In truth, the so-called “Fleet Credit Tier” is really so much more than that. While there are a lot of fleet cards included, there are many other types of cards as well. Not to mention, fleet cards can also be in other tiers. Regardless of where they fall in the process, fleet cards are definitely a necessary stepping stone in the business credit building journey.
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Fleet Cards Can Lead You Down the Road of Ultimate Business Success
Who doesn’t love romance? Pretty much everyone loves romance in some way. It may not be chocolates and flowers however. Maybe you have a romance with football or working out. Something about it just calls to you. It strikes a chord deep inside, and you just can’t deny it. When it comes to business, the romance of the road often calls.
Whether your business is one that has regular travel or simply a company car for errands, travel is necessary, and the fleet credit tier is your answer.
What is the Fleet Credit Tier?
When it comes to business credit, there are multiple tiers you can work through to establish your score. You start at the vendor credit tier and work through the retail credit tier. After that comes the fleet credit tier and the cash credit tier. Then, you can make it to the big show, which would be business loans from traditional lenders.
You have to start somewhere though, and the fleet credit tier is a romantic stop on the road. These are cards that are specifically for fuel costs and automobile repair and maintenance.
Why not Just Regular Credit?
Why not just use regular credit for fuel and auto repair and maintenance? Well, here is the thing. Those credit cards with the high limits and lower interest required to manage the costs of a fleet of automobiles do not come easily.
You have to have a business credit score that is decent. Those cards are in the cash credit tier. You can use them for anything your heart desires, even automobile costs. But a mediocre credit score, no credit score, will not cut it for cards in the cash credit tier.
After you work through a couple of the credit tiers and you get some accounts reporting to the credit agencies on behalf of your business however, you may qualify for cards in the fleet credit tier.
Then you can dedicate fleet cards to fleet costs. The tiers that come before the fleet credit tier, the vendor credit tier and the retail credit tier, do not cover these types of expenses.
As a bonus, you are continuing to build your business credit while you use the fleet credit tier and make on-time payments on a consistent basis.
How Do You Start a Relationship with the Fleet Credit Tier?
Just like any relationship, you have to use a little romance. It’s the thrill of the chase. The fleet credit tier loves for you to pursue it. It needs to see that you are working hard at building strong business credit before it will open up and let you in. Where do you start? Flowers? Chocolate? Actually, you start with the vendor credit tier.
Romance the Vendor Credit Tier
Think of this as the warm up. If you are a young man trying to romance a young woman, you need to start with the parents. You have to go through them first. When you get there, you might offer the mom flowers. That is a romantic gesture, right?
To get in good with the fleet credit tier, you have to make it through the vendor credit tier first. Romance it a little to prove you are worthy to move on. What is the vendor credit tier, and how do you make it like you?
The Vendor Credit Tier: Gateway to the Fleet Credit Tier
Head out on the road to the fleet credit tier and you will have to cross the vendor credit tier bridge first. These are starter vendors that will offer you net 30 terms on invoices and report your on -time payments to the credit agencies.
What does that have to do with the fleet credit tier? Well, you cannot begin a relationship with the fleet credit tier without a strong business credit score.
That has to start somewhere, and the vendor credit tier is that somewhere. You can typically get an account with them even if you do not have business credit. When they report your payments, your credit starts to build.
Who Lives on the Vendor Credit Tier?
There are plenty of vendors to choose from, but some of the most popular include:
You can order packing supplies and even some janitorial supplies from Uline. A few initial purchases may be necessary to get net 30 approval, but then you are well on your way to a strong business credit score.
Grainger sells industrial supplies, some tools and equipment, and products conducive to outdoor work. Similar to Uline, you may need to make some initial purchase and show how long you have been in business to get net 30 terms.
CEO Creative is a vendor of electronics, plus you can create your own logo through them. They report to CreditSafe and Equifax. Terms are net 30.
The Next Step to the Fleet Credit Tier: Get in Good with Big Brother
When you ready to romance your date and get the show on the road, you will often find that after the parents you have a big brother to contend with. He isn’t as easy as the parents. And he may go to your school, he may even overhear your locker room talk. He is blocking the path.
After you make it through the vendor credit tier, you still have to go through the retail credit tier to get to the fleet credit tier. These are store cards such as Office Depot, Best Buy, Walmart, and even Amazon.
Once you have 3 to 5 vendors reporting, you can start to apply for cards from the retail credit tier. They like to see a solid business credit score, so you cannot try to apply for them until you have used the vendor credit tier to build up your score.
That Sweet First Kiss: Romancing the Fleet Credit Tier to See where It Can Take You
If you make it this far, come bearing gifts. Your sweetheart will definitely want that chocolate and roses. Once you make it through big brother and have several accounts reporting from the retail credit tier, you can hit the road and begin to apply for cards from the fleet credit tier.
There are tons of fleet credit cards, but to give you an idea of what is out there, here are a few examples.
The ARCO fleet card will report your payments to Equifax and Dun & Bradstreet. For approval, you will need an EIN as well as a bank and trade reference. There is no minimum purchase amount required and new businesses are welcome to apply.
You will also have to provide your gross annual income along with the business name, address, and telephone number.
Valvoline will report payments to Experian and Dun & Bradstreet. You will need to have established business credit history, which is what the vendor credit tier helps with. In addition, an EIN is required.
WEX also reports to Experian and Dun & Bradstreet. A $500 deposit is required, as well as a 411-business phone number listing.
Break Up with Your Personal Credit Score
If you will notice, each of these cards rely on your business credit rather than your personal credit. Before you can romance the fleet credit tier, your business must break up with your personal credit. How do you that? How do you ensure your business has its own credit that isn’t connected to your personal credit score? You cannot begin a new relationship until you end the one you are currently in, right?
Get Ready for Romance with your Business Credit Score, Breakup with Your Personal Credit Score
At least, stop using personal credit accounts for business purposes. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, if your personal credit isn’t great, you are going to struggle to find funding for your business. However, the flip side will also be an issue. If your business doesn’t do great, it can affect your personal credit.
Here is another thought. Personal credit cards have lower limits than business cards. Business expenses are significantly higher than personal expenses. If you put business expenses on personal credit cards, they are going to max out quickly. This can cause your personal credit score to drop even if you are successfully keeping up with payments.
That is because the ratio of your debt to your available credit is one of several factors that affects your personal credit score. Putting business expenses on personal credit cards can cause this ratio to get way out of whack.
Putting it all Together: How a Relationship with the Fleet Credit Tier Can Lead You to a Life of Business Credit Bliss
Of course, you can’t run your business on fleet cards alone. However, they are something you will need to get familiar with in the course of both building business credit and funding your business. They can help both now, and be a stepping stone in the journey to growing your business and having strong business credit.
Want to know more about how to get these and other business credit accounts? Contact us today for a free business credit consultation.