Whether you're a startup seeking to build credit or an established company with specific spending needs, our business credit cards guide offers all the insight you need. We provide expert advice on factors like rewards, annual fees, credit score requirements, and more, allowing you to tailor your choice to your unique business needs.
The two most common types of business credit cards are either small business credit cards or corporate credit cards, but there are a variety of others depending on your needs:
Most business credit cards target small businesses, helping business owners manage their finances while earning rewards and accessing other perks and benefits designed for small business owners and freelancers (such as 0% intro APR periods, free employee cards, purchase or travel protections, and more). Most of these cards are also designed to help business owners build credit while making their everyday purchases, though some are offered based on the business owner’s personal credit.
Also known as purchase cards, or P-cards, corporate credit cards are issued to the business entity (not individual business owner) and are typically only available to businesses with significant annual expenses. These cards often offer many of the same benefits and perks as cards for small businesses, but they do so on a much larger scale.
Managed by larger programs, these cards are designed to cater to corporate tracking systems and often have different fee structures, rewards systems, and perks, and the business entity is responsible for charges on the card. Typically, these are only issued to businesses with established financial histories and solid business credit scores.
Cash back credit cards allow you to earn rewards in the form of cash back, which can then be used to reinvest in your business. You can earn flat-rate rewards or higher rewards in rotating or fixed bonus categories depending on the card. These cards make a good option for businesses looking to earn rewards on everyday purchases, and can be especially beneficial if you find a card with a bonus category where you typically spend.
If you spend more on car rentals, rideshares, hotels, flights, and other travel-related expenses, search for a travel rewards credit card. These cards offer higher rewards rates on these travel-related expenses, often which can be redeemed for cashback, points, or miles (through a travel portal or with hotel/airline partners). Additionally, you’ll often find additional perks like trip insurance, rental car protections, access to airport lounges or TSA Precheck/Global Entry, and more.
If you’re just starting your business and in the early stages of building credit, a startup card can be a fast and easy way to cover startup costs. The same as other credit cards for businesses, they are available to entrepreneurs and freelancers with formal business structures, though some accept applicants with fair or good credit to help them get started.
If you have poor credit, your options for a business credit card are pretty limited. Most of these have relatively limited perks/benefits and low rewards rates, especially compared to cards built for cardholders with good to excellent credit. Interest rates and fees will also be higher. You may have to choose a secured card, which is backed by a deposit you make, though there are some unsecured cards available that can help you build credit.
These days, most business credit cards offer instant approval, meaning you’ll know within seconds or minutes whether you’ve been approved or denied. If this is an important feature, make sure the card offers instant approval before applying.
Note that even if you’re instantly approved, you may have to wait up to two weeks for the physical card to arrive in the mail before you can access funds. Or, some cards may offer instant-use virtual numbers that can be used online right away. Contact the issuer to learn more about your options.
Many business credit cards require a personal guarantee to help offset the risk of lending. This means you’re personally liable for your business debt, even if your business is an LLC or corporation. Even if a card doesn’t require personal guarantee, there may be other restrictions. Check the terms and conditions of the card to learn more.
A business credit card is ideal for business owners:
On the other hand, if you find yourself prone to spending more than you can afford or missing payments, you may want to skip a business credit card. You should also never put personal expenses on your business card, so if you plan on intertwining the two, you may encounter issues with liability and taxes. Additionally, if you’re concerned about the impact the card will have on your own credit score, avoid applying for a business card.
Once you’ve decided it’s time to get a credit card for your business, here are some factors to compare:
Many business credit cards don’t have an annual fee, while others do. Sometimes, these fees can be hefty (up to $695) but they often come with additional benefits and perks, including luxury travel benefits, that when taken advantage of can outweigh the annual fee. Be sure to calculate how much you’ll have to spend to earn enough rewards to offset that fee, or plan to take advantage of those benefits/perks offered.
Business credit cards may offer rewards in the form of cash back, points, or miles. Some have high points-per-dollar offers, but others fall flat when it comes to redemption. Evaluate each point's value and make sure you’re looking at what the points will actually get you, not just how much you’ll earn.
Many cards offer an intro APR on purchases and/or balance transfers, giving you some flexibility in the beginning to carry a balance on the card without accumulating interest. However, make sure you plan to pay off the card before the intro APR expires.
Additionally, compare ongoing APR, especially if your business needs to carry a balance. These are determined by your creditworthiness, but cards typically provide a range of what’s available.
Not all cards offer a sign-up or welcome offer, but others may provide cash back or bonus rewards if you spend a certain amount of money within the first few months of getting the card. Compare these welcome offers and make sure you choose one that has reasonable spending requirements. For example, if your average spending is $2,000 per month, choosing a card where you have to spend $30,000 in the first three months doesn’t make sense.
Read up on additional perks and benefits cards may offer such as:
Find a card with benefits you’ll be able to take advantage of, especially if it has an annual fee.
When it comes to choosing the best credit card for your business, ask yourself the following questions:
Business credit cards often reward business-related expenses the most, such as office supplies, shipping, or travel. Match a card with the spending categories that most closely align with your own business spending. This will allow you to maximize the amount you’re able to earn.
Some business credit cards have spending limits for their rewards on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis. For example, you’ll earn 2% cash back but only on the first $50,000 per calendar year, and after that, earning drops to 1%. If you spend less than the spending cap, you could earn 2% all year. However, businesses with higher expenses may quickly meet these spending caps.
If you have employees who need employee credit cards, make sure to compare business credit cards that offer free employee cards that you may need. Some allow employees to spend on the business account, while others charge for or limit cards. Some offer virtual unlimited cards with custom limits. Know what your employee card needs are.
First, note that some business credit cards do not allow you to carry a balance from month to month, so if you plan to carry a balance, those cards are not an option for you. Additionally, if you plan to carry a balance, consider cards with a 0% intro APR and lower ongoing purchase APR to avoid accruing high-interest charges.
Annual fees for business cards are often higher than those for personal cards, but the perks and benefits may be worth it and could offset the cost. Consider the value of the benefits offered for your business to determine if it’s enough to justify the annual fee.
Again, some cards offer more benefits and perks than others. Look beyond the cash back percentage and points/miles reward to see what else the card has to offer, and compare what features may be most important to you and your business.
Generally, applying for a business credit card is similar to applying for a personal credit card:
Most issuers set a minimum credit score for the credit cards they offer. Make sure you know both your business and personal credit score to find and compare your options. Note that the higher your credit score, the more and better options you’ll have available.
Most applications can be found online and completed in 10 minutes or less as long as you have all of the information required:
If your business is set up as a corporation, LLC, or limited liability partnership (LLP), you’ll need to provide the issuer with the same name you gave the state you registered your business in. Or, if you’re a sole proprietor or general partnership, you can provide your own name.
You’ll need to provide your mailing address, phone number, and email address, likely for both yourself and your business.
You’ll either need your TIN or Employer Identification Number (EIN), which is the nine-digit number assigned to your business by the IRS. The issuer will use your EIN to verify your business. Or, if you don’t have an EIN yet or are operating as a sole proprietor, you can use your Social Security Number.
The issuer may ask how long you have been in business, so provide when you first registered the business with the state you’re registered in.
Your card issuer may use your annual business revenue to calculate your debt-to-income ratio and determine your ability to repay funds. If you don’t have business revenue, you can provide your personal annual income. You’ll likely also need to provide an estimated monthly spending amount for the card.
Once you apply, you’ll wait for approval. Some issuers may offer instant approval within minutes while others may take a few business days. If your application is denied, the issuer is required to send a letter detailing the reason for denial so you can take steps to improve your application in the future.
To make the most of your business credit card, you’ll want to:
Business and personal credit cards do also have a few factors in common. Most require a personal credit check, and for both, you’re personally on the hook for repayment. Additionally, both a personal credit card and business credit card can be used for business expenses, though it can be cleaner to keep expenses separate.
The methodology for choosing the best business credit cards involves evaluating factors such as security features, ease of use, rewards programs, customer reviews, and fees. Financial experts and analysts assess these aspects to provide rankings and recommendations. The goal is to identify credit cards for business owners that offer strong security measures, user-friendly interfaces, attractive rewards programs, positive customer feedback, and reasonable fees. By considering these factors, users can make informed decisions and select credit cards that align with their needs and preferences.
Most business credit cards require a good to excellent credit score of at least 670 or higher, though some require excellent scores of at least 720. That said, you can find business credit cards built for small businesses just starting out with limited or poor credit (as low as 580).
Yes, you can use a business credit card for personal use, however it’s not recommended. Keeping personal and business expenses separate can make it easier when it comes to filing taxes.
Yes, if your card issuer reports to the consumer credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, TransUnion), then your credit profile can be affected.
A secured business credit card will likely be the easiest to get approval for since the line of credit is secured with a deposit from the business owner.
It is possible to get approved for a business credit card even if you don’t have a registered, full-fledged business, since business cards typically rely on your personal credit score. Additionally, just like with personal cards, you are personally liable for any debts accrued to the card. However, if you don’t have a business, you’ll likely find better rewards and offers with a personal card.
Yes, you can use your employer identification number (EIN) to apply for a business card, but note you’ll likely also need to provide your Social Security Number.
You may find out within a few minutes whether or not your application is approved. Or, in some cases, it can take a few business days. You’ll typically receive the physical card in the mail within two weeks.
Yes, business-related interest is tax deductible when the debt is specifically related to your business activities.
Business credit card rewards are not considered income, which means they are not taxable.
You should have one to three business credit cards if you own or operate a small business, depending on how many cards you’re able to keep track of without missing due dates or accumulating more debt than you can afford to repay. This can help you maximize benefits and rewards on all of your spending.