Separating your personal and business expenses, even if your business is still in the beginning stages, is helpful. You can stay organized, avoid mistakes on your taxes and maximize the expense refunds you get on your taxes. One way to do this is with a small business credit card. These work like personal credit cards, in that they charge interest for balances not paid back in full each billing cycle. Having a small business credit card increases the spending power for your business and may provide rewards that put more money into your pocket to spend on your business.

Whether you’re a solopreneur who freelances on the side or you sell baked goods at the farmers market every weekend, when you’re making money from a business venture, you may be able to get a small business credit card. If you’re wondering how to get a business credit card, use this guide to learn more about the qualifications and application process.

Who qualifies for a small business card?

If you make money for work you do for yourself, you may be able to qualify for a small business credit card. That means if you sell items online or at events, or you earn money from performing a service, you may able to get a small business credit card. Here are the requirements for getting a small business card.

    • You own a legal business. When you apply for a small business credit card, you’ll need to list your business. Some banks will require documentation. While your business doesn’t have to be an entity like an LLC or an S-Corp, you can’t get a small business credit card for an illegal business, like selling illegal drugs.
    • You’re in the process of starting a new legal business. You can also apply for a small business credit card as you start your new business. Many business owners use their small business credit card to make purchases that get them up and running.

What qualifies as a small business?

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there were 30.2 million small businesses in the U.S. in 2018, making up 99.9% of total U.S. businesses. The most popular small business industries were healthcare and social assistance, accommodation and food services, retail trade, manufacturing, professional, scientific and technical services. Small businesses and sole proprietorships that might qualify for a small business credit card include:

      • Retailers selling items on eBay or Amazon
      • Home health aides
      • Food truck owners
      • Freelance graphic designers and web developers
      • Teachers, tutors and fitness coaches
      • Career consultants and business coaches

Business credit cards for freelancers

Most freelance creatives aren’t aware that they can qualify for a small business credit card, even as one employee working for themselves. As mentioned, you don’t need a formal business entity like an LLC to qualify as a small business owner. Freelancers are sole proprietors and can use their social security numbers as their business identifying code on their application. They can then use the card to pay for any costs related to their freelancing business, such as equipment, advertising or even meals with clients.

Some freelancers may not want or need a small business credit card. For example, a freelance writer who just needs a computer and internet connection to work might spend a lot less upfront and have fewer ongoing costs compared to a freelance video editor who requires software and equipment.

How to apply for a small business credit card

The process of applying for a small business card is different than applying for a personal card. You’ll have to submit business information on your business credit card application. However, just as when you’re applying for a personal credit card, the card issuer will consider your personal credit score. Here are the steps you’ll need to complete for a business credit card.

      • Gather all pertinent info. You’ll need your business name, address, business category, tax identification number, annual business revenue and other business information to prove to the issuer you’re a legal business. If you’re a solopreneur, you may be able to use your personal information for these categories.
      • Have personal information on hand. Since business cards are backed by personal credit, you’ll also need to submit personal information like your social security number, personal income and date of birth.
      • Decide which employees will need cards. Most business credit cards provide the option to add on free employee cards at no cost. The benefit is that as employees make purchases with those cards, their actions also apply to the business credit card account. This can help you get business credit card rewards more quickly.

Income requirements for small business cards

Small business credit card applications will require that you list income from your business. You may also be required to list personal income. Always be honest with these numbers and only list amounts that can be verified. Income requirements will vary depending on the card issuer and income is just one part of the application approval process. That’s why most card issuers don’t list a specific income requirement when you’re applying for a business credit card.

In some cases, you may have zero income because all of your time is being spent on starting your business. You may still be able to get a small business credit card. Also, if you have a perfect credit score but low income, you may be able to qualify for a small business credit card because of your credit score.

If you have questions about income and want to only apply for cards that you have a good chance of qualifying for, contact the card issuer to talk with them about your concerns before you apply.

Best small business credit cards

When you’re looking for a small business credit card for your business, consider the best business credit cards and compare their features. That way, you minimize the number of applications you complete, which can help protect your personal credit score.

One factor you’ll want to consider is the types of rewards you’ll most benefit from. For example, if you do a lot of business travel, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express (A NextAdvisor advertiser) provides 5x points on flight and prepaid hotel bookings on amextravel.com.

You’ll also want to consider the most common charges you anticipate making to the card. For example, the Brex Corporate Card for Ecommerce is a charge card that provides a 60-day payoff schedule and gives extra points for software subscriptions, restaurant purchases, rideshare expenses and travel booked through Brex.

If you want to be rewarded for all your purchases with cash back, the American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card earns business owners 2% cash back on eligible purchases up to $50,000 a year, then 1% on all other purchases. Plus, it has no annual fee.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This content was accurate at the time of this post, but card terms and conditions may change at any time. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.