What name should I put on my business credit card application?

Apr 29, 2020

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For most people, stepping into the world of travel rewards means (in one way or another) stepping out of your comfort zone. Maybe that means applying for your first credit card or even taking your first flight in international first class (which can be simultaneously exhilarating and awkward).

For many people, the first boundary that they’ll push is the realization that they might qualify for a business credit card and the decision to apply for one. While it’s not any harder to fill out the application for a business credit card than for a personal one, it can be confusing. When you apply for a personal credit card, there shouldn’t be any doubt in your mind about what to put under “name,” but that can be an important decision to make when applying for a business card.

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Photo by RawPixel/Unsplash
Photo by RawPixel/Unsplash

Why You’d Want a Business Card

There are plenty of reasons to apply for a business credit card, the simplest of course being that you have an established business and are looking for a way to better organize your expenses.

Even if you don’t need a business card, if you’re eligible for one, you might decide that you want one because your balances don’t get reported to your personal credit report. This can help big spenders keep their utilization low and their score high. Or, maybe you’re looking to earn some nice sign-up bonuses without affecting your Chase 5/24 status.

What Name Should I Apply With?

The specific answer to this question will depend on how your business is structured, with banks giving you the chance to specify whether you are applying as a partnership, corporation or sole proprietorship. Some card issuers such as Citi will give you an overwhelming number of options to pick. Larger companies, or those registered as corporations, LLCs or partnerships, will have an easier time deciding what name to use, as they will simply apply with the name of the business.

If you aren’t 100% sure. you should speak with a lawyer or tax professional, but many points enthusiasts will be applying as sole proprietors/self employed.

This is a great option because you don’t need to file any paperwork with the state or federal government to form a sole proprietorship – you simply become one by doing business. If you go this simple and hassle-free route, you’ll apply for business credit cards using your own name. Some banks (especially Chase) like to ask for supporting documentation before approving a business card application, including proof of physical address. By using your name as the business name, you’ll be able to submit rent or utility bills that are consistent with the information you gave on your application.

Branding is half the battle in attracting customers, and maybe you don’t want to call your new consulting firm “Ethan Steinberg” (sorry, that name is taken already). If your business is operating under a name that doesn’t include the owner’s first or last name, you’ll need to file a DBA (doing business as) form. The specific regulations on this (who/where/when/what you need to file) vary by state, and again, you should consult a legal professional before proceeding. This is a necessary step before you can open a bank account or line of credit under your business name.

In many ways, this is a warning about what not to do. Never, under any circumstances, should you make up a business name for your application without having filled out the necessary paperwork first. Not only will you have no recourse if a card issuer asks you for supporting business documentation, but you’d be committing fraud by passing yourself off as a business that doesn’t exist. The simple and short answer for most award travelers looking to apply for business cards is to use your own name and keep things simple and legal.

Related reading: The ultimate guide to credit card application restrictions


Bottom Line

Business rewards cards can be a great way to enjoy even more sign-up bonuses, bonus categories and valuable perks. Most people would be surprised to know that they already qualify for business cards. It’s important to remember that these applications will often face slightly more manual scrutiny and review than personal credit card applications. It’s very important not to lie or make up a name, and to always be prepared to present your business registration certificate or other relevant documents if needed.

Featured photo by Rawpixel/Unsplash

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