Credit cards for small-business owners with poor credit: Know your options

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In a Nutshell

Owning a business can bring unexpected financial down times and credit hits. When it comes time to apply for a credit card, there are a few options that can help you get back on your feet and build business credit.

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Starting a business means taking risks, making changes and building from the ground up. Every small-business owner has a story. And if your story includes navigating rough financial waters (or just barely getting your feet wet), it can be difficult to access a line of credit.

We’ve rounded up three of our favorite cards for small-business owners with poor credit. While you’re busy building your empire, these cards will help you build your credit, without necessarily sacrificing features you’ll see on more-exclusive cards.



Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card

Who’s it for?

The Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card is a versatile pick for the small-business owner who wants a secured business card that can help them build their business credit, along with rewards.

Why we like it

This card is a unique combination of credit-building accessibility and desirable perks. For a limited time, new cardholders can earn 1.5% cash back on purchases if you enroll in the Wells Fargo Business Card Rewards Program and choose the Cash Back Rewards option, for no annual rewards program fee. Or if you’d rather earn points, you can choose the Rewards Points option in the program to earn one point for every $1 spent on purchases.

You’ll also get …

  • A credit limit that spans $500 to $25,000, depending on what you put down for your deposit
  • Up to 10 additional employee cards (with an annual fee of $25 per card)
  • No foreign transaction fee
Check out more of our top picks for secured business credit cards

Watch out for

Your business credit is separate from your personal credit, so it’s important to know who your business credit card reports to — but figuring this out can be confusing.

While the Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card can help you build your business credit, it may or may not report to the consumer credit bureaus as well, which is where your personal credit reports come from. If you’re concerned about whether this card could impact your personal credit, contact Wells Fargo to ask them directly. Take note that the card has a $25 annual fee.

How to use it

Remember that your credit limit is determined by how much you put down for the deposit. Just like with personal cards, paying your business credit card off in full every month and making payments on time is key to boosting or maintaining your credit. If you keep up with payments and use the card responsibly, Wells Fargo may upgrade you to an unsecured business credit card. 

Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business

Who’s it for?

The Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business card is a solid choice for the small-business owner who wants a low-maintenance card that will help build credit.

Why we like it

This card is nothing flashy, but it gets the job done. It’s an unsecured card for users with “average” credit. By Capital One’s standards, “average credit” could mean you’ve defaulted on a loan sometime in the past five years or that your credit history is very limited.

We like that this card is simple to use with limited fees.

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Foreign transaction fee: None
  • Fee to add additional employee cards: $0

You’ll also receive 1% cash back on all eligible purchases — with no sign-up or activations required, and the rewards are unlimited and won’t expire while your account is open.

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Watch out for

Capital One reports business card activity to the business credit bureaus, but they may report to the three major consumer credit bureaus as well. So be aware that how you use Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business could impact both your personal and business credit. But paying your card balance off in full and on time every month can help you build your business credit (and maybe your personal credit, too).

How to use it

The Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business works great for building credit, and that’s what it should be used for. If you’ve got your eye on the rewards and perks that come with business cards reserved for those with excellent credit — such as its complement, the Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business — the Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business could be a stepping stone to help you get there.

Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® with Cash Back Rewards

Who’s it for?

While not a business credit card, the Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® with Cash Back Rewards can still be helpful for small-business owners by helping you build your personal credit. Lenders may check your personal credit along with your business credit when deciding whether to approve you for a business card. So building your personal credit first, with responsible personal credit card use, could potentially help you get approved for a business credit card in the long run.

How to build business credit with poor personal credit

Why we like it

Your unsecured options may be limited if your credit has taken a dive, but the Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® with Cash Back Rewards card is just that. You’ll find out if you prequalify in less than a minute (without dinging your credit scores).

We like that this credit-building card doesn’t skip out on rewards. Depending on how creditworthy the issuer finds you, you’ll qualify for a rewards program where you can earn 1% cash back on eligible purchases in categories like …

  • Dining
  • Gas
  • Groceries
  • Internet
  • Mobile phone service

But you won’t know which categories you’ll earn cash back on until after you’ve qualified for a card offer.

You’ll also be able to monitor your credit health with free monthly access to your Experian credit score and credit report summary. And you’ll be automatically reviewed for credit line increases with this card. That’s helpful for a growing business (and a busy entrepreneur.)

The best unsecured credit cards for building credit

Watch out for

Credit cards intended for users with poor credit are taking on higher risk, so they can come with higher fees. The annual fee for the Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® with Cash Back Rewards card can cost up to $75 for the first year, and up to $99 every year after that, depending on your creditworthiness.

How to use it

If you’re intending to use the Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® with Cash Back Rewards for business, keep your personal expenses on a separate card. Use the card responsibly — paying it off in full and on time every month, while keeping a close watch on your credit limit — and you’ll be on your way to better credit and, hopefully, some business credit card options. 

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Bottom line

If you struggle with credit, growing your business can feel like an uphill climb. But there are cards intended to help you steadily build your credit. Despite high fees or deposits, these cards can help you work on your credit health if you use them responsibly.

Choose a card with features that matter most to you and offer an opportunity to grow, and soon you’ll be applying for a business credit card that better suits you and your work.


Editorial Note: Credit Karma receives compensation from third-party advertisers, but that doesn’t affect our editors' opinions. Our marketing partners don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge when it’s posted.