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

Aug 3, 2021

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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 it includes opening your first credit card, or even taking your first flight in international first class (which can be simultaneously exhilarating and awkward).

For many, the first boundary they push is the realization that they might be eligible for a business credit card followed the decision to actually 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 should be no doubt in your mind about what to put under “name.” But that can be an important decision to weigh when applying for a business credit card.

Here’s what you need to know about what name you should put on your business credit card application.

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Photo by RawPixel/Unsplash
(Photo by RawPixel/Unsplash)

Why you might want a business card

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

Even if you don’t need a business card, you might decide that you want one to help separate your work expenses from personal ones. It can also prevent your spending balances being reported on your personal credit report. This can keep your credit utilization low on your personal credit report, and thus help you maintain a higher credit score. Or, maybe you’re looking to earn some nice sign-up bonuses without affecting your eligibility for future personal credit card applications and avoiding restrictions such as Chase’s 5/24 rule.

What name should you apply with?

The specific answer to this question will depend on how your business is structured. Banks give you the opportunity to specify whether you are applying as a partnership, a type of corporation, or a sole proprietorship, among other options. Some card issuers, such as Citi, will give you an overwhelming number of choices to pick from. 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’re just a sole proprietorship, things get a little more complicated.

Related: Ways you might be eligible for a business credit card

If you aren’t 100% sure of the business structure you should select, speak with a lawyer or tax professional. Many points enthusiasts will be applying as sole proprietors/self-employed for things like:

  • DoorDash driver
  • Uber driver
  • Rover petsitter
  • Freelance writer
  • Babysitter

Applying as a sole proprietorship can be a great option because you don’t need to file any paperwork with your state or federal government to form one – 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, though, and maybe you don’t want to call your new consulting firm just by your own name. If your business is operating under a name that doesn’t include the owner’s first or last name (i.e. yours if it’s a sole proprietorship), 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. 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 simply to use your own name and keep things simple and legal.

Related: The ultimate guide to credit card application restrictions

Bottom line

Business credit cards can be a great way to enjoy even more sign-up bonuses, bonus spending categories and other 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 intense scrutiny and review than personal credit card applications, though. That is why it is very important not to lie or make up a name on a business credit card application, and to always be prepared to present your business registration certificate or other relevant documents if needed. If in doubt, consult a legal professional, and if applying as a sole proprietorship, think about just using your own name as your business name.

Featured photo by Sam Wordley/Shutterstock

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