How to get a business credit card

Smiling florist with bouquet of yellow tulipsImage: Smiling florist with bouquet of yellow tulips

In a Nutshell

Applying for a business credit card isn’t that much different from applying for a personal credit card. But if this is your first time applying for a business card, or you don’t have existing business credit, there are a few steps you can follow to help you qualify for the right card.
Editorial Note: Credit Karma receives compensation from third-party advertisers, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions. Our third-party advertisers don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge when posted.
Advertiser Disclosure

We think it's important for you to understand how we make money. It's pretty simple, actually. The offers for financial products you see on our platform come from companies who pay us. The money we make helps us give you access to free credit scores and reports and helps us create our other great tools and educational materials.

Compensation may factor into how and where products appear on our platform (and in what order). But since we generally make money when you find an offer you like and get, we try to show you offers we think are a good match for you. That's why we provide features like your Approval Odds and savings estimates.

Of course, the offers on our platform don't represent all financial products out there, but our goal is to show you as many great options as we can.

For many small-business owners, a business credit card can help streamline finances while building business credit. But if you have little or no business credit, how do you get a business credit card in the first place?

Whether you’re a freelancer or have your own start-up, you’ve probably wondered how to get a business credit card, especially if you’re just starting your business and don’t have any business credit yet.

Even though there are a few differences between business and personal credit cards, the process for applying is similar. Here’s what you should do if you’re trying to get a business credit card.

  1. Check your personal credit
  2. Research business credit card options to find one that fits your needs
  3. Apply for a business credit card
  4. Wait for your business credit card in the mail and use it wisely

1. Check your personal credit

Before you start the process of applying for a business credit card, check both your personal and business credit. Both can be considered when you apply.

Lenders may also consider other factors about both you and your business, such as …

  • Business revenue
  • Business expenses
  • Personal income

If you don’t have business credit, you may need to work on building it before you can be approved for the best business credit cards. One way to do that is with a secured business credit card.

2. Research business credit card options to find one that fits your needs

There are several different types of business cards, so make sure to keep your business needs in mind. It’s important to consider the type of business you have and how you can maximize your rewards based on your business-spending requirements.

For example, a freelance graphic designer with monthly expenses for design software might consider a business credit card with cash back for general purchases. But a business owner who travels frequently might consider a business card with travel rewards instead.

If you’re working on building your business credit, know that not all business credit cards report to business credit-reporting agencies. If you get a card from an issuer that doesn’t, you won’t build your business credit. Before you apply, ask the credit card company if it reports to a business credit-reporting agency.

Compare each card side-by-side so that you can make the best decision and minimize the number of cards you apply for — too many hard inquiries will impact your credit scores.

3. Apply for a business credit card

Once you’ve found the right business credit card for you, fill out an application.

Most credit card companies will accept an application online, where you’ll be provided with a decision. If you don’t receive an immediate decision, your application will be reviewed and a decision will be sent to you.

The application will likely ask for your personal and business information, including …

  • Legal business name
  • Business address
  • Type of business
  • Business phone number
  • Tax identification number
  • Annual business revenue
  • Years in business
  • Monthly business expenses
  • Personal income
  • Social Security number
  • Date of birth

4. Wait for your business credit card in the mail and use it wisely

If you’ve been approved, all you need to do is wait for your card to arrive in the mail. If you applied online, most credit card companies will mail your card within seven to 14 business days. Once you receive your business card, activate it and start using it wisely.

  • Carefully review the terms of any related rewards program so you can reap the maximum benefits of your business card.
  • Avoid mixing personal and business-related expenses on your business credit card. Doing so will help you when it’s time to sort out your accounting information during tax season.

Bottom line

If you’re a self-employed freelancer or small-business owner, the right business credit card can help you build your business credit if you use it responsibly. But if your business doesn’t have an income yet or you don’t have business credit, be prepared to prove your creditworthiness based on your personal credit history and income.

Once you’ve received your card, use it responsibly to further grow your business and your business credit.

About the author: Latoya Scott is a freelance writer and certified financial education instructor with an MBA from South University. She is the creator of and has been featured on HuffPo, Rockstar Finance and more.  Read more.