Credit mishaps happen for a number of reasons, and perhaps one has happened to you. The good news is that there are a few business credit cards for bad credit which will give you the chance to build your business credit so that you can qualify for credit increases or new cards without having your personal credit called into question. (Solid business credit scores can open a number of other doors as well).
To save you time, we’ve put together a list of some of the best business credit cards for bad credit available to business owners. But first, let’s clarify what qualifies as “bad” credit. Some of the cards below are available for people with credit scores at the very bottom of the range, like the secured card options. These are available to business owners within the lowest tier of credit scores since the issuers mitigate the risk of the card by requiring a cash deposit to “secure” the line of credit. These are great options if you’re looking to improve your credit score by building a new, positive payment history.
Some business owners may think their credit score is bad even though some credit card issuers would actually put their score in the “fair” category. Keep in mind a very important fact—there are limited business credit card options for business owners with bad credit, so we’ve included bad and fair credit cards below. If you want to check how you stack up with these cards’ qualifiers before you apply, log in to Nav and see our marketplace of nearly 40 business credit cards so you can get matched to cards and understand what it takes to qualify.
The Best Business Credit Cards for Bad Credit
- Best overall option: Capital One Spark Classic for Business
- Best low-fee secured card: Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card
- Best rewards secured card: BBVA Compass Business Secured Visa Credit Card
- Best line of credit option: Line of credit by OnDeck
Personal credit cards are another option for small business owners with poor credit; however getting a credit card tied to your business allows you to build business credit in the name of your business and, in some cases, keep your business spend off your personal credit report. (Read here which business credit card issuers don’t report to personal credit bureaus.)
1. Best overall pick: Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business
- Annual Fee:
- Rewards: Earn 1% cash back on all purchases
- High interest: APR
- Late payment fee: Up to $39
The Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business card allows cardholders to earn rewards without needing excellent personal credit scores to qualify. The Capital One Spark Classic looks for fair credit scores—580 and above—when making approvals for this card, and it is not available to business owners with subprime credit scores. A secured card or line of credit (check below!) may be a better option for those entrepreneurs. Business owners who make on time payments with their business credit card and keep their balances low can build business credit (if the card issuer reports to the business credit bureaus—here’s our quick guide on which do), however it’s worth noting that your payment history may be reported to personal credit reporting agencies and affect your personal credit scores.
Secured Business Credit Cards
For business owners looking to build their business credit, another option is a secured business credit card. These made the list of bad credit business credit cards because they are much easier to qualify for than unsecured cards. A secured card requires a security deposit that can be used to pay your debt if you default. This is a way for credit card companies to minimize the risk of a bad credit borrower. Secured cards usually allow borrowers to charge up to the amount of their security deposit (below you’ll see a case where that isn’t quite true).
2. Best low-fee secured card: Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card
- Rewards: 1% cash back or 1 point for every dollar spent: your choice. $50 annual fee after the first year to enroll in rewards program
- Low interest: Prime rate + 11.90% APR on purchases
- 21-day grace period on purchases
- Annual fee: $25 per card
The Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card allows cardholders to secure a credit line between $500 – $25,000, depending on how much you are willing to deposit. With this card, the amount of your credit line is equal to the amount you deposit. This card has a very low interest rate and the annual fee is low at $25.
3. Best rewards secured card: BBVA Compass Business Secured Visa Credit Card
- Low interest: 17.49% (or WSJ Prime + 12.99%)
- Rewards: 1 point for every dollar you spend. Choose your own categories in which you’d like to earn double or triple points.
- No rewards enrollment fee
- No additional fee for employee cards
- Annual fee: $40
- Only 90% of your deposit will be available as a credit line
The BBVA Compass Business Secured Credit Card works similar to the Wells Fargo Secured Credit Card, however your credit line will only be equal to 90% of your deposit amount. There is a higher annual fee at $40 per year and no fee to enroll in the rewards program. Additionally, the annual fee for the first year is waived. The rewards for this card include double or triple points in the category of your choice, which is a great perk for business owners who spend a large portion of their credit on one category, such as gas or groceries.
4. An Alternative to Business Credit Cards: Line of Credit
If the above options don’t seem like a fit, a line of credit could provide a good option. This is not a business credit card, but does allow small business owners to have a fund to draw from should they need flexible spending money. You will, however, pay interest on the amount of money you draw, and it’s paid back via a weekly or monthly fee. The APR on this type of financing option can range up to three times that of a business credit card.
OnDeck’s line of credit is available to established small business owners with a personal credit score above 600, and annual revenue of at least $100,000. When you apply, you’ll get a decision on your application in minutes. The average APR on an OnDeck line of credit is 30% APR, so make sure you understand the terms before you start drawing from the line.
Things to Keep In Mind When it Comes to Bad Credit Business Credit Cards
In a Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago study, over 97% of businesses with poor or below-average financial health were unable to access traditional business bank loans or financing, so it’s no surprise that many of these business owners look to credit cards or lines of credit to access working capital. Secured business credit cards or business credit cards for bad credit can be good options for business owners with poor or fair credit who need a small amount of capital now. Even with a low credit limit, these cards can help you build business credit. Before you apply, here are couple things you’ll want to do:
- Know and monitor your credit score. You can monitor your personal and business credit score with a free Nav account.
- Make sure a business credit card is the best option for you, and look into business loans if you think a loan might be a better financing option for your business.
Can I get a business credit card with bad credit?
Business credit cards for bad credit are an option for new or established business owners looking for the convenience of a credit card and want to bolster their personal scores. But the credit cards that offer the best rewards are generally reserved for the most creditworthy applicants.
Here are three steps to consider when trying to qualify for the best cards:
- Monitor your credit. There are over 150 places to get your credit score for free, and many services will help identify problem areas within your credit history where your credit can be improved. For example, high debt utilization is often a problem for consumers and business owners. If your debt ratio is too high, it could be weighing on your scores, and you’ll want to focus on paying that down.
- Keep your business debt off your personal cards. Try to avoid mixing personal and business finances. Getting business debt off personal cards may mean looking into other options for business financing, or starting with a business secured card.
- Be weary of credit inquiries. If you apply for credit many times over a short period, you could end up with multiple credit inquiries on your report. These can impact your score, and can affect your score for 12 months or more.
Can I use my EIN to get a credit card?
If you have an employer identification number (EIN) you can use it to apply for a small-business credit card. But you will almost always need provide a Social Security number as well.
This article was originally posted in 2015 and updated on March 16, 2021