Small businesses have a huge impact on the U.S. economy. Of all U.S. employees in the private workforce, nearly half (47.1%) are employed by small businesses, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy. That amounts to 60.6 million small business employees.
But running a small business is often difficult, and it’s not uncommon for small business owners to accrue some debt. Fortunately, there are ways to help run your business and work on getting out of debt at the same time.
If you run a small business and want to pay down credit card debt, consider using business credit cards with balance transfer offers. These types of cards often provide business-related benefits and can help you avoid paying high interest charges on your current debt. Let’s see how they work.
What is a business credit card balance transfer?
A balance transfer consists of moving debt from one credit account to another. The goal is to move high interest debt onto a card that has a lower interest rate, so you end up paying less money overall as you pay off your debt. Many of the best business credit cards offer a 0% introductory APR, or annual percentage rate.
For credit cards with intro APR offers, you typically have a certain number of months after account opening during which you won’t be charged any interest on balances you transfer from other credit accounts. However, you likely have to pay a balance transfer fee. So to make sure it’s a good move for you, you would need to see if the money you save on interest payments is more than the transfer fee.
Here’s a quick example scenario of how a balance transfer works:
- Struggle with existing debt: You have existing debt with high interest rates. The high interest can make it hard to pay off your debt because the majority of your payments could be going toward the interest instead of the actual debt, or principal.
- Open a balance transfer card: You open a new credit card that comes with an introductory 0% balance transfer APR offer.
- Make a balance transfer: You initiate a balance transfer of your existing debt to your new balance transfer card to take advantage of the 0% intro offer.
- Pay the balance transfer fee: You have to pay a fee for the balance transfer, which varies but is often around 3% of the transfer amount or $5, whichever is greater.
- Your debt is transferred: Your debt is moved to your balance transfer card, and you don’t have to pay any interest on it for a certain amount of time, typically between 12 to 18 months. After that interest-free period ends, your remaining balance will be subject to the regular APR, which is typically much higher.
This is a simple example of why and how you might do a balance transfer. If the math makes sense for your situation, you could save loads of money on interest payments while getting the time you need to pay off your debt. Keep in mind that a balance transfer might not make sense if the balance transfer fee is too high or you don’t plan on paying off your debt during the introductory period.
In addition, it’s important to note that balance transfers aren’t limited to business cards. If you compare credit cards, you will discover you have balance transfer options available on both business and personal credit cards.
How a balance transfer credit card could help your business
Credit cards with balance transfer offers could support your business efforts because of their benefits and features. Here are a few ways a balance transfer card might help you:
Savings and cash flow
Balance transfer cards may have 0% intro APR offers for new cardholders. If you have existing debt and move it to a credit card with one of these offers, you won’t have to worry about interest charges on that debt for a while.
This immediately saves you from paying interest and also frees up more cash flow. If you’re not having to worry about paying interest on your debt, that’s more money you can put toward other things, such as inventory and additional business expenses.
However, don’t completely ignore your debt. You still want to pay it off, so making regular monthly payments before your due date is a smart move during this intro APR period. Otherwise, the 0% intro APR offer will eventually end, and you’ll be back to paying large amounts of interest on your debt.
Credit card rewards
Many credit cards offer rewards for new purchases you make . Some may even offer bonus points or rewards for specific bonus categories related to your business.
The rewards typically come in the form of points, miles, or cash back. Points and miles can often be used for flights and hotel stays, while cash back might be a statement credit on your card or a deposit into an eligible bank account.
It makes sense to use rewards credit cards for business expenses because you’re getting something back for purchases you were already planning on making. So it’s like you get a discount for your purchases.
It’s essential to stay organized as a business owner, including delegating certain tasks to your employees and separating your business expenses from your personal expenses. Many business credit cards offer the option to provide employee cards to your workforce, which frees you from making every purchase yourself.
In addition, a business credit card makes it easy to keep all your business expenses in one place. When it comes time to do your taxes, you’ll have an account of all purchases related to your business.
Do balance transfers impact your credit score?
Balance transfers could positively or negatively impact your credit score, depending on your situation. The act of doing a balance transfer doesn’t necessarily have any effect on your credit score, but you might see a few side effects after the transfer is completed.
Here are a few examples of how a balance transfer might impact your credit score:
- Credit utilization: Your credit utilization is how much you use of the total credit limit available to you. This could be calculated for all your credit accounts at once or for each individual credit product. You typically want to stay below 30% credit utilization, or your credit score could go down. Opening a balance transfer card could help your credit utilization by increasing your overall amount of credit.
- Opening credit cards: Applying for a small business credit card is similar to applying for any credit card. You often have to fill out personal information, and you might have to pass a hard credit pull to check your creditworthiness. This inquiry to your credit report could have a small, negative impact on your credit score. The more cards you open in a short period of time, the more impact hard inquiries could have.
- Closing credit cards: If you transfer debt from one credit card to another, you might decide to cancel the credit card you just moved the debt from. The average age of your credit accounts is often a factor that goes into your credit score, so closing an account could lower your overall credit account age and might have a negative impact on your score.
- Credit activity: Your credit activity is a key factor in determining your credit score. If you regularly use credit cards and pay off their balances, you increase the chances of building your credit. But personal credit and business credit aren’t the same things. Some business credit cards report to personal credit, but others don’t. Keep this in mind when deciding which business credit card might be right for you and which credit score you want to build.
The best business credit cards for balance transfers
The best balance transfer card is likely different for each person and their business. Everyone has their own goals and unique situation, so you might prefer one card while someone else prefers another. But you should still keep an eye out for what features and benefits each card has.
Here are a few things to consider when choosing a business credit card for balance transfers:
- Intro APR length: Many balance transfer business credit cards have a 0% introductory offer, but how long that low APR period lasts will vary between cards. Twelve months is typically the minimum length, while 18 months or more is often the most generous length. After that, these cards often use variable APRs.
- Balance transfer fee: You typically have to pay between 3-5% of the balance you’re transferring. Getting a card with a lower balance transfer fee could save you a lot of money. For example, 5% of $5,000 is $250 while 3% of $5,000 is $150.
- Annual fee: If you’re trying to save money with a balance transfer card, you likely don’t want a credit card with an annual fee, or at least not a high annual fee that could be difficult to offset.
- Rewards program: Rewards can build quickly if you have a lot of business expenses to put on your card. Look for a card with the kind of rewards you want to earn — miles vs. cashback rewards — and on the kind of spending you typically make.
- Welcome bonus: Some cards will offer you an extra amount of rewards or a statement credit if you spend a certain amount within the first few months of becoming a cardholder.
- Foreign transaction fee: If you or your employees need to travel internationally, make sure you pick a card that does not charge a foreign transaction fee. If you only travel domestically, this benefit won’t really matter to you either way.
- Other benefits: Some credit cards provide other perks, such as purchase protection, extended warranty coverage, or travel insurance. Depending on your business needs, these types of benefits could offer you additional value.
Keeping these tips in mind, here are some of our top picks for business credit cards with balance transfer offers:
U.S. Bank Business Triple Cash Rewards World Elite Mastercard®
The U.S. Bank Business Triple Cash Rewards World Elite Mastercard® has a $0 annual fee, doesn’t report credit activity to consumer credit bureaus, and offers a 0% intro APR for 15 billing cycles on purchases (then 19.24% to 28.24% (Variable)), as well as a 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 billing cycles (then 19.24% to 28.24% (Variable)).
In addition, you have the opportunity to earn 5% cash back on prepaid hotels and car rentals booked directly in the Rewards Center; 3% cash back on eligible purchases at gas stations and EV charging stations, office supply stores, cell phone service providers, and restaurants; and 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases.
And if you spend $4,500 in the first 150 days, you’ll get a $500 cashback bonus.
Learn more in our U.S. Bank Business Triple Cash Rewards review.
U.S. Bank Business Platinum Card
The U.S. Bank Business Platinum Card has an annual fee of $0 and doesn’t report credit activity to consumer credit bureaus, but it also has no earning potential and few benefits.
The main purpose of this card is to help small business owners do balance transfers, which it can do with a 0% intro APR for 18 billing cycles on balance transfers, then 17.24% to 26.24% (Variable). The U.S. Bank Business Triple Cash provides more benefits, but the Platinum card has the longer intro APR offer.
Wells Fargo Business Platinum Credit Card
The Wells Fargo Business Platinum Credit Card offers 1.5% cash rewards per dollar spent, or earn 1 point per dollar spent and receive 1,000 bonus points each month you spend more than $1,000 and $300 or 30,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. It also has a $0 annual fee.
You get 0% intro APR on purchases for 9 months (then 7.99% + prime rate to 17.99% + prime rate) and 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 9 months (then 20.74% + prime rate). This is a shorter length than most balance transfer credit cards, but you don’t have to pay an annual fee, and you have some reward earning potential.
Check out Wells Fargo Business Platinum Credit Card Review for more details.
What is the best business credit card for a balance transfer?
The best business credit card for balance transfers is different for each person and business. If you are looking for a new card in order to make balance transfers and earn rewards, consider the U.S. Bank Business Triple Cash Rewards World Elite Mastercard®. But if you want a longer intro APR offer for balance transfers, the U.S. Bank Business Platinum Card could be the better option.
Does applying for a business credit card count as a hard inquiry?
Yes, applying for a business credit card will likely initiate a hard inquiry to your credit report. This inquiry into your credit history will often happen even if the card issuer for the business credit card doesn’t typically report credit card activity on their business cards to consumer credit bureaus.
Can LLCs get credit cards?
Most anyone who has any business-related activity can apply for a business credit card. This means sole proprietors, LLC owners, and other types of business owners can qualify for business cards. Freelancers, gig workers, and similar workers would be able to qualify under these guidelines.
Balance transfer credit cards aren’t for everyone, but they can be a lifeline if you’re struggling with debt while trying to run a business or need additional cash flow. Still, make sure you do the math to see if a balance transfer would be right for you and your business.
And do further research before choosing a credit card offer to make sure you select the best option for your business situation. Putting in the time to plan and prepare for a balance transfer can help you avoid costly balance transfer mistakes.
To select three business credit cards with the best balance transfer offers, we compared cards from multiple credit card issuers. We assessed the details of various cards' balance transfer offers to identify the best options for business owners. We did not include all cards available.
Up to 5% Cash Back
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Earn $900 bonus cash back after you spend $6,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year; 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year; and 1% cash back on all other purchases