How to Apply for a Business Credit Card

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Last updated on April 5th, 2023

Any business can apply for a credit card. But not every business is ready to apply for a business credit card.  Here is everything you need to know about applying for a credit card for your small business.

Steps for Applying for a Business Credit Card

Having a dedicated credit card for your small business can make it easy to separate business and personal expenses, identify tax deductions, and establish a strong credit history for your company. But accessing business credit isn’t as straightforward as you think. There are several confusing terms and unfamiliar processes that can keep companies from accessing credit.

Business or Personal Credit: Which Is Right for You?

Many small businesses rely on personal credit scores for credit cards, with the personal liabilities that come from this process. Business credit is a different type of credit based on a company’s revenue, capital, and other information to gain access to credit – with no liability to the owner’s credit score or health.

Here’s how personal credit differs from business credit:

Business credit Personal credit
Experian, Equifax, and Dun & Bradstreet Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion
Employer Identification Number (EIN) and/or Tax ID number required Social Security Number (SSN) required*
Based on business revenue and cash flow Based on monthly salary vs. bills
Different models and ranges Credit score ranges from 300 to 850

You don’t need business credit to get a business card. If your company does not have an EIN, for example, you can use your personal credit score (your SSN) in place of the EIN. Because your credit score is attached to your company’s finances, if the market collapses or a vendor refuses payment, you can lose much more than your company.

Put simply, a business credit profile is tied to the business. Suppose the business closes and there are existing debts. In that case, the business owner is less liable for those debts than if they used their personal credit score as a guarantor for their business credit. This also means your business will be more valuable if your business credit score is high.

The Business Credit Card Application Process

Applying for a business credit card might seem like a straightforward process, and in many ways, it is – if you know what you’re doing. Business credit card application requirements differ from personal applications in several ways, including credit agencies, required information, and more.

Here is how to apply for a business credit card – and what information you will need to apply for a business card:

Info Explained
① The legal name and contact address of your business Even if you don’t provide your personal information, you will need to provide all relevant contact information for your business, including the company’s legal name, any names your company is doing business under, and the mailing and phone contact information.
② Basic information about your business Most banks and lenders want to know some basic facts about your company. These facts include your industry type, the structure of your company and number of employees, and your annual revenue.
③ Tax ID number Most business card applications require a tax ID number, which is the number the IRS uses to designate your company when you file your taxes.

Many sole proprietorships have no employees – and never plan to hire additional help. Still, business credit card applications often ask for an Employer Identification Number (EIN). An EIN is basically an SSN for a business – it is the same as a tax ID. If you are a freelancer, tutor, run an online shop, or run some other solo venture, chances are you won’t need your EIN or tax ID. The IRS stipulates that an EIN is only necessary for those companies that:

  • Have employees
  • Operate as a partnership or corporation
  • Withhold taxes on income (other than wages) paid to a non-resident alien
  • Have a Keogh plan
  • Are involved with trusts, estates, real estate mortgage investments, non-profits, farmer’s co-ops, or plan administrators.
④ Estimated monthly spend on the card Lenders want to ensure that your business’ finances aren’t stretched too thin, so expect to answer basic questions about how much you – and your employees – typically place on credit cards each month.
⑤ Personal credit history If you need to provide a personal guarantee, expect to provide all relevant credit information for the primary account holder. This information includes full legal name, home contact information (phone number, mailing address, e-mail), and your Social Security Number.

Tips for Building Business Credit

Given the benefits of using your company’s credit versus your personal credit score, how can you quickly build business credit?

Get a Business Credit Card

The easiest way to build business credit is by opening a business credit card account. Sure, it might seem like a catch-22 since you can’t apply for a business card if you don’t have a business credit score. Well, that’s not entirely true.

Business cards like the Revenued Business Card Visa® and Ramp Card use alternative scoring models to look beyond personal guarantees and provide credit to your company when needed. With responsible use of these cards, you can build up your business credit and set your company up for success.

Establish Trade Credit

Trade credit is another way to establish business credit. The term “trade credit” refers to any arrangement your company may make with a supplier where they provide goods or services without needing immediate payment. Establishing trade lines is another way to get on-time payments recorded and counted towards your business’ credit.

Always Pay Your Bills On-Time

The most critical step in building credit is to keep a close eye on your company’s progress. Paying your bills on time is crucial for building good credit. Pay all your bills, including loans, credit cards, and other debts, on time to avoid late fees and negative impact on your credit score.

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Business Credit Cards

Featured image by StartupStockPhotos/PixaBay
About: Cory
Cory Santos

Cory is's "Jack of all trades" and resident credit expert, covering all facets of the credit card space. Cory holds academic degrees in both the U.S. and U.K. In addition to credit cards, Cory finds that jogging, cats, and memes are essential parts of a balanced day.

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