Do I need a business to get a business credit card?

14 April 2023

There are all sorts of travel credit cards (like hotel and airline cards) and most fall into one of two categories — personal or business. Nearly anyone can apply for a personal credit card, but we often get one question: do you need to own a business to get a business credit card?

A business credit card makes for a whole new set of possible sign-up and category bonuses. It’s also a great way to separate your business and personal expenses and give your small business the spending power it needs to grow.

Here’s how you can qualify for one of your own.

Qualifying for a business credit card

To answer the question: Yes, you need a business to open a business credit card. But it’s important to define what exactly is a “business.” The qualifications for having a business may be different than you might expect.

Do you sell items on Amazon, eBay or Craigslist? Do you teach music or sports? Ever act as a freelance writer or photographer? If you sell any goods or services, that could qualify you as a business owner.

But if you’re in one of these businesses, how do you explain that on a credit card application? You don’t have to have a registered business like an LLC or a corporation to apply. In fact, when applying for a business credit card, there will be a section asking what kind of business you own and requesting your business tax identification number. If you’re just in business on your own, you can choose to answer that you’re a sole proprietor, and in most cases, you can enter your Social Security number as your tax ID number.

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Banks sometimes ask for supporting documentation to prove that you have a small business or earn income outside of an employer. So you must tell the truth when applying for a business card.

Applying for a business card will also result in a hard pull on your credit report, and banks will look at your personal credit score when considering you for a business card. But once you have a business card, that line of credit will be separate from your personal one, so actions on a business account generally won’t affect your personal score (unless you default on payments, of course).

Related: 9 reasons to get a business credit card

Bottom line

If you’re considering signing up for a business credit card, look at our list of the best business credit cards. You’ll find some cards closely mimic the matching personal versions and others are completely different products, offering varying sign-up bonuses, travel credits and airport lounge access perks. As always, it’s important to consider several factors when signing up for cards. Be sure to do your due diligence and research before applying for a credit card.

Additional reporting by Ryan Wilcox and Jason Stauffer.

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