What is a 'Business Credit Card'

A business credit card is a credit card intended for use by a business rather than for an individual’s personal use. Business credit cards are available to businesses of all sizes. They can help businesses build a credit profile to improve future credit borrowing terms. Small business credit cards may also be backed by a personal guarantee which integrates a personal liability which can also help in structuring credit terms.

BREAKING DOWN 'Business Credit Card'

Business credit cards are offered from a wide range of lending institutions. The process for applying is similar to a standard credit card application. Business borrowers can apply with or without an employer identification number which makes it even easier for all types of businesses to obtain a business credit card.

Business Credit Card Applications and Liabilities

To obtain a business credit card, borrowers must complete an application. Generally business credit cards can often be easier to apply for than non-revolving business loans since the process is usually automated with an immediate credit decision. They also come with many added benefits. As a result, business credit cards usually have slightly higher interest rates than traditional loans. Credit card debt is also usually unsecured which increases financing costs due to the higher risks for lenders.

Business owners can apply with an employer identification number if they have one established or they may use their personal social security number. Lenders will base the underwriting analysis on all of the information included in a new credit application. Businesses have credit reports and establish credit history in the same way that individuals do therefore any activity using an employer identification number will be reflected in the business’s credit report. Oftentimes businesses do not have the minimum requirements needed for credit scoring, revenue and income analysis so they must rely on the backing of a personal guarantee. A personal guarantee is a business card provision that holds the individual applying for the card liable for card payments and fees. Many business credit cards will include a personal guarantee provision in their business credit card terms regardless of qualifying measures so it’s important for borrowers to read and fully understand all of the terms outlined in a business credit card agreement. If personal guarantee provisions are enacted for repayment then business credit card delinquencies could be reported on an individual’s credit report.

Business Credit Card Benefits

Business credit cards can be a good way to manage and itemize expenses. In addition to offering the usual conveniences associated with credit cards, business credit cards help small businesses in particular to keep business spending separate from personal spending. This separation can be helpful for accounting and tax purposes. They also provide an easy way for employees to make purchases and for businesses to monitor employees’ business purchases.

Business credit cards usually have unique benefits designed to entice business customers. These benefits may be different from the benefits offered to individual customers. For example, some business credit cards offer cash back on purchases at stores where businesses are likely to frequent, such as office supply stores. Business credit cards also tend to offer larger sign-up bonuses than individual credit cards in anticipation of high business spending. Many will also offer 0% interest as an introductory rate for a short period of time.

Travel perks are another common benefit, since many businesses have significant travel expenses. A business credit card might entitle the holder to use an airline’s VIP lounge at airports or receive discounts on hotel stays during business travel. Business credit cards also sometimes offer more flexible repayment terms designed to appeal specifically to businesses, whose cash flow may be irregular.

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