MSN has partnered with The Points Guy for our coverage of credit card products. MSN and The Points Guy may receive a commission from card issuers.
Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.
Many of the credit cards currently on the market geared toward small businesses carry rewards and benefits that are just as great — and sometimes better than the available personal credit cards. These business cards include huge sign-up bonuses, unique category spending bonuses and tons of other perks. However, many people seem hesitant to apply for them or might not realize they’re eligible.
Today, we analyze the top reasons you should consider adding a business credit card to your wallet.
In This Post
You don’t need a large business to get one
This seems to trip up many people who think you need an incorporated business with its own tax ID number or employee identification number or brick-and-mortar store to apply for a business credit card. While you should aim to use your business credit card for business-related expenses, each credit card company has a different threshold for what information it requires for someone to get a small business card.
Some, like Amex, are very flexible. Chase is generally the toughest, often requiring proof of your business, including government EIN and business checking account information. However, many small businesses start as simple DBAs (doing business as), which denotes a business name used by a person or entity different from the person’s or entity’s true name. So if you start a small eBay business and want to keep those finances separate from your personal expenses, it would be conceivable that you’d want a small business credit card.
If you’re starting a small company as a sole proprietorship, you can provide your Social Security number when asked for an EIN and usually, that will suffice. In most cases, you don’t need any paperwork to form a sole proprietorship, you become one by doing business.
Business credit cards don’t sit on your personal report
I want to start by clarifying that you get a two- to five-point hit on your personal credit score when you apply for a business credit card since banks generally use your personal credit report to assess your creditworthiness. These cards are still usually personally guaranteed. However, other than this initial credit inquiry, the business line of credit sits separately from your personal credit line, so your utilization ratio and other factors shouldn’t affect your personal credit score.
This is good if you run big balances through your business cards since it won’t damage your personal credit score. Just be careful because if you default on a business credit card, the issuer can come after you personally since your personal credit guarantees those cards.
The other bonus is that you can apply for a business card from most issuers without affecting your 5/24 status with Chase since the new account won’t show up on your personal credit report.
Keeping expenses separate
It’s easy to shove all of your expenses, both personal and business, onto the same credit card for convenience’s sake.
Still, it’s important to keep your personal expenditures separate from your business ones — especially when tax season draws nigh. Having a separate business credit card makes tracking expenses easy, and you’ll pay less in accounting fees if your accountant doesn’t have to sort through personal versus business expenses (plus, it’s easier to get everything straightened out if you ever get audited by the IRS).
As a bonus, many business credit cards make it easy to export your transaction history to QuickBooks or other accounting software.
Video: How to save $3 million before you turn 50 (CNBC)
Double dip on sign-up bonuses
Applying for business credit cards allows you to go for a whole new set of bonuses.
Though you’ll have an extra inquiry on your credit report, you’ll also be eligible for bonuses such as the Ink Business Preferred’s 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months (with a $95 annual fee), the highest bonus of any Chase card at the moment.
There’s also the welcome offer on The Business Platinum Card® from American Express — with a $595 annual fee (see rates and fees) — currently at 85,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases within your first three months of card membership, along with the opportunity to earn 5x bonus points per dollar spent on eligible U.S. purchases on shipping, wireless telephone services, advertising in select media, office supplies and at gas stations with the card in the first three months (up to 80,000 bonus points per category). It’s no wonder the Business Platinum Card is TPG reader’s favorite business card.
If you already got the bonus on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®, you could also go after the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®. If you’re in the market for new business credit cards, you can check out our list of top current offers.
The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum card and CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Access different bonus categories
While you’ll find many business cards offering travel or dining bonus categories that overlap with personal credit cards, you’ll also find many unique categories clearly geared at businesses and not consumers.
Take the American Express® Business Gold Card — with an annual fee of $295 (see rates and fees) — which offers 4x points in the two categories you spend the most in each month from the following list, on the first $150,000 in combined purchases each calendar year (then 1x):
- Airfare purchased from airlines
- U.S. purchases for advertising in select media
- U.S. purchases for shipping
- U.S. purchases at gas stations
- U.S. purchases at restaurants
- U.S. purchases made from select technology providers
You also have the Ink Business Preferred Card, which offers 3x on your first $150,000 in combined purchases (then 1x) each account anniversary year in the following categories:
- Travel, including airfare, hotels, rental cars, train tickets and taxis
- Shipping purchases
- Internet, cable and phone services
- Advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines
Simply put, business owners have different needs than consumers do. Many banks offer some form of transaction or expense management on business credit cards to help keep you organized, and some even offer free employee cards, which can help you rack up rewards even faster.
Although many banks decide how many credit cards you can have based on your overall credit line limit, some banks limit the number of cards you can have. For example, you can only have five credit cards with Amex.
However, the limit for certain cards such as the Amex Business Platinum is separate, allowing small business cards to expand further how far your wallet can go. Not only does this let you get more cards and welcome bonuses.
Establishing a business credit history
This one goes hand in hand with the fact that your business credit card’s line of credit doesn’t sit on your personal report.
While you hopefully have a high personal FICO score when you apply for the card in the first place, once that card is open, its entire record sits separate from your personal credit. However, if your business takes off and you apply for loans for purchases, real estate or other large expenses, banks will look at your business line of credit when determining your interest rate, and the more established your line of credit, the better rates you’re likely to get.
More spending power
Business credit cards often come with higher credit lines, which is how many small businesses get off the ground. Just remember, the difference between business credit cards and charge cards is the latter requires you to pay your bill off in full every month or else you’ll incur huge fees, which will likely negate the value of the points or miles accrued.
While you might think that your business is in the early days and you don’t need a separate credit card, business credit cards can provide important benefits to your company, including rewards you can use for virtually free travel, expense management, and credit to grow your business. While you could get by in your personal life using a debit card or cash if you really wanted to, leveraging the right credit card for your small business provides many more benefits.
For rates and fees of the Amex Business Platinum card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Business Gold, click here.
Additional reporting by Ed Pizzarello.
Featured photo by Thomas Barwick/ Getty Images
SPONSORED: With states reopening, enjoying a meal from a restaurant no longer just means curbside pickup.
And when you do spend on dining, you should use a credit card that will maximize your rewards and potentially even score special discounts. Thanks to temporary card bonuses and changes due to coronavirus, you may even be able to score a meal at your favorite restaurant for free.
These are the best credit cards for dining out, taking out, and ordering in to maximize every meal purchase.
Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.