Do business credit cards affect personal credit?

Learn if business credit cards affect personal credit
Do business credit cards affect personal credit?

You may be surprised to hear that having a company credit card can affect your personal credit. That’s right, when you are an owner of the company, you may be liable for charges put on the company card.

However, the degree to which a company credit card influences your personal credit depends largely on what type of card it is.

To get you up to speed, this article will outline:

How company credit cards affect your personal credit score

The factors that influence your credit score largely depend on the type of card and its associated terms. From there, it’s important to consider who is paying off the card and how it’s being used. In addition, personal liability can have a significant impact on credit scores—most cards for SMBs require personal liability or a founder guarantee.  

These variables largely influence how much your credit score will be affected either positively or negatively in relation to credit utilization ratios and timely payments.

Does a company credit card affect credit?

Unfortunately, the offerings of most corporate credit card companies for a small business, particularly those for a small business owner, tend to have an effect on your credit. The degree to which it influences your credit, however, differs between primary account holders and authorized users.

Primary account holder

A primary account holder on a small business credit card is typically the owner of a company, rather than an employee. When opening up a small business credit card as a primary account holder for a new business, you offer a personal guarantee of repayment. Thus, although the card is intended for business purposes, reckless usage, high debt, or irresponsible repayment schedules can still reflect on your personal score.

The process of how to get a business card approved is often the same as opening up a personal credit card. In addition, to review your business’ finances, elements of your personal finances like your individual credit history, credit score, and payment history may be checked by the credit card issuer. When that happens, your credit history and credit score will be checked as an individual, not as a company. Your balance will be reported to a major consumer credit bureau like Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.

Authorized user

An authorized user of a company credit card is a cardholder who works for an employer and has been cleared to use that card.

Authorized users will not have their credit checked when they are added on to an owner’s small business credit card, and will often not be liable for business credit card activity.

So, does a business credit card affect your personal credit? In short, it can, but it largely depends on the exact card program and associated terms. It also depends on the corporate structure (e.g., sole proprietor vs. C-corp). 

Mitigating a company credit card's influence on your credit

To reduce the influence of a company credit card on your credit, there are three actions you can take:

  1. Push your company toward a corporate credit card. With a corporate credit card, you won’t have to worry about personal liability, reimbursement, or about changes to personal credit scores. However, for small businesses and startups, this is often not an option.
  2. Don’t make late payments, don’t go over your credit limit, and try to keep your credit utilization ratio below 30%. The best credit scores keep this ratio below 10%.

Ultimately, for individuals, using a corporate credit card is a much smarter financial decision than relying on a personal card and company reimbursements.

Corporate credit card vs. charge card: Which affects credit more?

If one is considering getting a corporate charge card vs. a corporate credit card, employees should not see any changes to their personal credit rating. The primary account owner is the one who would be impacted. 

While charge cards can still influence your credit score as a business owner, they tend to have less of an impact on credit than credit cards. This is because:

  • Charge cards do not factor into a credit utilization ratio, meaning that their impact on credit tends to be less acute than credit cards.
  • Charge cards must be paid off at the end of every month. This prevents unpaid credit card debt from being reported to major credit bureaus. 

The only case in which a corporate charge card would affect your personal score is if the business made a billing mistake and added it in your name. If you see that a corporate charge card appears in a personal credit check, take steps to speak with the person in your company issuing charge cards to remove your name from the card.

Does using a personal credit card for business affect credit?

As an employee, using a personal credit card for business expenses can have the largest influence on your credit score. Many companies will request receipts at the end of the month and reimburse you for purchases, but the wait time on this can be long.

In cases like these, your personal credit score can take a large hit. 

Credit bureaus will see extra charges and see a higher credit utilization rate, negatively impacting your score. Avoiding instances like this is a major benefit of business credit cards and a reason businesses may want to consider transitioning to company cards.

How do you know if a company credit card is affecting your credit?

Typically, there are two ways of knowing whether a small business credit card is affecting your credit. Those are:

  • Whether a credit inquiry was made when opening the card
  • Whether your name is on the card

If neither applies, a company credit card likely won’t alter your credit score. However, the only way to be sure is to review your credit report to see if the card in question is included.

Finding a card that works for your business

The size of your business tends to be one of the largest determining factors as to the kind of card you can select and the effect it will have on your credit scores. The best business credit cards for startups minimize impact to your personal credit and do much more. Some providers even offer separate business travel credit cards for teams on the road.

With a corporate charge card from Ramp—you can ensure you have a card that doesn’t affect your credit score when you apply.

What’s more, with Ramp’s advanced spend controls, you can automate away many of the situations that would negatively affect both personal and business credit scores. Place spending limits, automate expense reports, and gain a firm grasp on both your company’s financials and your personal credit score.