What are the Requirements for a Business Credit Card?

CREDIT CARDS - BUSINESS CREDIT CARDS
You need a business to get a business credit card, but many types of businesses can qualify.
Updated April 12, 2024
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The requirements for a business credit card are similar between different credit card issuers. The primary requirement is having a qualifying business. This can include established businesses, such as a bakery or a moving company, and self-employment work, such as freelance writing or driving for a rideshare service.

Most business credit card issuers also require a hard inquiry into your personal credit report before considering your application.

Let’s explore the common business credit card requirements to see if you qualify for a business card.

In this article

Key takeaways

  • Business credit cards require that you have a business. But your business doesn’t have to be a corporation or a limited liability company (LLC). You can typically qualify as a sole proprietor, which includes many types of self-employed income.
  • Many credit card issuers check your personal credit history through a hard inquiry when you apply for a business card.
  • Some credit card issuers may only report delinquent activity on your business credit card to personal credit bureaus, while others may report all activity types.
  • Some business credit card issuers operate reconsideration lines you can call if you applied for a card and were denied.

What are the requirements for business credit cards?

You typically need to provide some information about yourself and your business to apply for a business credit card.

If you’ve looked at credit card applications before, the main difference between the applications for a business credit card versus a personal credit card is the extra business information you have to provide for business cards.

This could include how your business is structured, how long you’ve been in business, and your annual business revenue. Here’s some of the general information you might need to provide on a business credit card application, including your:

  • Full name, date of birth, and address
  • Mother’s maiden name
  • Tax ID, which can be your individual tax identification number (ITIN) or Social Security number (SSN)
  • Email address and phone number
  • Total gross annual income
  • Business structure, such as corporation, LLC, partnership, non-profit, or sole proprietorship
  • Legal name of your business and its address
  • Date the business was established
  • Number of employees
  • Annual business revenue and estimated monthly spend

Who can get a business credit card?

Just about anyone with a qualifying business can apply for a business credit card and have a chance at getting approved.

Keep in mind
Having a business doesn’t guarantee qualifying for a business credit card. Credit card issuers consider several other factors, including overall creditworthiness.

To have a qualifying business, you don’t necessarily need an established business created years ago with dozens of employees. Qualifying businesses can be various types of commercial activities, such as new businesses, startups, and single-owner businesses including freelance, contract, or gig work.

Getting a business credit card as a freelancer or independent contractor opens up various opportunities for people to qualify as small business owners. Here are a few examples of businesses that may qualify for a business credit card:

  • Babysitting
  • Pet sitting
  • Taking online surveys
  • Writing freelance articles
  • Earning money with a rideshare service
  • Running an online blog
  • Selling items on Amazon or another online marketplace
  • Cleaning homes
  • Teaching English online

Note that some types of businesses might find it harder to qualify for a business credit card. For example, some credit card issuers may not work with a cannabis-related business because they may find it too unstable to support a business that sells or produces a product that’s illegal on the federal level.

How to apply for a business credit card

Applying for a business credit card can be as simple as filling out an online application. Some lenders may also let you apply for a business credit card at an in-person branch or via a mailed application.

There are a few steps to consider when you want to get a business credit card.

1. Find out your creditworthiness

Many business credit cards require a personal guarantee and personal credit check.

When you complete a business credit card application with a personal guarantee clause, you agree to use your personal assets to pay for your business-related debts if your business cannot do so.

The business credit card issuer then checks your personal credit using a hard inquiry, which typically has a small negative impact on your personal credit score.

This personal credit check can be helpful for new business owners that haven’t had time to build business credit or establish a business credit score. The hard inquiry into your personal credit, along with the personal guarantee, may qualify you for a business credit card without having much or any business credit.

Many business cards require a good or excellent credit score to qualify as one of the various factors card issuers may consider. A good or excellent credit score is at least a 670 on the FICO scoring model.

Keep in mind
Not all business credit cards require a personal credit check. For example, the Brex Credit Card doesn’t require a Social Security number to apply. Rather, Brex checks your business funding, spending, and other relevant details to determine your eligibility.

2. Research your options

Not all business credit cards are created equal. We think it makes sense to research different credit cards to find one or multiple that suit your business and spending habits.

Here are some of our top recommendations:

Card name Welcome offer Rewards rate Annual fee
Ink Business Cash® Credit Card Earn $350 when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months and an additional $400 when you spend $6,000 on purchases in the first six months after 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 $0
Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $6,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase $0
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card Earn 100k bonus points after you spend $8,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening 3X points on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year; and 1X points per $1 on all other purchases $95
Capital One Spark Miles for Business Earn 50,000 miles after spending $4,500 in the first 3 months 5X miles on rental cars and hotels booked through Capital One Travel, and 2X miles on every purchase, every day $95 (waived first year)
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express Earn 120,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $15,000 on eligible purchases in the first 3 months 5X points on flights and prepaid hotels on Amextravel.com; 1.5X points on eligible purchases at U.S. suppliers of construction materials and hardware, U.S. retailers of electronic goods, U.S. providers of shipping, software and cloud systems, and eligible purchases of $5,000 or more (up to $2 million per year, then 1X); and 1X points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases $695 (Terms apply)

3. Choose a business credit card

Consider the following factors as you choose one of the best business credit cards for your business:

  • Total spending: Some business cards have spending limits on how many rewards you can earn on certain purchases. You might find that certain card issuers tend to provide higher credit limits.
  • Type of spending: Aligning a card’s bonus categories with your everyday business expenses and purchases could help you earn more rewards.
  • Type of rewards: How do you prefer to earn rewards on your business spending, in the form of points or cashback rewards? And how do you like to redeem rewards? Consider the rewards program attached to each rewards card to see your options.
  • Additional benefits: Look for the perks and benefits you want, whether it’s airport lounge access, purchase protection, travel insurance, or something else.
  • Employee cards: If you want to give cards to more people in your company, you may want a card that adds employees for free.
  • Annual fees: Consider whether you can get enough value from a card to warrant paying its annual fee, if applicable.
  • Credit reporting: Many business credit cards don’t report card activity to personal credit bureaus unless it’s delinquent events. This can vary by credit card issuer, so research this more if this is an important factor for you.

4. Submit your application

You’ll need some information handy when submitting your small business credit card application. You’ll likely be able to fill out a lot of the application with information you already know, including your name and other personal information.

But it can help speed up the application process if you also know this information as well your:

  • Total annual income
  • Annual business revenue (or expected revenue if your business is new)
  • Estimated monthly spend that you think you’ll put on your business credit card
  • Name and address of any employee you want to receive an employee card
  • Employer identification number (EIN), if applicable
  • The month and year your business was established
  • Business industry

5. Get a decision from the issuer

You may receive immediate approval or denial from a credit card company if you submit your application online. Sometimes, you may receive a response that the company needs more time to process your application.

If you receive an immediate denial or a denial later on in the process, it’s worth checking with the credit card issuer to see why you were denied and whether there’s a possibility of reconsideration.

Many credit card companies have reconsideration lines where you can speak with someone about your credit card application.

In some cases, calling a reconsideration line can turn a denial into an approval. For example, you might find out there was a simple issue with your application or credit report that you can remedy with the credit card issuer. Even if your credit card application isn’t eventually approved, it’s worth seeing why you were denied so you can potentially change something for future applications.

FAQ about business credit card requirements

What does a business need to apply for a credit card?

In many cases, you simply need information about yourself and your business. This could include your:

  • Name, date of birth, and address
  • Social Security number
  • Total annual income
  • Business name and business structure
  • Number of employees
  • Annual business revenue and estimated monthly spend

Does my business need to be an LLC to get a business credit card?

No, you don’t have to run a limited liability company (LLC) to qualify for a business credit card. You can typically choose between a few different types of business structures, including but not limited to:

  • Corporation
  • Limited liability company (LLC)
  • Non-profit
  • Partnership
  • Sole proprietorship

A sole proprietorship is often the right choice for many freelancers and independent contractors who don’t have employees and haven’t officially registered or incorporated their businesses.

Can I get a business credit card with my EIN?

Yes, it’s possible to get a business credit card with just your EIN, or your employer identification number. But there aren’t as many options for EIN-only credit cards that don’t require a hard inquiry into your personal credit using your Social Security number (SSN).

Business credit card requirements: bottom line

Business credit card requirements may vary based on the issuer. However, in most cases, you need an eligible business, including freelance, gig economy, or other business activities, to qualify for a business credit card.

For more of our top recommendations, compare credit cards to find business and personal credit card offers.

Up to 5% Cash Back

4.8

Ink Business Cash® Credit Card

Current Offer

Earn $350 when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months and an additional $400 when you spend $6,000 on purchases in the first six months after account opening

Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

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

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Author Details

Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI® Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI®, is a Senior Credit Cards Writer at FinanceBuzz. For over a decade, he's leveraged credit card points and miles to travel the world. His expertise extends to other areas of personal finance — including loans, insurance, investing, and real estate — and you can find his insights on The Washington Post, Debt.com, Yahoo! Finance, and Fox Business.

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