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Business credit cards can be an easy way to maximize your business purchases. Even if you are newly self-employed with zero employees, it’s easier to get a business credit card than you may think. Here’s everything you need to know about applying for a business credit card.
You will see that the business credit card application process is very similar to getting a personal credit card. The one key difference is you must enter your business information plus your personal information.
Who Can Get a Business Credit Card?
You only need to earn some type of self-employment business income to qualify for some of the best credit cards for self-employed professionals. Even if you are a part-time freelancer or just bought your first rental property and still work full-time in corporate America, you can get a business credit card.
You can even qualify if you have side hustle income like driving for Uber, having an Etsy shop, or flipping items on eBay. When you apply, you will need to state what business industry you are in. As long as your business is in one of these categories, you can apply.
Unlike business loans, many business credit cards don’t require a minimum revenue amount or time in business to qualify. You can apply for one even if you don’t have an employee identification number (EIN). Of course, being an established business boosts your approval odds.
Most business credit cards offer instant approval when you apply online.
Good or Excellent Personal Credit
The approval process starts with having a strong personal credit score. The best business credit cards require a 670 personal credit score or higher. This is the start of “good credit.” Premium cards, like the Business Platinum Card from American Express, will need a 740 credit score to qualify.
Your personal credit score gives banks a glimpse into how you manage your personal credit. Although you will use business income to pay your monthly statement balance, missing payments can affect your personal credit score. You may also be required to use your personal assets to repay card balance even if your business fails.
In addition to your credit score, you will need to report your annual personal income. Don’t be discouraged if your credit score isn’t great. Some of the easiest credit cards to get come packed with plenty of benefits.
You can always use one of the best business credit cards with no annual fee to help you build your credit score.
Consider Getting an EIN
You can apply for a business credit card with your Social Security number or Employee Identification Number (EIN). A Social Security Number is the more likely option if you are a sole proprietor, although anyone with business income can get an EIN. If you turn your business into a partnership or LLC, you are required to get an EIN.
Having an EIN can increase your approval odds as it’s an extra layer of credibility. Even if you’re a sole proprietor, you might consider getting one even if you don’t need one yet. It is free to get an EIN and you can apply for one from the Internal Revenue Service. Applying online lets you receive your EIN the same day.
Check Your Business Credit Score
It’s also a good idea to check your business credit score if you have one. Banks use this score when you apply for a business loan but not as often for business credit cards. Still, making sure there are no reporting errors can help avoid unnecessary delay.
Having a high business credit score means you are more likely to get a higher credit limit as well.
Beware of Bank Application Rules
You might consider applying for business cards that earn rewards points you can pool with your personal credit cards. This can include Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, or frequent flyer miles. Being able to pool your points is an awesome perk of business credit cards.
Regardless of your personal credit score or annual revenue, you must still be aware of the bank’s application rules. For instance, the Chase 5/24 rule applies to all of the Ink and co-brand business cards. If you have opened or been listed as an authorized user on at least 5 credit cards in the last 24 months, Chase will most likely reject your application.
You should also pay attention to the bonus offer terms and conditions. If there is a business and personal version of an airline or hotel credit card, you can usually earn the bonus with both cards.
A perfect example is Southwest Airlines credit cards. For their personal cards, you can only earn one bonus every 24 months and cannot currently own a personal Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card. However, owning a business version doesn’t jeopardize your eligibility for a personal Southwest Airlines credit card.
Best Business Credit Cards to Get First
There are lots of great business cards you can own, but here are some of the best.
Business Platinum Card from American Express
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express offers up to 75,000 Membership Rewards points worth at least $750 in award flights. To earn the bonus, new cardholders must spend $15,000 on qualifying purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. This card “has it all” if you are a frequent flyer:
- $200 annual airline fee credit
- Complimentary airport lounge access including Centurion, Priority Pass, and Delta Sky Club
- 1:1 airline and hotel point transfers
- 35% points back (up to 500,000 points annually) when booking award flights on AmexTravel.com
- Earn up to 5x points per $1 spent on flights and prepaid hotels at amextravel.com
Your points are most valuable when redeemed for award flights. You get 35% of your points back when booking qualifying flights directly through American Express. Another option is transferring your points to airline partners including Delta, Emirates, and British Airways and booking directly through the airline.
Another business perk you may appreciate is a Dell Small Business statement credit. To get the credit, cardholders must enroll to get up to $200 in annual Dell statement credits (cardholders get up to $100 semi-annually for U.S. Dell purchases – terms apply).
This card requires a 740 personal credit score to have the best approval odds. The annual fee is $595 (See Rates & Fees).
Related: Check out our picks for the best American Express business credit cards.
Chase Ink Business Preferred
The Chase Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card is the business version of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Two key differences is the Ink Business Preferred has a larger signup bonus and earns up to 3x points on purchases. Still, the Sapphire Preferred has a lot to offer. This Chase Sapphire Preferred review can help you decide if it’s a good fit for a personal card.
You earn 3x points on the first $150,000 in combined annual spending for travel, shipping purchases, search engine or social media advertising, and cable, Internet and phone services with the Ink Business Preferred Card. All other purchases earn an unlimited 1 point per $1 spent.
The signup bonus is 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $15,000 in the first 3 months. This bonus is worth $1,250 in award travel booked through Chase.
Your points are worth 1 cent each when redeeming cash rewards. Each point is worth 25% more when booking award travel directly through Chase. You can also transfer your points to 1:1 airline and hotel partners including United, Southwest, Emirates, and Hyatt to find more value.
Related: The Chase Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card is also one of the best credit cards for advertising spending. Click to learn more if you can’t decide between the American Express Business Platinum vs Chase Ink Business Preferred.
American Express Blue Business
If you prefer flat-rate rewards, check out the Amex Blue Business Credit Cards lineup. You get 2 points per $1 on the first $50,000 in annual purchases. All remaining purchases earn unlimited 1 point per $1 for the rest of the year. Plus, you only need to 670 personal credit score to have the best approval odds.
You will need to decide if you want to earn cash rewards or travel rewards as there are two different Blue Business cards.
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express is best for travel rewards and pooling your Membership Rewards points. Each point is worth 1 cent each when booking award flights on AmexTravel.com. You can also transfer your points to any of the American Express Membership Rewards transfer partners. There is no annual fee either (See Rates & Fees).
For cash rewards, get the American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card. Your monthly rewards balance automatically applies as a statement credit. There isn’t a minimum redemption amount which means you save money each billing cycle. This card has no annual fee (See Rates & Fees).
It’s easier to get a business credit card than you think. You can qualify for some of the best cards with a 670 personal credit score and some business income. Getting approved doesn’t have to be as stressful as you might imagine it to be.
- How Many Credit Cards Can You Have?
- Best Chase Business Credit Cards
- How Hard Is It To Apply For Amex Business Platinum?
For rates and fees of the American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express, please click here.
For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.