Although business credit cards are designed for companies that need financing, you can still get a card without a registered business, such as a side gig. Freelancers, contractors, and side hustlers alike can apply for a card using just their independent income. Plus, business credit cards offer higher credit limits, larger rewards, and more robust card features than personal credit cards, so it’s a valuable tool to have on hand.
1. Learn Benefits of Business Credit Cards
With more than 25 million Americans reporting sole proprietorship activity to the IRS, it’s common for many to use personal credit cards to cover independent expenses. However, business credit cards do a much better job of keeping your business and personal finances separate. Plus, business cards typically come with higher credit limits and larger bonuses for signing up.
There are more than a few good reasons to get a business credit card, even if you don’t have a registered business. You can use your business credit card to build business credit, which can solidify your side income by adding trackable payment activity. That business payment history will be especially helpful if your business ever needs a loan or line of credit.
2. Understand What Qualifies as a Business
You don’t need a registered business to apply for a business card. Your side income is usually enough for an application. You don’t need a skilled hobby to apply either. For example, 30% of freelancers provide services like dog walking, cleaning, and ridesharing. Most independent workers are considered sole proprietors, making them eligible for a handful of business cards.
Examples of independent work that can be considered a business include:
- Driving for rideshare apps, including Uber and Lyft
- Food delivery drivers, including Postmates, GrubHub, and DoorDash
- Dog walking
- Selling for online markets like eBay, Amazon, and Etsy
- Freelance writing
While you can apply for a business credit card even if you earn income independently, you may need to provide proof of that income and have a personal credit score of at least 670 to qualify.
3. Choose a Card That’s Right for You
Now that we’ve established that you’re eligible to apply for a business credit card without a business, the next step is to choose one that best fits you. There are a number of business credit cards to choose from, including cards that earn rewards on business expenses like office supplies, travel, and dining. Some of the best options land in one or more the following categories.
Type of Business Credit Card
0% APR on purchases and/or balance transfers
Rewards you can redeem for travel purchases, including airfare
Cash back rewards and easy redemption
Business owners with credit scores below 670 and for building damaged credit
You can get the best of both worlds with a card that offers more than one of these main features like a travel rewards card that also has a 0% APR offer. Business credit cards are also a great source of back-up funding for unexpected side-gig expenses. You’re likely to find one that fits your business expenses even if you’re a freelancer because there are a variety of options from which you can choose.
4. Prepare Your Personal and Business Information
Be prepared to share your personal information as well as your business-related information when you apply for a business credit card. You may be required to provide additional documents, such as tax returns, that prove your business income. However, in most cases, additional documents aren’t needed.
Check Your Credit Score
When you apply for a business credit card, you’ll need to provide your personal information, including your Social Security number. The issuer will use this to pull your personal credit report, which will result in a hard inquiry that can temporarily lower your credit score. The best business credit cards require a credit score of at least 670. However, you can get some business cards, such as secured business credit cards, with a credit score as low as 580.
5. Apply for a Business Credit Card
You can apply for a business credit card in person at major banks like Bank of America and Chase or online. Online credit card applications are easy and typically take less than 10 minutes to complete. If you’re an independent worker or freelancer who doesn’t have a registered business, you’ll need to enter Social Security number in place of an employer identification number (EIN).
You will most likely get your business card in the mail between seven to 10 business days after approval. Once you get a business credit card without a business, it’s easy to request additional employee cards, which are typically free.
Top Business Credit Card Options
There’s a variety of business cards available from which you can choose. If you have a variety of monthly side business expenses, it’s smart to consider a flat-rate sole proprietorship business credit card so that you can maximize your rewards. I recommend the following cards for unregistered and informal businesses because of the flexible rewards.
Chase Ink Business Unlimited®
Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card
Pocketing 1.5% cash back on every single purchase
- Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
- Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase made for your business
- 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases
- Employee cards at no additional cost
- No Annual Fee
- 0% APR on purchases
- Unlimited cash back rewards on all purchases
- Introductory APR period doesn’t apply to balance transfers
- 5% balance transfer fee
- Auto rental collision damage waiver: Coverage is primary—meaning it replaces any coverage your personal insurance might offer—when renting for business purposes; it provides reimbursement up to the actual cash value of the vehicle for theft and collision damage for most cars in the US and abroad
- Purchase protection: Covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account per year
- Extended warranty protection: Extends the time period of the US manufacturer’s warranty by an additional year on eligible warranties of three years or less
American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card
American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card
Earning 2% cash back every time you swipe and 0% introductory APR for 12 months
- Earn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1%. Cash back earned is automatically credited to your statement.
- From workflow to inventory to floor plans, your business is constantly changing. That’s why you’ve got the power to spend beyond your credit limit with Expanded Buying Power.
- Just remember, the amount you can spend above your credit limit is not unlimited. It adjusts with your use of the Card, your payment history, credit record, financial resources known to us and other factors.
- 0.0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, 13.24% - 19.24%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors as determined at the time of account opening.
- No Annual Fee
- Terms Apply
- No interest for 12 months
- Earn consistent 2% cash back rewards on every purchase
- Offers no cash sign-up bonus
- 2% cash back category is capped at $50,000 in annual spending
- Extended warranty protection: American Express provides up to an additional year of coverage on warranties of up to five years. Coverage is limited to $10,000 per occurrence and $50,000 per account each year.
- Purchase protection: The issuer will repair, replace, or reimburse you for an item purchased with the card that was damaged or stolen within 90 days of purchase. Coverage is limited to $1,000 per occurrence and $50,000 per account each year.
- Baggage insurance: If your luggage is damaged or lost when you travel on a common carrier like a plane, trip, ship, or bus, American Express will reimburse you for losses not covered by your own personal insurance.
American Express Blue Business® Plus
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
Pocketing 2x points per $1 and 0% introductory APR for 12 months
- Earn 2X Membership Rewards® points on everyday business purchases such as office supplies or client dinners. 2X applies to the first $50,000 in purchases per year, 1 point per dollar thereafter.
- Enjoy the flexibility to put more purchases on the Card and earn rewards when you buy above your credit limit*.
- You’ve got the power to use your Card beyond its credit limit* with Expanded Buying Power.
- More buying power for your business means more opportunities to earn points. That’s everyday business with the Blue Business Plus Card.
- *The amount you can spend above your credit limit is not unlimited. It adjusts with your use of the Card, your payment history, credit record, financial resources known to us, and other factors.
- 0.0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, 13.24% - 19.24%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors at account opening.
- No Annual Fee
- Terms Apply
- 0% APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfer
- Earn 2x points on all spending
- No lucrative welcome offer
- 2x points rewards are capped at $50,000 in spending
- Extended warranty protection: American Express will match the length of the original manufacturer’s warranty if it’s less than two years. It provides an additional two years if the original manufacturer’s warranty is between two and five years. Coverage is limited to $10,000 per occurrence and $50,000 per account each year.
- Purchase protection: The issuer will repair, replace, or reimburse you for an item purchased with the card that was damaged or stolen within 120 days of purchase. Coverage is limited to $1,000 per occurrence and $50,000 per account each year.
Learning how to apply for a business credit card without a business comes down to categorizing your independent income properly. Even if you don’t consider your side gig a business, you can use it to apply for a credit card, build business credit, earn rewards, and reduce the impact on your personal credit score. However, you should take the time to choose the card that fits your side hustle the best.