A business credit card can help you build business credit, manage expenses, and earn rewards. In addition, it’s often one of the recommended ways to create added distance between your personal finances and those of your business.
Even though you will use one of these cards for business expenses, your personal credit will likely be involved as well. As the primary applicant, you will likely assume a “personal guarantee,” taking on the onus of personal liability should the debt go unpaid.
Additionally, small business credit cards may impact your personal credit scores in a couple of ways, depending on the issuer’s policies. One is through a credit check, and the other is through reporting of account activity. Let’s delve into each:
Are There Any Card Issuers That Only Pull Transunion?
The first way that a small business credit card application can impact your scores is when your credit report is accessed as a result of a credit application. This is referred to as a “credit inquiry” or “credit pull.” Hard inquiries affect your credit scores while soft inquiries don’t.
Most card issuers will check the applicant’s personal credit when evaluating a small business credit card application. This will result in a hard inquiry on your personal credit report from whichever credit reporting agency was used to check credit, whether that’s Equifax, Experian or TransUnion.
It’s not uncommon for card issuers to work with multiple credit bureaus, so it can be difficult to predict whether they will use a Transunion credit report or one from another credit bureau. There are three ways you may be able to find out which credit bureau they use:
- Ask before you apply. The issuer may let you know which bureau they use. Since many consumers have placed credit freezes on their credit reports, it is logical they would need to know which report to unlock before applying for credit.
- Use the “creditpulls” database on Creditboards. There, users share which credit report listed an inquiry after they applied for credit through various providers.
- Review Nav’s list of places to check your credit scores for free. There you’ll see lenders that offer free credit scores and/or free credit monitoring. If you see they offer free FICO scores to customers only, that’s probably offered because the credit card issuer already purchased the credit score. You may be able to identify the bureau they use from that list. (VantageScores offered to customers and non-customers alike are probably not directly related to credit pulls.)
Business Credit Cards That Report to TransUnion
When evaluating which business credit cards report to TransUnion, there are two types of reporting that may occur:
- Credit cards that report all activity (positive and negative) to credit bureaus and
- Credit card companies that only do so when there is negative information, like delinquencies, to report.
Most credit card issuers do not report small business credit cards to personal credit on a regular basis, but do reserve the right to do so if the cardholder falls significantly behind on payments.
In addition to reporting to consumer credit bureaus like TransUnion, some issuers report small business credit cards to business credit reporting agencies. Unlike Equifax and Experian which also offer business credit reports, TransUnion only offers consumer credit reports.
If you’re trying to improve your personal creditworthiness and want all activity reported to TransUnion, you will have trouble finding a small business credit card from a major issuer to work with as most do not report to personal credit unless the owner defaults.
However, it is very common for personal credit cards to report to all three major credit bureaus, so if your goal is to build good credit, a personal credit card can be an excellent choice.
Barclays offers several co-branded business credit cards that may report to the owner’s personal credit including TransUnion.
Capital One business credit cards traditionally reported all activity to the applicant’s personal credit reports, including TransUnion. However, in recent years they modified their reporting policy so that starting Oct 20, 2020, new Capital One Spark Cards do not report to personal credit as long as the account remains in good standing.
However, if you have a small business credit card from Capital One that you opened prior to October 20, 2020, it likely appears on your personal credit reports with TransUnion, Equifax and Experian.
The Discover It® for Business credit card is no longer available for new cardholders. However, in the past it did report to personal credit.
Other Small Business Credit Cards
|Business Credit Card Issuer||Reports to Personal Credit?|
|American Express||Not unless seriously delinquent|
|Bank of America||No|
|Chase||Not unless seriously delinquent|
See the full list of how business credit cards report to personal credit here.
How the Right Business Card May Improve Your Personal Credit Scores
In some cases, choosing a credit card that does not report to TransUnion or other consumer credit reporting agencies can offer an added layer of protection between your business and personal finances. This is particularly true if you expect to have high balances on your business credit card.
High balances can impact your credit scores. Most credit scoring models evaluate a factor called “utilization” which compares your balance to your credit limit. A higher level of utilization can negatively impact your scores. Business owners will want to keep debt usage down, especially for cards that appear on personal credit.
If you do have a card that reports to one or all of the major consumer credit bureaus, here are a few ways you can help your personal credit remain healthy:
- Make payments on time every month. Your payment history plays a major role in establishing credit, and late payments will inevitably bring your score down.
- Avoid carrying a high monthly balance. As already indicated above, a high monthly balance will decrease your available credit. Keeping utilization below 10—20 percent can often help improve credit scores.
When comparing credit card offers, it’s common to focus on costs such as a low interest rate, no annual fee, or no foreign transaction fees, as well as perks like cash back rewards, travel points or welcome offers. Those are all important factors to consider when choosing the best credit card for your business.
However, don’t overlook how a new credit card may impact your business or personal credit. Knowing how credit cards report may be one of the factors you will want to consider as you choose the right card for your business.