provide information about your business, including:

  • The name of your business, its mailing address and its employee count.
  • Your years in business and annual business revenue.
  • Your tax identification number or Social Security number if you’re applying as a sole proprietor.

Fill out the application form, request employee cards if needed and agree to the provider’s terms. The last step is to review your application and submit it.

Most major providers offer instant approval, so you’ll likely receive a decision within 60 seconds. If there are issues with your application, you may need to wait a few business days to a few weeks to hear back.

After you’re approved, expect to receive your card within 10 business days.

Best business credit cards

CardBest for …Why
Ink Business Preferred℠ credit cardSignup bonus, overall rewards value3x points in business categories; points are worth 25% more when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Ink Business Cash℠ credit cardSpending on office supplies, gas and diningUp to 5% cash back in everyday business categories
Capital One® Spark® Cash for BusinessFlat cash backUnlimited 2% cash back on all purchases
Blue Business℠ Plus Credit CardIntro APR0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months following your account opening, and then a variable APR of 12.99%, 16.99% or 20.99% applies thereafter
Business Platinum Card® from American ExpressAirfare and premium travel5x points on flights and prepaid hotels when purchased through American Express Travel; premium travel perks

What if my business gets denied for a credit card?

If your business is denied for a credit card, don’t lose hope. There are a few things you can do to increase your chances of getting one — either soon or in the future.

  • Ask the provider to reconsider. Many providers use algorithms that automatically process applicants. For that reason, your application may have been denied by a computer instead of a human. Call the provider and ask for its reconsideration team, who will review your application manually. At that time, you can ask why you were denied and add clarifying information that may help your chances of approval.
  • Increase your credit score. You may have been denied because your credit score was too low. In that case, apply again when your credit improves. Keeping debt low and paying balances on time are two tried-and-true methods to increase your score.
  • Apply for a card for business owners with fair credit. You don’t have to have excellent credit to get a business card. There are cards you can get with average credit, such as the Spark® Classic for Business.

Am I personally liable for my business credit card?

Most of the time, the answer is yes. Your provider will probably ask you to personally guarantee your debt no matter your business structure. For that reason, it’s a good idea not to charge more than you can personally pay off.
Can a business card affect my personal credit?

Bottom line

Applying for a business credit card can be very simple. If you’ve decided on a business structure, it’s a matter of comparing different products and finding the best fit. When you’ve settled on a card, you can easily apply for it on the provider’s website.

Frequently asked questions

Kevin Joey Chen

Kevin Chen is a world-travelin', copy-writin', Game of Thrones-watchin' credit cards writer for finder.com. When he's not crunching the numbers on bonus points and comparing APRs, you can find him flying around the world in search of the perfect beer.

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