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How to Get a Business Credit Card

*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.

This article was last updated March 29, 2022 . Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.

Whether you’re a freelancer, the owner of a startup or someone who runs a more established business, getting a small business credit card can help you manage your business’s finances and earn rewards. However, applying for a business card can be a bit different than applying for a consumer card. We’ll walk you through the steps of how to apply for a business credit card and help you evaluate some of the top business cards available as well.

Who can apply for a business credit card?

Whether you operate an existing business with established revenue or you’re just starting a new business and have a reasonable expectation of revenue, you can apply for a business credit card. And “business” doesn’t have to mean a multimillion dollar enterprise — it can be as simple as selling handcrafts on Etsy, writing freelance articles for a website or doing yardwork for neighbors. In these examples, you’d likely apply for a business card as a sole proprietor, using your Social Security number. Just note that you do need a business of some sort; issuers don’t want you to apply for a business card if you have no actual business.

What do you need to apply for a business credit card?

Here’s some information you may need to have handy when applying for a business card:

  • Your business structure. For example, Capital One allows you to select from the following options on its business card applications: sole proprietorship, corporation, partnership, nonprofit corporation, single-member limited liability company (LLC), multiple-member LLC or other.
  • Your Employer Identification Number (EIN). Depending on the issuer and how your business is structured, you may or may not need to include your EIN on the application. For example, American Express requires this only if your business is a corporation or a partnership, while Capital One requires it for all structures other than a sole proprietorship.
  • Your total annual business revenue. Don’t feel the need to inflate your revenue if your business is new.
  • Your business’s full legal name. Your business’s legal name should be what’s listed on your EIN.
  • Your business’s DBA. A DBA is a “Doing Business As” name. American Express, for example, requires you to provide your business’s DBA, or mark that it doesn’t have one.
  • Your estimated monthly spending.
  • The type of industry.
  • The business address and contact info.
  • The length of time in business.
  • Number of employees.
  • Your position in the business.
  • Your personal information, such as Social Security number, birthdate, etc.

Though you might be able to apply without an EIN, having one can be helpful for your application. Nancy Parnella, director of the Barclays U.S. business credit card program, explains that having an EIN can allow for quicker approval of your application.

“Most business owners should have an EIN as it allows them to keep their personal and business finances separate,” Parnella says. “This is also advantageous when applying for a business credit card as it aids in verifying the business, which can expedite approval.”

Will your personal credit be checked for a business card?

Typically, a small business card requires a personal guarantee (meaning you’re personally responsible for what’s charged to the card) and a personal credit check. This means your personal credit score does matter when applying for a business credit card, and poor personal credit score is a reason you could be turned down for the business card you want.

For that reason, it’s wise to check your personal credit score before applying for a business card. You’re also entitled by law to one free copy of your credit report from each of the three consumer credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) annually via annualcreditreport.com where you can check for and dispute any legitimate errors that may be dragging your score down. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the bureaus have offered free weekly credit reports, rather than just the one per year required by law.

Don’t despair if your personal credit leaves something to be desired, however. If you’ve been in business for some time and have built up a good business credit score, issuers may take that into account.

“The underwriting of a business card is fairly complex, and depending on the type of business and the card they are applying for, personal scores, business scores or both could be leveraged,” Parnella says. “We use a proprietary underwriting model at Barclays, which considers the size and complexity of the business, the type of business and the ownership structure to determine what combination of data is used for the decision. In [a situation where an applicant] has fair personal credit and excellent business credit, they could be considered for a card, but many other variables are considered before a final decision is made.”

If you’re turned down after applying for a mainstream business credit card, getting a secured business card might provide an opportunity to build up good business credit history. Know that you’ll have to pay a security deposit, and you may have to pay an annual fee as well.

Does a business card affect your personal credit score?

Generally, a business credit card won’t appear on your personal credit report. Capital One and Discover are exceptions, as both report business card activity to the consumer credit bureaus. (Note that while most Capital One business cards will show up on your personal credit reports, the Capital One Spark Cash Plus doesn’t.)

However, if you are significantly late paying your business card bill — from any issuer — it’s likely to be reported to your personal credit report and can damage your personal credit score.

That’s because as was mentioned earlier, most small business credit cards require a personal guarantee, meaning you are the one ultimately responsible for making sure the card is paid up.

How to choose the best business credit card for your business

Here are a few questions to ask to help you evaluate the best type of card that will benefit your business most:

  • Do you need employee cards? If so, you’ll benefit from considering a card that offers free employee cards, rather than charging an additional fee for each one. Plus, many business credit cards will allow you to track employee spending and set customizable limits, which provides a good way to ensure any cards you issue aren’t used improperly.
  • What type of purchases make up the bulk of your business spending? Some business cards offer higher rewards rates in specific spending categories — office supply stores, for example. Other cards offer a flat rewards rate on every purchase, regardless of category.
  • Does your business require frequent travel? You may want to consider applying for a business travel card or business gas card that can offset that can offset some of those expenses.
  • Do you need to finance a big purchase? A business card with an introductory 0% APR can be a money-saver for large expenses. Or, if you want to earn extra cash back or rewards on a big purchase, this could be a good time to consider a business card with a generous sign-up bonus.
  • How much do you think you’ll spend on a card each year? Determining your business’s annual spending will help you evaluate whether a card with an annual fee is worth it or not. For example, if you’re using a card that offers 2% cash back and charges a $150 annual fee, you’ll need to spend $7,500 per year to recoup the amount of the annual fee.

Some of our top picks for business credit cards

Based on our research of business cards available through LendingTree, as well as from top issuers, we’ve selected some of the best options for a variety of needs.

Best For Cash back with no annual fee

Capital One Spark Cash Select - $500 Cash Bonus

Capital One Spark Cash Select - $500 Cash Bonus

Apply Now
on Capital One's secure site
Introductory APR N/A
Annual Fee $0
Regular Purchase APR 16.24% - 22.24% (Variable)
Credit Score Needed
720 850
Excellent

With the Capital One Spark Cash Select - $500 Cash Bonus, cardholders earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase; 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through capital one travel. Plus, earn $500 cash back once you spend $4,500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.

The annual fee is $0, and you don’t have to worry about a foreign transaction fee when traveling abroad because this card charges none.

At 16.24% - 22.24% (variable), the APR is reasonable.

If you want a card with no annual fee that keeps things simple, the Capital One Spark Cash Select - $500 Cash Bonus is a solid choice. You earn flat-rate cash back on every purchase, and your cash back won’t expire for the life of the account. This card requires excellent credit.

  • Free employee cards with customized spending limits
  • Downloadable purchase records for Quicken®, QuickBooks® and Excel®
  • Roadside assistance
  • Extended warranty
  • Lock your card or an employee’s

With the Capital One Spark Cash Select - $500 Cash Bonus, cardholders earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase; 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through capital one travel. Plus, earn $500 cash back once you spend $4,500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.

The annual fee is $0, and you don’t have to worry about a foreign transaction fee when traveling abroad because this card charges none.

At 16.24% - 22.24% (variable), the APR is reasonable.

If you want a card with no annual fee that keeps things simple, the Capital One Spark Cash Select - $500 Cash Bonus is a solid choice. You earn flat-rate cash back on every purchase, and your cash back won’t expire for the life of the account. This card requires excellent credit.

  • Free employee cards with customized spending limits
  • Downloadable purchase records for Quicken®, QuickBooks® and Excel®
  • Roadside assistance
  • Extended warranty
  • Lock your card or an employee’s

Best For Elevated rewards on common business expenses

Ink Business Preferred<sup>®</sup> Credit Card

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Apply Now
on Chase's secure site
Introductory APR N/A
Annual Fee $95
Regular Purchase APR 18.99% - 23.99% Variable
Credit Score Needed
750 850
Excellent

The Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card lets you 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. Plus, you can earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

There’s a $0 foreign transaction fee, so you can travel abroad without worrying about an extra charge being tacked on every time you use the card. The APR is reasonable at 18.99% - 23.99% Variable .

You will have to pay a $95 annual fee for this card.

If you travel frequently for business and value flexibility in how you can use your credit card rewards, the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card might be right for you. When booking travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal, you get 25% more value per point. Or, you can transfer points at a 1:1 rate to a variety of airline and hotel partners. This card requires excellent credit.

  • Employee cards at no additional cost
  • Cellphone protection
  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver
  • Roadside dispatch
  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • Travel and emergency assistance

The Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card lets you 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. Plus, you can earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

There’s a $0 foreign transaction fee, so you can travel abroad without worrying about an extra charge being tacked on every time you use the card. The APR is reasonable at 18.99% - 23.99% Variable .

You will have to pay a $95 annual fee for this card.

If you travel frequently for business and value flexibility in how you can use your credit card rewards, the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card might be right for you. When booking travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal, you get 25% more value per point. Or, you can transfer points at a 1:1 rate to a variety of airline and hotel partners. This card requires excellent credit.

  • Employee cards at no additional cost
  • Cellphone protection
  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver
  • Roadside dispatch
  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • Travel and emergency assistance

Best For Flexible rewards program

American Express<sup>®</sup> Business Gold Card

American Express® Business Gold Card

Apply Now
on American Express's secure site
Terms Apply
Introductory APR N/A
Annual Fee $295
Regular Purchase APR 17.99% - 25.99% Variable
Credit Score Needed
680 850
Excellent/Good

The American Express® Business Gold Card offers uniquely flexible rewards. Get 4X Membership Rewards® points on the 2 select categories where your business spent the most each month* (from a list of eligible categories, and capped at $150,000 spent per year, after which you earn 1X). Plus, earn 70,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Gold Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.*

If you need flexibility in how much you can spend, you’ll appreciate that this card has no preset spending limit. What you can spend adapts based on factors including your purchase, payment and credit history.

Do note that the card comes with a hefty $295 annual fee. However, you don’t have to worry about a foreign transaction fee because there is none.

Purchases can be either paid in full each billing cycle or you can carry a balance (for eligible transactions) using the Pay Over Time feature. In the latter case, a 17.99% - 25.99% variable APR applies.

To see rates & fees for the American Express® Business Gold Card please click here.

If the categories in which your business spends tend to fluctuate from month to month, the American Express® Business Gold Card‘s adaptability will serve you well. Note that you’ll need excellent/good credit to have a good chance of approval when applying for the American Express® Business Gold Card. Categories eligible for the boosted rewards rate include airfare purchased directly from airlines and U.S. purchases on the following:

  • Online, TV and radio advertising
  • Computer hardware, software and cloud systems from select technology providers
  • Gas stations
  • Restaurants, including takeout and delivery
  • Shipping
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
  • Connect to QuickBooks for auto-expense categorization
  • Dispute resolution
  • Terms apply

The American Express® Business Gold Card offers uniquely flexible rewards. Get 4X Membership Rewards® points on the 2 select categories where your business spent the most each month* (from a list of eligible categories, and capped at $150,000 spent per year, after which you earn 1X). Plus, earn 70,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Gold Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.*

If you need flexibility in how much you can spend, you’ll appreciate that this card has no preset spending limit. What you can spend adapts based on factors including your purchase, payment and credit history.

Do note that the card comes with a hefty $295 annual fee. However, you don’t have to worry about a foreign transaction fee because there is none.

Purchases can be either paid in full each billing cycle or you can carry a balance (for eligible transactions) using the Pay Over Time feature. In the latter case, a 17.99% - 25.99% variable APR applies.

To see rates & fees for the American Express® Business Gold Card please click here.

If the categories in which your business spends tend to fluctuate from month to month, the American Express® Business Gold Card‘s adaptability will serve you well. Note that you’ll need excellent/good credit to have a good chance of approval when applying for the American Express® Business Gold Card. Categories eligible for the boosted rewards rate include airfare purchased directly from airlines and U.S. purchases on the following:

  • Online, TV and radio advertising
  • Computer hardware, software and cloud systems from select technology providers
  • Gas stations
  • Restaurants, including takeout and delivery
  • Shipping

  • Employee cards at no additional cost
  • Connect to QuickBooks for auto-expense categorization
  • Dispute resolution
  • Terms apply

Are there business credit cards for bad credit?

If your personal or business credit score is less than stellar, you might have trouble qualifying for some of the higher-end business credit cards. However, there are a couple options. Below is an unsecured business card meant for fair credit and a secured business card that might be a good fit for business owners with Fair/Poor credit, if you’re willing to submit $500 to $25,000 to the issuer as a security deposit.

Best For Fair or limited credit

Capital One Spark Classic for Business

Capital One Spark Classic for Business

Introductory APR N/A
Annual Fee $0
Regular Purchase APR 28.49% (Variable)
Credit Score Needed
600 679
Fair

The Capital One Spark Classic for Business is aimed at business owners with fair credit who are looking for a card that doesn’t require a deposit. Plus, it earns unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through capital one travel.

You don’t have to worry about a foreign transaction fee. Like other Capital One business credit cards, the Capital One Spark Classic for Business charges none.

The annual fee is $0 and the APR is 28.49% (variable).

If you don’t want to tie up money in a deposit for a secured card, the Capital One Spark Classic for Business is probably your best option. It’s accessible if you have fair credit, so the requirements aren’t as stringent as many other business cards. True, you’ll earn a lower cash back rate than some cards offer, but it’s a solid choice if you don’t think you’ll qualify for more high-end cards.

  • Free employee cards with customized spending limits
  • Downloadable purchase records for Quicken®, QuickBooks® and Excel®
  • Roadside assistance
  • Extended warranty
  • Easily lock your card or an employee’s

The Capital One Spark Classic for Business is aimed at business owners with fair credit who are looking for a card that doesn’t require a deposit. Plus, it earns unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through capital one travel.

You don’t have to worry about a foreign transaction fee. Like other Capital One business credit cards, the Capital One Spark Classic for Business charges none.

The annual fee is $0 and the APR is 28.49% (variable).

If you don’t want to tie up money in a deposit for a secured card, the Capital One Spark Classic for Business is probably your best option. It’s accessible if you have fair credit, so the requirements aren’t as stringent as many other business cards. True, you’ll earn a lower cash back rate than some cards offer, but it’s a solid choice if you don’t think you’ll qualify for more high-end cards.

  • Free employee cards with customized spending limits
  • Downloadable purchase records for Quicken®, QuickBooks® and Excel®
  • Roadside assistance
  • Extended warranty
  • Easily lock your card or an employee’s
The information related to the Capital One Spark Classic for Business has been collected by LendingTree and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply.

Best For Bad credit

Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card

Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card

Review Coming Soon
Introductory APR N/A
Annual Fee $0
Regular Purchase APR Prime + 11.90%
Credit Score Needed
0 0
Fair/Poor

The Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card is accessible to business owners with Fair/Poor credit and charges a $0 annual fee.

You’ll need to submit a security deposit to Wells Fargo in the amount of your desired credit limit. The minimum deposit is $500 while the maximum is $25,000.

There’s a flexible rewards program which lets you choose cash back or points: Earn 1.5% cash back on every $1 spent OR Earn 1 point on every $1 spent and receive 1,000 bonus points when your company spend is $1,000 or more in any monthly billing period.

The APR is Prime + 11.90%. If traveling abroad, you can use this card with peace of mind thanks to a $0 foreign transaction fee.

If you have Fair/Poor credit and are willing to tie up at least $500 in a security deposit, the Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card is a solid way to manage your business cash flow.

Plus, Wells Fargo will periodically review your account to see if you qualify to graduate to an unsecured card (note that there’s no set timeline for this).

  • Business Spending Report to help manage your expenses
  • Get up to 10 employee cards at no additional cost

The Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card is accessible to business owners with Fair/Poor credit and charges a $0 annual fee.

You’ll need to submit a security deposit to Wells Fargo in the amount of your desired credit limit. The minimum deposit is $500 while the maximum is $25,000.

There’s a flexible rewards program which lets you choose cash back or points: Earn 1.5% cash back on every $1 spent OR Earn 1 point on every $1 spent and receive 1,000 bonus points when your company spend is $1,000 or more in any monthly billing period.

The APR is Prime + 11.90%. If traveling abroad, you can use this card with peace of mind thanks to a $0 foreign transaction fee.

If you have Fair/Poor credit and are willing to tie up at least $500 in a security deposit, the Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card is a solid way to manage your business cash flow.

Plus, Wells Fargo will periodically review your account to see if you qualify to graduate to an unsecured card (note that there’s no set timeline for this).

  • Business Spending Report to help manage your expenses
  • Get up to 10 employee cards at no additional cost
The information related to the Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card has been collected by LendingTree and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply.

Frequently asked questions about business credit cards

You should have at least some kind of business income, or the expectation that you will earn business income, before applying. You don’t necessarily have to run a full-fledged business with a storefront and employees, however — something as simple as doing freelance work from time to time could allow you to qualify.

There isn’t a set amount of revenue your business must generate to qualify for a business credit card. It’s possible to get approved for a business card as a sole proprietor with relatively modest revenue, or even an estimate of expected revenue if your business is new and you don’t have numbers for a whole year yet.

The best practice is to keep business and personal expenses separate — use a business card for business expenses and a personal credit card for personal expenses. That way, if you ever need to produce records documenting your business expenses, they aren’t jumbled together with personal purchases.

If you run a business, whether it’s a big operation with several employees or just you selling products on eBay or Etsy, getting a business credit card is a smart move. It allows you to separate personal spending from business spending, makes it easier to track expenses and typically protects your finances better in cases of fraud than a debit card.

Yes, as a sole proprietor you can apply for a business credit card. Just note you can be denied for a variety of reasons, as with any credit card application.

In general, with charge cards you must pay off your card’s balance within a billing cycle, whereas a credit card allows you to roll over a balance from month to month. The benefit of a charge card is that you may have a flexible spending limit, whereas credit cards come with a set credit limit you typically can’t exceed.

Methodology

In selecting the business cards recommended here, we evaluated rewards programs for a variety of different spending habits. We also weighed welcome offers and benefits such as free employee cards.

In one instance, a selection was made based on availability to applicants with Fair/Poor credit.

Finally, annual fees were considered. Those cards that charge an annual fee offer enough value in rewards and benefits that business owners in some situations will find them worthwhile despite the cost of the fee.

Glen Luke Flanagan

  • Expertise: Personal finance, credit scoring, credit cards
  • Education: Radford University, East Carolina University

 


 

Glen Luke Flanagan is a senior credit card writer for LendingTree. He joined the team in June 2019, and covers topics including new credit cards, how your credit score works and what you need to know about credit card interest.
 
Before joining LendingTree, Glen worked in journalism and government communications. As a journalist at newspapers in North Carolina and South Carolina, his reporting won awards from the North Carolina Press Association and the South Carolina Press Association, respectively.
 
Glen earned his bachelor’s degree in media studies with a concentration in journalism from Radford University, graduating summa cum laude in May 2014. He also earned a master’s degree in English with a concentration in technical and professional communication, as well as a graduate certificate in marketing, from East Carolina University in May 2022.

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The above offers and/or promotions may have since changed, expired, or is no longer available. Check the Issuers’ website for more details.