What is the Best Business Credit Card for Your Business?
Business credit cards are a part of business credit. Like other aspects of business credit, business credit cards can help you get products and services your business needs. You can use them to help smooth out cash flow peaks and valleys. And you can use them to build business credit. The best business credit card for your business can do many of these things.
Business credit cards run the gamut from starter vendors which don’t ask for much, to Tier 4 bank credit cards. And there can be cards where you must provide your Social Security number to satisfy a federal anti-money laundering law. As you might expect, the harder to get approvals, the more your business must do to meet credit provider requirements.
In general, approvals hinge upon:
- Business credit scores. Mostly your history of paying your company’s bills on time.
- Time in business. Since about 2/3 of all new businesses fail within the first 10 years, more time in business is a gauge of stability and ability to pay back any credit in use.
- Personal credit scores. Many credit providers review personal credit scores, particularly if a business is new.
Credit providers want to know you’ll pay them back. They also want to make sure there’s nothing fraudulent going on. When basic data (name, address) is inconsistent from one record to another, credit providers see that as fraud. They will deny the application. As a result, records consistency is vital for avoiding denials.
Incomplete applications are another reason for denials. So, if an application calls for certain documents, you’ve got to provide them. Such documents can include business plans, bank statements, and incorporation documents (if applicable).
Beyond Getting Approvals
There are tons of business credit cards out there. Just applying for the ones where you’ll get approval is a decent strategy when you’re first starting out with building business credit. But once your business credit scores improve, such as a PAYDEX score of 80, you can be a lot choosier.
Types of Business Credit Cards
For card types, you’re generally looking at:
- Debit cards
- Business charge cards
- No PG business credit cards
Credit Card Feature Types
But the best business credit card for your business can also be divvied up by features, such as:
- Credit cards for 0% interest (ongoing or introductory) rate
- Low percentage interest rate (over 0% but still lower than the norm)
- $0 annual fee (ongoing or introductory)
- Cards that appeal to a social conscience/allow for donations to social causes
- Bad credit/fair credit/average credit
- Balance transfers
- Points (other than travel points)
- Cash back
- Statement credits/monetary bonuses
- High Limits
- Unique benefits (does not fit under any other categories)
Business Debit Cards
A business debit card is a card that works a lot like a business checkbook. The limit is the amount of funds you currently have in your business checking account. Every time you use it to make a purchase, the amount you charge comes from your account as a deduction.
Prepaid Business Credit Cards
A prepaid business card is a convenient alternative to carrying cash. It works just like a secured consumer credit card. Add funds to your account. Whatever amount you add is available for purchases.
The Best Business Credit Card for You Might be Secured
A secured business credit card is for businesses with no credit or less than perfect credit history. An initial security deposit is necessary. This establishes your card’s credit limit. In most cases a minimum deposit of $500 is necessary. Once you start making purchases you will receive invoices like a regular credit card.
Unsecured Business Credit Cards
An unsecured business credit card works like an unsecured consumer credit card. Credit limits come from many factors depending on the card issuer. Factors in deciding credit limit can include personal credit and/or business credit scores. They can also include time in business, annual revenues and so on. These credit cards give your business the opportunity to earn incentives and rewards.
Business Charge Cards
A business charge card has all the convenience of a credit card. But it’s without the high price of interest. When using this card you must pay your balance in full each billing cycle. Since you can’t carry a balance, a charge card doesn’t have a periodic or annual percentage rate. Hence there is no rate for a charge card issuer to disclose.
No PG Business Credit Cards
A no PG business credit card is just what it sounds like. It’s a card you can get without a personal guarantee. This card will link to your EIN, not your SSN. And it generally requires no personal credit check or guarantee for approval.
Credit Cards for 0% Interest or a Low Percentage Interest Rate
A low percentage interest rate is over 0% but still lower than the norm. Many annual percentage rates tie to the prime rate. Lower or 0% rates are often introductory, and end after a certain time frame or number of billing cycles.
The Best Business Credit Card for Your Business Might Have a $0 Annual Fee
Cards with no annual fee can be ongoing or introductory. Like 0% interest rates, introductory fees end after a certain amount of time, or a particular number of billing cycles.
The Best Business Credit Card for Your Business Can Even Appeal to Your Social Conscience
Some business credit cards allow for donations to social causes. These donations are often in the form of points. American Express has its own program, Just Giving. MasterCard allows for charitable giving via its personal credit cards. This is through a program called Charity Charge.
Bad Credit/Fair Credit/Average Credit Business Credit Cards
There are some business cards which will accept less than stellar personal credit. But you will often need to assure the card issuer of repayment in some other fashion. . This may involve giving the provider access to your books so they can assess your cash flow. Or the provider might set up a frequent (as in daily) electronic withdrawal from your account. This is so you don’t get behind in payments.
Many cards allow for balance transfers. You may have to pay an annual percentage rate for transfers. And, like with APRs for purchases, the APR for balance transfers may have an introductory rate. Or you may have to pay a flat rate, often a minimum.
Travel rewards are usually in the form of miles rather than points. Rewards may tie to a particular airline or hotel chain. Travel rewards may also come in the form of discounts on car rentals. They may even come in the form of added miles for filling up using certain gasoline brands.
These are points which come from an activity other than travel. A card issuer might offer multiple points per dollar spent, for spending within a particular category, such as internet shopping. Some cards offer differing multiples depending upon category of choice.
Cash back usually comes in the form of a low percentage rebate, such as 1%. Some card issuers offer unlimited cash back. Others offer bonus amounts for chosen category spending or meeting a certain spending minimum within a particular amount of time after account opening. Such as $750 if you spend $7,500 in the first three months after account opening.
The Best Business Credit Card for Your Business Might Have a Great Rewards Program
Rewards can take the form of rebates or statement credits or other perks. Some cards offer a reward in the form of free TSA PreCheck®, which currently costs $85. Other such perks may include waiving a first late payment fee or a free cell phone protection plan.
Statement Credits/Monetary Bonuses
Statement credits are payments toward your credit bill. They tend to be one time only. They often tie to a minimum spent amount, within a time after account opening. Bonuses are slightly different. With bonuses, it’s a monetary reward not paid toward your credit balance.
In general, higher limit credit cards tie to better credit scores. They may come with substantial annual fees. Higher fees can incur all along or after an introductory period. Cardholders should pay particular attention to annual percentage rates.
Annual percentage rates will matter more when your limit is $250,000 rather than $25,000.
Unique benefits do not fit under any other categories. Cards may only be available to a certain type of person like members of the armed forces. Or a card may enroll you in some sort of benefits program. Still others may offer certain purchase discounts.
The Best Business Credit Card for Your Business: Takeaways
Business credit cards come in several forms like secured or debit. And they offer certain features, like low APRs or high limits. With good business credit scores, you’ll have your choice of benefits and features. There are several different types of business credit cards and various benefits. And there are special characteristics for unique cards.