We live in the "gig" economy, meaning that most people have multiple revenue streams to make ends meet. Side gigs like driving, delivering, and performing odd jobs are plentiful, but they also require extra financial knowledge and understanding. Namely, if you're making money independently, you need to be able to cover expenses and build credit. Fortunately, that's where a business credit card comes in.
What We'll Cover
- Can You Get Business Credit Cards Without a Business?
- Benefits of a Business Credit Card
- How to Apply for a Business Credit Card Without a Business
- Can You Get a Business Line of Credit Without a Personal Guarantee?
- Top Business Credit Card Options if you Don't Have a Business
- U.S. Bank Business Triple Cash Rewards World Elite Mastercard®
- Ink Business Cash® Credit Card
- Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
- Capital One Spark Cash Plus
- Capital One Spark Miles for Business
- The Bottom Line
At first, you may assume that you need an actual business to apply for a business credit card. However, the reality is you can get one of these cards pretty easily, even without a separate entity. Let's dive into the world of business credit cards - why you'd want one, how to get one, and which ones offer the best perks.
Can You Get Business Credit Cards Without a Business?
The short answer is yes; you can get a business credit card without forming an official entity. What matters most is that you're making money independently of any "employee" job. So, if you're earning income as an independent contractor (i.e., as an Uber driver), you can often qualify for one of these credit cards.
That said, starting a business and registering with your state may allow you to earn specific tax breaks and qualify for other benefits, but that's a separate article.
Some examples of independent income sources can include:
- Online Tutor
- Delivery Driver
- Buying and Reselling Items
- Selling Crafts
- Freelance Writing
- Renting Your Space on Airbnb
You can also qualify even if you have a separate primary source of income. That said, the amount you make, your credit score, and your borrowing history will all come into play when getting a card. Fortunately, there are many options, so if you don't qualify for one card, you can likely apply for another and get accepted.
Benefits of a Business Credit Card
Before you send applications to different creditors, it helps to understand the purpose of getting one of these cards. Some of the top advantages include:
- Bigger Sign-up Bonuses - As long as you meet the bonus requirements (i.e., spend X amount within 90 days), you can get a sizeable bonus. If you plan accordingly and pay off the card quickly, that's like free money in your account.
- Lower Fees - You can often pay less interest and annual fees than you would with a personal card, even if you have a greater credit amount.
- Extra Rewards - If you already have a personal credit card with a company, you can double your rewards by adding a business account. Also, these credit cards often offer reward points for additional categories like utilities and office supplies.
- Separate Finances and Credit History - Opening a new credit card shows up on your credit score, but not when you open a business card (usually). Plus, putting business expenses like gas or a new laptop on a separate card allows you to manage your money more efficiently. Separating your accounts will come in handy when tax season rolls around too.
How to Apply for a Business Credit Card Without a Business
Is it hard to get a business credit card? Not at all! You'll just have to supply the creditor with some essential information like:
- Business Name - If you have a separate entity like an LLC, you'll put your company name. Otherwise, you can put your name and operate as a sole proprietor.
- Employer ID Number (EIN) - Your social security number will work if you don't have an EIN.
- Industry - If you work different jobs as a contractor, pick the one that offers the most income.
- Length of Business - As a rule, the longer you've been "in business," the better, but you can apply for a card even if you just started working as an independent contractor.
- Earnings - You can look at your previous earnings for the last few months and extrapolate that into annual revenue. Or, if your business is brand-new, you can put 0. However, the more you make as an independent contractor, the higher your credit line.
- Your Role - If you're applying as a sole proprietor, your role is the owner. If you have a separate entity, you may be the CEO, founder, or a combination of roles.
- Number of Employees - If you don't have any employees besides yourself, you can leave this blank.
- Contact Information - You can put your home address and personal phone number unless you have a separate office or business line.
Sometimes, you may have to mail physical documents to the creditor for approval. However, many business credit cards can run a check and verify your account in minutes.
Can You Get a Business Line of Credit Without a Personal Guarantee?
A personal guarantee means you use your credit score to open a business credit card or line of credit. However, you can qualify for one of these cards without a personal guarantee. That said, you'll likely pay higher interest rates and have to submit more documentation to verify your income and earning history.
As a rule, if you're just starting to make money independently, it's better to use your personal credit score to get a higher credit line. However, doing this could impact your score, and if your number is already low, it won't necessarily improve your options. So, weigh the pros and cons before making a final decision.
Top Business Credit Card Options if you Don't Have a Business
If you're ready to take the next step and apply for a business credit card, we've compiled a list of the top five options. Also, remember that these are ideal for individuals without an actual business. If you are running a company, you may want to look at other cards that offer better perks for your needs.
U.S. Bank Business Triple Cash Rewards World Elite Mastercard®
If you love traveling and paying $0 annual fees, this is the business credit card for you. While you need an excellent credit score to apply, this card has some pretty impressive benefits.
First, you can earn $500 cash back if you spend $4,500 in the first 150 days of opening the account. Second, you get a 0-percent introductory APR. After 15 billing cycles, it switches to a variable APR between 17.74% - 26.74%. You also get three-percent cash back on qualifying purchases, including gas stations, cell phone bills, restaurants, and office supply stores. All other purchases earn one percent back.
Another unique perk is that you can earn a $100 statement credit for software subscription services like QuickBooks. Overall, this is an excellent business credit card.
- Three percent cash back on qualifying purchases
- Earn $500 back after spending $4,500 in the first 150 days
- Introductory 0% APR for the first 15 billing cycles
- No annual fee
- $100 statement credit available annually for software purchases
- Must pay variable APR on cash advances, even within the introductory period
Ink Business Cash® Credit Card
Chase is an excellent option for big and small businesses, including sole proprietorships that don't have employees or tons of operating expenses. What we like most about the Ink Business Cash card is that it has no annual fee, so you don't have to pay anything to use it and earn rewards.
When opening an account, you can qualify for up to $900 bonus cash back. You'll need to spend $6,000 on purchases within the first three months. Regarding reward earnings, you can get five percent back on the first $25,000 spent in a year on office supplies, internet, cable, and phone services. Additionally, you can get two percent on purchases on the first $25,000 per year at gas stations or restaurants. Finally, you get one-percent reward cash on all other purchases.
- No annual fee
- Up to $750 bonus cash with qualifying purchases
- Flexible rewards redemption options
- 0% introductory APR for the first 12 months (then a 18.49% - 24.49% variable APR afterward)
- Spending caps for reward points ($25,000 per year)
- Must have excellent credit to qualify
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
If you travel a lot for work or want to start vacationing more often, the Chase Ink Business Preferred card may be a good choice. It does have an annual fee of $95, but you can earn extra points for travel rewards, as well as additional perks. For example, if you have travel points with a partner organization (i.e., an airline), you get a 1:1 point transfer. So, you can spend with your Preferred card and still get the same number of airline miles with a partner airline.
The sign-up bonus for this card is 100,000 points after you spend $8,000 on purchases within the first three months. You can also get 3X points on qualifying purchases for the first $150,000 you spend yearly. Examples include shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services, advertising purchases with social media sites and search engines, and travel expenses.
APR: 21.24% - 26.24% Variable
- Relatively small annual fee of $95
- Potential for 3X points on qualifying purchases
- Ideal for travel rewards
- No intro APR offer
Capital One Spark Cash Plus
Capital One is another high-quality creditor that can help businesses and sole proprietors get a lot out of their cards. The Spark Cash Plus card is excellent for earning cash-back rewards. However, you need an excellent credit score to qualify, so it might be out of reach for some individuals.
There is something of a catch with this card, though - you have to pay the balance in full every month. Otherwise, you'll incur a 2.99% late fee. So, if you plan on having a continuous balance, you should opt for a different business credit card.
The card comes with an introductory offer, where you can earn a one-time cash bonus of $1,200 after spending $30,000 within the first three months. One of the unique features of this card is that it does not have a preset spending limit, which means it adapts to your spending behavior, payment history, and credit profile.
Moreover, the card offers an annual fee refund feature. Here, your $150 annual fee is refunded each year when you spend at least $150,000. It's important to note that the balance on this card must be paid off in full every month.
- Two-percent cash back on all purchases
- Receive up to $1,200 cash back in the first three months
- Capital One adapts your credit limit and APR based on your credit score and spending habits
- You must pay the balance in full each month
- Comes with a $150 annual fee
Capital One Spark Miles for Business
While the original Spark card works well for cash back, the Spark Miles card is best for travel. Plus, you don't have to pay an annual fee for the first year, so you can save $95 upfront.
This card offers 2x travel reward miles on all purchases with no spending limit. If you book travel accommodations through Capital One Travel, you can earn 5x miles on those purchases. Capital One also partners with various travel organizations so you can transfer your miles for more flexibility.
This card has a sign-up bonus of 50,000 miles if you spend $4,500 within the first three months of opening the account. Finally, you don't need as high of a credit score to apply for this card.
- Earn 2X miles on all purchases
- Get a bonus of 50,000 by spending $4,500 in the first three months
- $0 introductory annual fee, then $95 per year after
- No introductory APR
- Comes with a variable APR of 26.24%
The Bottom Line
As you can see, getting a business credit card is pretty straightforward if you know what to expect. While these cards come with perks and benefits, you also have to make sure to avoid borrowing too much or letting your debt get out of control. Nevertheless, with the right implementation, a business credit card can help you financially, so let one of these cards get you to the next phase of your professional life.
For Capital One products listed on this page, some of the above benefits are provided by Visa® or Mastercard® and may vary by product. See the respective Guide to Benefits for details, as terms and exclusions apply
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