How to apply for a business credit card

Discover how to apply for a business credit card, the hurdles you may encounter and some crucial tips to ensure you're approved for a great deal.

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American Express Platinum Business Card

American Express® Platinum Business Card

  • Earn 1 Membership Rewards point for every £1 spent.
  • Enjoy access to over 1,200 airport lounges worldwide.
Annual fee £595. Subject to status, 18+only. Terms apply.
Promoted

Are you in the market for a business credit card and want to know what to expect from the application process, or maybe you have already chosen the perfect card for you and your business’s needs and are ready to apply?

A business credit card gives you access to revolving credit, improving cash flow by allowing you to borrow the funds needed to grow your company whenever you need to.

It also lets you build your business credit score, making it easier to be approved for larger business loans in the future.

Many cardholders also appreciate the ease of tracking business credit card expenditure. It’s possible to get additional credit cards for employees all linked to the same account.

The application process isn’t always straightforward, though. This guide explains what you’ll need to successfully apply for a great business credit card.

Business credit cards

Table: promoted then other popular deals
Name Product Purchases Annual/monthly fees Rewards earn rate Representative APR Link Key benefit Representative example
£100 BONUS
Capital on Tap Business Credit Card
26.4%
£0
1 point per £1 spent
29.9% APR (variable)
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Finder exclusive welcome offer: Earn £100 bonus cashback when you make your first transaction. Offer ends 30 June 2022. Terms apply.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 26.4% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 29.9% APR (variable).
CASHBACK
Barclaycard Select Cashback Business Credit Card Mastercard
21.9%
£0
1% cashback
21.9% APR (variable)
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Limited time offer: Get 3% cashback on business travel spend for the first 4 months and 1% cashback on all other business spend. Apply before 31/08/2022. Cashback and Promotional Cashback T&Cs and eligibility criteria apply.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 21.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 21.9% APR (variable).
£100 BONUS
Capital on Tap Business Rewards Credit Card
26.4%
£99 p.a.
1 point per £1 spent
29.9% APR (variable)
Go to site
Finder exclusive welcome offer: Earn £100 bonus cashback when you make your first transaction. Offer ends 30 June 2022. Terms apply.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 26.4% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 29.9% APR (variable).
NatWest Business Credit Card (only available to existing business customers)
16.9%
Year 1 - £0, Year 2 onwards - £30 per annum
N/A
24.3% APR (variable)
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Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 16.9% (variable) p.a. with a fee of Year 1 - £0, Year 2 onwards - £30 per annum, your representative rate is 24.3% APR (variable).
CASHBACK
Juni Business Card
N/A (this product is a charge card).
£0
1% cashback
N/A (this product is a charge card).
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Made for ecommerce companies only. Earn 1% cashback on all virtual Juni card spend.
RBS Business Credit Card (only available to existing business customers)
16.9%
Year 1 - £0, Year 2 onwards - £30 per annum
N/A
24.3% APR (variable)
Go to site
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 16.9% (variable) p.a. with a fee of Year 1 - £0, Year 2 onwards - £30 per annum, your representative rate is 24.3% APR (variable).
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How to apply for a business credit card

To apply for a business credit card, you will need to be a director of a registered business or a sole trader.

You can apply for a business credit card online, by phone or, in some cases, in a branch. Most providers will allow you to apply online.

While many comparison sites offer eligibility checkers for personal credit cards, they are less common for business cards. You can only check your eligibility for individual cards on a specific card issuer’s site.

Business credit card providers such as Capital on Tap have an eligibility checker on their website. Business credit card eligibility checkers show which credit cards you’re most likely to get accepted for without impacting your credit score. This is because they only involve a “soft” search of your credit file.

How to apply for a business credit card

  1. Work out what you want to get out of your credit card. Do you want a business credit card that offers the lowest rates and fees, or do you want certain features such as business rewards or business travel? Perhaps you are looking for a charge card with an integrated expense management system?
  2. Research your options and find the providers that offer that type of credit card. Some business card providers specialise in certain types of cards, and may not offer other types that you are looking for.
  3. Compare credit cards to find the one that best meets yours and your business’s needs. You should consider things like rate, fees, additional employee cards and rewards.
  4. Pick your card and check your eligibility to make sure you qualify for the card. Most business credit card lenders will provide you with its eligibility criteria, this can be a specific minimum turnover or a requirement of trading for a certain amount of time. If the eligibility criteria is not clearly shown, make sure you enquire before applying as this could affect yours or your business’s credit report.
  5. Gather your documents. Now that you have picked your card and checked that you are eligible, start gathering your documents. See our handy list of information and documentation you might need to provide to the lender.
  6. Apply for the card and wait for the issuer’s approval. This is where you actually start the application process. This may be online, over the phone or in person. The application process can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few weeks to learn if you have been approved.
  7. If approved, activate your card and start using it responsibly. Once you have word that you have been approved, depending on your card issuer, you can start using your card as soon as you have received it. If you have the option to use a virtual business credit card, you can usually use this as soon as your account has been activated.

Who can apply for a business credit card?

Any company, big or small, can benefit from having a business credit card. To apply for a business credit card, you will usually need to have some sort of business income in order to be eligible.

That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be the CEO of a major business. If you’re a freelancer or you have a small side-hustle, you could also successfully apply.

However, you’ll need to be able to provide a number of documents and meet various criteria with regards to your finances and credit score.

What information and documents do I need to provide?

  • Personal information of yourself and any business partners
  • Legal business name or 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 want to see information about your business’s financial history, including the number of years in business, annual revenue, existing debt and monthly expenses. You’ll need to provide tax documents and bank statements in order to back this information up.

You may need to provide this financial information from a personal standpoint too, particularly if you are a startup or a fairly new business.

Credit checks

Lenders will run a credit check on your business credit report (and most likely your personal credit report too). There is no getting around this.

If you have a bad credit score, it’s unlikely that you will be able to access the best business credit card deals. However, in recent years, we are seeing a rise in credit card providers using open banking technology to assess potential borrowing. This means that the issuer will use AI technology to check your real-time spending habits, and not just your credit score, to paint a better picture of your borrowing journey.

There are also a few business credit cards aimed at new businesses or those with poor credit. Most of these are secured credit cards, which will require you to put up personal assets as collateral. These assets can be repossessed by the lender if you fall too far into arrears.

Often, these credit cards have higher rates and fewer perks than other cards. Still, by paying them off every month and taking other steps to boost your business credit score, it’s likely you’ll be eligible for more appealing credit cards soon enough.

If you are approved for a business credit card

Most lenders will make a decision on your credit card application immediately, although some may take up to a couple of days or weeks to either approve or reject your application.

If you are approved, the lender will 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 five working days. If you have the option to use a virtual card, usually once your account has been activated, you can start using the card straight away.

How to choose the best business credit card

You should always choose a credit card that best suits yours and your business’s needs and wants. Consider the following factors when picking a business credit card:

  • 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 if you’re deemed a particularly risky applicant.
  • 0% interest deals. Some business credit cards will 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 to those who have just started a business. But, make sure to pay off your balance before the 0% interest deal ends, as the APR will shoot up thereafter.
  • Rewards. Many business credit cards include cashback deals as a way to entice new customers. It’s also incredibly common for business credit cards to offer air miles or retail reward points as a perk for spending. If you travel overseas a lot for business, these cards might be particularly beneficial.
  • Foreign transaction fees. If a lot of your business spending takes place overseas, a card that charges no foreign loading fees could appeal.

The 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. Nevertheless, the benefits they can provide to your business make it worth the hassle.

Frequently asked questions

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