Do You Need a Business to Apply for a Business Credit Card?
The answer is “not really.”
Now, don’t take that too liberally either. Let me be specific. You don’t need to have a registered business with its own business name. You don’t need an EIN (Employer Identification Number). If you have a full time business and an EIN, of course you are eligible. But you didn’t need to Google this article to find that out.
Assuming you don’t have a full time business, what is the criteria to apply for and be approved for a Business Credit Card? And why do you care?
First, you care because realizing that you are eligible for Business Credit Cards is a game changer with regards to the various new cards, new card bonus offers, and spending bonus categories that are available to you.
My top choice right now for a first Business credit card if you are just getting into the Business card arena is the Chase Ink Preferred Credit Card. It’s rich bonus offer of 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points is worth a minimum of $1,000, this card allows you to transfer those points to airlines and hotels, and also offers free cellphone insurance if you pay the monthly bills with your card. The $95 annual fee is waived the first year.
Another great card, albeit with only 10,000 points to signup, is the American Express Blue Business Plus card. It has no annual fee and offers 2x Membership Rewards points on all purchases up to $50,000 a year. That’s perfect for spend that isn’t in any bonus categories.
Sounds great – but back to the story…. How do you know if you qualify for a Business Credit Card?
1) You do need to conduct business outside of a day job. You are not eligible if you have a salaried position and no other income.
3) If you do not have a registered business name and an EIN, you must apply in a very specific way. Do not mess this up or you will be declined.
Apply as follows:
- Your business name is simply your own name. If you are “John Paul Smith” on your personal credit cards, then put “John Paul Smith” as your name and “John Paul Smith” again as your Business name.
- Your Tax ID number will be your Social Security Number.
- Your business income will be the amount you expect to make from your side business (anything not salary.
- You would *not* include investment income etc, unless it was part of business activities.
If you meet the criteria above, my favorite small business cards are below. Different benefits for different preferences, so scan them all before choosing one.
|Small Business Credit Cards||Bonus Offer||Best Features||More info|
Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
|80,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $5,000 in your first 3 months||Earns 3x points on travel, advertising, and shipping.|
This massive Welcome Bonus offer makes this card a great first business card. The bonus alone is worth $1,000 - $1,200 at a minimum.
These points can be transferred to a range of Ultimate Rewards partners like United and Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio or spent in the Ultimate Rewards portal on travel with a value of 1.25 cents per point. Also provides complimentary cell phone insurance if you pay your monthly bill with the card. $95 annual fee waived the first year.
Chase Ink Business Unlimited
|50,000 Ultimate Rewards points (or $500 cash) when you spend $3,000 in 3 months||Best for small businesses with a lot of every day spend. This card earns 1.5x everywhere. |
If you don't spend a lot in the bonus categories of other cards, or want a second card to pair with one that you use in the bonus categories, this is a great card. No annual fee. Pair this with the Chase Ink Preferred for a killer 1-2 card combo.
Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card
|50,000 Ultimate Rewards points (or $500 cash) when you spend $3,000 in 3 months||5x points on up to $25,000 in office supplies, internet, cable, and phone annually.|
There are lots of ways to maximize this amazing 5x benefit. If you combine these points into a Chase Sapphire Reserve account to book travel, it's like 7.5% effective cash back. No annual fee.
The Business Platinum Card(R) from American Express
|75,000 possible bonus Membership Rewards points. 50,000 after you spend $10,000 within 3 months and 25,000 more if you spend a total of $20,000 in your first 3 months.||Access to Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass lounges, Delta SkyClub lounges (with Delta ticket) $200 annual airline credit||Learn More|
Chase Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card
|60,000 Rapid Rewards points when you spend $3,000 in 3 months||Those trying to get a Southwest Companion pass (the bonus points count).|
Read more about how to qualify for the Companion Pass here.
The Business Gold Card
|50,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $5,000 in 3 months (this is a personal referral offer - click "View All Cards with a Referral Offer" on landing page to find this deal)||Earns 4x Membership Rewards points on two categories of your choice (options include US-based: advertising, computer services, gas stations, restaurants, or shipping - up to $150,000 a year in spend). Other purchases earn 1X. This card is a good choice IF you will spend heavily on at least one of the bonus categories, as this card has a $295 annual fee.||Learn More|
The Blue Business Plus Credit Card
|10,000 bonus Membership Rewards points when you spend $3,000 within 3 months (personal referral offer)||Earns 2x Membership Rewards points on all of your purchases, regardless of category, up to $50,000 a year. This is a great card to earn Membership Rewards from spend in categories with no bonuses on other cards and has no annual fee. |
As well, it earns standard Membership Rewards points meaning that if you wanted to close a Green/Gold/Platinum card, you would keep your points alive if you have this card.
Capital One Spark Miles for Business
|Limited Time Bonus of up to 200,000 miles (which would become 150,000 airline miles). You will earn a bonus of 50,000 miles when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months of opening your account and then another 150,000 miles when you spend $50,000 within the first 6 months.||This card earns 2 miles per dollar. As of December 2018, these miles are transferable to 11 frequent flyer programs (0.75 airline miles per one Capital One mile). If you spend the full $50,000 for the full bonus amount, you would have 300,000 Capital One miles worth 225,000 airline miles - enough for a first or business class round trip almost anywhere.||Learn More|
Capital One Spark Cash
|Limited Time Bonus of up to $2,000. You will earn a bonus of $500 when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months of opening your account and then another $1,500 miles when you spend $50,000 within the first 6 months.||This card earns 2% cash back. If you spend the full $50,000 for the full bonus offer, you'll have $3,000 in total cash back in your account. ($2,000 for the bonus + $1,000 in earned rewards from spend)||Learn More|
Starwood Preferred Guest(R) Business Credit Card from American Express
|75,000 bonus Marriott points when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months||Earn 6 points per dollar at Marriott/SPG properties, 4 points per dollar for US restaurants, gas, wireless telephone services, and shipping, and 2 points per dollar on everything else. |
It also comes with a free night at any Marriott/SPG hotel up to 35,000 points each year after you renew the card.
Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
|125,000 bonus Hilton points when you spend $3,000 in 3 months||Complimentary Gold Status in the Hilton Honors program (Diamond upgrade if you spend $40,000 in a calendar year). 10 free Priority Pass lounge visits. Free weekend night rewards (valid for any hotel) when you spend more than $15,000 in a calendar year and again if you spend more than $60,000.|
Earns 12x points at Hilton, 6x points on US gas, wireless services, shipping, flights booked direct with the airline or Amex Travel, and car rentals. 3x on everything else