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Some of the best points promotions come from business credit cards, though it’s sometimes unclear what qualifies a person to get one. A lot of folks don’t realize that they probably qualify for one, even if they don’t have a formal small business.
Why get a business credit card?
First off, why would you want a business credit card? For one, a lot of business cards have great perks and benefits, and can often augment your current points strategy. For example, my favorite points currency right now are Chase Ultimate Rewards points, so I have several cards that earn these points. The Chase Ink Business Preferred and Ink Business Cash are business credit cards that earn me a lot of Ultimate Rewards points. For example, with the Ink Business Cash card, I earn five points per dollar on office supplies, internet, cable, and phone charges. This comes in handy for my internet and mobile phone charges.
As of January 2019, the Ink Business Preferred has an 80,000 account welcome offer (after spending $5,000 in the first three months after account opening), which is currently the highest of any of the Chase Ultimate Rewards earning cards. American Express is also offering 75,000 points on their Business Platinum, and 50,000 points on their Business Gold card. Learn more about American Express cards.
What qualifies as a “small business”?
You might be wondering, “how do you get a business credit card?” You don’t need to own a major business to get one. Even small-scale side businesses and side hustles can qualify you for a business credit card. The key to whether you qualify is that you must be “for profit.” That doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be making a profit yet. However, you must be engaged in either performing a service or selling goods.
Here’s a list of some potential examples:
- Selling items on eBay
- Driving for Uber / Lyft
- Tutoring students
- Performing work on TaskRabbit
- Real estate
Tips and considerations
Before you jump in and apply, here are a few things to consider:
1. Credit score impact:
Business cards are confusing when it comes to their credit score impacts. There are basically two different types of credit bureaus. One is for consumer credit, which is what we are used to dealing with when applying for personal credit cards. The other is commercial, which is for business loans and credit. Almost all issuers will report your business credit card activities to a commercial credit bureau, while some will also report your activity to consumer credit bureaus. While this may not matter to a lot of folks, it might be worth considering if you’re planning to get a loan from the bank for either a mortgage or business.
2. Describing your business:
The process for applying for a business card is a bit more complicated than a personal card. You will need to provide information about the business. One area that is potentially confusing is the Employer Identification Number or EIN. This is a tax identification number that you can register with the government. If you have a business that you register as an LLC or Corporation, then you should have one. If your business is a side hustle, then you’re a likely a sole proprietor, which means you can use your social security number. Sole proprietorships can also get an EIN from the IRS, and it’s often a good idea to do so. However, it’s not required.
3. Reporting your income:
The key is to always tell the truth. A lot of folks think that they need to report high amounts of income to qualify for a card. However, this is not true. Even if it’s a few hundred dollars a month, you can still qualify for a card. It’s good practice to separate your business and personal spending, so it’s completely legitimate to want to have a separate business credit card and account, even if you’re not making a large amount of revenue or profit yet.
4. Relationship with the issuer:
One the best ways to improve your odds of getting an approval is to have a relationship with the bank. You don’t necessarily need a business checking or savings account with them either. While it’s useful, even having personal accounts that show responsible credit use can help. Also, as I mentioned in our “Tips and Tricks When Applying for Credit Cards” video/post, you can often offer up unused credit lines in order to get approval for new cards. For example, you can offer to have some of your personal credit transferred to your new business credit, which can help with getting a final approval.
I usually advocate for people to call reconsideration lines when they don’t get approved for personal cards. However, with business cards, I advise against it. Since the process for approval requires a lot more information and consideration, you are generally better off waiting for a decision in the mail before contacting them. However, if you get a denial or a request for more info, don’t give up. You can always ask to be reconsidered.
If asked by the issuer why you want a credit card, just remember to be truthful and positive. Some reasons for wanting a business credit card are:
- To keep your personal and business expenses separate
- To help your business grow
- To grow your relationship with the bank
Also, if you’re not making much money from your small business, you might want to think about how much you think you could be making in the future. When I’ve called reconsideration lines in the past, they seem to be interested in my forecasted revenue. I recommend having some numbers and figures in mind when speaking to the reconsideration line rep.
Do you have any experience applying for a business card? If so, please share your experience below. Also, let us know if you have any interesting side gigs or businesses.
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