Who can apply for a business credit card?

Written by
Jennifer Doss
Terms apply; see the online credit card application for full terms and conditions of offers and rewards.

who can apply for a business credit cardWhether managing a mom-and-pop shop or freelancing, running a business can be tough work. It doesn’t matter if you have 30 employees or none at all — having a business credit card can be a convenience that helps business owners get the supplies they need, when they need them, without worrying about how much cash they have on hand.

The perks that these credit cards offer can help businesses save money on the essentials, as well as make keeping track of expenditures easier, but who can apply for one? Continue on to learn more about who should get a business credit card and about the numerous benefits these cards can provide.  

Can I get a business credit card?

In order to get a business credit card you are required to be an “authorized officer” of a business, which means that you are in the legal position to enter into contracts with financial institutions on behalf of the business. Although you may think of a business as just a company that is registered as an S Corp. or LLC, these business structures are not necessary in order to obtain a business credit card. Sole proprietors who do freelance work, such as writing or graphic design, as well as those with other nontraditional businesses like dog walking or selling homemade crafts online, can also qualify for a business credit card.

Can you get a business credit card without a business?

This answer isn’t as straightforward as you might think.

Again, you don’t need a traditional business with employees or a storefront, but you do need to be earning income in some way that could constitute a business. For example, you could qualify as a business if you:

  • Complete contract or freelance work and receive a 1099 tax form at the end of the year.
  • Earn money through a gig economy app such as Uber, DoorDash or Taskrabbit.
  • Buy items locally to resell online.
  • Make money by babysitting, mowing lawns or doing odd jobs.
  • Sell products as part of a home-based business such as Avon or Tupperware.

So long as you earn money for yourself in some way, you can be considered a small business.

The important thing is to be able to prove, if needed, that you have business income. For instance, a credit card company may request a copy of your tax form to see whether you report business income on a Schedule C.

Do I need an employer identification number to get a business credit card?

Traditional businesses typically have an employer identification number – known as an EIN – that they receive from the IRS. However, you don’t need an EIN to apply for a small business credit card. Instead, you can enter your Social Security number.

In fact, you generally won’t be able to apply for a small business credit card with an EIN only. Even if you apply for a business credit card with an EIN, you will likely be asked for your Social Security number as well.

That’s because most issuers ask applicants to provide a personal guarantee that they will pay back any amount owed if the business is unable to do so. To ensure you are able to meet that obligation, a credit card company will check your personal credit report as part of their application review process.

What credit score is needed for a business credit card?

Several companies calculate business credit scores, which range from zero to 100, but not every business gets one of these scores. If you’re self-employed, don’t make payments to vendors or don’t request a credit bureau track your business, you may not have a business credit score.

That’s another reason why you’ll need to provide your Social Security number even when applying for a business credit card with an EIN. And that means you may be wondering: Do you need good credit to start a business?

The credit score needed for business credit card accounts can vary by issuer. Most will want to see personal credit scores that are in the good to excellent range, and that means a score of at least 670 for many cards. A score of 700 or greater can improve your chances of approval.

Not all companies have the same required credit score for business credit card applications though. Some cards, such as the CardName, are designed for those building credit and may be available to applicants with fair credit scores.

Will my personal credit score be affected?

Unless you have a corporation that can apply for a business credit card with an EIN alone, your personal credit score will likely take a small hit when you first apply for a card. That’s because the card issuer will pull your credit report for review. Known as a hard inquiry, this can drop your score by a few points temporarily.

After that, any impact on your personal credit score will depend on the card issuer and whether you pay your bill on-time.

For example, Bank of America says it does not report small business credit cards on consumer credit reports so long as an account is in good standing. Meanwhile, Discover is said to report all information from small business cards to personal credit reports as well as commercial credit reports.

Generally speaking, it is more common for credit card companies not to report information about business cards on your personal credit report, but it’s always good to double-check before applying.

How to apply for a business credit card

You’ve decided to get a business credit card—great! Now it’s time to get together the documentation banks will need just as you did when you got your personal credit cards, except a bit more information may be required for your business credit card application.

If your business is registered, you will need to submit your Federal Tax ID number, or Employer Identification Number (EIN). If you’re a sole proprietor that is not a formal business entity, you will submit your social security number. You will also be required to provide information about the business, including your contact information, the length of time your business has been operating, your business’s annual income, how many employees you have, the type of business you operate and your monthly expenses.

If you don’t have an established credit history for your business, you may still qualify for a business credit card. If this is the case, the bank will consider your personal credit history when making their decision.

What are the best business credit cards?

Now that you have learned general information about business credit cards, you can explore individual cards to determine which one is right for you. Below you will find some of the best business cards available and the features that make them a good choice for any business owner.

CardName

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  • $900 cash-back bonus once you spend $6,000 on purchases in the first three months of membership
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for the first 12 months, then RegAPR APR
  • No annual fee
  • 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent annually in combined purchases at office supply stores, as well as for cable, internet and phone services
  • 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent annually in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants
  • 1% cash back for all other purchases
  • Purchase protection and extended warranty protection
  • Employee cards at no cost
  • See our CardName to learn more

CardName

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  • 100k bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening that’s $1,250 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn three points per $1 for the first $150,000 spent annually on travel expenses; shipping costs; internet, cable, and phone services; and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines
  • Earn one point per $1 for all other purchases
  • Points are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • AnnualFees annual fee
  • Up to $600 per claim in cell phone protection for covered theft or damage for all phones listed on the monthly bill paid with the card
  • Trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance
  • Employee cards at no cost
  • See our CardName to learn more

CardName

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  • Earn $900 bonus cash back after you spend $6,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for the first 12 months, then RegAPR APR
  • No annual fee
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase
  • Extended warranty and purchase protection
  • Employee cards at no cost
  • See our CardName to learn more

CardName

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American Express is a CardRatings advertiser.

  • Earn a $250 statement credit when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months
  • 0% intro APR on new purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then RegAPR APR
  • No annual fee
  • Earn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1%
  • Expanded buying power to spend above credit limit
  • Additional cards for employees at no cost
  • An annual card summary to easily review spending for the year
  • Terms apply
  • See our CardName to learn more

CardName

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  • Earn 70,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 on eligible purchases with the card within the first three months of opening an account.
  • Earn 4X points on the two select categories where your business spends the most each month (rate applies to the first $150,000 in combined purchases from bonus categories each calendar year)
  • Earn 1X point on all other eligible purchases
  • Get 25% points back after you use points for all or part of an eligible flight booked with Amex Travel, up to 250,000 points back per calendar year
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • AnnualFees annual fee
  • Terms apply
  • See our CardName to learn more

CardName

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  • Earn 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after making $3,000 in purchases on your new card within the first three months.
  • Enjoy complimentary Gold Elite status as a cardholder.
  • Earn 6X points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • Earn 4X points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers, and on U.S. purchases for shipping
  • Earn 2X points on all other eligible purchases
  • Receive a Free Night Award every year after your card renewal month, plus an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60,000 in a calendar year
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • AnnualFees annual fee
  • Terms apply
  • See our CardName to learn more

CardName

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Citi is a CardRatings advertiser.

  • Earn 65,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $4,000 in purchases within your first four months of account membership
  • Earn two miles for every dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases, and on every dollar spent with telecommunications merchants, cable and satellite providers, car rental merchants and at gas stations; earn one point on all other purchases
  • Cardholders receive 25% in-flight savings, and first bag checked free
  • Spend $30,000 in a card membership year and earn an American Airlines companion certificate when renewing your card  
  • AnnualFees
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • See our CardName to learn more

For more options, please see our full list of the best small business credit cards.

To see the rates and fees for the American Express cards mentioned on this page, please visit the following links: CardName (See Rates and Fees); CardName (See Rates and Fees); CardName (See Rates and Fees)

Featured Partner Cards:

Disclaimer:

The information in this article is believed to be accurate as of the date it was written. Please keep in mind that credit card offers change frequently. Therefore, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information in this article. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. See the online credit card application for full terms and conditions on offers and rewards. Please verify all terms and conditions of any credit card prior to applying.

This content is not provided by any company mentioned in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed here are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any such company. CardRatings.com does not review every company or every offer available on the market.

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