Getting a business credit card can be straightforward once you identify your specific needs.
How to Get a Business Credit Card
You don’t have to own a company to get a business credit card. You may apply for one even as a sole proprietor, a contractor or a freelancer. Besides, you may get one without any business credit history. While business and personal credit cards function in the same basic manner, one key difference is that you may use most business credit cards only for business expenses. The information you need to provide during the application process also varies.
If you wish to establish business credit history, track employee spending, earn higher rewards on business-specific spending, keep your personal and business spending separate or get a higher credit limit, a business credit card might work well for you.
On This Page:
- Take a good look at your credit reports.
- Compare business credit cards based on your specific requirements.
- Prepare to sign a personal guarantee.
- Keep all the personal and business information you need to apply for a card close at hand.
How to Apply for a Business Credit Card
Determining which credit card will align with your business credit card requirements comes after you've addressed other aspects. Bear in mind that the eligibility criteria for personal and business cards are not the same. While business credit card providers typically check your personal creditworthiness during the application process, they also try to determine whether or not your business will be able to repay its debt on time.
Check your credit score
You will, in all likelihood, need to provide your Social Security number when you apply for a business card. In this case, you can expect the credit card provider to check your personal credit score. Going through your credit reports before applying for a business credit card gives you the means to spot possible errors that you can then get fixed. You need to do this because you want the best possible credit score when you apply for any new form of credit.
Your creditworthiness has an effect on the business credit cards for which you may qualify, as many are made available only for people with good to excellent credit scores. In addition, the better your credit score, the lower the interest you may expect on your new card.
If your business has been operational for two to three years, you might be able to get a business credit card by using your business credit score. In this case, you should go through your business credit reports before applying.
Explore different alternatives
You can look for and compare business credit cards based on different factors.
- Your credit score. Your credit score should give you an indication of the cards for which you might qualify. For instance, if you have an excellent credit score, you might get a business credit card with no annual fees and rewards. On the other hand, if you have poor or average creditworthiness, your options might be limited to secured credit cards.
- Rewards and perks. If you wish to capitalize on your business spending by earning rewards or cash back, look for options that offer higher reward rates across categories in which your business spends the most. These could be office supplies, gas or travel. If you and/or your employees travel frequently, you might benefit by getting a card that offers travel benefits such as priority boarding, credits toward TSA PreCheck and airport lounge access.
- Building credit. If you wish to get a business credit card with the aim of building business credit, make sure the option you’re considering reports payments to business credit bureaus such as Experian, Equifax and Dun & Bradstreet. If you cannot find this information easily, contact the credit card provider in question.
- Fees. Finding business credit cards with no annual fees is fairly easy, although ones that provide extensive perks tend to charge annual fees. If your business takes you overseas, you might benefit from getting a card with no foreign transaction fees.
- APR. You’ll want to pay attention to the annual percentage rate (APR) that applies to your card, especially if you plan to maintain revolving balances from one month to the next. If you plan to make an expensive purchase that you wish to repay over time, you may want to consider getting a business credit card with an introductory 0% APR offer.
MoneyGeek Expert Tip"Many consumers are under the impression a business credit card is only for business owners who have established enterprises. If you have a side hustle such as babysitting, reselling items online or freelancing, you are a small business owner in the eyes of the IRS. So yes, even if you only make a few bucks here and there, you can still be approved for a business credit card." — Brett Holzhauer, Credit Card Journalist
Understand the personal guarantee
Just about every business credit card in the U.S. comes with the requirement of a personal guarantee. This means that you are liable to repay the debt incurred on the card if your business is unable to keep up with its obligation. Credit card providers require this guarantee to safeguard their interests.
Complete and submit your application
After determining which business card you would like to get, start the application process. Depending on the card and its issuer, you might be able to apply online, in person or over the phone. The application process requires that you provide different types of personal and business-related information.
- Your complete name, date of birth and Social Security number
- Your phone number, mailing address and email address
- Your annual income and monthly expenses
- Name of the business and the industry to which it belongs
- Type of business (corporation, limited liability company (LLC), partnership, sole proprietorship, contractor or freelancer)
- Physical and mailing address
- Phone number
- Employer identification number (EIN), if available, or your tax identification number
- Age of the business
- Revenue and expenses (monthly or annual)
Based on the data you provide through the application, the card provider might request additional information. In such a scenario, you may be notified via mail, email or phone.
Wait for a reply
Depending on the credit card issuer's policies, you may expect a decision within minutes or in up to 10 business days. If the card provider requires additional information such as proof of revenue or estimated monthly spending, the process may stretch by a few more days.
Receive your card
Even if you receive instant online approval, it might take up to 14 business days for the card to actually get to you. Many credit card providers offer expedited delivery, and while some charge a fee for this service, others don’t. If you ask, many issuers will waive this delivery fee.
- Bank of America. Delivery within 72 hours at no extra cost.
- Chase Bank. Free expedited delivery in one to two business days upon request at no extra cost.
- Barclays. Delivery in one to two business days for a $15 fee.
- Capital One. Delivery in two to three business days for a $16 fee.
We’ve compared 545 cards to date using our comprehensive ranking methodology to bring you our best business credit card recommendations. That way, you can more easily determine which business card best suits your specific requirements.
Other Questions You May Have About Business Credit Cards
Here are answers to other commonly asked questions about why and how to get business credit cards.
Now that you know how to get approved for a business credit card, start looking for alternatives based on the features you need in your new card. Make sure you compare your options across parameters such as APRs, fees, rewards and added benefits.
Compare & Review Credit Cards
MoneyGeek experts rely on data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to analyze business spending trends. They have gone through 545 business credit cards to date and compared their rewards, offers and fees so you can look for one that works best for you with ease.
Learn More About Business Credit Cards
The MoneyGeek editorial team aims to answer any question you might have about credit cards accurately and quickly. To do this, all team members keep up with the latest trends, offers and changes in regulations.
About the Author
- Experian. "How Long Does It Take to Get a Credit Card?." Accessed August 31, 2021.
- Experian. "New study finds business owners outpace consumers in credit management." Accessed September 10, 2021.
- Experian. "Credit Card Debt in 2020: Balances Drop for the First Time in Eight Years." Accessed September 10, 2021.
Advertiser Disclosure: MoneyGeek has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. MoneyGeek and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. To ensure thorough comparisons and reviews, MoneyGeek features products from both paid partners and unaffiliated card issuers that are not paid partners.