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How to Get a Business Credit Card in 5 Simple Steps

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Having access to credit is monumentally important to a small business, especially when you’re just starting out. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), using a business credit card is one of the fastest ways to build credit history for your business. With a strong credit history, you’ll get more favorable terms and rates, as well as the opportunity to grow your business.

Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card

Credit score

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Welcome offer

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Intro APR

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Rewards rate

  • 1.5% cash back on every business-related purchase
  • 5% cash back on Lyft (through March 2025)

The card_name doesn’t offer a lot of variety in its rewards earnings (a flat 1.5% everywhere), but that’s part of its charm. Those who find bonus categories appealing should stay away, but anyone valuing simplicity has found their new daily driver. A minimum of 1.5% back on everything is above average.

Why do you need a business credit card?

There are some compelling reasons why a business credit card makes sense. This is what one can do for your business:

  • Pay for businesses expenses. You can start paying for business expenses on a credit card that will allow you more flexibility in your business. For example, there’s a 21-day grace period where you’re not charged interest on your credit-card purchases that can help businesses manage their cash flow.
  • Simplify business processes. With a business credit card, you can run your expenses through a single account and simplify how you do business.
  • Keep personal and business expenses separate. If you have a credit card dedicated to your business, it makes it much easier to separate your business and personal purchases. If you’re a growing business, it might be time to stop making business purchases with your personal card.
  • Earn rewards for your business purchases. If you have a business credit card, you can earn rewards from your purchases that you can turn around to use for personal travel.
  • Build your business credit score. If you’re responsible with your business credit cards, your business credit score could go up. This is a different score from your personal credit score and ranges from one to 100.

Requirements for a business credit card

If this is your first business credit card, it’s helpful to know what’s required before you apply for one.

A business

You may qualify for a business credit card and not realize it. If you sell on Etsy or at the local farmer’s market, you qualify. If you tutor part time, deliver groceries, or drive for a ride-sharing company, you qualify. If you freelance as a graphic designer, writer, or web designer, you qualify.

Other, traditional business structures that may qualify include:

  • Sole proprietors.
  • Corporations.
  • Limited liability companies (LLCs).
  • Partnerships.

A good personal credit rating

Your personal credit will be evaluated to qualify you for a business card, even if you apply with an employer identification number (EIN). This is especially true of new businesses that do not have a credit history. A good personal credit score is a great way to help you get one of the best small business credit cards.

Profitability and cash

Lenders look for a business with solid financials. They’ll look at how much money your business makes as well as how much money you have in your bank account.

Things you don’t need

Surprising things you don’t need include:

  • A legal structure. You don’t need an LLC, partnership or corporation to apply for a business credit card. You can apply using your Social Security number.
  • Business history. You can get a business credit card even if you’re a new business owner. When applying for a business card, your personal credit will be evaluated.
  • Employees or a physical location. You can work alone and work from home and still qualify for a business credit card.

Getting a business credit card in 5 simple steps:

If you think you’re ready to take the leap and apply for a business credit card, there are five steps you need to take.

1. Check your credit

Before you apply for a credit card, check to see if there’s anything in your credit report that can be improved. Unless you qualify for a corporate credit card where you apply only with an EIN (more on this later), your personal credit information will affect your business application. Cleaning up your personal credit score will go a long way toward earning you the best rates and terms so you can get one of the best credit cards.

2. Choose a credit card

Choosing the best business credit card takes a little bit of research. There are many choices for business credit cards, with different qualifications and features.

Some factors you may want to consider when it comes to a business credit card include:

  • Fees. What’s the annual fee and is it worth it? Foreign transaction fee? Balance transfer fee? Late fee? Are company cards for employees free?
  • APR. What is the card’s APR? How does it compare with other business cards?
  • Rewards structure. Does the card earn rewards? In what categories? Are these the categories you spend the most in?
  • Online and mobile banking. Does the card have features that will help you run your business, such as robust online and mobile banking software?
  • Extended warranties. Some cards offer warranties that add time beyond the manufacturer’s warranty.
  • Other perks. It’s possible to get a business card with access to airport lounges, statement credits from popular retailers, status for loyalty programs, and free memberships for select programs.

Popular small business credit cards you’ll come across in your research may include:

Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card

Credit score

credit_score_needed

Welcome offer

bonus_miles_full

Intro APR

intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration

Rewards rate

  • 1.5% cash back on every business-related purchase
  • 5% cash back on Lyft (through March 2025)

The card_name doesn’t offer a lot of variety in its rewards earnings (a flat 1.5% everywhere), but that’s part of its charm. Those who find bonus categories appealing should stay away, but anyone valuing simplicity has found their new daily driver. A minimum of 1.5% back on everything is above average.

3. Collect all the information you’ll need

After you have an idea of which credit card you want, applying is simply a matter of submitting your information to the credit card issuer. Collecting it ahead of time will make your application go quickly. This includes:

  • Business name.
  • Business address.
  • Type of business.
  • Structure of your business (sole proprietor, LLC, S corporation, etc.).
  • Number of employees.
  • Business revenue.
  • Business expenses.
  • Years in business.
  • Business email and phone number.
  • Your role in the business (owner, CFO, etc.).
  • EIN or Social Security number.

4. Apply

Once you have all your information, you’re ready to apply. Online applications are pretty simple and usually take less than 10 minutes.

You’ll often see a decision immediately. If you were not approved, you do have the option of calling the reconsideration line.

5. Receive the credit card and start using it

Your card will arrive in the mail in about a week. You can start charging appropriate business purchases on the card immediately.

How to apply for a business credit card

As a small business owner, you can apply for a business credit card either with an EIN or your Social Security number, but there are some tricky details to keep in mind when you apply.

Applying for a business credit card with an EIN

When you apply for a business credit card with an EIN, you’ll also be asked for your personal information—but that can be a good thing. Your personal credit score and income can help you qualify for a business credit card.

Qualifying for a credit card on an EIN alone has some stringent requirements. You’ll need to have:

  • 10 employees.
  • Pristine business credit history.
  • Yearly revenue over $1 million.
  • Cash reserves for a year.
  • One year or more in business.

Applying for a business credit card without an EIN

You don’t need an EIN to apply for a business credit card—your Social Security number will work. However, if you want to use a separate EIN for your business, you may be able to get one in a matter of minutes by applying online through the IRS.

Alternatives to business credit cards

Business credit cards aren’t the only way to fund your business. You may also want to look into the following options.

SBA loans

You may be able to qualify for an SBA loan, which is a business loan guaranteed by the U.S. Small Business Administration. The loans are made with a lending partner of the SBA and can range from $500 to $5.5 million. Your business must meet SBA size requirements, have sound financials, and be able to repay the loan.

Business line of credit

With a business line of credit, you can borrow the amount of money you need up to a limit (much like a credit card). It provides a lot of flexibility for your money and you only pay interest on what you borrow.

Merchant capital advance

Also called a merchant cash advance, a business can trade a percentage of its future credit-card sales in exchange for a lump sum to help fund business operations. Businesses make this loan with a lender who specializes in this type of transaction, and the fees can be high.

Home equity loans

Many new business owners tap the equity in their home to fund their business, either with a home equity line of credit (HELOC) or a home equity loan. It’s a bet on yourself that you can earn enough money with business revenue so you don’t lose your home. If you’re unable to make payments on your home equity loan, the bank could start foreclosure proceedings against you.

Personal loans

Personal loans are more expensive and will likely have a lower amount for which you qualify. However, your home is not at risk if you default on the loan. There’s no shortage of lenders who offer personal loans, including some you may not have considered.

TIME Stamp: Getting a business card is easier than you think

The requirements for getting a business credit card aren’t as stringent as you think. You don’t need an EIN or a legal business structure to qualify. The main requirement is that you have a business and use the card for your business.

You can pick from some of the best small business credit cards to get started with building your business credit score, separating your business expenses from your personal expenses, and earning rewards on your business expenses. There’s a lot of value you can derive as a business owner from a good business credit card.

Found all-in-one business banking solution

Fees

Free plan: $0; Plus plan: $19.99 monthly or $149.99 annual best value

Features

Free business checking account; Free Mastercard© debit card; Helpful tax savings tools; User-friendly bookkeeping support; Fast and easy contractor payments; Professional and customized invoicing; No required fees

Best for

Self-employed individuals; Freelancers; Sole proprietors; Single member LLCs; Gig workers; 1099 Contractors; Small business owners

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

How does a business credit card work?

Business credit cards work like regular credit cards. The main difference is a business credit card is for business expenses only.

What is the best small business credit card?

The best small business card is the card that works best for your business needs. Consider which features you need or what rewards you want to earn.

Can you get a business credit card with bad personal credit?

With a bad personal credit score, your odds of being approved for many business cards is low, but never zero. You may be approved for a lower limit or at a higher interest rate than you want. You also may want to look for a secured credit card or issuers that specialize in cards for those with poor credit.

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