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.

The information for the United Business has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

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.

Babysitting isn
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.

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

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.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on qualifying purchases 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 you book 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
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$595
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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.

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