Perhaps you’ve taken the leap and started your own company, and now it’s time to get a small business credit card. Or maybe, your business has been around for awhile, but you haven’t had the need for a credit card, until now. Either way, here’s what you need to know to open your first business credit card account.
How business credit cards work
A small business credit card works almost exactly like a consumer credit card. Like a consumer credit card, most small business cards require you to supply your personal guarantee of repayment (read this for more info on what a personal guarantee entails). When you apply for a new account, the card issuer will usually just look at your personal credit history and credit score, so you don’t need a business credit score to apply. (You can check your personal and business credit scores for free every month on Nav.) And while small business credit cards are exempt from some of the consumer protections outlined by the CARD Act of 2009, most card issuers voluntarily provide the same protections to their small business cardholders.
Using a small business credit card can have some key advantages over consumer cards. First, a business credit card can help you to separate your personal purchases from your business expenses, Also, small business cards are much more likely to offer rewards for the purchases that your business makes. For example, it’s common for small business credit cards to offer bonus rewards for purchases such as office supplies, telecommunications services and advertising. Finally, most small business cards will include expense tracking and reporting features that can help you with budgeting and tax preparation.
Choosing a card
Before you fill out an application, you’ll have to choose a card. If you’re fairly new to credit cards, then you should consider applying for a simple credit card, perhaps from a bank that you already do business with. This way, you’ll be able to see all of your accounts in one place, and making a payment will be simply a matter of transferring funds between accounts.
But if you have plenty of experience with consumer credit cards, then you should shop around to find the best possible offer for your credit level and business needs. The right small business credit card could offer rewards for your business spending, travel benefits or a competitive 0% promotional financing offer. But if you plan on carrying a balance, then you should also look for a card with the lowest standard interest rate. Here are some of our expert picks for the best business credit cards on the market right now.
How to fill out the application
Most parts of a small business credit card application are the same as a personal application. But compared to a consumer credit card, there are a few extra pieces of information that you will need when filling out a small business application. You’ll need to supply your business’s legal name, as well as the name as you would like it to appear on the card. You’ll also need to say how long you’ve been in business, and specify its legal structure, such as a corporation, sole-proprietorship, partnership or nonprofit. You’ll also need to enter your business tax ID number, although some banks will accept your Social Security number if you don’t have one.
Other information you will need to supply will include your business industry type and your annual business revenue. If you have a new business, you can supply your projected revenue.
After submitting your application online, you may receive instant approval. Alternatively, you may be notified that your application is pending review. If you are not immediately approved, your application could still be approved at a later time, or it may be declined. Either way, you can contact the card issuer and ask to have your application manually reviewed. Once approved, your card will often arrive within a few days. As with a consumer credit card, you’ll need to activate it before you can use it.
The bottom line
Starting a business can be a challenge, but getting a small business credit card isn’t if you know how to apply. By choosing the best card for your needs, and accurately filling out the application, you can enjoy your new small business credit card sooner than you may have thought.
This article was originally written on December 18, 2017 and updated on January 27, 2021.