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Business credit cards for one – getting approved with a very small business?

*Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and 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 Aug 22, 2013, but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.

Business credit cards offer some of the highest mile earning opportunities today, both through bonus mile offers and category spending bonuses.

But if you aren’t a large business, or primarily work a traditional job and have a business on the side, it is still possible to take advantage of business credit card offers. Here’s why even part time businesses can qualify for business credit cards…

  • You don’t need to be incorporated to get a card. Most businesses in this country are ‘sole proprietorships.’ That means someone doing business without registering a company name, and just using their own social security number to report any profits on tax returns.  If this is your business form, there is no need to fill out additional forms or paperwork.
  • You don’t need to have major revenue. Many businesses are just starting up, and don’t yet have revenue. Or you may just sell some items once in a while and want to keep business expenses separate from personal. That is a business for you. The key is business credit card approvals are often based on your *personal* credit history and income, including that from your regular job.

What will you need to have ready to apply for a business credit card?

  • An estimate of your business revenue. If it’s zero right now and you’re just getting started, put that in. Many brand new businesses have no revenue to start with as they are building up.
  • Your taxpayer identification number. There are many ways to incorporate a business, and some involve having a separate tax identification number for the business. If you have one, use it on your application. If you don’t, you are a ‘sole proprietorship’ and you can put your social security number in.
  • Your personal income. This is where you put the income from any traditional job you have or other sources, and is one of the  factors in the credit decision.

That’s about it. There are no guarantees of approvals – for some cards banks may want you to have meaningful revenue, but in some cases brand new businesses are approved. If you are not immediately approved, the bank may ask for more information.

They may ask the past history of your business revenue the last two years, what kind of business you have. and how much you expect to spend on the card.

Once you are approved though, keep in mind the following…

  • Business credit cards don’t carry the same government protections as personal credit cards. Under the CARD Act the terms on a personal credit card can’t change in the first year, protecting you from fee increases, etc. However business credit cards are not subject to this protection. They can also apply penalty interest rates on existing balances if you are late with payment, something personal cards cannot do. Most business credit cards with rewards do carry fraud protection  and extended warranty service like you see on personal cards though. So the rule here is only use a business credit card if you plan to pay it off every month, and stay out of the slippery slope of interest fees.
  • You are personally liable for business credit card purchases. While a business credit card might not show up on your credit report like a personal card, you are personally liable for any charges put on it, whether by yourself or an employee, so make sure you keep those personal and business expenses separate.

Other than that, business credit cards are a great way to earn extra rewards and make keeping track of expenses easier.

You can get started earning thousands of United miles by taking advantage of valuable business credit card offers.


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