Applying for a Small Business Credit Card? Read This First

Increase your odds of approval by following these simple rules.
Last updated Oct 14, 2020 | By Brandon Neth
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You want to start out on the right foot when applying for a business credit card, especially if you're a new business. After all, you want to establish a long relationship with the card issuer. By understanding what the card issuer is looking for on the application and answering their questions the right way — the first time — you're more likely to avoid issues and hopefully get quick approval. Here are some best practices we've discussed as a group in FBZ Elite Travel & Points.

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Business credit card application best practices

1. Get started with your Social Security number

If your business is new and you don't yet have an EIN (an Employer Identification Number issued by the IRS), that's ok. Most card issuers are new business friendly and want you as a client for the long haul. They recognize we all have to start somewhere!

Here's how to handle it on the business credit card application:

  1. Use your Social Security number in place of an EIN.
  2. Select sole proprietorship as the business type.
  3. Use your name (and ONLY your name) for the business name. This is important if the card issuer needs you to verify your business name.
  4. Use your home address for the business address. Try to avoid using a PO Box as these can cause issues.
  5. Since you're a sole proprietor and likely just getting started, it's acceptable to use a portion of your personal income as a revenue source since this may be used to repay debt on the account. This advice is only applicable if you are applying as a sole proprietorship.
  6. You have just one employee - YOU! Keep in mind, you can add additional employees in the future as your business grows. Also, if your spouse or partner wants to get the same card, they can fill out a separate application at a later date. 

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2. Answer the revenue question conservatively

The application will ask you to estimate your annual revenue. Things happen in business, so I like to be conservative with this number. I suggest using only about 50% of what you think you'll actually make per year. If you end up needing to chat with a representative from the card issuer and they ask you to explain how you got your revenue number, it will be easier to justify if it's realistic. And, if they see you're making an effort to be truthful, it could increase their goodwill and maybe (fingers crossed!) help with your approval odds.

3. Play the waiting game

You may not get instantly approved for your business card and instead get a message like "We need more time to review your application." Don't panic! This is very common, especially when applying for a Chase card.

I suggest waiting until you hear back from the card issuer. Usually, you'll hear back within 10-14 business days. Most people I've talked to get approved just by waiting. If you don't get automatically approved, you may get a letter asking you for more information about your business. If you get one of these letters, just respond back with the information requested.

I do not recommend calling the card issuer about your application before you get a response. If you do call, be prepared to answer a lot of questions about your business. (Calling the automated line to check your application status is fine. This won't hurt anything.)

4. Stick with the truth

Never lie on your application or inflate your numbers to look better. You want to build a long term relationship with the issuer. Plus, it's not necessary to have mega revenue and a huge team to get a small business card. So, just be honest, and be yourself.

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5. Space out your applications

It's exciting to be able to apply for business credit cards, but pace yourself. Card issuers look at your credit report when reviewing your application so it's important to understand the issuer's rules for how often you can apply. For example, if you are applying for a Chase business card, you must fall under 5/24 (you cannot have opened more than five applicable credit cards in the last 24 months) and 1/30 (you cannot have been issued any Chase credit card in the last 30 days.) To be extra safe, I suggest waiting at least 60 days between Chase applications.

You're now ready to apply for a business card

Browse our list of the best business credit cards and select the one that makes the best sense for you. Good luck!

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