Best business credit cards for startups
Discover how to find the credit card that best suits your new business. Plus, we explain credit scores for businesses.
We update our data regularly, but information can change between updates. Confirm details with the provider you're interested in before making a decision.
Approval for any credit card depends on your status. The representative APRs shown represent the interest rate offered to most successful applicants. Depending on your personal circumstances, the APR you're offered may be higher, or you may not be offered credit at all. Fees and rates are subject to change without notice. It's always wise to check the terms of any deal before you borrow.
As a small business owner, you may need a credit card that can help you manage your cash flow, or one with a low rate – in case you need to carry a balance. Or you might be looking to get rewards for your spending. Here’s our pick of credit and charge cards that offer one or more of these benefits.
Can a new limited company get a credit card?
Both limited companies and sole traders may be eligible to apply for a business credit card, but the requirements may vary depending on how long you have been in business. By establishing a limited company, you can create a legal distinction between your personal finances and your business finances. This can be beneficial in developing a positive business credit rating, which lenders use to determine your eligibility for borrowing.
If your company is new, your credit history may be limited, leading to a potentially poor credit rating. This can create challenges for lenders in evaluating your creditworthiness, making it more challenging to obtain approval for a business credit card. If you are approved, you may encounter higher interest rates than advertised, and your initial credit limit could be lower than expected. If your business is new, some lenders may also choose to look at your personal credit score to help them establish whether they are happy to let you borrow. If your credit score is good, they may be more willing to offer you a business credit card.
You may also be required to sign a personal guarantee before you can qualify for the card. This means you will be personally responsible for any debt you accumulate on your business credit card.
As your business credit score builds over time, you may be able to apply for a more competitive card that offers better rates and a higher credit limit.
What is the best business credit card for startups?
This will depend on the type of business you run and what you want to use your card for. If you think you might carry a balance on the card from time to time, you’ll want to look for a card that offers a competitive interest rate.
Alternatively, if you know you can clear your balance in full each month, but you’re likely to use the card often, you may want to seek out a business credit card that offers great rewards.
Overall, you’ll need to work out which features are the most important to you and look for the most suitable card. Here’s a list of features you may want to consider while comparing products:
- Annual fee. This is the annual cost of your card, no matter how much you use it. You’ll have to include it in your budget, so it’s a core factor to look at. For example, Barclaycard Premium Plus Business Credit Card charges a fee of £150 per annum.
- Interest rate on purchases. If you’re positive you’ll pay your credit card bill in full every month, this is a secondary concern. But if you can’t, the interest rate is important because it tells you how much borrowing money with the card will cost your startup. Typically the interest rate will be above 20% annually
- Facilities. Can the card be managed online or from your smartphone? Is the app good? Can you connect it to your accounting software? This is of utmost importance if you own a startup because it can save you a considerable amount of time.
- Rewards. These are for startups that plan to spend quite a lot on the credit card. With the Capital on Tap card you can earn 1% cashback per £1 spent. You also have the optional upgrade to Business Rewards for £99.
- Additional cards. If you’re planning to give a card to other people in your team, don’t forget to check how much it’s going to cost you.
- Foreign transaction fees. If you travel often for business purposes, you want a credit card with no foreign transaction fees. Most business cards charge 3% of every transaction, which can easily amount to a small fortune in fees if you’re not careful. The Capital on Tap Credit Card is a popular choice for startups that frequently spend in other currencies.
Is a rewards credit card a good idea for my startup?
Good rewards business credit cards almost invariably charge an annual fee, so it’s all about how much you envisage using the card. Ideally, you want the highest possible earn-rate for the lowest possible annual fee. Math is your friend. Calculate how much you think you can earn in cashback or rewards and, if it outweighs the annual fee, it’s probably worth it.
You also want to choose the right rewards. For example, if you don’t travel by plane very often, you won’t know what to do with Avios points. Compare all business credit cards on this page to see what else is available on the market.
Capital on Tap Business Credit Card
- Get up to £250,000 to grow your business.
- Earn 1% cashback for every £1 spent.
- Enjoy up to 56 days interest-free on purchases.
- No application fees or non-sterling transaction fees.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 35.15% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 35.15% APR (variable).
How long should I wait to apply for a business credit card?
This will depend on the lender and your individual circumstances. If you have a good personal credit rating and you have opened a business bank account, you may be able to apply for a business credit card as soon as you start trading. This is more likely to be the case if you apply for a credit card with the same provider as your business bank account.
However, some lenders may require that you have been trading for at least 6 to 12 months before they will consider your application.
How can I build business credit fast?
If you get accepted for a business credit card, one of the best ways to build business credit is to make your monthly repayments on time and stick within your credit limit. Doing so can improve your business credit score after a few months and will give you a record of responsible borrowing for credit reference agencies to report on.
Paying bills and invoices on time can also help you build credit, as can asking your suppliers to share payment data with the credit reference agencies.
If you can’t get accepted for a business credit card, you can consider other business finance options. Secured forms of finance (such as invoice finance) tend to be easier to get accepted for if you have bad credit or a limited credit history because the risk is lower for lenders.
Do new businesses have a credit score?
If you’ve set up a limited company, you will have both a business credit score and a personal one. However, as your business is new, it won’t have much of a credit history which means you’ll need to take the time to build up your business credit score.
In the early days of trading, lenders may use your personal credit score to give them an idea of how reliable you are as a borrower. They may also want to see your estimated turnover, along with copies of bank statements and business plans before agreeing to let you borrow.
Note that if you are a sole trader rather than a limited company, there will be no legal separation between your business and personal finances which means lenders will use your personal credit score to determine your creditworthiness.
Should I be using my personal credit card?
If you’re a sole trader or you own a small limited company and are the only person who needs a credit limit, you may prefer to use your personal credit card for business expenses.
However, doing so can make it harder to keep your business and personal finances separate so it can still make sense to apply for a separate business card (although not all lenders will accept sole traders for their business cards).
If your business is a limited company, it is even more important to apply for a business credit card, not least because it will help you build up a business credit score. You’re also likely to get a higher credit limit and additional cards that you can give your employees for their expenses.
Getting accepted for a business credit card when your business is just starting out can be challenging, but it’s certainly not impossible. You’re much more likely to be accepted if your personal credit score is good and you already have a business bank account. By shopping around and checking eligibility criteria carefully before you apply, you should find a credit card that is suitable for you and your business.
Overview of business credit cards
|Lowest representative APR||14.9%|
|Longest 0% purchases offer||6 months|
|Longest 0% money transfer offer||14 months|
|Lowest cash advance||13.9%|
|Highest credit limit||£250,000|
|Highest cashback earn-rate||1%|
|Highest introductory bonus offer||40,000 points|
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