How to apply for a business credit card
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As a small business owner, you’re probably in need of credit to finance your ongoing expenses. A business credit card is a great way to separate your personal and business finances and start building business credit.
In this article, we’ll go over why you might want a credit card for your business, the requirements to get one, and how to apply for a business credit card. So, let’s get started.
How do business credit cards work?
Business credit cards work just like personal credit cards, except they're designed for business expenses. Unlike personal cards, however, they often come with business-specific rewards programs and higher credit limits to accommodate larger purchases. Some business credit cards also include features to help you manage your expenses, like downloadable expense information and integrations with accounting software.
As a cardholder, you'll receive monthly statements with a minimum payment required to avoid penalties. Interest rates vary by card, and there may be late fees. To qualify, you'll usually need to provide your Social Security number (SSN) and a personal guarantee.
It's easy to get a business credit card if you own an LLC or a corporation. In addition to providing your SSN, you'll typically have to provide your business license and formation documents to prove that your business exists.
Benefits of business credit cards
You might want a business credit card for several reasons, regardless of your type of business. These accounts can help you build your business's credit score while allowing you to access the capital you need when you need it.
Here are a couple of benefits of business credit cards:
Separation of personal and business expenses
Business credit cards allow you to separate your personal and business finances. Using a dedicated card for business expenses simplifies your accounting processes come tax time.
A business credit card can also help minimize your personal liability. When you open a card using your EIN instead of your Social Security number, this keeps any business debts from affecting your personal credit score. This is especially important since your business credit card may have a higher credit utilization rate than your personal card, which could affect your score.
Build business credit
Business credit is necessary for accessing other forms of funding, like business loans and lines of credit. A credit card is a typical starting point for building business credit.
Most business credit card providers report to the business credit bureaus. Using your card responsibly over time will improve your business credit report, strengthening future loan applications and helping you raise your credit limit.
How to apply for a business credit card
Applying for a business credit card is a straightforward process. Here’s how to get a credit card for your business:
Check your eligibility
You don't need a registered business to get a business credit card. It's also okay if you plan to use the card as a sole proprietor or freelancer. What you will need, however, is a good credit history. Business credit card providers will typically ask for your personal credit score, so make sure yours is in good standing.
Choose your card
Business credit cards all offer different rewards, fee structures, credit limits, and perks. Choose a card based on your company's specific needs. For example, a small nonprofit looking for a credit card has different needs than an enterprise company.
Here’s what you should pay attention to as you compare:
- Annual fees: Some business credit card annual fees are exorbitantly high. On the other hand, some come with no annual fee at all.
- Interest rates: For credit cards, interest is usually stated as a yearly rate, called the annual percentage rate (APR). The lower your rate, the better.
- Foreign transaction fees: If business travel is the norm for you, look for a credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.
- Rewards: Cards usually offer extra rewards on eligible purchases, so consider the rewards you’ll use the most. A card with a statement credit or sign-up bonus might be even more valuable to your business.
- Balance transfers: Credit cards with 0% introductory APR that allow balance transfers offer an opportunity to transfer your debt from another credit card, letting you avoid paying interest for that period.
- Capabilities: Some business accounts have special capabilities, such as improved expense management and the ability to give cards to your employees. Think of the features you need as you compare your options.
Gather the information you need to apply
Business credit card applications will ask for your business name, employer identification number (EIN) or personal Social Security number (SSN), and business address.
Some cards allow you to use only your EIN number to open a credit card. If that's the case, you'll have to demonstrate a strong business credit history or proof of revenue. Otherwise, you’ll have to use your SSN, making you personally liable if your business can’t pay its debts.
Additionally, c may require details about your business, like the number of employees or proof of business revenue. Be sure to have this information handy when you apply to streamline the process.
Complete the application
You can apply for most business credit cards through the credit card company or bank's website. It's generally advisable to apply for one credit card at a time—that's because card issuers will perform a hard inquiry on your credit report, temporarily lowering your score. Multiple inquiries in a short time span can communicate that you're having trouble gaining credit, causing your applications to be declined.
The easiest business credit cards to get
Some of the easiest business credit cards to get include:
- Ramp: Best for businesses with no credit, providing 1.5% cash back on all purchases. Ramp has no annual fee for the standard package and is designed for corporations and LLCs with at least $75,000 in the bank.
- Chase Ink Business Preferred: Known for high-earning travel rewards and a big signup bonus, this card has a $95 annual fee and requires good credit.
- Capital One Spark 2% Cash Plus: Offers unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases, suitable for businesses with excellent credit, but comes with a $150 annual fee.
- Capital One Spark 1.5X Miles Select: Provides unlimited 1.5 miles with no annual fee, also best suited for businesses with excellent credit.
- First National Bank of Omaha Business Edition Secured Visa Card: A good option for businesses with bad credit, this card features a fast pre-qualification process and a high credit limit option, with an annual fee of $39.
Try Ramp's corporate card for businesses
If you’re looking for a business credit card, Ramp is an excellent alternative. Our corporate cards come with universal cashback and integrated expense management software, offering tools business credit cards can't provide.
Unlike traditional cards, Ramp doesn't consider your credit score or require a personal guarantee. Instead, we look at your business sales history and money in the bank to determine your credit eligibility—which can lead to higher credit limits on average.
There are other card benefits too:
- Unlimited purchase cards for unlimited cardholders
- Unlimited rewards with no minimums
- Unlimited virtual employee cards
- Detailed expense tracking and analytics
- Quality accounting tools
- No foreign transaction fees
- Automated financial management that scales with your business
Learn more about Ramp’s corporate cards.