How to get a business credit card

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

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Your business is in full swing and you’re ready 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, sometimes known as an LLC credit 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

1. Form a business or LLC.

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.

You can also apply for one without a corporation, as long as you’re running an operation that aims to make money. One-person businesses can qualify.

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.

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

    Most providers require a personal guarantee to be assured they’ll be repaid for debt your business accrues. This is the case even when you have an LLC. It’s always wise to only spend as much on your credit card as you can personally pay back.

    If you don’t want to sign a personal guarantee, look for business credit cards that waive this requirement.

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’ll help you choose between different cards.

4. Check your eligibility requirements.

Generally, if you do business or receive payment for your services, you’re eligible to apply for a business card.

  • Freelancers
  • Sole proprietorships
  • Hobbyists
  • Partnerships
  • Side hustles
  • C-corps
  • S-corps

You don’t necessarily need to turn a profit to be eligible. But if you can provide projected revenue numbers in your application, it could help your chance of approval.

5. 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, such as 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 automated applications, 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.

Our pick for a business credit card

American Express® Blue Business Cash Card

  • Earn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1%. Cash back earned is automatically credited to your statement.
  • From workflow to inventory to floor plans, your business is constantly changing. That’s why you’ve got the power to spend beyond your credit limit with Expanded Buying Power§.
  • Just remember, the amount you can spend above your credit limit is not unlimited. It adjusts with your use of the card, your payment history, credit record, financial resources known to us and other factors.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months, then a variable rate, 14.74%, 17.74%, or 20.74%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors as determined at the time of account opening.
  • No annual fee
  • Terms apply
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See Rates & Fees

Compare business credit cards

Getting a business credit card can help you streamline your business finances and earn rewards on your purchases. Make sure you compare multiple options until you find the right fit for your wallet.

Updated December 11th, 2019
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
17.49% to 22.49% 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®
American Express® Blue Business Cash Card
2% cash back on all purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1%
0% intro for the first 12 months (then 14.74% to 20.74% variable)
$0
Earn 2% cash back on all purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1%. Rates & fees
The Business Platinum® Card from American Express
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
N/A
$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. Rates & fees
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
2x points on everyday business purchases on up to $50,000 annually, then 1x points
0% intro for the first 12 months (then 14.74% to 20.74% variable)
$0
Earn 2x Membership Rewards® points on everyday business purchases on up to $50,000 with no category restrictions. Rates & fees
American Express® Business Gold Card
4x points on two categories on up to $150,000 combined annually, then 1x points after that and on all other purchases
15.74% to 23.74% variable
$295
Earn 35,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months from account opening. Rates & fees

Compare up to 4 providers

How to compare the best credit cards for small business

Think about your business spending and cash flow when weighing business card factors. Some factors to consider include the annual fee, APR, promotional interest rate, cash back and rewards, foreign transaction fees, signup bonus and premium benefits.

Business credit cards for startups, online businesses, freelancers and more

The following are a few great picks for certain business types.

CardGreat for …Why
American Express® Business Gold CardOnline businesses and e-commerceEarn 4x points on two categories of your choice on up to $150,000 in combined purchases each calendar year, then 1x points. Categories include US purchases for advertising in select media, US purchases made directly from select technology providers and more.
The Plum Card® from American ExpressFreelancersEach month, you can carry a balance for up to 60 days without incurring interest.
Brex for StartupsStartupsRequires no personal guarantee, plus earn rewards.
Capital One® Spark® Cash for BusinessRestaurantsUnlimited 2% cash back on every purchase.
Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit CardBusinesses with frequent travel needsEarn 3x points on travel, shipping, eligible advertising purchases and more for the first $150,000 in combined purchases every card year, then 1x points.

What credit score do I need to get a business credit card?

Applicants with a good or excellent credit score of 670 or higher will find several business cards they can find approval for. Among the business credit cards out there, you’ll find those with less strong credit histories too or with no personal guarantee.

When weighing your options, first read the provider’s requirements to make sure you’re eligible. That way, you avoid unnecessary hard pulls on your credit history, which can temporarily lower your overall score.

Lenders typically beyond your personal credit score to focus on your business’s annual revenue, among other factors. After you’ve built up your business’s credit score, you’ll be in a stronger position for approval on business loans with low rates and long repayment terms.

Can I apply for a business credit card without a business?

Yes. But you still need to do some form of work to qualify, like having an income as a freelance writer or an Amazon seller outside of your employment. In this case, you can answer in your credit card application that you are a sole proprietor and use your own Social Security number instead of the tax ID or EIN.

Don’t lie to the bank if you don’t really have a business because they may ask for supporting documentation to prove that you have a business or that you have an income.

Is an LLC credit card different than a business credit card?

No. Business credit cards and LLC credit cards are one and the same. If you operate an LLC, you’ll have the same business credit card opportunities as though you a different form of business, such as a partnership or operate as a sole proprietor.

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 business credit cards and finding the best fit. When you’ve settled on a card, you can easily apply for it on the provider’s website.

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