Using credit cards to fund your business is typically the right thing to do if you need financing of less than $50,000, or you can’t qualify for a bank loan. Credit cards have the added benefit of earning you rewards on business-related purchases and typically carry an annual percentage rate (APR) of 13.74% to 25%.
Top 4 credit cards to fund your business or startup:
Chase Ink Business CashSM Credit Card: 12-month 0% APR on purchases, $500 bonus offer, and ongoing rewards
American Express Blue Business® Plus: 12-month 0% APR and 2x points on the first $50,000 in purchases per year
Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business: 9-month 0% APR, 14.49% – 22.49% variable APR after that, $200 bonus once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening, and ongoing rewards
Bank of America® Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard®: 9 billing cycles 0% APR, $300 bonus offer, and ongoing rewards
Best Credit Cards to Fund Your Small Business
The best credit cards to fund your business offer long introductory 0% APR periods on purchases. These credit cards typically offer cash back or rewards points on purchases, which act as a “discount” on the amount you finance. Rewards are earned when statements are paid.
If you want to use a business credit card to fund your startup, the first thing to do is identify a card that’s a good fit for you. Be sure to consider what fees are charged on the card, whether it comes with an introductory 0% APR period, and if it offers a rewards program.
Here are the best four business credit cards to fund your small business.
Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card
Best For: Office-based businesses that want top cash back rewards
|Intro APR ?0% APR for 12 months on purchases||Regular APR||Annual Fee||Credit Needed|
|0% Intro APR on Purchases||13.24% - 19.24% Variable||$0||Good - Excellent|
The benefits offered on the Chase Ink Business CashSM card make it a great choice for startup businesses. This card offers a 0% APR for 12 months with no annual fee. If your business is just starting out, you may also want to consider some of the best business credit cards for startups.
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
Best For: Pocketing 2x points per $1 and 0% introductory APR for 12 months
|Intro APR ?0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases||Regular APR||Annual Fee||Credit Needed|
|0% on purchases||13.24% - 19.24% Variable||No annual fee||Good, Excellent|
The American Express Blue Business® Plus credit card offers a long introductory 0% APR period that makes it one of the best no-interest business credit cards. Other credit cards on this list may offer a shorter introductory APR period.
Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business
Best For: Businesses that spend less than $19,000 annually
|Intro APR ?0% for nine months on purchases||Regular APR||Annual Fee||Credit Needed|
|0% on purchases||13.99% - 23.99% (Variable)||$0||Excellent, Good|
The Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business card is best for new business owners that want to earn unlimited cash back rewards and want to carry a balance for an extended period of time. The Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business offers an introductory 0% APR period on all purchases. However, there are no balance transfers allowed.
Bank of America® Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card
Best For: Up to 3% cash back in a spending category of your choice
|Intro APR ?0% APR for nine billing cycles on purchases||Regular APR||Annual Fee||Credit Needed|
9 billing cycles
|12.24% - 22.24% Variable APR on purchases||$0.00||Excellent|
The Bank of America® Business Advantage Cash card offers an introductory 0% APR period on all purchases. Additionally, business owners can receive an introductory signup bonus and ongoing cash back rewards, plus there’s no annual fee.
Pros & Cons of Using Credit Cards to Start a Business
There are many benefits as well as some drawbacks to using credit cards to fund your business. The most immediate benefit is the potential for a 0% introductory APR period that gives small business owners time to grow their companies. However, there are some drawbacks, including the risk of accumulating a sizable balance if you can’t keep up with payments.
Pros of Using Credit Cards to Start a Business
Using credit cards to start a business has its advantages. Used properly, credit cards can lower your cost of capital and provide substantial signup rewards and bonuses. Many small business credit cards offer no annual fees and introductory 0% APR periods on purchases.
1. Lower Cost of Capital Than Other Unsecured Business Debt
Credit cards have low-interest rates when compared to other types of small business financing options typically available to startup businesses. Small business credit cards typically have ongoing interest rates that range from 13.75% to 25% annually. This is lower than the 30% to 50% APR you’ll often see with online lenders for small business lines of credit.
Small business credit cards often charge fees on things like cash advances, balance transfers, and foreign transactions. Still, you can easily avoid these additional fees with proper planning. This makes business credit cards a less expensive means. It’s also a good alternative to other small business financing options except for traditional banks, Small Business Administration (SBA), and a few hard money loans for prime borrowers.
Remember, interest rates on credit cards are variable and can increase over time. While rates have been increasing, they’re expected to stabilize in the near term remain a good startup funding option. Below is a list of credit card interest rates and how they compare to other financing options.
Types of Financing and Typical APRs
Commercial Real Estate Loans
Traditional Bank Loans
Small Business Credit Cards
Small Business Lines of Credit
2. Introductory 0% APR Periods
Introductory 0% APR is a period where there is no interest charged on purchases. These introductory 0% APR periods are important for small business owners because it gives them time to grow before they have to pay their expenses. In this way, a small business credit card works like a flexible startup business loan.
It’s common to find small business credit cards with an introductory 0% APR period for the first six to 12 months. This gives you the opportunity to make company purchases or transfer existing credit card balances without having to make interest payments for the entire introductory period. However, since a credit card is revolving, you won’t be able to spend more than the limit until you start making payments.
There are also personal credit card options that might offer longer no-interest periods. Remember, if you use a personal credit card for business expenses, you’ll still want to keep your personal and business expenses separate.
3. No Introductory Balance Transfer Fees
In addition to introductory 0% APR periods, many small business credit cards offer no fees on balance transfers during the introductory period. This means you can transfer the balance of an existing credit card that’s being charged interest to a no-interest card at no cost.
4. Signup Bonuses & Ongoing Rewards
Many small business credit cards offer signup bonuses and ongoing cash back or rewards points. Cash back business credit cards typically offer a $200 to $500 introductory signup bonus if you meet the minimum spending requirement. Plus, the cash back rewards card will usually offer ongoing cash back between 1% and 5%.
Cards that offer rewards points usually offer 25,000 to 50,000 or more signup points if you spend a certain amount within a specific time frame. Once the introductory period is over, the cards usually offer rewards points between 1x and 5x on purchases. Points can be redeemed for travel rewards and sometimes even cash.
5. Reusable Revolving Credit
Similar to a business line of credit, a small business credit card is revolving credit. Revolving credit means you can use up to your approved credit limit, pay your credit card balance down or off, and use the credit limit again. In comparison to a traditional business loan, you don’t have to reapply every time you need access to more funds.
Instead, you’re required to pay down at least a portion of your balance every month. However, it’s important to be careful and make sure you can afford to pay off the balance in a relatively short amount of time to avoid high total financing costs. Failure to do so could turn this positive into a negative.
6. Track Business-related Expenses Easily
By using a small business credit card, you can easily track any business-related startup expenses. When you’re starting your business, you most likely won’t have a designated accounts receivable team. Instead, you can use your business credit card monthly statements and set account alerts to help you stay on track. Plus, some business credit cards integrate with accounting software programs to help save time on bookkeeping.
Cons of Using Credit Cards to Start a Business
There are also some disadvantages to using a credit card to start a business. If you’re just starting or running a business that doesn’t make enough money to keep up with payments, you can build a huge balance as penalties and interest pile up. Cards also can be misused, open you up to identity theft, and make it harder to get another loan in the short term.
1. Balances Can Accrue Quickly
If you use a credit card to fund your small business, it’s important to make timely payments. Once the no-interest period ends, you’ll be charged interest each month on outstanding balances and late fees if you fail to make minimum payments. Interest charges and late fees can build a sizable balance on your credit card quickly, which can be difficult to pay off later.
If you’re using a credit card to start a business, make sure you’re aware of when the no-interest period ends, and interest charges will start. From that point on, make sure that you pay off your balance on time each month.
We interviewed Matt Vischulis, managing vice president of Capital One Small Business Card, and he talked about the importance of paying off your balances monthly to receive the most benefits.
“Making major purchases like equipment or inventory on a credit card is a great way to earn rewards and simplify the accounting process. We advise business owners to pay off their credit card balances each month to take advantage of the benefits of the card without accruing debt.”
Overall, if you’re going to be making large purchases on your business credit card, it’s important to pay them off in a timely manner. Failure to do so can quickly lead to interest charges and penalty fees that can be difficult to repay.
2. Penalty APRs Can Increase the Cost of Capital
While it’s possible to use credit cards to lower your cost of capital, this won’t be the case if you fail to make a payment and end up being charged a penalty APR. The penalty APR is the rate providers charge once you fall behind on payments, and it’s typically about 30%. These interest rates are extremely high compared to other types of debt.
If you think there’s a chance that you may fall behind on payments for your small business credit card, you may want to find another lending source that doesn’t charge the penalties and interest typical among credit card providers.
3. Future Borrowing Might Be Restricted
To get a business credit card, credit card providers typically look at the creditworthiness of the business owner. This usually involves a hard credit check once you apply. If you start using your card as soon as you get it, this can also increase your credit utilization ratio. These factors can keep you from getting another loan in the short term if you decide to take out a small business loan.
If you decide to use a credit card to fund your business, be sure to stay current with your payments. Late payments can hurt your credit score. Also, be sure to keep your balance low relative to your total credit line. This will keep your credit utilization ratio low and increase your chances of getting additional credit in the future.
4. Misuse Is a Possibility
Once you get a business credit card, you need to identify who can use it and for what purposes. Be sure to check your monthly bills to ensure all expenses are approved. It’s also important to be mindful of potential identity theft, especially if you have employees using the same card. Make sure that all monthly transactions can be accounted for and are consistent with the intended use of the credit card.
5. Credit Limits Are Relatively Low
If you’re using credit cards to start a business, you’ll be limited to an approved credit card limit. Most often, small business credit cards have credit limits up to $50,000, which might not be enough to fund your business. Conversely, traditional SBA loans can provide financing up to $5 million, and SBA startup loans have loan amounts up to $250,000.
Small business lines of credit might go up to $250,000, but most of our readers are approved for limits ranging from $6,000 to $30,000. That said, while a limit of $50,000 is low, it’s often enough for many small businesses.
6. You’re Typically Personally Liable
It’s common for small business credit card providers to require a personal guarantee when you apply for a credit card. This means that if your business fails to repay any outstanding balances, you’ll become personally liable to repay the debt. If your business is unsuccessful, it can result in putting your own credit history and credit score at risk. This is no different than what’s required for most small business loans. However, it’s still an important consideration and can be a drawback.
When to Use a Credit Card to Fund Your Small Business
Using credit cards to fund your business is a great option if you need access to a small amount of financing up to $50,000. Additionally, businesses also use credit cards if they can’t qualify for a traditional bank loan or if they need quick, flexible financing. The best business credit cards, if used wisely, can be great financial tools for most small businesses.
1. You Need Less Than $50,000 in Financing
With a small business credit card, new businesses are often going to see less than $20,000 in approval—many times less than $10,000. Businesses can get approved for up to $100,000, but only the largest businesses with the most revenues get approved for that. You can get approved for more as your revenues increase.
Bank loans, on the other hand, could be issued for larger sums. However, the application process is much more expensive and time-consuming. You may not even qualify for a loan, but you’ll still have to pay an application fee and take the time to round up tax returns and other documents.
2. You Can’t Qualify for a Bank Loan
Business owners who use a credit card to fund a small business often do so because they haven’t been in business long enough to qualify for a bank loan or don’t have collateral. Still, business owners with good credit and long-standing businesses will also use a credit card because of the quick access to capital when compared to an SBA loan.
While a traditional bank or SBA loan can be time-consuming and difficult to qualify for, sometimes a credit card isn’t the ideal choice, either. If this is the case for your business, consider applying for other startup business loan options.
We interviewed Gina Taylor Cotter, general manager of Global Commercial Financing of American Express, who touched on how business owners are using credit cards as a resource to fund their business.
“We’ve seen the mindset of our customers shift as they begin to see the true potential of our products. Small and midsized business card members are not just using our cards for day-to-day business expenses like travel and shipping. They are harnessing our cards as a resource to fund their businesses.”
3. You Need Fast or Flexible Financing for Your Business
Whether your company is just starting, in a high-growth phase, or a mature business, a business credit card can be a great source of flexible short-term financing. Small business loans are often fixed amounts lent for a specified period of time. Using a credit card, however, lets you use the credit you need and then pay it off when you can.
This is in contrast to a bank loan that would require you to make set payments each month until the loan is paid off. If you pay off your loan early and need financing again, you will need to reapply for a new loan. With a credit card, you can dip back into your credit as necessary.
It’s important to note that credit cards aren’t without their risks. Most credit card providers offering business cards will require the business owner to sign a personal guarantee on the debt. This means that if the business is unable to make the payments, then the business owner will be personally responsible for paying off the card.
How to Use Credit Cards to Fund Your Business
It’s important to review how to use credit cards to fund your business to help you use them responsibly. First, you will need to find a card that is right for you and understand the fees that come with it. Then, you can apply for a card online in a matter of minutes. Once you receive your card, you can use it for business-related expenses. Finally, be sure to make timely payments.
To use a credit card to fund your business most effectively, the five things you should do are:
- Identify a card that is right for you: As a business owner, you’ll have the ability to choose between cards that offer cash back rewards, travel rewards, points rewards, or low interest. The best business credit card for you is likely determined by your specific business situation, including the type of rewards you want.
- Know the card’s fees: Before applying for a card, it’s important to know what type of fees to expect on your credit card. Business credit cards usually carry an annual fee between $0 and $500 or more and carry ongoing APRs between 14% and 25%.
- Apply for a credit card: Generally, you can get a business credit card online in just a few minutes. Credit card providers typically require you to provide your basic personal and business information. Once approved, you will usually receive your card within seven to 10 days.
- Use your card for business-related expenses: You can start using your business credit card for business-related expenses right away when you receive it. You can use your card anywhere that accepts electronic payments or by entering your card information online.
- Pay off your credit card bill promptly: As you use your approved credit limit, you will need to pay your credit balance down or off to use it again. It’s also important to pay off your balance in a timely manner to avoid any interest charges or late fees. If you open a business charge card, you’ll need to repay for balance every month.
Getting a small business credit card can be quick and relatively easy compared to a traditional loan. The best small business credit cards offer introductory bonus offers, various ongoing rewards, and low introductory and ongoing APRs. If you’re looking for the credit card that best suits your business, you can search and compare credit cards through our credit card marketplace.
Tips for Using a Credit Card to Fund Your Business
If you use a credit card to fund your business, it’s important to follow specific best practices. You should treat your card as a loan, utilize balance transfers, make sure you can afford the fees, and create a credit card policy. Additionally, you should use specific cards for specific expenses, maximize your credit line, and know when to use a business or personal credit card.
Below is a list of seven tips for how to use a credit card to fund your business.
1. Treat Your Credit Card Like a Loan
When you use a credit card, only minimum payments are required, and there’s often an introductory 0% APR period, making it tempting to let your balances pile up. This differs from a traditional small business loan where you’re obligated to repay with regular installments of principal plus interest.
Even with an introductory 0% APR, it’s important to treat credit card financing as a loan and make regular payments to keep your balance in check. Otherwise, you will increase your interest and the money you owe significantly. You could also end up hurting your personal credit score.
2. Take Advantage of Balance Transfers
Roughly 50% of all small businesses have credit card debt. Balance transfers let you consolidate small business debt and transfer all your balances over to one low-interest or 0% APR business credit card. This can help you save money on interest and gives you more flexibility when making repayments on your outstanding balances.
This is especially beneficial when you have a small business credit card with an introductory 0% APR period. Typically, these cards won’t charge any interest on balance transfers as well as not charge balance transfer fees during the introductory period. This gives you the chance to transfer interest-bearing balances to cards that don’t charge interest.
3. Make Sure You Can Afford Annual Fees
There are many small business credit cards that don’t charge annual fees. The American Express Blue Business® Plus, Chase Ink Business CashSM Credit Card and Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business don’t have annual fees. This helps startup companies and early-stage entrepreneurs avoid any extra costs, especially during the introductory 0% APR periods when they’re probably already floating expenses.
However, there are some business credit cards that charge annual fees as high as $595 or more. These cards will typically offer more robust introductory offers and ongoing cash back and rewards programs, helping the card pay for itself and more. Business credit cards with a fee are typically used by more mature companies that can afford it and put the rewards to good use.
4. Discuss Credit Card Usage With Partners
It’s common for business owners to get credit cards in their name and let others use it. If you have business partners or employees, it’s important to be upfront about the expected credit card usage. We recommend that you consult an attorney but, at the very least, you should have a signed, written employee credit card policy.
Your corporate credit card policy agreement should address the following:
- The portion of your business budget that will go toward paying off the credit card bill each month
- The amount you and your business partner or partners have to cover if the business can’t afford to pay a credit card bill
- A statement outlining that all business partners are liable for card usage, regardless of which business owner’s name is on the credit card account
A corporate credit card policy helps to explain the usage, eligibility, and requirements of a company credit card. Agreeing on these things before you use a credit card for business expenses will save you time, money, and headaches later.
5. Use Specific Cards for Specific Expenses
Small business credit cards are typically made to work well for a specific purpose. For example, a cash back rewards card might offer higher cash back rewards for office-related purchases. A rewards point card might incentivize with two times the miles that are redeemable for travel expenses. You’ll want to use each of these cards to it maximizes its cash back and rewards.
Other cards, like fuel cards and fleet cards, offer rewards that are specific to gas and gas-related purchases. However, the best credit card to fund your business is one that offers a long introductory 0% APR period on purchases. It’s important to use a no-interest credit card before looking at the specific rewards of individual cards.
6. Maximize Your Credit Line
If you decide to use a credit card to fund your business, you’ll be limited by your credit line. However, there are certain things you can do to maximize the size of your credit. If you make consistent and on-time credit card payments, your credit card provider may increase your credit limit. If your provider doesn’t increase your credit limit within five to six months of opening your account, call or email them.
If you have a history of on-time payments, the issuer may increase your credit line to keep you as a customer. Remember that just because you have a higher credit line doesn’t mean you have to use it. Having a higher credit limit without using it decreases your credit utilization ratio, which helps your credit score.
7. Know When to Use a Business or Personal Card
There are typically two types of credit cards, which include both personal and business cards. Consumer credit cards offer longer 0% APR introductory periods up to 21 months, compared to six to 15 months with business cards. This is helpful for a new business that’s just getting off the ground and needs to save as much money as possible.
Business credit cards also come with several advantages. They typically offer higher credit lines and are a natural choice as your business outgrows the limit on personal credit cards. Business cards can also shield your personal credit score and help build up your business credit score. Lastly, you can only charge business expenses to a business credit card, forcing you to separate your business and personal expenses.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Using Credit Cards to Start a Business
How do I fund a new business with a credit card?
First, apply for a business credit card online. If you’re a new business, you’ll need a good personal credit score of 640 or higher, and your score will be tied to your application. Once you’re approved, you can start using your card right away. Be sure to pay down your balance promptly to avoid interest.
How can I get a credit card for my small business?
You can apply for a business credit card online by providing your basic personal and business information. You don’t need an employee identification number (EIN) to apply for a small business credit card. If you don’t have an EIN, you can apply for a business credit card using your Social Security number.
What are the easiest business credit cards to get approved for?
The easiest business credit cards to get approved for are cards that allow for personal credit scores below 670. Two typical business credit cards that are easy to get approved for are fair credit business credit cards and secured business credit cards. Both options offer competitive APRs, low or no annual fees, and ongoing rewards.
What is credit card stacking?
Credit card stacking is a method of financing that allows you to use multiple credit cards as an unsecured business line of credit. The typical annual fees are between $50 and $100, and interest rates are between 15% and 25%. Generally, you need a personal credit score of 680 or higher to access this financing.
The best time to use a credit card to fund your business is when you need capital with an introductory 0% APR period or when you want access to a flexible credit line. Startup companies, high-growth organizations, and more mature businesses all typically use a credit card to fund themselves at one point or another.
For rates and fees on the American Express Blue Business® Plus card, please click here.