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.
Our pick for a business credit card
The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express
Compare business credit cards
How to get a business credit card
Steps for getting a business card
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
3. Find the right business credit card.
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.
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 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.
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.
Which business cards do not require a personal guarantee?
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.