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

March 24, 2020
5 min read
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated for clarity and accuracy.

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 what is required to qualify for a business credit card:

[pullquote source="TPG Reader Mohammad"]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?[/pullquote]

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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.

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Qualifying for a business credit card

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 different than you might expect. 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)

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

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 (unless you default on payments, of course).

Related: 9 reasons to get a business credit card

Which business cards to apply for

If you're thinking about signing up for your own business credit card, take a look at our list of the best 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 several factors when signing up for cards. Be sure you do your due diligence and research before applying for a credit card.

The Ink Business Preferred Credit Card is currently offering one of the best sign-up bonuses around: 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. The Ink Business Preferred card also offers solid bonuses on purchases including shipping, internet and online advertising — categories that many personal cards don't offer bonus points on.

The Ink Business Cash® Credit Card is another great business card. It currently features a $750 sign-up bonus after $7,500 spent in the first three months of account opening, with no annual fee. If you have a card that earns Ultimate Rewards points, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, then you can convert that $750 sign-up bonus to 75,000 points. That provides much more flexibility in terms of redeeming the sign-up bonus for rewards.

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.

Additional reporting by Jason Stauffer.

Featured image by Getty Images/Hero Images

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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Rewards

1 - 3X points
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Annual Fee

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670-850
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Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases