Applying for a small business credit card might sound intimidating, but it’s easier than you might think. You may qualify for a small business credit card and not realize it.
Many small business credit cards participate in the same points and miles rewards programs as personal credit cards. And all the points and miles you earn from your small business can be combined with your personal stash!
This guide explains what to expect if you apply for a small business credit card. It can be easy to qualify for a small business credit card that earns with some of our favorite rewards programs.
How To Qualify for a Small Business Credit Card
Qualifying for a small business credit card isn’t difficult and usually doesn’t require lots of paperwork. But the big question is, how can you qualify as a small business? Let’s review a few ways.
You Own a Legal Business
You can apply for a small business credit card if you already own a business. You must submit your Employer Identification Number (EIN) and your Social Security number. Your personal credit report will be used to determine approval for a new credit card, so you should have good credit.
You’re Starting a New Business
It’s essential to keep track of your finances, including keeping your personal and business expenses separate. Small business credit cards are a helpful tool for new businesses separating business and personal finances. Plus, the extra capital can help your new business grow. Most start-ups don’t last long, so banks may look at new business applications in more detail since they pose a higher risk.
You’re Already in Business (But Don’t Realize It)
Even if your business doesn’t have a legal structure, you may qualify as a business and be able to apply for a small business credit card. If you’re earning income from performing a service, working as an independent contractor, or selling goods for a profit, you’re operating a business. You don’t need to worry about creating a business plan or even thinking of a business name because you are a sole proprietor and can just use your name as the business name.
Common Small Businesses That Qualify
A sole proprietorship is the easiest way for individuals to qualify as a small business. A sole proprietor is simply a person who owns a business and is responsible for its debts.
Sole proprietorship does not separate the business from the owner. Income and losses from the business are reported on the owner’s individual tax return. You’ll use your Social Security number for the application. An EIN is not necessary when applying as a sole proprietor.
Common side gigs that can qualify as a small business include:
- Delivering with Postmates or Caviar
- Driving for Uber or Lyft
- Homemade goods or arts and crafts
- Renting a room or apartment on Airbnb
- Selling items on eBay or Amazon
- Teaching, tutoring, or coaching
For example, if you regularly or even occasionally sell goods for a profit, that’s considered a business. Or maybe you rent out your extra bedroom, vacation property, or even your house when you went away on vacation. Even selling goods at bake sales, farmer’s markets, and street fairs qualifies as operating a small business!
With a business credit card, you’ll be able to use your credit (and maybe even earn rewards!) for business expenses like materials, supplies, internet service, and gas.
Bottom Line: Operating or starting a small business that qualifies for a small business credit card isn’t as hard as it sounds. There are plenty of things you might already be doing that qualify you as a small business owner!
Why You Should Get a Small Business Credit Card
Getting approved for a small business credit card comes with plenty of perks. Not only does it increase the financial flexibility of your small business, but it also helps keep your business expenses separate from your personal accounts.
We think the biggest perk is getting more points and miles from your small business expenses. Business rewards can significantly increase your ability to earn points and miles for your next big trip.
Hot Tip: Don’t miss our separate guide on how to maximize rewards from your business purchases!
Another major perk is that most small business credit cards do not appear on your personal credit report. Even though banks evaluate your personal credit when you apply for a small business credit card, it will not impact your credit score in the long term.
Small business credit cards do not count against your 5/24 status with Chase. You can apply and get approved for as many small business credit cards as you want without worrying about going over the limit of 5 new accounts in 24 months. That includes Chase’s small business credit cards.
Another bonus is that most small business credit cards have the same rewards programs that you can combine with your personal cards.
Want to increase your Chase Ultimate Reward balance? The Ink Business Cash® Credit Card, for example, will help you earn more Ultimate Reward points (if you have another Chase Ultimate Rewards card with an annual fee). Or you can keep things simple and collect valuable cash-back for your business with this card.
Hot Tip: American Express limits its welcome bonus for the same card once per lifetime. However, its small business credit cards are considered a different product from its similar personal card offerings.
One negative aspect of small business credit cards is they don’t come with the usual consumer protections that personal credit cards have. For example, small business credit cards can change their APR at any time, unlike personal credit cards.
How To Apply for a Small Business Credit Card
Filling out an application for a small business credit card is fairly easy. You will need to provide basic personal and business information.
These are the questions you’ll find on most small business credit card applications:
- Business Name — Your business name, or your name if you’re a sole proprietor.
- Business Address — When operating an independent business, your home address would be your business address.
- Type of Business or Company Structure — Here you will have the option to choose between a corporation, partnership, or sole proprietor.
- Business Category — Here, you’ll select from a wide range of business categories such as manufacturing, retail trade, and transportation services. Be sure to select the options that best describe your business.
- Federal Tax ID Number — If you’re applying as a sole proprietor, use your Social Security number. For businesses, your tax ID is your EIN. The format of your EIN is different (12-345678), but has the same number of numbers as a Social Security number.
- Years in Business — You always want to be completely honest on credit card applications and it’s important to know how long you’ve been in business. If you’ve been selling things for a profit off and on for a few years, you’ve been in business for a few years.
- Annual Business Revenue — Here, you’ll report the net profit your business makes annually. As a sole proprietor, you will figure out the total amount of sales minus any operating expenses. If your business only makes a small profit, don’t let that deter you from applying for a small business credit card. Many businesses don’t make a profit right away, so any net gain is positive.
- Number of Employees — If you’re applying as a sole proprietor, you are the only employee. Other businesses can order additional cards for their employees, but all charges and fees associated with employee cards are the owner’s responsibility.
You’ll be required to provide your personal information for the bank to check your credit. Your credit score will be the determining factor for reviewing your creditworthiness for your small business application.
- Social Security Number — If you’re applying as a sole proprietor and already provided this as your tax identification number, you will provide it again here. Other businesses will provide the owner’s Social Security number.
- Total Annual Income — Your gross total annual income is all the income you earn annually, including regular wages and profits from your small business.
- Authorizing Officer — You will be able to choose an authorizing officer for your account. If you’re applying as a sole proprietor, you’ll be the authorizing officer. Other options include president, partner, manager, and member.
Bottom Line: You don’t need a ton of paperwork to submit your small business application. You need some basic information about your business and your personal credit information to see if you’ll be approved!
Add Employee Cards
If you’re applying as a sole proprietor, this section won’t apply since you are the only employee of your business.
Businesses with employees have the option to add additional cards for employees in the application, but you can request them later. You will need to provide personal information about the employees, but sometimes, you will only need their first and last name.
Remember, the owner is entirely responsible for all charges made on employee cards.
Submit Your Application
It’s almost time to find out if you can get approved for a small business credit card.
You will want to review your application to ensure everything is correct, read and accept the terms and conditions, and submit.
You might quickly find out that you’ve been approved, which would be great news! American Express is also known for providing your new small business credit card number instantly on approval.
If you’re not instantly approved, you might want to give it some time for the bank to review your application manually. Most banks will allow you to check your small business credit card application status online or by phone if you don’t feel like waiting for snail mail.
Be prepared for a phone call from the bank. They may ask you to call them, or they might call you unexpectedly.
Don’t worry; they probably want to get to know your business a little bit more, even if it’s just a side business you do for extra income. That’s completely normal.
Recommendations for Small Business Credit Cards
We’ve selected our favorite small business credit cards to help you upgrade your points and miles balance with your small business expenses.
Chase Small Business Credit Cards
Chase small business credit cards offer the opportunity to earn additional points with the flexible rewards program Ultimate Rewards. We love Ultimate Rewards for great travel rewards, but you can also use the points for cash-back.
These points can be transferred to your other personal Chase Ultimate Rewards cards and are extremely easy to use. Plus, the welcome bonuses alone can be worth hundreds of dollars in cash-back or travel, if not more!
Ink Business Cash Card
You can easily earn bonus points using the Ink Business Cash card for your business expenses since it comes with an amazing reward-earning structure.
You will earn 5% cash-back at office supply stores and internet, cable, and phone services on the first $25,000 spent per calendar year. You will also earn 5% cash-back on Lyft purchases (through March 2025) and 2% cash-back at gas stations and restaurants on the first $25,000 spent in a calendar year.
There is no limit when earning 1% cash-back on all other purchases. Your rewards will never expire as long as you keep your account open. You should check out the most valuable benefits of the Ink Business Cash card.
Hot Tip: While this card is advertised as a cash-back rewards card, you are actually earning Chase’s flexible rewards currency, Ultimate Rewards at a rate of 1 Ultimate Rewards point per 1% cash-back. If you have a premium Chase Ultimate Rewards card that carries an annual fee, then you have the option to use these points for travel instead of cash. This gives you more redemption options!
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
One of the most popular small business credit cards is the Ink Business Preferred card.
You will earn 3x points on the first $150,000 spent on the following categories each account anniversary (not calendar year):
- Travel (airfare, hotel, car rentals, etc.)
- Shipping purchases (FedEx, UPS, USPS, etc.)
- Internet, cable, and phone services (Including cell phones)
- Advertising purchases on social media sites and online search engines (Google, Facebook, etc.)
You will earn 5x points on Lyft purchases (through March 2025) and 1x points on all other purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn.
One of the many significant benefits of the Ink Business Preferred card is that points are worth 25% more when you redeem your travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. You can also transfer your points 1:1 to a number of airline and hotel loyalty programs, which you can redeem for an even higher value.
Points can also be used for cash-back and other rewards, usually at a 1 point to 1% cash value ratio.
Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card
You will earn an unlimited amount of 1.5% cash-back on all purchases made for your business with the Ink Business Unlimited card. This is a fantastic card for spending on categories that don’t fall under the usual bonus-earning categories on other business cards.
There is no annual fee, and this card comes with an introductory 0% APR offer for the first 12 months. It also comes with a wide range of benefits including travel and purchase protection.
Similar to the Ink Business Cash card, this card earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points at a value of 1 point for 1 cent cash-back.
Hot Tip: Have multiple Chase business credit cards? You can transfer your Ultimate Rewards from your cash-back earning cards to your other cards like the Ink Business Preferred card to get the extra 25% value when booking travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
American Express Small Business Credit Cards
Our favorite small business credit cards offered by American Express provide an incredible opportunity to earn additional points in the flexible Membership Rewards program, which includes quite a few travel benefits. You can link all of your Membership Rewards-earning cards into 1 Membership Rewards account, so all of your points are always in 1 place, whether for business or pleasure.
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
With the Amex Business Platinum card, you can get 35% of your points back every time you use your Membership Rewards to pay with points on your selected qualifying airline through Amex Travel. This benefit is limited to up to 500,000 bonus points back every calendar year.
The Amex Business Platinum card comes stacked with other travel benefits, including:
The Amex Business Platinum Card comes with a hefty annual fee (rates and fees), but you can easily offset this with the welcome offer and all the great benefits it provides.
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
The Amex Blue Business Plus card is a great small business credit card to consider.
The ability to earn 2x points on any transaction is pretty amazing, especially since it can increase your capital quickly with the introductory APR offer (see table above for details).
You’ll also receive purchase protections and no-additional-charge employee cards, all for no annual fee (rates and fees).
American Express® Business Gold Card
If you’re thinking about the Amex Business Platinum card but are hesitant because of the annual fee or the high spending needed to earn the annual fee, the Amex Business Gold card would be the next best option.
You will earn bonus points when spending on select categories on the first $150,000 in purchases per year. You can earn 4x Membership Rewards points on the 2 select categories where your business spent the most each month.
The categories are:
- Airfare purchased from airlines
- U.S. purchases for advertising in select media
- U.S. purchases made from select technology providers of computer hardware, software, and cloud solutions
- U.S. purchases at gas stations
- U.S. purchases at restaurants
- U.S. purchases for shipping
You will earn 1x points on all other purchases. This card has an annual fee (rates and fees), but it also has plenty of other benefits that come with it.
Bottom Line: There are plenty of fantastic small business cards to choose from. Our favorites revolve around points and miles. Be sure to understand the fees, protections, and other benefits before submitting your application.
Small business credit card applications are pretty straightforward and aren’t much different from personal credit card applications. It’s important for you to be prepared to answer additional questions the bank may have about your business before you apply.
Getting a small business credit card is a great way to earn extra points and miles for your next big trip! With the incredible sign-up bonuses and bonus earning categories, there is no question that you should significantly consider getting a credit card for your small business.
For the purchase protection benefit of The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express, eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company.
For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees for the American Express® Business Gold Card, click here.
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