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Business credit cards can offer some advantages over personal cards, including potentially higher credit limits and sign-up bonuses and more detailed bookkeeping features for tax time.
Applying for a business credit card is similar to the process for a personal card, with a twist. Here are some tips on how to get a business credit card.
1. Define your business
What counts as a bona fide business when it comes to eligibility for business credit cards? The definition can actually be quite broad. You’re not required to have a formal business structure, like an LLC or S Corp., to qualify for a business credit card. Sole proprietorships count, too, making business credit cards an option not just for people who run their own company, but also for those who earn extra income freelancing, contracting or side hustling.
2. Check your personal credit
Your personal credit history matters when it comes to business credit cards because if your business can’t afford to pay your credit card balance, you’re typically on the hook for making payments from your personal accounts. This means it’s the responsibility of the business or the business owner to pay what is owed on the credit card, even if the business doesn’t succeed.
Take a look at your credit report and your credit scores. You can get one personal credit report per year from each of the three main credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, at annualcreditreport.com. You can also keep an eye on your credit score for free using the NerdWallet app.
As with personal credit cards, your options become more numerous once your credit score is in the good or excellent range, typically a FICO score of at least 690. If your score isn’t quite where you’d like it to be, credit-building habits like making all bill payments on time and charging a low percentage of your total overall credit limit each month can help over time.
3. Consider your business credit card options
If you need to finance a large purchase, look for a card with 0% introductory APR on new purchases. The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express charges an intro 0% intro APR on Purchases for 12 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.24% - 19.24% Variable APR. The $0 annual fee and ongoing rewards make it an easy card to keep carrying once the introductory interest rate period ends. Terms apply.
If you want to earn cash back, you’ve got options. Some cards earn the same rewards rate for all purchases, like the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business. It offers 2% cash back on all purchases, plus this sign-up bonus: Earn a one-time $500 cash bonus once you spend $4,500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening. The annual fee is $0 intro for the first year, then $95. The Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card, on the other hand, earns 5% cash back on the first $25,000 per anniversary year in purchases at office supply stores, and on internet, cable and phone services; 2% cash back on the first $25,000 per anniversary year in purchases at gas stations and restaurants; and 1% everywhere else. Earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. The annual fee is $0.
If you want to earn travel rewards, you can choose a card that earns points you can redeem for that purpose. Some such cards offer traveler-friendly perks as well. The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, for instance, offers lots of extras in exchange for its steep annual fee of $595. First, there's a rich welcome bonus: Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms apply. You’ll also earn 5 points per $1 on on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, 1.5 points per $1 on eligible purchases of $5,000 or more (up to a million extra points per year), and 1 point per $1 on everything else. You’ll also get a $200 annual airline fee credit, a credit toward the cost of Global Entry or TSA Precheck, airport lounge access, and more. Terms apply. Trying to keep fees low? The $0-annual-fee Bank of America® Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard® credit card and Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business ($0 intro for the first year, then $95) offer sign-up bonuses and earn rewards on every purchase.
4. Gather the info you'll need to apply
Depending on which card you apply for, you may be asked to provide some or all of the following information:
Personal information, including your name, birthdate, Social Security number, home address, email, phone number, annual income, and monthly rent or mortgage payment.
Business information, including your business name, legal structure, industry type, address, phone number, annual revenue, number of employees, years in business, estimated monthly spending, and either your employer identification number or your Social Security number.