According to creditcards.com only 46% of small business owners have a business credit card. A business credit card can be a valuable tool for a small buisness owner. It not often clear why a buisness credit card makes more sense to use for your business than a personal card. Given all the card choices (business and personal) available today, sometimes it can be hard to make sense of it all. Which is why we wrote this guide. Enjoy!
In this guide we'll cover:
- What is a Business Credit Card?
- What are the Differences Between Personal and Business Credit Cards?
- Why Should I get a Business Credit Card?
- Why shouldn’t I use my Personal Credit Card?
- What should I look for in a Business Card?
This guide aims to inform small business owners on what they should be looking for in a new business credit card. Before diving into the subject of choosing the right business credit card, keep the following in mind: credit cards are serious financial tools and should be treated as such. Small business credit cards should be utilized with discipline and with responsibility. This means paying off balances both on time and in full by your card’s due date. By doing so, business credit cards can help you build excellent business credit and save money long term.
What is a Business Credit Card?
Business credit cards are designed to assist in funding and providing services for small-to-medium sized businesses. They provide businesses with multiple advantages, depending on the specific card. These advantages can include:
- Higher credit limits than personal credit cards
- Easier separation of personal and business expenses
- Rewards such as points and cash back on business expenses
- Benefits such as purchase protection, extended warranties and merchandise discounts
- The ability to manage a business’ cash flow, giving 20-30 days to pay business expenses without interest
- Travel related perks such as travel credits, travel insurance, free hotel stays and elite member status with certain hotels and airlines.
- Increased business credit scores.
- An overall positive impact on businesses, in areas such as growth in revenue and employment.
What are the Differences Between Personal and Business Credit Cards?
There are a number of differences between business and personal credit cards that should be noted.
- Business credit cards are not covered by the Credit CARD Act 2009. However, some card providers still include these protections on their business credit cards. Make sure to check card terms and conditions with providers to find out.
- The card applicant will generally be held completely liable for the credit account. Most business credit cards require a personal guarantee, which will hold the card applicant responsible to repay any debt incurred on the card.
- Business credit cards are not generally reported on personal credit reports, as long as they are paid in a timely fashion. However, if your credit account goes into negative status, it could show up on your personal credit report.
- Business credit scores and personal credit scores are two separate things. Using a business credit card responsibly will help you build your business credit scores. It should be acknowledged that your business does not have one business credit score, but multiple scores. The three main business credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and Dun & Bradstreet) all have their own independent methods of calculating their own unique business scores that make up your credit profile.
As a Business Owner, Why Should I get a Business Credit Card? Why shouldn’t I use my Personal Credit Card?
There is a simple answer to this question: separation of personal and business expenses. Utilizing a business credit card for business expenses will help you better track your business costs. Therefore a business credit card assists you in record keeping, filing taxes and claiming business-related tax breaks.
Putting business expenses on a personal card is also potentially dangerous. Personal credit cards often have significantly lower credit limits than that of business credit cards. Therefore, using your personal credit card for a large number of business expenses can easily chip into your personal credit limit, or even max it out. Maxing out your personal credit card can cause your personal credit scores to drop. Any problems that occur to your business could then take a huge toll on your personal credit reports, making it difficult to get credit for personal purchases such as a car or home.
What should I look for in a Business Card?
The characteristics of a great business credit card are subjective and likely depend on your business. However, note that not all business credit cards are created equal. There are general things to keep in mind when considering the right business credit card for you and your business.
- Is it good value in terms of its annual fee? - If a business credit card has an annual fee, make sure the received benefits outweigh the yearly cost. A prime example of this is the American Express Business Platinum Card. While the Business Platinum Card comes with a vast suite of rewards and benefits, it also comes with a hefty annual fee of $450. Depending on your type of business, an annual fee such as this may or may not be worth it.
- How large is the signup bonus? - Businesses usually have higher expenditure than the average consumer, therefore the business credit card sign up bonus should reflect this.
- What are the rewards for my business expenses? - The best business credit cards will offer cash back or points for your most frequent types of purchases.
- What are the benefits and perks? - Make sure to check and compare different business credit card rewards and perks. Different cards will suit different businesses. For example, a card that offers numerous travel related perks will offer the most value to a business owner that is required to travel frequently.
- How is the card provider’s customer support? - A card provider known for great customer service can make things easier for business owners in the long term. Don’t let something as simple as bad customer support take a negative toll on your business.
There is no one-size-fits all option when it comes to choosing the right business credit card. It’s recommended that business owners research what business credit card rewards and benefits best suit their businesses. Be informed before diving in to a decision: do your research on multiple cards, compare card benefits and terms, and tailor your choice to your business’ aims. But most of all, act responsibly. Like personal credit cards, business credit cards are serious financial tools. They can offer great benefits, save you cash and help you build business credit, but only if used in an informed and responsible manner.
Oliver Browne is a Financial Industry Analyst at Credit Card Insider, an organization dedicated to helping people understand how credit works and how to build it. With a background in law and business, Oliver writes about a range of business topics including finance, business law, and small-to-medium business management.