How to get a business credit card

If you’re a small business owner, and you haven’t yet applied for a business credit card, now’s the time. Not only do business credit cards let you earn rewards on day-to-day purchases, maintain business spending during cash flow fluctuations and delegate purchasing responsibilities to employees, but business credit cards are also an essential part of building a business credit score. Iif you ever plan to expand your business to the point where you’ll want to take out a small business loan, you’re going to need a strong business credit score.

But how do you choose the best credit card for your business—and what do you need to do to get one? Here are some tips on how to evaluate the best credit cards for businesses, what you need to know before you start a business credit card application and how to use your new business credit card to help your business grow.

How to choose the best credit card for your business

Before you apply for a business credit card, take some time to review the top business credit cards and consider which card might be best for your business.

If you are a small business owner who regularly purchases office supplies, for example, you might want a credit card that rewards those purchases—such as the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card, which offers 5% cash back on the first $25,000 in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet/phone/cable services per account anniversary year.

If you don’t buy many office supplies but you do spend a lot of money on business travel, you might want a business travel credit card like The Business Platinum® Card from American Express, which offers 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels booked through amextravel.com. 

You might also be interested in a flat-rate cash back business credit card that offers the same cash back rewards on everything you buy. The Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business, for example, offers unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases.

There’s one more factor to consider as you evaluate business credit cards: your credit score. While you can use a business credit card to help build your business’s credit, you probably don’t have much business credit built up yet—which means the credit card companies will review your personal credit score during the application process. If your credit isn’t great, don’t worry; there are business credit cards designed for people who are still building their credit, such as the Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business.

How to apply for a business credit card

Applying for a business credit card is a lot like applying for a personal credit card. The application process takes place online, and should only take a few minutes to complete. Be prepared to provide basic personal information, such as your name, address and Social Security Number, as well as basic business information, such as your business’s name, address and tax identification number. 

You should also know your business’s NAICS classification—that’s the industry-specific code that you include on your Schedule C when you file your taxes. If you haven’t yet filed taxes as a business and don’t know your classification, take a quick look at NAICS to see where your business might fit.

You might also be asked to provide both your personal income and your business’s annual revenue. Be honest, even if your business isn’t earning a lot of money yet. After you get accepted for a business credit card and your business begins to grow, you can update your business’s revenue through your online account. 

When you apply for a business credit card, expect a hard pull on your personal credit. This might cause your credit score to drop by a few points, but it should bounce back within a short period of time.

Once you complete your application, it often only takes a few minutes for the lender to determine whether to offer you a credit card. If your application is declined, expect to receive a letter within 7–10 days explaining the reason behind the refusal. 

How to get the most out of your business credit card

Once you’re approved for a business credit card, it’s time to start using it to help your business grow. This might mean buying a better desk chair for your home office, booking a flight to your industry’s biggest convention or hiring a new marketing consultant. It might mean using your credit card to cover business expenses during a low-cash-flow month and paying off your balance during a high one. It might mean issuing business credit cards to employees and delegating some of the purchasing responsibility.

If you do issue business credit cards to employees, remember that you are still personally responsible for all purchases made on the cards. If your employees misuse the credit card or run up a bill that your business can’t cover, you’re the one responsible for paying off the debt—whether you pay it out of your business bank account or your personal one. Many small business owners put a spending limit on employee credit cards as a way of protecting their business against this potential issue.

You can also use your business credit card as a way to track and organize expenses. The best business credit cards let you export your transactions to popular accounting software programs like QuickBooks, so take full advantage of this feature. It’ll save you and your accountant a lot of time during tax season!

Lastly, don’t forget about all of those rewards you’re earning. Whether you’re getting cash back on office supplies or points every time you travel, make sure you know how to access and redeem your business credit card rewards. After all, every penny—and every point—counts.

But you’re a small business owner, so you already knew that—right? Now use what you just learned to go find the best credit card for your business, and then use that business credit card to make purchases, earn rewards and set your business up for a solid financial future.