Can Anyone Get a Business Credit Card?
If you're a business owner, using a rewards card to cover expenses can save you a lot of money since these cards offer rewards for categories that pertain to the business, such as office supplies. But what if you don't own a business? Can you still get a business credit card?
While business credit cards offer perks like sign-on bonuses, generous reward incentives, and higher credit limits, qualifying for one typically depends on your credit score and the type of business you own. However, the guidelines for obtaining a business card are relatively flexible.
The short answer is yes, as long as you can demonstrate that you have a business, even a small one. If you're interested in taking advantage of big rewards, here's what you need to know.
Can you apply for a business card without a business?
Before you try to get a business credit card, you need to know what the bank is going to be looking for.
Specifically, the application is going to ask for your business's name and federal tax identification number.
If you own a small business, providing that information shouldn't be a problem, but what if you're not actively running a company?
The good news is that card issuers tend to be flexible about what qualifies as a business.
Chase, for example, allows you to open a business credit card as a sole proprietorship using your Social Security number. That simply means a business that's owned and operated by one person.
If you sell stuff on eBay or Etsy or you do a little freelancing outside of your regular 9 to 5 job, all of that would fall under the umbrella of a sole proprietorship. Technically, you could apply even if your business is still in the idea phase.
Your business income and credit score
You don't need to provide any financial documents for your business but you'll need to enter something for how much income it earns, even if it's "0".
At the application stage, banks typically won't ask to see proof that your business is making a profit as long as you've got a steady income and a good personal credit score.
In some cases, however, you may be asked to provide a personal guarantee, which is basically a statement saying that you, not the business, is personally liable if you default on your debt.
The one thing you don't want to do when you're answering the income question is fudge the truth since that could be construed as fraud.
If you tried to apply for a second business credit card later on or you ask for a big bump in your credit limit, that's when you'd likely need to prove what kind of money you're actually bringing in from your business.
Keep in mind that if you apply for a business credit card as a sole proprietor, the inquiry will show up on your personal credit report but the account itself would be listed on a separate business credit report.
Typically, your business credit card activity wouldn't affect your personal credit, but some banks, including Chase and Capital One, will report negative information like late payments on both your personal and business credit reports.
Read the fine print on your cardholder agreement
When issuing business credit cards, banks typically require you to agree that you'll only use the card for business-related expenses.
Chase, for example, asks you to agree during the application process to only use the card for business purposes and avoid charging personal or household expenses.
If you decide to charge something that falls outside the business scope, the bank could convert you to a personal card. In that case, you'd forfeit all the points you've earned so it pays to be aware of how you can and can't use the card.
Business credit card vs. Personal credit card
One of the biggest differences between business and personal credit cards is how the rewards are structured.
With a personal card, you might get cash back or points when you buy groceries, go out to dinner or book flights, but business cards tend to target different expenses.
More importantly, it is important to separate where personal and business expenses are charged because it will help for bookkeeping and tax purposes.
So, can anyone get a business credit card? As long as you've got some type of business or plans to start one, even if it's just cutting lawns on the weekend or selling your old stuff online, then the answer is yes.
The question of whether you should get one really comes down to your motives.
If you're trying to max out your rewards points or earn more cash back, a business credit card will let you do that and then some.
On the other hand, if you struggle to pay your balances on your personal cards each month or you'd need to bend the truth to qualify, getting a business credit card may create more headaches than it's worth.