Small business credit cards can be relatively easy to obtain and they often come with generous perks such as a hefty bonus for new card members or a rewards program that enables you to earn lots of points or miles on your everyday business expenditures.
But when you apply for a business credit card, one of the most important things to consider is which credit bureaus the card issuer reports to. Sometimes, business cards report your borrowing behavior on your personal credit history, while other times the card issuer only reports to your business credit file.
Why do you need to know which business credit card accounts do not report to your personal credit? This matters because it means your behavior with your business credit card could affect your personal credit score as well as your ability to build business credit.
This guide will help you to understand what information, if any, different business card issuers will put on your personal credit report. It will also explain why this is important in terms of building and maintaining a good credit score.
- What does it mean to report to a credit bureau?
- Pros of a business credit card that shows up on your credit report
- Cons of a business credit card that shows up on your personal credit report
- Which business credit cards do not report personal credit?
- Our recommendations for business credit cards that do not report to personal credit
- Bottom line
What does it mean to report to a credit bureau?
In the United States, there are three major credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — that collect information on your personal credit history. Credit card companies (and other lenders) provide details to these agencies about the amount you borrow and whether you pay on time or are late in repaying your debts and personal credit cards. All the information collected then determines your credit score.
There are also credit reporting agencies that collect information on businesses. While Equifax maintains both business and personal credit histories, there are some agencies such as Dun & Bradstreet that exclusively specialize in business credit files and generate business credit scores. Regardless of the agency, business credit reports are a separate thing from the personal credit reports of individual business owners.
But in some cases, business credit cards will require a personal guarantee when you open one. When this happens, your business credit card activity — such as how much you've borrowed relative to your available credit and whether you pay on time — could show up on your personal credit report and impact your credit score. Late payments, for example, could reduce your score as would borrowing too much on your business credit cards and ending up with a high credit utilization ratio.
On the plus side, business cards also generally report data on payments and borrowing behavior to the business credit reporting agencies. So, if you develop a positive history of on-time payments, this could help your company build credit so it could more easily qualify for business loans in its own name. But if you pay late or default, this could hurt your company's credit.
Pros of a business credit card that shows up on your credit report
There are some benefits to having a business credit card show up on your personal credit report, including the following:
- Your business card could help you develop a positive payment history: This is the most important factor that determines your credit score. If your company always pays on time, this will help you build credit.
- Your business card could help with your credit utilization ratio: This is the ratio of credit used versus credit extended to you. For example, if you had $10,000 in available credit, but you’ve only spent $3,000 then you would have a utilization score of 30%. If your business card has a large line of credit and you don't charge much on it, this could give you a lower utilization ratio and lower is always better when it comes to this ratio.
Cons of a business credit card that shows up on your personal credit report
There are also some downsides to business credit cards being reported on your personal credit history. These include the following:
- Late payments or a default could hurt your personal credit score: If you pay your business credit card late, this could be reported on your personal credit history and do serious damage to your score.
- Your business debt could affect your debt-to-income ratio: When your company borrows on the card, the debt will show up as an obligation you're responsible for. This is factored in when lenders look at your debt payments relative to income. A debt-to-income ratio that is too high can sometimes disqualify you from getting a loan. If you are looking to take out personal loans in the future, this could be a negative for you.
- High credit utilization could reduce your credit score: When your credit utilization is above 30%, your credit score suffers. If you charge a lot on your business card and it’s reported on your personal credit history, this could drag down your score.
- You'll get a hard inquiry on your credit report: When you apply for a business card and the card issuer checks your personal credit, you'll show a hard inquiry on your credit report that stays there for two years. While one credit check is not a big deal, too many inquiries can lower your credit score.
Which business credit cards do not report personal credit?
The table below shows which business credit card issuers will report information about your business card to your personal credit history.
|Card issuer||Reports activity to personal credit report||Reports ALL info to personal credit report||Reports only NEGATIVE info to personal credit report||Reports activity to business credit bureaus|
|Bank of America||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
Even among the card issuers that report only negative information to your personal credit, there are different rules for when these reports are made:
- Chase will report late payments on your personal credit report only if you are more than 60 days late in making a payment.
- Amex reports any time your account is not in good standing.
- Bank of America reports any time you are delinquent in paying.
Our recommendations for business credit cards that do not report to personal credit
If you're looking for business credit cards that don't report information to your personal credit history, here are a few great options — as well as why we recommend them.
U.S. Bank Business Leverage® Visa Signature® Card
The U.S. Bank Business Leverage® Visa Signature® Card is a good fit for business owners looking for a simple cashback rewards card. It offers 5% cash back on prepaid hotels and car rentals booked directly in the Rewards Center; 2% cash back in top two categories where you spend the most each month automatically; 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases. The automatic cash back increase means you don’t have to worry about rotating categories.
The Business Leverage card also has a welcome offer that allows you to earn $750 in rewards when you spend $7,500 in eligible purchases on the account owner's card within the first 120 days of opening your account. You can also add employee cards for free and there are no foreign transaction fees.
The downsides to this card are that it has a $95 (waived first year) annual fee and a relatively low rewards rate compared to other cards.
Find out more in our full U.S. Bank Business Leverage card review.
CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®
The CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® is a great choice for small business owners who routinely travel with American Airlines.
It provides cardholders with a 65000-mile bonus for new cardmembers who spend $4,000 or more on the card within the first 4 months of opening the account.
It also has a generous rewards program offering 2X miles for many different kinds of spending companies commonly do, including eligible American Airlines purchases and on purchases at telecommunications merchants, cable and satellite providers, car rental merchants and at gas stations.
Frequent American Airlines travelers will also benefit from a free checked bag on American flights, preferred boarding, and 25% savings on in-flight food, beverages, or WiFi purchases. This card also charges no foreign transaction fees. These perks more than make up for the card's $99 (waived first year) annual fee.
Check out our CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard review for more details.
Wells Fargo Business Platinum Credit Card
The Wells Fargo Business Platinum Credit Card is a Visa card that is an ideal choice for bigger businesses as you can get up to 99 employee cards at no additional charge with an annual fee of $0. The structure of its rewards program — which gives extra bonuses to bigger spenders — also makes this card far more attractive to larger companies with more spending needs rather than smaller businesses.
With this card, you can earn $300 or 30,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. While this isn't the most generous welcome bonus, it's relatively easy to earn — and since the card charges an annual fee of $0, there's no costs to make up for.
When it comes to the rewards rate, this card gets you 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, so you can choose how you want to structure your cash rewards.
And finally, this card offers a promotional interest rate to new cardholders. You get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 9 months (then 7.99% + prime rate to 17.99% + prime rate) and a 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 9 months (then 20.74% + prime rate).
Learn more in our full Wells Fargo Business Platinum Credit Card review.
How do I build up my business credit score without using my personal credit?
To build your business credit score without using your personal credit, you’ll need a business credit card that doesn’t report card activity to your personal credit report. Business cards issued by Citi, Wells Fargo, and U.S. Bank will not show up on your personal credit report, but many other card issuers report at least some of your business card activity to the consumer bureaus. For that reason, the CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard could be a great choice.
How do you separate business credit from personal credit?
To separate business credit from personal credit, consider using business credit cards for your business-related spending. These cards can help make it easier to track business expenses separate from personal expenses for tax purposes.
In addition, certain business cards, such as Citi and Wells Fargo business credit cards, don’t report your card activity to the three consumer credit bureaus.
Can I get a business credit card with bad personal credit?
Yes, it’s possible to get a business credit card with bad personal credit. Certain secured business credit cards and other types of cards may offer higher approval odds. To learn more about business cards that could be easier to qualify for, check out our list of easy-to-get business credit cards.
Before you apply for a new business credit card, it's important to find out whether it will report your account activity to your personal credit report and impact your FICO score. Knowing which business credit cards do not report to your personal credit could help you decide which card is the right one for you.
Remember, though, that even if the card issuer doesn't generally share information with consumer credit reporting agencies, you could still be responsible for repaying credit card debt if you've given a personal guarantee. So make sure you pick the best business credit card to line up with your personal finance and small business goals.
Free checked bags & more
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®
Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
$99 (waived first year)
2X miles at gas stations and restaurants, and on eligible American Airlines purchases; and 1X miles on all other purchases