Which Credit Cards Can Help Me Build Business Credit?

Which Credit Cards Can Help Me Build Business Credit?

Which Credit Cards Can Help Me Build Business Credit?

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Small business credit cards offer myriad benefits: rich rewards and cards with limits that are often higher than on personal cards. Plus, there’s an added bonus that small business owners don’t always recognize at first: A business credit card may help you build business credit.

In fact, getting one of these cards may help put your business on the map when it comes to building business credit, provided the card issuer reports information to commercial credit agencies. Not all cards have the same policy when it comes to reporting to business credit bureaus, though, and it’s important to understand how each one works. (In a separate article, we explain how business credit cards may affect a business owner’s personal credit.)

How Business Credit Card Data Ends Up on Credit Reports

There are a number of commercial credit reporting agencies in the U.S. Dun & Bradstreet, Equifax and Experian are among the most well known. Separately, the Small Business Financial Exchange (SBFE) serves as a repository of business credit information for its members, which include major financial institutions and lenders of all types that provide financing to small businesses.

Learn more: Experian business credit report

The SBFE doesn’t compile or sell credit reports. Instead, it works with SBFE Certified Vendors, which are credit reporting agencies that are permitted to include credit information reported to the SBFE exchange in the reports they sell to members of the SBFE. SBFE Certified Vendors currently include Dun & Bradstreet, LexisNexis and Equifax.

Credit reporting is entirely voluntary. No issuer is required to report information to credit bureaus, whether it’s personal or commercial credit information. And with business credit in particular, it can be difficult to find lenders and vendors that report. That’s why this kind of information is important.

We reached out to the major business credit card issuers and asked them where they report small business credit card data. Below is a chart that lists the results. Note that because of the SBFE Certified Vendor model, information reported to SBFE may also be included in reports compiled by SBFE Certified Vendors. (Editor’s Note: This chart is accurate as of publish date, but issuer policies can change.)

Tips for Building Business Credit With Credit Cards

If one of your goals is a good business credit rating, consider getting a business credit card. Many entrepreneurs think their business has to be well-established and profitable to qualify, but that is not always the case. Card issuers are often more interested in the personal credit score of the owner who applies, and will often consider income from a variety of sources, not just the business itself.

To build strong business credit using a business credit card, make sure you:

  1. Pay your credit card on time. Payment history is the most important factor in personal credit scores and can be an even greater factor with business credit scores. Some business credit scoring models rely almost entirely on payment history.
  2. Keep balances low. Business credit reports are different than personal credit reports in several ways. One is that issuers don’t typically report credit limits. Unlike personal credit scores, where debt usage is based on the balance compared to the credit limit, with business credit the balance may be compared to the highest balance reported. Your business may appear “maxed out” more easily this way. Not all commercial credit scoring models will evaluate debt usage, but when they do, lower balances can be a benefit.
  3. Check credit often. Another way business credit reports are different than personal credit reports is that they do not list the name of the lender (or card issuer). As you begin to build business credit, keep track of your business credit reports to identify when one of these accounts reports. You’ll then be able to track how various accounts impact your credit history.

Credit cards can be a flexible and relatively low-cost way to borrow for your business and can offer lucrative rewards that provide additional value at no cost when you pay your balances in full. As with all types of credit, you want to be careful and cautious so you don’t put your business finances at risk. You can check your business credit for free every month on Nav.

This article was originally written on February 6, 2018 and updated on January 30, 2020.

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ABOUT AUTHOR

Gerri Detweiler

Education Director for Nav

Credit expert Gerri Detweiler is Education Director for Nav. She has more than three decades of experience in consumer credit education, has been interviewed in more than 3500 news stories, and answered over 10,000 credit questions online. Her articles have been widely syndicated on sites such as MSN, Forbes, and MarketWatch. She is the author or coauthor of five books, including Finance Your Own Business: Get on the Financing Fast Track. She has testified before Congress on consumer credit legislation.

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22 responses to “Which Credit Cards Can Help Me Build Business Credit?

  1. I have two net 30 account.
    And good business credit. My credit is low. I have been in business for 5yr . How do i apply for credit card. On business only

    1. Barbara,

      I’m not sure I understand your question. All small business credit cards from major issuers will check your personal credit. As this article describes, some report to only business credit and others report to both personal and business credit. You can find business credit cards through Nav’s Marketplace.

  2. How do you begin the process of only using your business credit when applying for any type of credit & not using personal credit in conjunction? My business is 3.5 yrs old. I had a Kiva loan that’s since been paid in full. I also have a business Cap 1 card which I cant remember if its connected to my Personal Credit or not. I believe it is. I want to start moving my bus credit to stand alone. What else shld I do besides continue to build solid business credit? How do you ultimately make that jump where creditors will reply strickly on your business credit?

    1. Holly, It sounds like you are off to a great start. Generally, lenders will look at 3 main factors: time in business (3.5 years is pretty good), revenues and credit (business and/or personal). You will rely at least somewhat on personal credit while you continue to build your business. Have you looked into vendor accounts to help build business credit? This article may help: Easy Approval Net-30 Accounts

  3. I noticed you have American Express listed as reporting to D&B, however they only report if there is negative activity. Do you know of any business cards that report on a monthly basis to D&B positive or negative?

    1. Thanks Kadian – we’re updating that post. The other issuers listed as reporting to D&B should be both positive and negative information. However, not all Dun & Bradstreet credit reports will list bankcards.

  4. Hi Gerri,

    Thank you for all the information. Based on the info in the chart above, does this mean that Chase and Citi Bank are more advantageous because they report to more credit agencies?

      1. I have a chase business credit card and i called to see if this was reporting as a business credit card and they said no it only reports to personal. Is this fraud? it actually says Chase INK business credit card and i use is soley for business. Chase does not report to Dunns I am not sure why this website says it does.

  5. With only a handful of banks on the list is there a simple way to to get this information for banks not on the list? I have tried calling some banks but the CSR do not seem to know what business credit agencies their cards report to.

    For example would I be able to find out by contacting Experian or Equifax directly?

    1. Good question. Unfortunately there is no easy way to get this information. The credit reporting agencies won’t be able to tell you. (And business credit reports don’t list the names of card issuers.) However this list encompasses the top small business card issuers which together issue the large majority of business credit cards available. Keep in mind that these issuers often have multiple cards with different rates, fees, and rewards – so there’s a good chance there is something on that list that should be a fit!

  6. I’ve read plenty of places that the Wells Fargo Secured credit card reports to DnB and the other credit agencies. I cant find any information about that unsecured bussines card though. Does the unsecured Business Platinum report to DnB or the other agencies? Logic would suggest it would, but I cant seem to find any info on this.

    1. Hi Joe,

      As indicated in the chart above, Wells Fargo reports their business credit cards to the SBFE. That means that data may be available on certain credit reports purchase through Certified Vendors which may include D&B, Equifax, Experian and LexisNexis. This article may help: What is the SBFE?

  7. My daughter is interested in applying for a business credit in the near future. Her Business is new (less than 6 months), but she has established (3) vendor credit accounts which are paid, and in good standing, will that qualify her business for a unsecured business credit card?

  8. I’m interested in a business card to start.
    Is there a secured deposit type card available.
    I’d like to deposit 1000.00 dollars to start.

    1. Wells Fargo offers a secured business credit card. Before you go that route you may want to get a free Nav account and check whether you have high MatchFactor scores for any of the unsecured business credit cards.

      1. I have a Nav account! How do I go by checking to see if I can get approval for Wells Fargo Secured Card???

        1. The Wells Fargo secured card is not currently available in the Nav marketplace. I believe you need to go into a branch to apply for it.

          Let us know how your experience with it goes. I’m sure other small business owners will be interested.

          1. Hi – after having such a difficult (slow) time building business credit – and having much luck with Secured cards building my personal credit, I researched (for a long time actually) and found that only Wells Fargo is the only secured business card out there. I have now, just opened a business checking account at Wells Fargo, and read thier brochures and online information about this card – you can apply for a card by depositing $500 – $25000. Now after discovering on NAV, I see Wells Fargo ONLY reports to the SBFE report. After reading NAVs info on SBFE….it just doesn’t sound attractive enough for me to go for their card – – which is surprising because WELLS FARGO, is up there with CIti, Chase, and Discover….and should be reporting to all. I wish you could point me in the right direction or better yet, which business cards report to ALL 3 of the credit reporting agencies. Ironically – your chart also shows American Express reports to D&B (only negative – strange, is this correct) and then only to SBFE….I only have tradelines at the moment – but I want to get business credit card(s) – that guarantee reporting. As I said, I have business checking at Wells Fargo and business checking at Chase…when you have an account at their bank, that can be like more of a foot in the door, to be approved for their card – now, I am not sure if the Wells Fargo card will be helpful in building credit. I know this is a lot of info / but do hope you can summarize and reply to the main issues. thanks!

          2. Hi Paul,

            Yes, business credit reporting is much less standardized than personal credit reporting as you’ve learned. Since it is a voluntary system there’s no requirement that an issuer report to all three major bureaus, and many don’t. You’ll see in the chart on this page that some issuers do report to all the major commercial credit reporting agencies but since you are looking for a secured card I assume you are having trouble qualifying for an unsecured card (?) Unfortunately there are also few unsecured business credit cards. I still think there is value in a card that reports to the SBFE as that data can be accessed by lenders through multiple bureaus. But as you continue to work on your credit you may want to check back in your Nav account to see what other business credit cards are coming up with a high MatchFactor score and consider one that offers the reporting you’re looking for. I wish I could offer you the perfect solution but as you’ve learned business credit is not the same as personal!