How to apply for a business credit card

Discover how to choose the right business credit card and give yourself the best chance of being approved for a great deal.

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You want to apply for a business credit card? That’s great news. With a credit card you can track your business outgoings and access credit when you need it, so you’ll have the flexibility to manage your cash flow. By managing the card well, you can also build your business credit score, which could make it easier to borrow larger sums in the future as your business grows.

However, if you apply for a business credit card that isn’t right for you, you could find yourself with a worse credit rating than before. That’s why it’s important to do your research before you apply: and we’re here to help. Here’s what you need to know.

Business credit cards

Table: promoted then other popular deals
Name Product Finder score Purchases Annual / Monthly fees Rewards earn rate Representative APR Link Key benefit Representative example
Finder Award
CASHBACK
Capital on Tap Business Credit Card
4.0
★★★★★
35.15%
£0
1 point per £1 spent
35.2% APR (variable)
Go to siteCard details
Earn 1 point for every £1 of card spend. Redeem 1 point for 1p (1% cashback)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 35.15% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 35.2% APR (variable).
Barclaycard Payments Select Cashback Business Credit Card
4.0
★★★★★
27.5%
£0
1% cashback uncapped*
27.5% APR (variable)
Go to siteCard details
*Get 1% uncapped cashback on all your business spend. T&Cs apply.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 27.5% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 27.5% APR (variable).
Finder Award
CASHBACK
Capital on Tap Business Credit Card (+optional Business Rewards)
4.0
★★★★★
35.15%
£99 per annum
1 point per £1 spent
35.15% APR (variable)
Go to siteCard details
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). Optional upgrade to Business Rewards (£99 per year).
Barclaycard Select Charge Card
3.5
★★★★★
N/A (this product is a charge card).
£42 per annum
N/A
3.6% APR (variable)
Go to siteCard details
Access exclusive offers through Barclaycard business rewards. Including, but not limited to, exclusive pre-sale tickets plus discounts on hotel bookings, dining out and car hire. Terms apply.
British Airways American Express® Accelerating Business Card
4.0
★★★★★
28.5%
£250 per annum
1.5 points per £1 spent
108.4% APR (variable)
Go to siteCard details
Earn 1.5 Avios for every eligible £1 spent on purchases. Plus, for every £20,000 spent on the card, receive another 10,000 bonus Avios points, up to 3 times per year. Terms apply.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 28.5% (variable) p.a. with a fee of £250 per annum, your representative rate is 108.4% APR (variable).
American Express Business Gold Card
4.0
★★★★★
N/A (this product is a charge card).
Year 1 - £0, Year 2 onwards - £195
1 point per £1 spent
N/A (this product is a charge card).
Go to siteCard details
Earn 20,000 bonus Membership Rewards® points when you spend £3,000 in the first 3 months. Terms apply.
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Who can apply for a business credit card?

Any company, big or small, can have a business credit card, as long as you have some sort of business income.

To apply for a business credit card, you’ll need to be a sole trader or the director of a registered business. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be the CEO of a huge company: freelancers or side-hustlers (we see you!) can also successfully apply.

You’ll need to provide information and documents about your finances and credit score (see our list below) so the lender can decide if you’re eligible for their card.

If you have a personal credit card, you may have seen that some comparison sites offer eligibility checkers that run a “soft” search of your credit file to show which credit cards you’re most likely to get accepted for without impacting your credit score. Sadly, business credit card eligibility checkers don’t really exist in the same way. However, some business credit card providers, like Capital on Tap, do provide “soft” eligibility checks for individual cards on their own websites.

How to apply for a business credit card

  1. Work out what you want from your credit card. Do you just want the business credit card with the lowest rates and fees you can get; or a charge card with an integrated expense management system; or the best card for something specific, like rewards or business travel?
  2. Find a provider that offers the type of card you want.
  3. Compare credit cards. Look for the one that offers the best features (like additional employee cards and rewards) for the best price (rate and fees).
  4. Check your eligibility to make sure you qualify for the card you want. If you can do this via an online eligibility checker, that’s ideal. If not, read the eligibility criteria: some cards and providers have a minimum requirement for your turnover, and/or the length of time you’ve been trading. If the eligibility criteria isn’t shown upfront, ask for it before you apply; you could damage your credit score, or that of your business, if you apply and get turned down.
  5. Gather your documents. Now that you have picked a card and checked you’re eligible, start gathering everything you’ll need to apply: see our handy list below.
  6. Apply for the card. You can usually apply online, but it could be over the phone or in person. You’ll usually find out very quickly whether or not you’ve been approved, but in some cases this can take up to a few weeks.
  7. If approved, activate your card and start using it responsibly. You can usually start using your card as soon as you receive it – or even earlier, if you have the option to use a virtual business credit card.

How to choose the best business credit card

It all depends on what you need from a card: the best card for rewards might not be the best card for day-to-day spending, for example, and if you’re a startup or have a poor credit score, some providers may offer a business card that’s better tailored to you. The most important thing is to compare cards before you choose. Here are the factors you need to consider:

  • Annual fee. Many business credit cards have hefty annual fees attached. There are plenty with no annual fee too, although these tend to have fewer perks.
  • APR. This is the interest rate charged on outstanding credit card debt. Remember, the advertised APR only has to be offered to 51% of applicants, so you may be offered a higher rate, particularly if you’re deemed a risky applicant.
  • 0% interest deals. Some business credit cards offer an introductory 0% interest rate deal on purchases, balance transfers or both. This opportunity to borrow money without paying interest could be particularly useful if you’ve just started your business. Just make sure to pay off your balance before the interest-free period ends and the APR shoots up.
  • Rewards. Many business credit cards offer cashback deals, air miles or retail reward points as a perk for spending. These can be particularly lucrative if you travel a lot for business. Speaking of which…
  • Foreign transaction fees. If you do a lot of your business spending overseas, look for a card that doesn’t charge extra for spending in a non-UK currency.

What information and documents do I need to provide?

  • Basic personal details about you and any business partners
  • Legal business name or “doing business as” name (DBA), if there is one
  • Business address
  • Business type e.g. corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship etc.
  • Business phone number
  • Tax identification number
  • Industry
  • Business turnover
  • Monthly or annual expenditure
  • Number of employees

Most lenders will also want to see information about the financial history of your business, including the number of years you’ve been in business, your annual revenue, any existing debt and your monthly expenses. You’ll need to provide tax documents and bank statements to back this up.

You may need to provide this level of information about your personal finances too, particularly if you’re a startup or a fairly new business.

Credit checks

There’s no getting around it: lenders will run a credit check on your business credit report, and most likely your personal credit report too.

If you have a bad credit score, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to access the best business credit card deals. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply for a business credit card at all.

For one thing, credit card providers are increasingly using open banking technology to assess potential borrowing. This means they could check your actual spending habits, not just your credit score, to paint a more complete picture of your finances.

There are also a few business credit cards aimed at businesses which have poor credit or are yet to build up a credit score. There are some downsides to these:

  • Most are secured credit cards, which means you’ll have to put up personal assets as collateral. These assets can be repossessed by the lender if you fall too far into arrears.
  • These credit cards are likely to have higher rates and fewer perks than other cards.

However, if you take out one of these cards, pay it off every month and make sure you’re doing everything else you can to boost your business credit score, it’s likely you’ll be eligible for more appealing credit cards soon enough.

What happens after I’m approved?

The lender will contact you to confirm details such as your APR, credit limit and annual fee. The APR might be higher than advertised and your credit limit may be lower, depending on your perceived risk as an applicant.

Once you accept the terms, your card(s) will be sent to you in the post, typically arriving within 5 working days. However, if you have the option to use a virtual card, you can usually start using the card as soon as your account has been activated

Bottom line

The application process for a business credit card is more complex than it is for personal credit cards, particularly if you’re a new business owner with a poor credit score. However, if you follow our steps you’ll cut out a lot of the hassle: and the benefits of choosing the right card for your business will hopefully be well worth it.

Frequently asked questions

We show offers we can track - that's not every product on the market...yet. Unless we've said otherwise, products are in no particular order. The terms "best", "top", "cheap" (and variations of these) aren't ratings, though we always explain what's great about a product when we highlight it. This is subject to our terms of use. When you make major financial decisions, consider getting independent financial advice. Always consider your own circumstances when you compare products so you get what's right for you.

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