June 2, 2023

Can you get a business credit card without a business?

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Business credit cards offer a whole set of exciting discounts like bigger sign-up bonuses, more rewards, and many other benefits not available with regular personal credit cards. However, most people assume that a business credit card is strictly for large companies with high revenue numbers and hundreds of employees.

The truth is that you can get a business credit card, even if you don't own a registered business entity. In this guide, we’ll explore the benefits of having a business card, how to get a business card without a business, and which ones offer the best perks.

Can you get a business credit card without a business?

Yes, you are eligible for a business credit card, even when you don't own a business. The primary criterion for a business credit card is making money independently. Any income-producing endeavor you do — either as a primary job or a side hustle — qualifies you for a business credit card.

Here are a few examples of entrepreneurial activities that make you eligible for a business card:

  • Freelancing as a virtual assistant, copywriter, editor, designer, accountant, social media manager, website developer, etc.
  • Delivering food via app-based platforms like GrubHub or DoorDash
  • Driving for ridesharing apps like Lyft or Uber
  • Buying and selling on eBay
  • Running a dog-walking business
  • Tutoring kids online or in-person
  • Conducting skill development classes for adults online or in-person
  • Selling homemade items at local farmer markets or online
  • Working as an entertainer

That said, we highly recommend registering your business or freelancing work as a separate entity to earn specific tax breaks and qualify for other benefits your state offers.

Why get a business credit card instead of a personal card?

Here are a few reasons why applying for a business credit card might make sense for your side hustle:

  • Keep your business and personal expenses separate: A business credit card helps you track and manage your business finances separately. This simplifies bookkeeping, financial reporting, and tax preparation.
  • Improve cash flow: With a business credit card, you can access a revolving line of credit, helping you make necessary business purchases. This is especially helpful for businesses with seasonal fluctuations or that offer services or products to customers on credit.
  • Build credit and improve credibility: Using your business credit card responsibly helps to enhance your credibility and build your business credit history. Timely payments and low credit utilization positively impact your business credit score, making it easier to secure investor funding or negotiate favorable terms with suppliers and vendors.
  • Enjoy rewards and perks: Business credit cards offer reward programs tailored specifically for business expenses. You can enjoy cashback and discounts on business-related expenses like airline ticket booking, hotel accommodations, etc. These rewards help you save money on your business expenses.
  • Maintain accurate expense tracking: Business credit cards provide monthly statements of your business spending. This helps you track employee expenses and prepare accurate financial reports for tax filings.
  • Protect yourself from frauds and scams: Business credit cards offer state-of-the-art fraud protection features. You can set it up to prevent unauthorized transactions by adding two-factor authentications that provide an extra security layer.
  • Simplify vendor payments: You can set up recurring and automatic bill payments or integrate them with your accounting automation software, simplifying your costs and reducing your time on administrative tasks.

How to get a business credit card without a business?  

Applying for a business credit card is relatively easy. The majority of the work will come at the application stage, during which you’ll need to submit your information and provide required documentation. You'll likely find out whether you've been approved within a few minutes or days of applying.

Step 1

Open the online application for the credit card you want to apply for.

Step 2

Provide your personal information, including your name, address, contact number, email, date of birth, and social security number. Generally, most applications require you to provide the total gross income of your business. This is an estimate of what you expect your business to earn annually before deductions and taxes.

Step 3

Provide information about your business. If you own a registered business like an LLC or partnership firm, you can apply using the Employer Identification Number (EIN). However, if you have started recently and have not yet registered your business, you can apply as a sole proprietor. Then, you must provide your social security number instead of your EIN.

Either way, be prepared to submit the following information:

  • Expected annual business revenue (an estimate of what you think your business will make in a year)
  • Business category and sub-category (if applicable)
  • Number of years of operation
  • Your role in the company
  • Number of employees (if you have any)
  • Your business address (if you don't have a formal office or store, you can provide your home address)
  • Business phone number (this can be your personal phone if you don't have a separate business phone number)

Step 4

You can also apply for employee business cards as part of the application. If you're using business cards for your employees, you must provide names and contact details for each card.

Step 5

Once you've filled out the online application and submitted all required documentation, you can expect to receive a response within a few minutes. You can see either one of these three potential outcomes:

  • Approval
  • Denial
  • Further review is required

If you receive the third outcome, you can contact the credit card issuer to discuss your application further. Similarly, even if your application is denied, you can connect with the credit card company to discuss the reason for the denial and provide further proof to reverse it.

Tips for using a business credit card responsibly

Once you own a business credit card, you need to ensure that you're utilizing it in the best way. Here are a few tips to help you use a business card responsibly and build your credit rating:

  • Use it only for business expenses. Resist the temptation to swipe your business credit card for personal expenses. This separation makes it easy to track and manage your business expenses.
  • Set a budget and stick to it. Having a budget stops you from maxing out the credit limit on the card, and this helps avoid overspending and ensures that you can comfortably repay the balance on your card every month.
  • Pay on time and in full. The easiest way to avoid late payment penalties and interest charges is to pay the total balance on time every month. By doing so, you can maintain a positive credit history, avoid debt, and build your business credibility over time.
  • Track your spending. Regularly monitoring your credit card bills and statements helps you identify any unauthorized charges and closely monitor your business spending.
  • Maximize rewards and benefits. Understand the rewards program and take advantage of the discounts and benefits to increase your savings and reduce expenses. That said, be cautious not to overspend to earn rewards. This is where having a budget helps.
  • Keep your credit utilization ratio low. The credit utilization ratio refers to the percentage of your credit balance compared to the total available credit limit. Aim to keep it below 30% to improve your credit score. For example, if the available credit limit is $10,000, keep the outstanding balance below $3,000.
  • Use expense tracking and management tools like Ramp. With Ramp, you can make your business spending smarter. Our expense management software helps you save time by providing an easy and efficient way to track your business expenses, simplify vendor payments, set employee spending limits, and more.

With these tips, you can optimize your business credit card usage, build a positive credit history, and leverage the numerous rewards and benefits of responsible financial management.

Establish a positive business credit history & track expenses with Ramp

At Ramp, we help you skip the hassles and overcome the limitations of traditional business credit cards. Bid adieu to complicated rewards programs and manual expense tracking, and say hello to easy and accurate spend management software.

With Ramp, you don't just get a physical card. You get the whole package — smart software that accurately tracks and monitors your business expenses and helps you save.

Content Marketing Manager, Ramp

Richard Moy is an experienced freelance Content Marketing Manager supporting Ramp. Prior to joining Ramp, he served as a content marketer and editor at BetterCloud and Stack Overflow.

Ramp is dedicated to helping businesses of all sizes make informed decisions. We adhere to strict editorial guidelines to ensure that our content meets and maintains our high standards.


Can I get a business credit card?

Yes. Irrespective of whether you own an established business or are in the early stages of establishing your business or side hustle, you're likely to be eligible for a business credit card.

Are there any alternative options for obtaining credit for my small business without a credit card?

You can explore alternative credit options like business loans, a line of credit, equipment financing, invoice financing, microloans, or crowdfunding to meet your business funding requirements.

Do I need to provide a tax ID number to get a business credit card?

Some card issuers require you to provide a tax ID number or EIN, while others do not. If you're unsure, you can always contact the card issuer directly.

Can I get approved for a business credit card with bad credit?

Getting a business credit card with a poor personal credit score is often challenging. However, it's not impossible. With Ramp, you can quickly get a corporate credit card without personal credit checks or co-founder guarantees. Share your work email to begin the application and step into the future of business credit cards.

Can I get my business name on the card?

Yes, your business name will appear along with the individual cardholder's name.

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