5 ways you might be eligible for a business credit card without realizing it

Mar 21, 2020

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Following the submission of an online application, the average credit card approval process takes roughly 60 seconds. But with so much at stake — valuable welcome bonuses worth $500-plus in free travel or cold, hard cash — that minute can feel like a tantalizing eternity. Of course, there are few greater joys than the “You’re Approved!” screen after a successful application turns into a new card — and its accompanying welcome bonus.

Now, you may be sitting pretty with a decent points stash, yet envious of your business-owner buddy who gleefully applies for twice as many cards as you. Because with a small business, your friend might manage to pair the United Explorer Card with the United Business Card, or the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card with the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card. Plus… well, you get the idea.

But what if we were to say that you, too, could be eligible for business credit cards? That’s right. You don’t need to be a big, official LLC or Inc. to get a business credit card. Below are five jobs — sometimes done full-time, sometimes done as a side hustle — that could open new doors to the business credit card world.

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1. Independent contractor

With the advent of the digital economy, it’s easier than ever to pick-up a side gig. Whether you’re a freelance writer or driving for ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft, you’re considered an independent contractor and may qualify for a small business credit card.

Opening a business credit card is a good idea because it’s easier to separate your business expenses and you can earn rewards for the purchases you would have made anyway. Two great options for earning bonus points are the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card and the Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card.

If you’d like to earn a big intro bonus and extra cash or points on high-value bonus categories, the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card is the way to go. The card earns 3x Ultimate Rewards points on the first $150,000 in combined spending on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable, phone services and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year.

This card has a $95 annual fee and currently offers 100,000 bonus points after $15,000 spent on purchases in the first three months of account opening. You can read our Ink Business Preferred review to learn all about the card.

If you’re looking for a business card with a generous flat earning rate and no annual fee, the Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card It earns 1.5% cash back on all purchases – No category restrictions to worry about. The card currently offers $500 cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. To learn more about the card’s benefits, read our Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card review.

Driving for Uber or Lyft is a great way to earn some extra cash and points at the same time. (Photo by shutter_o/Shutterstock)

Another potential advantage to having the Ink Business Cash card is the cash back rewards can be converted to Chase Ultimate Rewards points if you have another credit card that earns these points – like the Chase Ink Preferred. Your points would then be worth at least 1.25 cents each when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.

2. Consultant

In some ways, consultants are tutors for companies. Coming in from the outside to provide a fresh perspective or working hand in hand with internal employees. Given they need to book their own travel, consultants are uniquely positioned to rack up an impressive number of points and miles.

That’s why every consultant should consider wallet space for The Business Platinum Card® from American Express has a $595 annual fee (see rates & fees) but earns 5x Membership Rewards points on flights and prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel. With Membership Rewards points worth 2 cents apiece according to TPG’s valuations, you would earn a 10% return on these expenses.

Even if you’re not doing much traveling these days, the card currently offers new applicants a pretty substantial 75,000-point welcome bonus after you spend $15,000 in purchases within your first three months of card membership. 

Related Reading: Amex’s “once per lifetime” bonus rule

3. Babysitter

Imagine learning that one of your very first jobs made you business card-eligible. Babysitters — just like tutors, consultants, doctors, lawyers and bankers — have legitimate expenses. And given the need to wear many hats, from chauffeur to chef, babysitters often have myriad categories of expenses for which to account.

That’s why a card such as the U.S. Bank Business Cash Rewards World Elite™ MasterCard® (with no annual fee) makes so much sense here, given the unlimited 3% cash back earned on gas and cellular as well as office supply store charges. There’s a nice little incentive to open the card too: $500 cash back after spending $4,500 in eligible purchases in the first 150 days of account opening.

The information for the U.S. Bank Business Cash Rewards World card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Babysitting isn't all fun and games - it's driving, cooking, and more. (Photo via Getty Images)
Babysitting isn’t all fun and games — there are many expenses involved, like grocery shopping for kids. (Photo via Getty Images)

4. Landscaper/snow shoveler

From raking leaves in the fall to shoveling snow during the winter and mowing grass across the spring and summer, yard work is a year-round job. Those who do it for a primary living or secondary income stream can attest that it’s a job that comes with plenty of business expenses, which don’t need to go on your personal cards.

Supplies and even equipment can often be found at a great discount via wholesale clubs, whose store cards often come with lucrative spending incentives. The Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card by Citi, for instance, is a strong option not just for shopping at Costco (2% cash back), but on spending on eligible gas (4% on the first $7,000 per year; then 1%) as well as restaurants and eligible travel (3% cash back). In a nutshell, the one-stop shop has a one-stop credit card to boot. How fitting.

Related Reading: The best credit cards for freelancers

5. Online seller

Last but certainly not least, let’s cover a job you can do from home. Online selling is big business, with many earning six-figure incomes thanks to online sites such as Amazon, eBay and Shopify. But you don’t need to go to great lengths to be an online seller. Trying to make a few bucks on that old suit you no longer wear? You are a seller. Looking to get rid of some of the kids’ old toys? Congrats, you are now officially a seller.

Sure, selling hand-me-downs isn’t the new get-rich-quick scheme, but it positions you to get business credit cards. For those looking to work in their pajamas — and, let’s be real, who wouldn’t want that? — the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card from Chase is a strong choice.

Bottom line

Getting approved for a business credit card is not as daunting as some people think and there’s real value to keeping personal and work expenses separate. Welcome bonuses on business cards can be just as lucrative as those offered on personal cards, meaning your points balance could grow substantially.

As always, it’s important to remain vigilant and know when your statements close and annual fees are due. Many small business owners apply as sole proprietors, but don’t hesitate to consult with your tax expert should questions arise during the application process.

If you need help completing a business card application, take a look at our guides for Amex and Chase:

Featured photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy.

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Business Card, please click here.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
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Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
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Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
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