Can You Get A Business Credit Card Without A Business?

You don’t necessarily need a large and established business to get a business credit card — a qualifying business can also work.

Thinking about getting a business credit card
Updated July 17, 2024
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You need to have a business to qualify for a business credit card. But what counts as a qualifying business might be more flexible than you’d think. For example, many types of self-employed businesses could count, including freelance, contract, or gig work.

This means you don’t necessarily have to run a large and established business to qualify for a business credit card. Although such a business could also help you qualify for a credit card. This includes businesses with multiple employees, such as a construction company or a barbershop.

Let’s explore how you can get a business credit card without a business, or at least an established business.

In this article

Key takeaways

  • You can’t get a business credit card without a business. But there are many commercial activities that count as qualifying businesses, such as freelance or contract work.
  • You don’t have to run a large or established business, such as a large company with multiple employees, to have a chance at qualifying for business credit cards.
  • Business credit cards tend to come with a personal guarantee, meaning your personal credit history is checked as part of the application process.
  • While most business credit cards can help build business credit, not many report card activity, other than negative events, to personal credit reports.

Business credit cards: Can you get one without a business?

A business credit card is a type of credit card meant to only be used for business expenses. For example, you can use a business credit card to pay for business-related travel, inventory and supplies, and lunches or dinners with clients.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that using business credit cards for personal use is illegal, but it may go against the terms and conditions of your credit card agreement.

Keep in mind
You can technically use a personal credit card for various eligible expenses, including business purchases. However, using a business credit card for business spending helps you separate your personal and business expenses for easier bookkeeping and tax preparation.


You can qualify for business credit cards when you operate a commercial activity that counts as a business. This activity doesn’t have to be a restaurant or a real estate company. Instead, all you need is a qualifying business.

Qualifying businesses

A qualifying business for credit card purposes may differ from the type of business many people think of when they hear the term business. For example, a qualifying business could include any of the following:

  • Driving for Uber
  • Walking dogs
  • Selling items on Amazon
  • Writing freelance articles
  • Nannying kids in your neighborhood
  • Running an online blog

You may notice that these businesses are generally things someone can do on their own, without the need for employees. All these types of work count as small businesses since you act as an independent contractor who owns their business. And, yes, they can also improve your eligibility for a business credit card.

Learn about the best side hustles and explore small businesses to start from home.

Qualifying businesses are slightly different from large or established businesses. An established business might be something like a restaurant, digital marketing company, or car repair shop. These are often businesses with employees and potentially brick-and-mortar locations.

Established businesses can also help you get approved for a business credit card.

Keep in mind
New businesses and startups can also help you qualify for business credit cards. Credit card companies know that every business starts somewhere, so it’s possible for a new business owner to qualify for a business card even if their business was recently established and has yet to generate revenue.

Business credit card requirements

You typically have to provide both business and personal information to apply for a business credit card. Here’s some of the required information you might need to fill out on a business card application.

Business information

Business structure Whether it’s a corporation, limited liability company (LLC), partnership, non-profit, or sole proprietorship
Business name The legal name of your business, which might be your name as a sole proprietor
Tax ID Your employer identification number (EIN), individual tax ID number (ITIN), or Social Security number (SSN)
Address The address of your business
Employees The number of employees in your business.
Contact information Your business phone number
Business established date The date your business was established (month and year)
Annual business revenue How much your business makes each year
Estimated monthly spend How much you expect to spend on your business credit card each month
Business category Your business industry and any applicable subcategories
Employee cards The name and address of each employee you want to send a card to

Personal information

Name Your full first and last name
Date of birth The month, day, and year you were born
Tax ID Your Social Security number or individual tax ID number
Mother’s maiden name Your mother’s maiden name, or her name before having it legally changed after getting married, if applicable
Address The address of where you live
Contact information Your email address and phone number
Income Your total gross annual income

Applying for a business card without an established business

Just because your business or side hustle is new and not very established, doesn’t mean you can’t apply for a business card. Applying for a business credit card can be as easy as filling out an online application. In many cases, you may find out within minutes whether you’ve been approved after submitting your application.

Here’s an example of how to apply for a Chase business credit card without a business that’s large or established:

1. Open the online application for the credit card you want to apply for. This is how it looks when applying for the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card.


2. Fill out your personal information, including your name, date of birth, address, and Social Security number. You’ll also be asked to provide your total gross annual income, which is an estimate of what you expect to earn in a year before taxes and deductions.


3. Fill out the business information portion of the application. If you don’t have an established business, your legal business structure will likely be a sole proprietorship. And your tax ID type will likely be your Social Security number if you don’t have an employee identification number (EIN).


4. Your business established date is the month and year when you first started your qualifying business. Your annual revenue is your estimate of what you think your business will make in a year. Your business category and any applicable subcategories have to do with your business industry. Your estimated monthly spend is how much you expect to spend on your business credit card each month.


5. You can also add employee cards as part of the application. You need to provide names and addresses for each employee card you want to issue.


After you’ve filled out and submitted your business credit card application, you’ll receive a response that shows one of three potential outcomes:

  • You’ve been approved
  • You’ve been denied
  • Further review is needed

In this particular example, if you’re denied at this time or later in the process, you can call the Chase reconsideration line to discuss the circumstances of your denial.

Several other credit card issuers also offer reconsideration lines, including American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, and more. Calling the reconsideration line of the issuer In some cases, you may be able to get approved.

What we like about business credit cards

Here are some of the advantages of a business credit card:

  • Separates your personal and business expenses
  • Helps you earn cash back, points, or miles with rewards business cards
  • Helps you take advantage of earning elevated rewards points on common business expenses with certain cards
  • Gives you access to helpful card benefits, such as purchase or extended warranty protections
  • Allows you to issue employee cards to delegate responsibilities and organize your business
  • Builds your business credit history and improve your business credit score
  • Improves your cash flow
  • Potentially provide a higher credit limit compared to some personal credit cards

Drawbacks of business credit cards

Some of the drawbacks of business credit cards include:

  • Typically require a personal guarantee
  • Typically need a good or excellent credit score to qualify
  • Require a qualifying business
  • Might not help build your personal credit history or improve your personal credit score
  • Generally misses out on protections provided by the Credit CARD Act of 2009. The Credit CARD Act put caps on credit card fees, defined boundaries for interest charges, and placed a minimum requirement on payment grace periods, among other protections.

4 best types of business credit cards

Business credit cards come in several types. Each type can serve certain business needs or offer better rewards for certain business expenses. Note that there are no restrictions on which business expenses you can charge to each business credit card type.

The best types of business credit cards include cash back, travel, intro APR, and gas credit cards. Check out our list of the best small business credit cards for a roundup of our top recommendations across all types.

1. Cash back business credit cards

Cash back business credit cards provide cashback rewards on eligible purchases. Some cash back business credit cards also enable you to earn a welcome bonus or benefit from a 0% intro APR period.

We recommend these cash back business credit cards based on their rewards rates:

  • Ink Business Cash® Credit Card: Earn 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. The Ink Business Cash comes with a $0 annual fee.
  • Bank of America® Business Advantage Customized Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card: Earn 3% cash back in your category of choice: gas stations & EV charging stations (default), office supply stores, travel, TV/telecom & wireless, computer services or business consulting services and 2% cash back on dining (for the first $50,000 in combined choice category/dining purchases each calendar year, then 1%); and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. This card has a $0 annual fee.
  • Capital One Spark Cash Plus: Earn 2% cash back on every purchase, every day; plus 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. The annual fee for the Capital One Spark Cash Plus is $150.

2. Travel business credit cards

Travel business credit cards enable you to earn travel rewards, such as points or miles, on eligible purchases. Some business travel credit cards may also provide specific travel perks and benefits, including airport lounge access.

Here are the rewards you can earn with some of our recommended travel business credit cards:

  • The Business Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 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. This card has a $695 annual fee but offers many premium perks, such as lounge access, various statement credits, and more. Enrollment might be required. Terms apply.
  • Capital One Spark Miles for Business: Earn 5X miles on rental cars and hotels booked through Capital One Travel, and 2X miles on every purchase, every day. The Capital One Spark Miles for Business comes with an annual fee of $95 (waived first year).
  • Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card: Earn 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. The annual fee for this card is $95.

3. 0% intro APR business credit cards

0% intro APR business credit cards can be helpful for making purchases that you pay over a period of time.

These business cards come with 0% intro APR offers on purchases and/or balance transfers:

4. Gas business credit cards

Gas business credit cards give you opportunities for earning bonus points or cash back on gas station purchases.

Some of our top recommendations for gas business credit cards are:

  • American Express® Business Gold Card: Earn 4X Membership Rewards Points on purchases in the two categories with the most spend each billing cycle from 6 eligible categories (up to $150,000 in combined purchases each calendar year, after that 1X), 3X Membership Rewards points on flights and prepaid hotels booked at amextravel.com, and 1 point per $1 spent on other eligible purchases. The annual fee for this card is $375 . Terms apply.
  • U.S. Bank Triple Cash Rewards Visa® Business Card: Earn 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. The U.S. Bank Business Triple Cash Rewards has a $0 annual fee.
  • Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card by Citi: Earn 4% cash back on eligible gas and EV charging purchases (on the first $7,000 per year, then 1%); 3% cash back on restaurants and eligible travel purchases; 2% cash back on all purchases from Costco and Costco.com; and 1% cash back on all other purchases. This card comes with a $0 annual fee.

Methodology

To identify the top types of business credit cards, we first evaluated the card types that may provide valuable benefits for businesses of varying sizes. We considered the common expenses and needs various businesses may have and matched them with card types that can offer rewards or advantages.

Then, we compiled a list of business credit cards that offer valuable earning rates and/or useful benefits within their respective types. While our list isn’t comprehensive and does not cover all available options, it contains some of our top business card recommendations for each type to provide the reader with the information needed to further their research.

FAQ

Do business credit cards affect personal credit?

Credit card issuers often check your personal credit history with a hard credit check when you apply for a business credit card, which may have a small, negative impact on your credit score.

If you get approved, use your card, and pay it on time, you may not see any positive or negative change to your personal credit. This is because many business credit cards don’t report card activity, other than negative events, to personal credit bureaus.

Is it illegal to get a business credit card for personal use?

No, it’s not illegal, but it may go against the terms and conditions of your credit card agreement. Most credit card issuers, such as American Express and Capital One, expect you to only use a business credit card for business expenses. However, there’s typically no rule against using a consumer (non-business) credit card for both personal and business expenses.

Can I apply for a business credit card using only my EIN?

Yes, you can apply for a business credit card with only your EIN and without using your Social Security number. But there are only a few card options for EIN-only business credit cards. Additionally, these cards typically require other forms of guarantee, so this might not be the best course of action for most people.

Bottom line

So, can you get a business credit card without a business? The answer is that you can’t since you need some form of business to qualify. However, having a qualifying business might be easier than you think, as your business doesn’t have to be large and established.

You may qualify for a business credit card by babysitting, selling items online, doing freelance photography, driving for rideshare companies, and much more. You may also qualify with an established business, such as running a marketing agency or landscaping company.

To see more of our recommended offers, use our dedicated page to compare credit cards.

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

Benefits and Drawbacks
Card Details

Author Details

Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI®

Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI®, is credit cards specialist. 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.