Can a business credit card affect my personal credit?

Discover how a business credit card could affect your personal credit score.

Business credit cards provide a flexible line of credit that you can draw on as needed to boost business cash flow or pay unexpected bills. But while using a business credit card can help you build a business credit score, there are times when it might impact on your personal credit score, too.

When could a business credit card affect my personal credit score?

  • Applying for a business credit card. When you apply for a business credit card, a lender will always assess your business credit report. However, if your business is just starting out and doesn’t have much of a trading or credit history, the lender will likely look at your personal credit report as well. This helps the provider determine your creditworthiness and whether it’s happy to let you borrow. When a hard search is carried out on your personal credit report, you’ll notice a slight dip in your credit score, but this is usually only temporary.
  • If you’re a sole trader. As a sole trader, you and the business are considered one legal entity, which means you’re personally liable for your business debts – including if you have a business credit card. This means your personal credit score will be impacted, depending on how you manage your credit card. If you can’t keep up with repayments, your personal credit score will suffer. This is also the case for partnerships if all partners are responsible for the company’s debt.
  • If you have a personal guarantee and default on your debt. Most business credit cards require a personal guarantee when you apply. This means that should your business default on the repayments or become insolvent, you will be personally liable for paying back the debt. If the lender calls on you to repay the debt from your personal accounts, this will harm your personal credit score.

How can I protect my personal and business credit scores?

The following behaviours will help ensure you maintain a healthy business and personal credit score.

  • Pay your bills on time. If you pay your credit card bill on time, you won’t have to worry about lenders retrieving debts from your personal accounts or having late payments reported to the major credit reference agencies (CRAs). Consumer CRAs include TransUnion, Equifax and Experian, while the major business CRAs are Experian, Equifax, CreditSafe and Dun & Bradstreet.
  • Stay under your credit limit. When you keep your credit utilisation low, it’s easier to qualify for other credit cards or business loans in the future. Exceeding your credit limit can also damage your credit score.
  • Use your business credit card for business purchases only. This makes it easier to manage your finances and helps draw a line between your personal and business credit scores.

Can I get a business credit card that won’t affect my personal credit?

This depends on your situation. If you’re a sole trader, any type of debt you take on can affect your personal credit rating. If you’re a limited company (which means it’s a separate entity to you legally and financially), you might be able to find a credit card provider that doesn’t require you to sign a personal guarantee, but they’re not terribly common.

The key is making sure you use your business credit card carefully and ensure you make your repayments in full and on time. Remember that if you’re the primary card holder, you’ll be liable for repaying your business credit card debt even if the card you’ve applied for doesn’t affect your personal credit rating.

Dos and don’ts

Do

  • Choose the best business credit card for your needs based on rates, terms and credit limits
  • Spend within your means
  • Regularly check both your business credit report and your personal credit report and get any errors corrected

Don’t

  • Exceed your credit limit
  • Use your business credit card for personal purchases
  • Fall behind on credit card repayments

Frequently asked questions

Read about how different factors can affect your score

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