Reader question: Do I need a business to get a business credit card?

Dec 18, 2019

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated for clarity and accuracy. It was originally published on April 3, 2018.

This is a Reader Question submitted to TPG Senior Points & Miles Contributor Ethan Steinberg.

There are all sorts of travel credit cards (hotel cards, airline cards, etc.) and most fall into one of two categories — personal or business. Nearly anyone can apply for a personal credit card, but TPG reader Mohammad wants to know if he can get a business credit card:

I want to open the Chase Ink credit card, however I don’t really have a business open, but I have sold some old stuff on eBay in the past. Legally, is it possible for me to open a business card?

TPG Reader Mohammad

A business credit card makes a whole new set of sign-up bonuses and category bonuses possible. It’s also a great way to keep your business and personal expenses separate and can give small businesses the spending power they need to grow.

Related: 9 reasons to get a business credit card

The Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card is currently offering one of the best sign-up bonuses around — you’ll receive 80,000 points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months. The Ink Business Preferred card also offers solid bonuses on purchases including shipping, internet and online advertising — areas that many personal cards don’t cover. The Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card is another great business card. It currently features a $500 sign-up bonus (in the form of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points) after $3,000 in spend in the first three months, with no annual fee.

So does Mohammad have to own an actual business to open a business credit card? Well, yes, you do need a business to open a business credit card. But it’s important to define what exactly is a “business.”

The qualifications for having a business may be lower than you think. Do you sell items on Amazon, eBay or Craigslist? Do you teach music or sports? Ever act as a freelance writer or photographer? If you sell any goods or services, that could qualify you as a business owner.

But if you’re in one of these businesses, how do you go about explaining that on a credit card application? Well, you don’t have to have a registered business like an LLC or a corporation to apply. In fact, when applying for a business credit card, there will be a section asking what kind of business you own and requesting your business tax identification number. If you’re just in business on your own, you can choose to answer that you’re a sole proprietor and in most cases you can enter your Social Security number as your tax ID number.

Photo by Hero Images / Getty Images
(Photo by Hero Images/Getty Images)

However, it’s extremely important that you tell the truth when applying for a business card. Banks sometimes ask for supporting documentation to prove that you have your own small business or earn income outside of an employer.

Applying for a business card will also result in a hard pull on your credit report and banks will look at your personal credit score when considering you for a business card. But once you have a business card, that line of credit will be separate from your personal one, so actions on a business account generally won’t affect your personal score (that’s unless you default on payments, of course).

If you’re thinking about signing up for your own business credit card, take a look at our list of the best small-business credit cards. You’ll find there are some cards that closely mimic the matching personal versions and other products that are completely different, offering different sign-up bonuses, travel credits, airport lounge access and other perks.

As always it’s important to consider other factors when signing up for cards — make sure you do your due diligence and research before applying for a credit card.

Thanks for the question, Mohammed. If you’re a TPG reader who’d like us to answer a question of your own, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at

Featured photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Additional reporting by Jason Stauffer.

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3 points per dollar on the first $150,000 in combined spending on travel, shipping purchases,  internet, cable and phone services, and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines.

*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 $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year
  • Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases–with no limit to the amount you can earn
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Redeem points for travel, cash back, gift cards and more – your points don't expire as long as your account is open
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
  • $95 Annual Fee
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
17.49% - 22.49% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

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.