10 side hustles that can help you qualify for a business card

Feb 1, 2021

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Starting a side hustle is an excellent way to pay down debt, save for the future or just make a little extra for some fun, frivolous spending. Find the right side hustle and you may even be able to eventually turn it into a full-blown career.

You may think only large businesses with offices and employees need a business credit card. Even if you’re hanging out your shingle for the first time as a sole proprietor, there’s no business too small to open up business credit cards. Whether you need help with cash flow or you are looking for rewards for regular business expenses to pad your points and miles balances, there are plenty of reasons to get a business credit card.

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Issuers do require you to have some sort of business in order to qualify. It doesn’t have to be a long-established business. Because business credit cards don’t offer the same protections as consumer cards, it isn’t advisable to put personal expenses on a business credit line.

Fortunately, starting a qualifying business isn’t an overly complicated process. Today I’m walking you through some businesses you can easily start in your free time that will qualify you for a business credit card.

In This Post

Photographer

(Photo by ESB Professional/Shutterstock)

Are you an avid shutterbug who’s ready to monetize your photography skills? Market yourself by asking friends and family to recommend you to others, creating a website to showcase your skills and promoting yourself on social media.

Which business card should you get?

When you want to update your camera equipment, you’ll want a card with purchase protection and extended warranty protection for your expensive purchases. The United Business Card has both: purchase protection that covers new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft (up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account) and extended warranty protection that extends the U.S. manufacturer’s warranty by an additional year on eligible warranties of three years or less.

Related: United Business Card review: Benefits for small-business travelers who fly United

Food delivery app driver

Usage of food delivery service apps, such as Uber Eats, DoorDash and Grubhub, has exploded recently. These apps also present a good opportunity to make some extra cash by signing up to be a driver for one or a few of them. It’s certainly helpful if you enjoy driving, and the work is flexible, allowing you to just drive in your spare time if you want. You’ll need a vehicle, along with a driver’s license and auto insurance. In some areas, you may be able to use your bicycle for deliveries.

Which business card should you get?

If driving a vehicle, you’ll be spending quite a bit on gas. And with a vehicle or bicycle, you’ll also be using your cellphone extensively. The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card offers 6x points on both gas and wireless phone services. The card has a $95 annual fee (see rates and fees). With its 130,000-point welcome offer and high earning categories, it’s easy to rack up a lot of points for an award stay. You can get that 130k welcome offer by spending $3,000 in eligible purchases on the Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership.

Related: Elite perks on a budget: A review of the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

Another hotel card option for racking up big points would be the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card, which has a $125 annual fee (see rates and fees) and offers 4x points at U.S. gas stations and on wireless phone services purchased directly from U.S.

Related: It’s all about extra benefits: A review of the Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex Credit Card

Etsy or Redbubble shop

(Photo by Casimiro PT/Shutterstock)

Do you paint in your spare time? Are you learning to crochet or knit? Crafty types can earn money by setting up an Etsy shop online. It is a simple process: Choose a shop name, list your inventory and choose your preferred payment method. Etsy charges a fee for each transaction (5% on the sale price, 5% of the shipping cost, plus a 20-cent fee per published listing). If you’re already creating art or sellable goods as a hobby, this is an easy way to earn extra cash.

Artists and designers can alternatively offer up products on a site like Redbubble, a marketplace for artists to sell their goods. Redbubble handles all shipping, printing and customer service in exchange for a cut of the sales.

Which business card should you get?

Your costs are going to depend on what you are selling. I would suggest getting a flat-rate card such as the Capital One Spark Cash for Business, which earns an unlimited 2% cash back.

(Photo by The Points Guy)
(Photo by The Points Guy)

Related: Unlimited 2% cash back on everything: Capital One Spark Cash for Business credit card review

Sell used clothes online

If you’re like me, you probably have at least one bag of clothes you intend to get rid of — eventually. Jeans that no longer fit, shirts you rarely wear, a dress you bought last year but never wore, shoes that rub your pinky toe the wrong way. There are dozens of online marketplaces where you can sell those clothes for extra cash, including Facebook Marketplace, eBay, Poshmark, thredUP and Mercari. You won’t get back the original purchase price, but it’s better than letting them occupy space in the back of your closet.

Which business card should you get?

Depending on which service you use, shipping costs may be your biggest expense — even if the platform you use reimburses those fees. Those who are hoping to use rewards on flights could use the Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card. For a $99 annual fee (see rates and fees) that’s waived the first year, you’ll get 2x on Delta purchases, restaurants worldwide, U.S. shipping and advertising in select media.

(Photo by The Points Guy)

If you plan to turn this into a considerable business, you could also use the American Express® Business Gold Card, which charges a $295 annual fee (see rates and fees) and earns 4x on your top two business expense categories each month, including U.S. shipping ($150,000 in combined bonus purchases annually; then 1x).

Related: Credit card review: American Express Business Gold Card

Tutoring or teaching

This type of business isn’t limited to tutoring high schoolers struggling with math. Do you play guitar in your spare time? Offer to teach lessons. Do you know another language? Tutor students and adults who are trying to learn. Similar to housesitting, this is an easy business to grow through word of mouth. You can also use online services such as Upwork or ZipRecruiter to find clients.

Which business card should you get?

If you teach online, internet services will likely be your biggest business expense. You may also need to set up your workspace with computer equipment or office supplies. The Ink Business Cash Credit Card offers 5% back on certain business expenses, including office supply stores, internet, cable and phone services (up to $25,000 in category purchases per account anniversary year).

Related: Ink Business Cash Card review

This card has no annual fee and the Ultimate Rewards points you earn can be redeemed for cash back. Or, if you also have a premium personal card such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, you can transfer your points to Chase’s numerous travel partners for flight and hotel redemptions.

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Consulting

Are you an SEO or digital marketing expert? There is a large market for consultants who can help businesses across multiple industries and job functions. This business is more time-consuming than others on this list, but it’s also more lucrative. It might even include travel, something which may appeal to you.

Which business card should you get?

You’ll want a flexible card that will earn bonus rewards on travel, internet, phone services and advertising. The Ink Business Preferred Credit Card lists all of these as 3x bonus categories on the first $150,000 of combined category spend each account anniversary year and you’ll earn valuable Ultimate Rewards points. This card has a $95 annual fee, but you’ll also have the ability to make 1-to-1 transfers to Chase’s travel partners.

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Freelance writer or blogger

(Photo by Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock)

Consider yourself a wordsmith? It’s not hard to find freelance writing jobs if you like to write and are good with deadlines. Many of our TPG staffers started as freelancers while working other jobs. LinkedIn and job boards like Indeed and Upwork are easy to use.

Or start your own blog on a subject that you’re particularly knowledgeable about or a subject that’s near and dear to your heart. You’ll need to have enough online traffic to monetize your blog, but in time and with consistent efforts, you’ll build up an audience.

Which business card should you get?

You’ll want a card that can earn rewards on internet services, online advertising, computer hardware and more. The Amex Business Gold card and the Ink Business Preferred both offer a good mix of rewards categories.

Dog walker

(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

You can pick up some easy money by registering as a dog walker with a service like Rover or Care.com. You’ll need to have experience handling dogs and brush up on what you should do in certain situations (say, if a dog escapes its collar). But the main qualification for starting a business like this is a love for spending time with dogs. Get paid for playing with pups and getting in your daily step count. Count me in.

Which business card should you get?

Similar to housesitting, your main expense will be spending for gas if you drive to pick up the dog(s) you’re walking. A flat-rate card like the Blue Business® Plus Card from American Express might be ideal as it offers 2x Membership Rewards on all purchases up to $50,000 per year. You can also consider a card like the Bank of America® Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card, which offers 3% on the category of your choice (one of which is gas). The information for the The Bank of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard credit cardcard has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Virtual assistant

You can set your own hours and pay rate as a virtual assistant. Virtual assistant jobs vary from bookkeeping, data entry or customer support to more creative work such as editing videos or managing social media. When marketing yourself, be clear on what services you are willing to perform as a virtual assistant.

Which business card should you get?

This really depends on the type of job you take, but generally speaking, you need a card that earns rewards on internet and phone services along with office supplies. Consider the Ink Business Cash card for its 5% back at office supply stores (which includes any computer or phone hardware you purchase there) and internet and cable services (up to $25,000 in combined purchases per account anniversary year).

Social media influencer

(Photo by Amnaj Khetsamtip/Shutterstock)

If you have a large following on social media, you could potentially monetize your popularity. Brands are constantly looking for ways to connect with their target audiences, and social media influencers have proven to be effective at this in recent years. The higher the number of followers, the more money you can reasonably charge. Typically, being a social media influencer goes hand in hand with a successful blog or podcast.

Which business card should you get?

Social media influencers need great images to show off destinations or products, so you’ll want to have a phone that takes high-quality photos and you need to be able to protect it. The Ink Business Preferred offers cellphone protection on top of solid earning categories like travel and select business purchases.

Bottom line

We’ve labeled these jobs as “easy to start” because of the lack of capital that it takes to get it up and running. However, like any business, it takes work to be successful. If you’re starting a business only to qualify for a business credit card, it may not be worth it in the long run.

If you’re looking at starting a new business or getting into a side hustle, this is a good list to get you started. Select your first business credit card based on the primary expenses you incur on your new gig.

Featured photo by @criene via Twenty20.

For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles Gold Business card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Business Gold card, click here.
For rates fees of the Hilton Honors Amex Business card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Marriott Bonvoy Business card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Business Plus card, click here.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.