5 ways you might be eligible for a business credit card without realizing it
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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 Explorer 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.
1. Ride-hailing service
With the advent of the digital economy, it’s easier than ever to pick-up a side gig. Driving for ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft is an easy way to fit a part-time side hustle into your schedule, or to have a full-time income with a flexible schedule. As a ride-hailing driver, you’re considered a independent contractor, so you’ll be responsible for paying estimated taxes and can deduct certain expenses from your income if they’re associated with your job, like vehicle maintenance and fuel.
As an independent contractor, you can also 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 on fuel purchases are the Ink Business Cash Credit Card and the American Express® Business Gold Card.
The Amex Business Gold earns 4x Amex Membership Rewards points on your top two spending categories each billing cycle (on the first $150,000 in combined from these two categories each calendar year, then 1x) — the categories include U.S. gas stations, U.S. restaurants, U.S. shipping purchases and more. This card has a $295 annual fee (see rates & fees) and currently doesn’t have a Membership Rewards points intro bonus. You can read our Amex Business Gold card review to learn all about the card.
On the other hand, if you’d like to earn a big intro bonus and extra cash or points on gas purchases, you should apply for the Ink Business Cash card. It earns 2% cash back on up to $25,000 in combined purchases (then 1%) at restaurants and gas stations each account anniversary year. You can also earn a $500 cash bonus after spending $3,000 in purchases on the card in the first three months of account opening. To learn more about the card’s benefits, read our Chase Ink Business Cash card review.
Another potential advantage to having the Ink Business Cash card is that it earns cash back in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards points, and these points can be pooled with other Chase Ultimate Rewards cards (even personal cards) and turned into flexible travel points. If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you could pool all of your Ultimate Rewards points together and they’d all be worth 1.5 cents each — 50% more compared to keeping them with your Ink Business Cash card — toward travel booked on the Chase travel site. So you could be earning 3% back in travel rewards on gas purchases (on up to $25,000 per year, then 1%) with the right Chase card combination.
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, consultants tend to do a great deal of travel. In fact, many of the most frequent flyers consult full-time, spending upwards of 100+ nights per year in hotels. And given the 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 ($595 annual fee; see rates & fees), which 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, a consultant could earn 10% in rewards on all airline and hotel reservations. Currently, this card is offering up to a 75,000-point welcome bonus; 50,000 points after you spend $10,000, and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000, all on qualifying purchases within your first three months of card membership.
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, as $500 can be had after spending $4,500 in the first 150 days of account opening.
4. Landscaper/snow shoveler
From raking leaves in the fall to shoveling snow during the winter to mowing grass across the spring and summer, yard work is a year-round job. Those who do it for a primary living or second 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 had at great rates via wholesale clubs, whose store cards often come with lucrative spend incentives. The Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card by Citi (no annual fee but Costco membership required), for instance, is a strong option not just for shopping done at Costco and Costco.com (2% cash back), but on eligible gas (4% on the first $7,000 per year; then 1%) as well as restaurant and eligible travel purchases (3%). In a nutshell, the one-stop shop has a one-stop credit card to boot. How fitting.
5. Online seller
Last but certainly not least, let’s cover a job you can do from the comfort of your own 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 ($95 annual fee) is a strong choice that earns 3 points per dollar on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on shipping, online advertising and internet/phone expenses each year. And don’t forget about its impressive bonus — 80,000 Ultimate Reward points after meeting a $5,000 spend on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Given that those points are worth 2 cents each according to TPG’s valuations, that bonus nets you $1,600 in value.
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:
- How to complete an Amex business credit card application
- How to complete a Chase business credit card application
Featured photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy.
Aside from the up to 75,000 points welcome bonus, Amex recently made huge improvements to the Business Platinum Card, including the fact that you will now earn 50% more points on purchases of $5,000 or more, earn 5x on flights and eligible hotels at Amextravel.com and cardholders will receive a $200 airline fee credit each year.
- Welcome Offer: Earn up to 75,000 Membership Rewards® points.
- Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 all on qualifying purchases made on your Business Platinum Card® within your first 3 months of Card Membership.†
- Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
- Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's an extra half point per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
- 35% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year when flight is booked on amextravel.com.
- Enroll to get up to $200 in statement credits annually by getting up to $100 semi-annually for U.S. purchases with Dell. Terms apply.
- Terms Apply
- See Rates & Fees