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According to Forbes, 67% of small businesses use a business credit card for their regular spending, and 31% used the business credit card for fluid capital needs in the 2017 fiscal year. One in ten business owners use the rewards from their business credit cards to finance business expenses, meaning they’re getting paid to spend money for their businesses. 

Choosing the right business credit card for your company can give you better access to capital, help you manage online expenses, and lets you take advantage of rewards that fit your needs. We’re outlining the seven key steps to finding the right business credit card for your company so you can start spending smarter.

1. Check your credit score

When you begin your search for a business credit card, you need to understand your credit history and how it can be affected by a business credit card. Your business credit score is different from a personal credit score, though both are indications of your risk as a borrower. There are four credit scores to know and improve as a business owner: personal credit score, D&B Paydex, FICO Small Business Score, and the Experian Intelliscore. 

Your business credit score will determine the types of business credit cards available to you, as well as the interest rates you can expect, and the card’s credit limit. If you have poor credit you can work on improving your business credit score through on time payments or resolving any negative entries on your credit report.

2. Itemize your last three months of purchases

As a smart business owner, you’re likely already monitoring your business expenses closely. But as you weigh your options for business credit cards you may want to take a closer look at everything you’ve spent in the last quarter. Being able to categorize and total your spend can help you determine how your spend and rewards might look with different credit cards. 

In particular, you may want to outline and total your business expenses in the following categories: 

  • Travel
  • Gas
  • Restaurants
  • Office supplies

This will come in handy later when you need to compare the rewards and point systems of different business credit cards.

3. Research business credit card basics

70% of Americans use at least one credit card, but many individuals don’t understand the fundamental distinctions of a business credit card. Take some time to understand exactly what sets business credit cards apart. 

Usage: As a small business owner you may use your personal credit card for business purposes, but once you have a business credit card it can ONLY be used for business. Personal expenses will be considered a violation of your credit card agreement. 

Regulations: Personal credit cards are highly regulated, which means there are a wide range of protections for personal consumers. Business credit cards are exempt from these regulations, meaning they can change the interest rate and levy harsher consequences for late payments. 

Limits & Rewards: Credit card limits are usually much higher for businesses since purchase volume is greater. In turn, the reward structures are more lucrative. 

Personal guarantees: Depending on your business and personal credit scores, you may be required to provide a personal guarantee when signing up for a business credit card. A personal guarantee means that you’re on the hook for the unpaid balance if your business fails. 

Multiple cards: Unlike personal credit cards, business credit cards may need to be used by multiple parties. Some cards offer card creation and card issuing to your employees, and the potential to track expenses on individual cards. 

Reporting to credit bureaus: It is up to the card issuer to report payment history to a credit bureau. Some credit card networks will report to all business credit bureaus, while some may report to one exclusively. Determine the credit scoring service you’d like to target and then research the business credit cards that work with that credit bureau.

4. Consider your business lifestyle

Credit cards appeal to the lifestyles of the users. For example, retailers may market branded cards to their frequent shoppers to meet their needs and reward them for their shopping loyalty. Business credit cards are no different. Business credit cards exist to meet the needs of businesses, no matter what their daily operation may look like. 

To find the right business credit card for your company, you’ll need to analyze your business “lifestyle” and priorities. Is your business the jet-setting type? Perhaps a card with flight miles and hotel rewards will mesh with your needs. Do you entertain frequently for business? Double points on meals and entertainment might be more your speed. Whether your business lifestyle is more quiet and office-based or involves travel and entertainment, there are business credit cards designed to meet those specific needs.

5. Predict and plan usage

How exactly do you plan to use your business credit card? Maybe you’ll use it exclusively for travel—booking flights, paying for hotels, or getting taxis. Some businesses get a corporate credit card to finance a large purchase, like a new copier or office furniture. It’s not recommended to share corporate credit cards, so if you will need multiple cards start by predicting how many and who will wield them. 

By looking over your past three months of expenses and the ways you plan to use your business credit card it becomes easier to see which cards will provide you the most effective features and limits.

6. Do the math on annual fees

Many cards advertise the popular feature of no annual fees. While this can be enticing, it’s important to actually do the math. An annual fee usually comes with better rewards, so the amount you’re paying for that annual fee might actually lead to overall savings.

For example, you might have a choice between a card with 3% cash back and no annual fees and a card with 6% cash back and a $95 annual fee. If you plan on spending more than $3,200 you will actually make more by paying the annual fee to get more lucrative rewards.

It’s simple math to calculate how much you’ll get back with rewards and perks, and if the annual fee is worth it. Use your last three months of expenses, or your projected usage to determine what your rewards would look like with any particular card.

7. Take note of the rewards program

The business credit card market has grown highly competitive, which means that the range of benefits offered by various credit card networks and issuing institutions are growing. Of course most cards offer cash back or rewards points on eligible net purchases, but more specific offerings are available in the form of membership rewards and free services. 

Your decision may not swing on these additional benefits, but they can help you decide between your last two or three options. If you buy a lot of products, then a credit card offering extended warranties on your purchases might edge out other choices. Some cards offer free roadside assistance or rental cars with travel, which could be a nice perk if you’re on the road often. 

A rewards program might include:

  • Bonus points on an eligible purchase
  • Cash rewards
  • Extended warranties
  • Canceled flight insurance
  • Free or discounted car rentals
  • Cell phone replacement
  • Replacement of lost luggage
  • Airport premium lounge access
  • Concierge services
  • Credit score monitoring
  • Access to VIP areas at events or museums
  • Membership rewards such as to streaming services or premium-level accounts

Issuing institutions might offer their own branded reward points and benefits, or sometimes a gift card, so you might see if the banks, credit unions, or other institutions you patronize offer specific benefits for adding a business credit card to your existing account.

While rewards are nice, some things are just more important. What if you had a credit card that guaranteed your employees stayed in budget (and that your finance team loved)? Try Divvy.

FAQ

What’s the difference between a personal card and a business credit card? 

Business credit cards usually feature higher credit limits and more lucrative rewards than personal credit cards. However, personal credit cards are much more heavily regulated with more flexibility and buyer protections. See a more thorough breakdown read up on the differences between personal credit cards and business credit cards

When should you get a business credit card?

You should get a business credit card as soon as you start making regular dedicated purchases on behalf of your business. We’ve found eight particular indicators that you’d benefit from a business credit card for your growing company, including frequent travel and protecting your personal credit. 

How does a business credit card affect your credit?

Opening a business credit card will result in a hard pull on your business and personal credit scores, but as long as you carefully make approved purchases and pay them off on time you will improve your credit score. Responsibly using a business credit card that reports to business credit bureaus helps you develop strong credit for your future.

Divvy offers smart and virtual business credit cards for everyone in your company, linked to budgets and spending goals to help you spend smarter. See how with a Divvy demo.

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