Acquiring a dedicated business credit card can be a smart move in several different respects. First, having a business credit card allows a business owner to segment their expenses and keep their personal and business purchases separate. Second, business credit cards offer valuable perks that can make travel safer and cheaper and protect the business owner as a consumer. Last but not least, the best business credit cards offer cash back and travel benefits that make keeping your card – and using it – worthwhile.
While you might imagine businesses need a huge warehouse and plenty of employees to qualify for a business credit card, that couldn't be further from the truth. In reality, lots of business owners carry a business credit card – from mom n' pop shops to self-employed individuals and freelancers.
What You Need to Qualify for a Business Credit Card
If you're curious whether your part-time side hustle or small business might help you qualify for a business credit card, here's what you'll need:
- An Income-Seeking Endeavor – Believe it or not, you don't need a large business to apply for – and qualify for – a business credit card. What you really need is an income-seeking endeavor, side job, or side hustle that allows you to earn money on the side. If you're doing almost anything to earn money and claiming that income on your taxes, you may have a viable business in the eyes of card issuers. It can be anything from babysitting dogs to doing part-time landscape work or freelancing on the side.
- Employer Identification Number (EIN) – If your business is set up and incorporated, you likely have an Employer Identification Number (EIN). If you do, you'll fill this out on your business credit card application, whether you fill it out online or in a bank.
- Social Security Number – If you don't have an EIN, you can apply for a business credit card as a sole proprietor. This is the path most self-employed business people and small business owners take. In this case, you'll simply put your Social Security Number (SSN) on your business card application where it asks for your EIN.
- A Business Address – To qualify for a business credit card, you need a business address. If you run your side hustle or small business out of a separate residence or commercial location, you'll fill this address out on your application. If not, you can use your home address instead.
- Business Income – When you apply for a business credit card, they'll ask for your business income from the last calendar year. If your business has earned a steady income, you'll list an estimate of that income here. If your business is a start-up, you'll need to list the truth – zero.
How to Qualify for a Business Credit Card
If you apply for a business credit card and your application goes to "pending," don't despair. Especially if your business is new, it's fairly likely your card issuer needs to confirm your identity and some of your business information first.
If they send a letter or email asking you to call in, you may need to provide additional information about your business, including the nature of your business and tax forms to prove your income. On the other hand, your bank may only need to confirm your identity to approve you for a new card. Either way, answering their questions openly and honestly and providing any paperwork they request is the best way to get the business credit card you want.
Applying for a business credit card might seem intimidating, but it's not that hard to qualify if you have a side hustle or business of any kind. The most important requirement is that your business is income-seeking and that you are open and honest on your application.
If you do qualify for a business credit card, you'll enjoy the spoils of rewards, special consumer protections, and the ability to keep all of your business expenses apart from your regular spending. Most of the time, these benefits far outweigh the hassle of researching business credit cards and applying for one.