How to get a business credit card in 4 steps

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: Intuit 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. Information about financial products not offered on Credit Karma is collected independently. Our content is accurate to the best of our knowledge when posted.

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.

For many small-business owners, a business credit card can help streamline finances while building business credit. With a business credit card, you can also earn bonuses, points and cash back on your business’s everyday purchases.

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.

How do business credit cards work?

Business credit cards are similar to personal credit cards, but they’re designed for business use instead of personal use, and the cards’ features and rewards typically reflect this difference. To apply, you may need a business credit score, but that isn’t always the case.

A business credit card may also have a higher credit limit than a personal card, and it’ll expand your business’s purchasing power in addition to helping you build business credit.

Benefits of business credit cards

Having a business card will provide you with perks specifically for your business. You can build business credit, earn rewards and use credits for business travel and expenses — all while making purchases for office supplies, employee travel, advertising, company meals or other purchases you’d already be making for your business.

If you’re running a business with multiple employees, you may be able to get a business card that offers employee cards with tracked spending and rewards earning. And if you’re running a solo operation, a business card will help you ensure your business and personal expenses are separate.

How 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. Receive your business credit card in the mail and start using it

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. Your credit standing can affect the types of cards you’re able to qualify for. Having a strong personal credit history (with scores in the “good” to “excellent” range) may help you qualify for a business card with more-desirable perks and rewards.

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. Consider what 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 benefit from using a business credit card with cash back for general purchases. But a business owner who travels frequently might have more use for 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. Receive your business credit card in the mail and start using it

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.

  • 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. Keeping these purchases separate 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’re consistent with your payments and keep your utilization ratio down. 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 to further grow your business and your business credit.

Frequently asked questions

Who can apply for a business credit card?

Business owners can apply for business credit cards. Application requirements for business credit cards can vary, but generally people who own sole proprietorships, LLCs and corporations can apply for business cards.

How do I get approved for a business credit card?

As with any credit card, approval requirements vary. Having a strong credit history and demonstrating your business’s revenue can help you get approved for business cards with more-valuable perks and rewards.

Which card is best for my business?

Consider what your business’s goals are to decide which credit card is best for you. Do you want to build business credit, earn rewards and credits, or provide employees with a way to make necessary business purchases? Answering this question will help you decide which card to apply for.

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.