As a sole proprietor, you are your business. And while that structure might work for the product or service that you’re trying to sell, it can make it difficult to get approved for some forms of business financing, including loans and lines of credit.
A business credit card, on the other hand, doesn’t require your business to have a credit history. Instead, card issuers typically base their approval on your personal credit history, making it easy to get a card if you have good credit.
As you’re comparing various cards, it’s important to consider what you want in a card, including the rewards program, APR, and other features. To help you narrow down your selection, here are our favorite credit cards for sole proprietors.
Best for cash back:
The not only offers the most versatile form of credit card rewards — cold hard cash — but it also offers a straightforward program.
The card starts you out with a . You’ll also receive This applies to personal expenses or boosting your bottom line in your business.
The card doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee, making it a good choice if you travel abroad for work. Its annual fee is . However, the sign-up bonus covers the annual fee for several years, and you only have to spend $4,750 per year to make up for it after that.
Best for travel rewards:
If you’d rather earn travel rewards over cash back, the may be worth considering. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a business credit card with a better sign-up bonus, and the card offers bonus rewards in several business-related categories.
You can redeem your rewards for cash back, gift cards, travel and more. But if you use them to book travel through Chase, they’re worth 25% more. For example, the 80,000-point sign-up bonus is worth $1,000 this way.
Alternatively, you can transfer your points to one of Chase’s 13 airline and hotel transfer partners, including several domestic and international brands. Depending on how savvy you are, you could get much more value redeeming your rewards this way.
The card charges a annual fee but doesn’t have any foreign transaction fees. Also, it offers cardholders primary rental car insurance, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, and cell phone protection for you and employees listed on your phone bill.
Best for 0% APR promotion:
Rewards are great for ongoing operating expenses. But if you need to finance a large upcoming expense or need some time to get your cash flow in order, the may be a better choice.
The card offers an introductory APR promotion of . After that, your APR will be , depending on your creditworthiness.
Depending on how much you put on the card during the promotional period, you could save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.
But with no annual fee and the potential to get a lot of value, the card is a solid choice.
Best for limited or fair credit:
Most of the best business credit cards out there require good or excellent credit, which starts at a FICO score of 670. If you’re just starting to build credit for the first time, or you have some lingering issues, but your score isn’t terrible, consider the .
The card is designed for what Capital One calls “average credit,” which includes business owners who have defaulted on a loan in the past five years, or had their own credit card or other credit for less than 3 years.
If you belong in either of those groups, you may have a chance of getting approved. If you do, you’ll earn You also won’t have to worry about an annual fee or foreign transaction fees.
Keep in mind, though, that Capital One reports business credit card account activity to both the consumer and commercial credit bureaus. So you’ll need to use the card wisely to avoid hurting your credit. With most other business credit cards, it won’t affect your personal credit unless you’re delinquent.
Best for young businesses:
Many business credit cards require at least two years in business to qualify. With little to no fees, a steady rewards rate and a requirement of only one year in business, the is worth consideration for the young business owner.
While the lacks the big-time welcome gift for new cardholders, it gives you the chance to double your cash back.
Keeping in mind that the card only requires one year in business, this welcome offer could be a tremendous help to a young business going through growth and the associated costs.
Best for bad credit: Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card
If your credit score is below 580 and you’re not relatively new to credit, you may have a tough time getting approved for the Capital One® Spark® Classic. And while a secured business credit card is likely your best bet, you don’t have to worry about getting a terrible deal.
The Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card allows business owners to choose between 1.5% cash back on all purchases or 1 point per dollar on all purchases, plus 1,000 bonus points for every month where you spend at least $1,000.
To get the card, you’ll need to make a security deposit equal to your credit limit, which can range from $500 to $25,000. The annual fee is $25 per card, and you can get up to 10 employee cards. If it’s just you, though, $25 isn’t too expensive.
As you use the card responsibly over time, the card issuer will periodically review your account to determine if and when it can upgrade you to an unsecured card. Once that happens, you’ll get your deposit back.
What to consider as a sole proprietor
There’s no single best credit card out there for everyone, so it’s important for you to consider your business expenses and general preferences. While we consider the Ink Business PreferredSM Credit Card as the best business travel credit card, for instance, it may not be a good fit if you don’t spend any money in the card’s bonus categories.
So take the time to review where you spend the most money, and try to find a credit card that will give you the most bang for your buck.
At the same time, also consider other features, such as a 0% APR promotion, no annual fee, and travel protections. As you think about what your business needs, you’ll have a better idea of which card will fit the bill.
Finally, keep in mind that a business credit card can’t help you build business credit as a sole proprietor unless you have an employer identification number (EIN). While this isn’t required for sole proprietors, it’s a good idea to have one, if only to build business credit.
Ready to see your credit data and start building better business credit? Check Your Personal and Business Credit For Free (No Credit Card Required).