If you are self-employed as an independent contractor, freelancer or someone who receives 1099 income, you may not realize you can qualify for a small business credit card. Getting a business credit card can improve cash flow, build business credit and offer lucrative rewards. Here are some terrific credit cards for those who are self-employed.

Pros and cons of business credit cards for self-employed

Pros:

  • Expense tracking
  • Superior fraud protection
  • Rewards 
  • Build business credit
  • Often available to startups

Cons:

  • Personal credit check typically required; with good to excellent credit
  • Some issuers report account to personal credit
  • Credit CARD Act does not apply

Best Business Credit Cards for Self-Employed

Here are five great business credit card options for the self employed.

1. Generous 0% intro APR offer: U.S. Bank Business Triple Cash Rewards World Elite Mastercard®

If you are looking to use your credit card for working capital or cash flow, the U.S. Bank Business Triple Cash Rewards World Elite Mastercard® offers a solid intro APR: 0% for 15 billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers.

It also has a very appealing welcome offer for new cardholders. Limited Time Offer: Earn $500 in cash back. Just spend $4500 on the Account Owner’s card in the first 150 days of opening your account.

The cash back rewards are solid too. Earn 3% cash back on eligible purchases at gas stations, office supply stores, cell phone service providers and restaurants. 1% cash back on all other eligible net purchases.

All these benefits come with a card with an annual fee of offermeta id=”993994″ field=”Annual Fee”].

2. Flexibility for Amazon shoppers: Amazon Business Prime American Express Card

If you find yourself spending regularly on Amazon, Whole Foods, or AWS, consider the Amazon Business Prime American Express Card. The most appealing benefit is that you can choose between extra time to pay when cash flow is tight or a high cash back rate. Take advantage of 5% Back or 90 Day Terms on U.S. purchases at Amazon.com, Amazon Business, AWS and Whole Foods Market with an eligible Prime membership. You will earn 5% Back on the first $120,000 in purchases each calendar year, 1% Back thereafter.

3. Expense management tools: Divvy Smart Credit Card for Business

If you’ve been self-employed for any length of time, you know that expense reports and tracking business expenses can be a major headache. Divvy Smart Credit Card for Business  streamlines spend management by combining corporate cards with free expense management software. And yes there are rewards: Up to 7% points, based on payment settings.. Pay faster to earn higher rewards.

4. Solid cash back rewards: American Express Blue Business Cash Card

If you aren’t interested in keeping track of bonus spending categories and just want a solid cash back reward card, consider the American Express Blue Business Cash Card.

  • Welcome offer: Earn a $250 statement credit after you make $3,000 in purchases on your Card in your first 3 months
  • Rewards: 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.
  • Intro APR: 0% on purchases for 12 months from date of account opening

One popular feature is the flexibility of the credit limit. With the American Express Blue Business Cash Card 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 American Express and other factors. The annual fee is $0.

5. Excellent travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a personal credit card (not a business credit card) that gets high marks for excellent travel rewards. You can earn 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining and 2X points on all other travel purchases.. Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 100,000 points are worth $1,250 toward travel. With Pay Yourself BackSM, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories. There are no foreign transaction fees either.

There’s also an excellent welcome offer. Here’s how Chase describes it:

Our best offer ever! Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,250 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Can I get a credit card if self-employed?

Very often the answer is yes; you can get a business credit card if you are self-employed, operate your business as a sole proprietor or freelancer, or if you are a 1099 contractor. Most credit card issuers base the decision on the owner’s personal credit score and income from all sources, not just the business. (There are just a few issuers that don’t check personal credit and require at least one year in business and strong business revenues.) You will generally need a good to excellent personal credit history to qualify. 

Of course, you may also want to get a personal credit card if you are self-employed to cover personal expenses. Again, the credit decision will be based in large part on your personal credit score and income from all sources, not just the business.

Which types of credit cards are best for self-employed individuals?

Many self-employed business owners rely on personal credit cards; after all, they probably already have several! But you may want to think about getting a business credit card. Small business card offers are available from major credit card companies including American Express, Bank of America, Chase, Discover, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo. There are many to choose from so you’ll want to carefully consider how you plan to use your credit card.

If you pay your balance in full, you’ll likely look for perks in the form of cash back or travel rewards. Sign-up bonuses and welcome offers can provide significant additional benefits in the first year. If you’re looking for cash back, keep in mind that some cards offer bonus points or more points in certain spending categories (gas, restaurants, etc.) Make sure you have a good idea of how much you plan to spend in those bonus categories, or stick with a rewards credit card with generally solid cash back no matter how much you spend.

While points or miles are the most popular travel benefits, other additional benefits such as airport lounge access, free checked bags, priority airline boarding or others may be valuable if you’re a frequent traveler.

How to apply for a business credit card for self-employed

Unless you respond to a credit card offer you receive in the mail or directly from the bank or credit union where you have your business bank account, you’ll likely fill out your credit card application online. That’s the most convenient way to apply. Answer a few questions and you’ll probably get a decision in minutes. You’ll likely need:

  • Your Social Security number
  • Your Federal Tax ID or Employer Identification Number (EIN)

You’ll likely need to provide some basic information about your business (legal business name, type of entity, business phone number etc.). It is helpful to have all of that information set up before you apply to help ensure your card reports properly to business credit bureaus, but some self-employed business owners don’t have a separate business entity and so the information will not be different than their personal information.

How to qualify for a self-employed business credit card

Again, a personal credit check is quite common and many small business card issuers require good credit or excellent credit. You can include income from all sources, not just 1099 or self-employment income. If you have a day job, for example, you may include that income in the personal income section of your application. If your spouse or partner has income and would contribute to your business if needed, you may include that income in the personal income section as well. Optionally, you may include child support or alimony or other types of income.

Other financing options for self-employed

Credit cards may be an excellent source of short-term financing for your business, especially if you can get a card with a low interest rate or even a 0% introductory APR. But there may be times when you need a small business loans. Those options may include:

  • Lines of credit
  • Term loans
  • Invoice financing or factoring
  • Equipment financing

Though there are a number of loans for self-employed individuals, it’s important to keep in mind that some lenders will not lend to sole proprietors who don’t operate with a formal business entity such as an LLC or S corporation.

This article was originally written on August 30, 2021.

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Best Credit Cards for Self-Employed

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