Best Small Business Credit Cards of Winter 2020

Best Small Business Credit Cards of Winter 2020

Choose the best business credit card for your needs from our list of top picks. Learn about picking and applying for a business credit card from our experts.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

Whether your business is a multimillion dollar company with dozens of employees or a small weekend “side hustle” for a little extra cash, you may qualify for a small business credit card. Businesses need access to credit. Having a small business credit card lets you separate personal and business expenses, plus many of the best business credit cards offer valuable rewards and perks.

We surveyed business credit cards on ValuePenguin as well as top issuers' sites, to find cards that offer the best value for various types of cardholders. Here are our picks for the best small business credit cards for fall 2020.

Best business credit cards 2020

Recommended cardsBest forCredit required
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
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The Business Platinum Card® from American ExpressTravelExcellent/Good
Apply Now
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unavailable credit card
Brex For StartupsStartupsExcellent/GoodOffer not available on this site
unavailable credit card
American Express® Business Gold CardBusiness expensesExcellent/GoodRead Review
United℠ Business Card
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United℠ Business Card MilesExcellent/Good
Apply Now
  • On Chase's Secure Website
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Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
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Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit CardSign-up bonusExcellent
Apply Now
  • On Chase's Secure Website
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unavailable credit card
Capital One® Spark® Classic for BusinessAverage creditFair/LimitedOffer not available on this site
unavailable credit card
American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card0% APRExcellent/GoodRead Review
unavailable credit card
Capital One Spark Cash for BusinessCash backExcellent/GoodRead Review
unavailable credit card
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American ExpressNo annual feeExcellent/GoodRead Review
unavailable credit card
The Hilton Honors American Express Business CardHotelsExcellent/GoodRead Review
Recommended cardsBest forCredit required
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
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The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
Apply Now
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unavailable credit card
Brex For StartupsOffer not available on this site
unavailable credit card
American Express® Business Gold CardRead Review
United℠ Business Card
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United℠ Business Card
Apply Now
  • On Chase's Secure Website
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Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
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Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
Apply Now
  • On Chase's Secure Website
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unavailable credit card
Capital One® Spark® Classic for BusinessOffer not available on this site
unavailable credit card
American Express Blue Business Cash™ CardRead Review
unavailable credit card
Capital One Spark Cash for BusinessRead Review
unavailable credit card
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American ExpressRead Review
unavailable credit card
The Hilton Honors American Express Business CardRead Review

What is a business credit card? | Should you get a business credit card? | How to choose a business credit card | How to get a business credit card | How to use a business credit card | FAQs

Best business credit card for travel

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

$595

14.24% - 22.24% Variable

Excellent/Good

  • Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
  • Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's an extra half point per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
  • 35% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year when you book on amextravel.com.
  • Enroll to get up to $200 in statement credits annually by getting up to $100 semi-annually for U.S. purchases with Dell. Terms apply.
  • PAY OVER TIME OPTION: A flexible payment option to help manage cash flow on purchases of $100 or more.
  • Terms Apply.
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The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.

Our thoughts

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express offers an excellent suite of benefits for the traveling business owner. From access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection® at select airports to a Global Entry or TSA Precheck application credit, the card is a must for road warriors. We also love that the card earns 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com. Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's an extra half point per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. It also offers 35% of your points back when redeeming Membership Rewards for select tickets.

Other benefits, such as complimentary Hilton Honors Gold Elite status, a $100 semi-annual Dell credit (for up to $200 per year) and complimentary trip delay and cancellation insurance round out the perks that help justify the card’s high annual fee and make it the best small business credit card for the frequent traveler.

Benefits

  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com. Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's an extra half point per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more.
  • Access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection.
  • From now through Dec. 31, 2020, get up to $100 in additional statement credits for U.S. purchases with Dell technologies.
  • Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit once every four years.
  • 35% of your Membership Rewards points back on first- or business-class travel on any airline or economy travel with your selected airline when booked through amextravel.com and paid with points.
  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status and Marriott Bonvoy Gold status.
  • Terms apply.

Drawbacks

  • High $15,000 spend requirement to earn the card's welcome offer.
  • The $595 annual fee for the card can be hard to justify.
  • Terms apply.

For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here

Best business credit card for startups

Brex For Startups

More than $25,000 in credits toward services like Amazon Web Services and Google Ads.

Our thoughts

If you’re a new startup looking for a large credit line to help get your business moving, then take a look at the Brex For Startups. Brex claims to offer 10-20x higher credit limits than other lenders and does not require a personal guarantee. The card doesn’t offer a sign-up bonus, but it does provide rich earning rates and credits tailored toward the tech startup. The card earns Earn points on every dollar spent with industry-leading multipliers: 7x on rideshare, 4x on travel, 3x on restaurants, 2x on software subscriptions and 1x on all other transactions. Points are worth $0.01.

However, the credits are what make this card truly attractive for a tech startup. Brex has partnered with numerous companies, offering more than $25,000 in value through their partner offers. This includes a $5,000 Amazon Web Services credit, 50% off a Dropbox annual subscription, 25% off a Slack annual subscription and 20% off a Zoom annual subscription.

One thing to note: Brex only offers its Brex Corporate Card for Startups to non-individual business entities. Corporate businesses (such as C-corps, S-corps, LLCs or LLPs) organized and registered in the United States are eligible for the Brex For Startups. Sole proprietor and partnership business entities are ineligible.

Benefits

  • Attractive earning rates tailored toward tech startups, including 7X points on ride-share.
  • $25,000+ in software and service credits.
  • Card does not require a personal guarantee.
  • $0 Annual Fee.

Drawbacks

  • No traditional welcome offer or sign-up bonus.
  • Only corporations are eligible.
  • The rewards program and credits are tailored toward a niche market.

Best credit card for business expenses

American Express® Business Gold Card

Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Gold Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

Our thoughts

The American Express® Business Gold Card offers a unique approach to rewards with its flexible categories. Rather than lock you into specific categories, the card offers Get 4X Membership Rewards® points on the 2 select categories where your business spent the most each month*. These categories are out of a selection of six: airfare, select U.S. media advertising, select U.S. technology providers, U.S. gas stations, U.S. restaurants and U.S. shipping purchases. The 4x earning rate is applied up to a maximum of $150,000 in annual combined spend over all categories.

The card earns valuable Membership Rewards points, which can be used for gift cards, airfare, hotel bookings and more, or transferred to an array of airline and hotel partners. The American Express® Business Gold Card also offers 25% back when using Pay with Points through American Express Travel. If your business has substantial expenses in any of the categories offered, the card can be highly rewarding.

Benefits

  • Get 4X Membership Rewards® points on the 2 select categories where your business spent the most each month*.
  • Get 25% back when using Pay with Points with American Express Travel.
  • Extended warranty and 90-day accident and theft purchase protection on eligible covered purchases.
  • None foreign transaction fees.
  • Terms apply.

Drawbacks

  • Cap on the number of points you can earn annually at the 4x rate.
  • Fairly high $295 annual fee.
  • Terms apply.

For rates and fees of the American Express® Business Gold Card, please click here

.

Best business credit card for miles

United℠ Business Card

  • On Chase's Secure Website

$0 For 12 months, then $99

16.49% - 23.49% Variable

Excellent/Good

  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 75,000 bonus miles after qualifying purchases, plus $0 intro annual fee
  • Receive 5,000 bonus miles each anniversary when you have the United Business Card and a personal United credit card
  • Free checked bag - save up to $140 per roundtrip (terms apply)
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on United purchases, at gas stations, office supply stores and more. Plus, you'll earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants including eligible delivery services
  • 2 United Club? one-time passes at account opening and on each anniversary over a $100 value per year
  • Earn a $100 United travel credit after 7 flight purchases of $100 or more each anniversary year
  • Add employee cards at no additional cost - miles earned from their purchases accrue in your account and you can set individual spending limits on each card.
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Limited Time Offer: Earn 75,000 bonus miles after $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Plus, get a $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $99. after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

Our thoughts

The United℠ Business Card offers a suite of excellent benefits for the frequent traveler on United Airlines. The card earns 2x miles on United flight purchases, including in-flight incidentals and in other select categories. Other perks add significant value to the United Business Card, including a free checked bag for you and a companion, 25% off in-flight United purchases made with the card and a $100 credit after making qualifying United travel purchases. The United℠ Business Card also doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, saving you money while abroad. If you’re a frequent traveler with United Airlines, the card will easily be worth its annual fee: $0 For 12 months, then $99.

You can use your United miles to book award tickets with United and their global partners. If you hold both the United℠ Business Card and a personal United credit card, you’ll be rewarded with 5,000 anniversary bonus United miles.

Benefits

  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on United purchases, at restaurants, gas stations, office supply stores and on local transit and commuting. Plus, earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Travel benefits with United, including a free checked bag, priority boarding, 25% off in-flight purchases and two annual United Club passes.
  • $0 foreign transaction fees.
  • No annual fee the first year.

Drawbacks

  • Charges an annual fee: $0 For 12 months, then $99.
  • Locks you into earning United miles rather than cash back or flexible points.

Best business credit card sign-up bonus

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

  • On Chase's Secure Website

$95

15.99%-20.99% Variable

Excellent

  • New Offer! Earn 100k bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,250 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year
  • Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases—with no limit to the amount you can earn
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Redeem points for travel, cash back, gift cards and more - your points don't expire as long as your account is open
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
  • $95 Annual Fee
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Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Our thoughts

The Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card currently has the highest bonus of any small business credit card, worth a whopping $1,250 when redeemed for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. You can also transfer your Ultimate Rewards to any of the Chase travel partners, which can offer even more value.

Cardholders Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases—with no limit to the amount you can earn. Other benefits include trip cancellation and interruption insurance and an auto collision damage waiver when traveling for business purposes. The cellphone insurance against theft or damage is another extremely valuable benefit that can pay for the card’s annual fee many times over if you damage your phone and have an eligible claim.

Benefits

  • Excellent welcome offer.
  • Earns 3x Ultimate Rewards points in several common business expense categories, on up to $150,000 in annual spend.
  • Ability to transfer points to Chase Ultimate Rewards travel partners.
  • Valuable travel insurance protections and purchase coverage, including up to $600 in cellphone insurance per covered incident.

Drawbacks

  • High purchase minimum of $5,000 within the first three months of opening your account to qualify. That can be steep for small firms or lean startups that have low expenses.
  • Moderate $95 annual fee.

Best business credit card for fair credit

Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business

Earn 1% Cash Back on every purchase with a $0 annual fee.

Our thoughts

The Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business is designed for business owners with less-than-excellent credit who are looking to improve their credit score. It is an excellent option that is free of extra fees or a security deposit requirement. You’ll also earn 1% Cash Back on every purchase. Avoid carrying a balance, however, as you will incur an APR as a high 26.99% (Variable).

We also love the fact that the card does not charge foreign transaction fees, a rare benefit among cashback cards without an annual fee. You can also obtain employee cards at no extra cost.

Benefits

  • Available to those with average credit and can let you build or rebuild your credit score.
  • None foreign transaction fees.
  • $0 annual fee.
  • No fee to add employees to your account.

Drawbacks

  • Card does not offer a welcome bonus.
  • Lackluster 1% cashback rewards rate.
  • High 26.99% (Variable) APR if you carry a balance.

Best business credit card with an intro 0% APR

American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card

Our thoughts

The American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card is one of the best small business credit cards that earns flat-rate cash back. You Earn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1%. This is an annual return of $1,000, if you max it out.The card doesn’t have a traditional welcome offer. Instead, it offers $100 in statement credits on qualifying purchases at each of the following three merchants: FedEx, Dell Technologies and DocuSign. The card also doesn’t charge an annual fee and offers an introductory APR of 0% on purchases for 12 months from date of account opening (a 13.24% - 19.24% Variable APR applies thereafter).

Benefits

  • Earn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1%
  • Intro 0% on purchases for 12 months from date of account opening (13.24% - 19.24% Variable thereafter).
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms apply.

Drawbacks

  • The 2% cash back is capped at $50,000 in annual spend.
  • Non-standard welcome offer that may not be useful for all businesses.
  • Terms apply.

For rates and fees of American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card, please click here

Best cashback business credit card

Capital One Spark Cash for Business

Earn a one-time $500 cash bonus once you spend $4,500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.

Our thoughts

If you’re looking for a business cashback credit card that does not have a cap on its rewards, then the Capital One Spark Cash for Business could be exactly what you need. The card earns a flat 2% Cash Back for your business on every purchase, everywhere, with no limit on the annual spend. The card's sign-up bonus is highly enticing as well.

The main issue with the card is its annual fee: $0 intro for first year; $95 after that. The fee is waived the first year, but it will be levied every year thereafter. There are other comparable cashback cards that do not charge an annual fee. Still, if your monthly expenses are significant, your annual rewards will more than pay for the card.

Benefits

  • Earns unlimited 2% Cash Back for your business on every purchase, everywhere
  • Annual fee: $0 intro for first year; $95 after that
  • None foreign transaction fees.

Drawbacks

  • Welcome bonus may be difficult to earn for business without a lot of monthly expenses.
  • Moderate annual fee: $0 intro for first year; $95 after that. There are comparable cashback cards that do not charge an annual fee, although the annual spend is capped.

Best business credit card with no annual fee

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

Our thoughts

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express is a perennial favorite among business owners who highly value Membership Rewards points but also want a card without an annual fee. Cardholders Earn 2X Membership Rewards® points on everyday business purchases such as office supplies or client dinners. 2X applies to the first $50,000 in purchases per year, 1 point per dollar thereafter. You can use the Membership Rewards points in all the typical ways, including transferring to travel partners.

We really like the fact that this card earns transferable bank points yet doesn’t charge an annual fee. You’ll also enjoy an intro APR of 0% on purchases for 12 months from date of account opening before the card reverts to its standard 13.24% - 19.24% Variable APR.

Benefits

  • Earn 2X Membership Rewards® points on everyday business purchases such as office supplies or client dinners. 2X applies to the first $50,000 in purchases per year, 1 point per dollar thereafter.
  • Introductory APR of 0% on purchases for 12 months from date of account opening (then a 13.24% - 19.24% VariableAPR applies).
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms apply.

Drawbacks

  • Annual spend for earning 2x points is capped at $50,000.
  • Non-standard welcome offer that may not be useful for all businesses.
  • Terms apply.

For rates and fees of The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express, please click here

Best business credit card for hotels

The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases on the Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership.

Our thoughts

The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card is one of the best business credit cards that earns points with a hotel loyalty program. If you stay at Hilton properties frequently for work, this card may be a great fit for your wallet, as it offers an array of valuable perks, including: complimentary Hilton Honors Gold Elite status, 10 complimentary Priority Pass lounge visits per year and the ability to earn a free weekend night or even Hilton Diamond status by sufficient card spend.

The card has good earning rates as well, rewarding you with 12X at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio, 6X on Select Business & Travel Purchases, 3X Everywhere Else. Terms & Limitations Apply. All these benefits come with an annual fee of $95.

Benefits

  • Elevated welcome offer.
  • Great earning rate on Hilton hotel stays.
  • Complimentary Hilton Gold elite status for as long as you keep your account open.
  • Ability to earn a free weekend night after $15,000 in annual spend, and Diamond status after $60,000 in annual spend.
  • Foreign transaction fees: None
  • Terms apply.

Drawbacks

  • Locks you into earning points with a specific hotel program.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Terms apply.

For rates and fees of The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card, please click here

What is a business credit card?

A business credit card is a credit card intended for business use rather than personal use. Business credit cards help keep personal and business expenses separate, but they otherwise function much like a personal credit card, providing convenience and the ability to easily track spending. Businesses of all sizes, from sole proprietorships to corporations, can be eligible for a business credit card.

Business credit card vs. personal credit card

In general, business credit cards function just like personal credit cards. Both are used for purchases, typically have a credit limit and accrue interest, and may offer rewards to the cardholder. Bonus categories may be different between personal and business credit cards, Business credit cards are often geared more toward business expenses, such as office supply purchases, while personal credit cards may have grocery stores as a bonus category.

There are two primary differences between business and personal credit cards. First, business credit cards do not offer the same level of consumer protections that personal credit cards do. The CARD Act of 2009 requires issuers to provide more transparency on their rules and placed limits on when fees can be increased and how finance charges can be calculated. Some issuers (notably Bank of America) offer protections on their business card products, but it is up to you to understand the terms of the card agreement. Second, business credit card accounts typically report to a separate business credit report than personal cards. However, some issuers choose to report activity to the consumer bureau as well. Sometimes only negative information, such as missed payments, will be reported to the consumer bureau. Notably, Discover and Capital One business credit cards report to both personal and commercial bureaus.

Another difference between business and personal credit cards is the potential need for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) on the credit card application. For businesses with an EIN, you’ll need to include this. For businesses without an EIN (typically single-member LLCs and sole proprietorships), you can use the Social Security number of the business owner. In either case, your business name can be printed on the business credit card.

Building a business credit profile

Business credit can be developed independently of personal credit, and it is important to know how to build it. Your business credit profile will inform lenders how credit-worthy your business is. It will influence the rates and terms on loans, your business’s ability to qualify for financing and even business insurance premiums. To be able to build a business credit profile, your business must be incorporated as a separate legal entity from the owner. This can be a C Corporation, S Corporation or LLC. You’ll also need to apply for an EIN, and open business banking accounts and a phone line.

Business credit scores follow a different scale than consumer credit scores, and you’ll need to know how to read them and how to read your business credit report. There are two credit reporting agencies that track both personal and business credit profiles: Equifax and Experian. However, the scores and profiles are separate. There are other bureaus, including Dun & Bradstreet and FICO SBSS that only track business credit profiles and scores.

Should you get a business credit card?

If you are the owner of a small business, even if you are an online freelancer, you are certainly eligible for a small business credit card. If there are lots of charges that you can pay by credit card and you are able to pay off your expenses every month, then a small business credit card can allow you to earn valuable rewards on all your business purchases. A small business credit card also offers convenience and security just like a personal credit card.

One great benefit of a business credit card is to allow you to keep your business expenses and personal expenses separate. Many business credit cards make financial reporting extremely easy at the end of the year, as they provide detailed itemized and categorized reports for when tax time rolls around.

How to choose a business credit card

In many ways, finding the best small business credit card is much like finding the top consumer card. There are some questions you should ask yourself: What sorts of expenses do I have? Do I need to make a large purchase as I start my business? Will I need employee cards? Here are some factors to consider before making a decision on the best business credit card for your unique situation.

Type of card

The variety of available small business credit cards is as extensive as personal credit cards. You can find small business credit cards that earn:

  • Airline miles
  • Hotel points
  • Bank rewards program points
  • Cash back

Business credit cards are offered through many banks and on all major credit networks: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express. Typically, the network isn’t a major issue, unless you know the merchants you’ll be buying from only accept cards from specific networks.

There are a handful of cards that technically are charge cards, which must be paid in full every month. Make sure you are aware that you are applying for one of these instead of a credit card. Only American Express typically still offers these.

Sign-up bonus or welcome offer

The sign-up bonus or welcome offer for a new credit card is often one of the most attractive features. It is the carrot that lenders dangle in front of prospective borrowers. Whether the bonus consists of cash back, airline miles, hotel points or some other reward, make sure you understand the value of the sign-up bonus. You may need to look up the value of airline miles, bank points or hotel points to help determine how much a bonus offer is worth.

Spending categories

Another critical factor to consider when picking the best small business credit card for your needs is what bonus earning categories it offers. For businesses with expenses in niche categories, such as advertising or travel, some cards may offer much better rewards. For businesses with a large variety of expenses, cards with flat-rate earning may be a better choice.

Typical bonus categories for many business credit cards include:

  • Travel
  • Restaurants
  • Office supply stores
  • Shipping
  • Advertising
  • Gas stations

Some of the cards in our list of best business credit cards offer bonus earnings in these common categories.

Annual fee

The cost of your small business credit card needs to be weighed against the annual fee. If your monthly spending is small, it is usually better to opt for a small business credit card without an annual fee. If your business expenses are larger, you may be completely able to justify a card with an annual fee, even one as high as the $595 commanded by The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, which also offers many valuable travel perks.

Ultimately, you’ll want to ensure that the rewards and perks provided by your small business credit card fully justify the annual fee.

APR

Businesses that fail to pay off their credit card balance in full every month should opt for a card with a low or 0% intro APR offer. That's because carrying a balance on your card means your business will have to pay costly interest fees. These interest fees often outweigh any rewards offered by a small business card. A card with a low or 0% intro APR will waive the interest for a certain time period (typically six to 12 months) on purchases, balance transfers or both.

A business that pays its credit card balances off in full every month doesn’t need to consider APR as carefully, as the balances won’t accrue interest.

Personal guarantee

Most issuers require a personal guarantee for their small business credit cards. You’ll need to decide if this is something that you are willing to bear. A personal guarantee makes you personally responsible for the debt rather than it being borne strictly by a separate corporate entity. In the event the business fails, you’ll still be liable for the debt. Issuers will typically be looking for a business to have $1 million or more in annual revenue to be considered for a card without a personal guarantee.

The reason that most issuers require a personal guarantee is that it protects the issuer from loss. Nearly half of businesses fail within the first five years. Lenders could be stuck with a large amount of unpaid business debt unless they made borrowers personally responsible for the debt.

Business-specific benefits

There are some specific business benefits that you may want to ensure your selected card offers. If you have employees, you may want a card that offers employee authorized user cards at no extra cost. Most of the best business credit cards do, but some charge a fee for employee authorized users. Being able to track and monitor employee spending is one excellent reason to have a business credit card.

Other benefits

Business credit cards sometimes offer other cardholder benefits. Premium cards, such as the Business Card from American Express, offer an array of travel benefits, such as complimentary hotel status and airport lounge access. Some cards offer annual credits at various merchants or in specific categories. If you travel abroad for work, you’ll also want to find a card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.

Some of the benefits only apply to business expenses or travel. For example, the primary rental car collision damage waiver benefit of the Chase Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card only applies when the car is rented for business or commercial purposes.

How to get a business credit card

You’ll need to have a business in order to qualify for a business credit card. Even if you’re an online freelancer or operate a service business without a brick-and-mortar storefront, your business can certainly qualify for a small business credit card. Here are the steps you’ll need to take to get a business credit card:

  1. Determine your personal or business credit score — For business credit cards backed by a personal guarantee, you’ll need to know your personal credit score to help determine your eligibility. This is typical for sole proprietorships. Many of the best business credit cards require an excellent credit score, typically over 720. For businesses with a business credit profile, your eligibility will be based on your business credit profile instead.
  2. Decide which small business business credit card meets your needs — There are many business credit cards on the market, although the choices are more limited than consumer cards. We suggest you review our list above of the best business credit cards.
  3. Gather application information — You’ll need either your Employer Identification Number (EIN) or your Social Security number (SSN) to apply for a business credit card. Many sole proprietorships do not have an EIN. You’ll also need to provide details, such as legal business name, entity type, annual business income, business address, phone number and other important items.
  4. Complete your application and follow up — Once you submit your application, you may receive instant approval or it may need to be further reviewed. In some cases, the bank will follow up with a request for additional information, such as a DBA statement or business bank account information. The card issuer may approve your application after review, or may deny it altogether.

If your card application is approved, the card will be mailed to you and you’ll need to activate it, just like with a personal credit card.

How to use a business credit card

Here are some best practices for using a business credit card:

  • Use your card strictly for business expenses. One of the roles of a business credit card is to be able to keep personal and business expenses separate.
  • Make as many business transactions as you can using your card. If you have a rewards-earning credit card, this allows you to maximize your return.
  • Decide who should have a business credit card. If you have employees, decide the metrics for who will be issued a card and why.
  • Use the end-of-year financial report tools available with many business credit card products. This will make expense reporting at tax time much easier.
  • Like with personal cards, always pay off your business credit card every month. Carrying a balance will result in interest charges.
  • Don’t miss a payment! Business credit cards are not subject to the same protections as personal credit cards, and issuers can increase your interest rate substantially.

What is the best business credit card for my business?

There is no single best small business credit card for all businesses, as each business is different. Check out the above list of best business credit cards for one that meets your particular business needs.

Do business credit cards affect personal credit?

Hard inquiries from business card applications will appear on your personal credit report for small business credit cards where there is a personal guarantee (which is the majority). Recent inquiries can negatively impact your credit score. However, most business credit cards do not report to personal credit bureaus.

How do business credit cards work?

Small business credit cards work essentially the same as personal credit cards. They are intended for business expenses and allow you to keep your business financials separate from your personal financials.

Can you get a business credit card without a business?

You must have a business to get a business credit card. However, your business can be a freelancing gig or “side hustle” that you only do part time.

Do business credit cards build credit?

Business credit cards can build your personal credit if they report to the personal credit bureaus.

Who can get a business credit card?

Anyone with a small business can potentially be eligible for a small business credit card. The small business does not need to be your full-time employment.

Can a sole proprietor get a business credit card?

Yes, sole proprietors can get a small business credit card.

Can I get a business credit card with bad credit?

There are some credit cards available for businesses or business owners with poor credit. The Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business (among those on our list of best business credit cards) is an option for business owners with fair/limited credit.

Can I use a credit card to start a business?

While it is possible to use a credit card to finance your business startup, this is generally a risky proposition. You would also absolutely want to obtain a credit card with a 0% APR if you are using it to start a business.

Can I use a personal credit card for business?

Yes, you can use a personal credit card for business purposes. However, you may miss out on some of the benefits from having a small business credit card. You also have to be careful about mixing personal and business expenses on the same card.

Can I use a business credit card for personal expenses?

While it is not illegal to use a business credit card for personal expenses, it is often against the account terms, and the issuer may have grounds to close your account. You would also likely be mixing personal and business expenses on the same card, which is a bad practice.

After igniting his passion for award travel while planning his honeymoon, Ian now enjoys using points and miles to see the world with his wife and three internationally adopted kiddos. He loves dissecting loyalty programs to find maximum value. His goal is to demonstrate that extraordinary travel is possible for the ordinary family.

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).