When Is the Best Time to Apply for a Business Credit Card?

As soon as you’re ready to start spending for your business, you should apply for a business credit card.

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Business credit cards are a great asset for keeping your personal finances separate, earning bonus rewards, receiving higher credit limits, and preparing for business loan eligibility. But when should you apply for a business credit card? Is it too late to open one if you’ve already started your business? In this article, we answer these questions and help you prepare for an application.

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When to apply

There are a few factors to consider before applying for a business credit card. The best time to apply is when your personal credit score is good, you have an established business plan, and before you begin spending for your business.

Your credit score is above 670

Credit companies are much more likely to approve your application for a business credit card if your personal credit score is at least good, though it will be significantly easier if your score is excellent.

A good credit score typically falls somewhere between 670 and 739, and most banks will be willing to work with your business in this range.

If your personal credit score is below 670, you might have a harder time getting approved for a business credit card, but it’s worth checking with your local bank or credit union. It is possible to improve your score by paying down existing balances, asking for a credit limit increase, and waiting a few months.

Your business is officially registered

Before applying for a small business credit card, make things official by registering your business, whether it’s an LLC, a sole proprietorship, or an S corp. The process for filing a business varies by type and from state to state, but you will most likely be required to have a name for your business, create an operating agreement, and pay a filing fee.

After officially registering your business, you should open a business checking account. It’s a good idea to work with a bank you already have an established relationship with, but you might find value in using an online bank for small business as well.

You haven’t made any major business purchases

Ideally, the best time to apply for a business credit card is a few weeks before your first planned business expense, especially if it’s a big purchase. This way, you can give yourself time to get approved and get a line of credit set up for your business. Using a business credit card for expenses will earn you rewards and build business credit.

If you need to make purchases before applying for a business credit card, be sure to use your business checking account. Using your personal account to make business purchases can complicate things and raise a red flag for banks.

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How to apply

When you’re ready to apply, be sure to shop around for the best small business credit card. Once you’ve decided on one (or a few different options) you can apply directly through the credit card company’s website.

Look for APR promotions

The best small business credit cards will usually offer signup bonus perks like extra points, no annual fee, and a limited 0% annual percentage rate (APR). For credit cards, the APR refers to the interest rate you’re charged over a year when payments aren’t made on time. 0% APR is a great perk to look for, because any large purchases you make in that signup bonus time frame won’t accrue any interest, even if payments are late.

Apply for one card at a time

Another important thing to do when applying for a business credit card is to spread out your applications over time. Applying for multiple business credit cards in a short period of time will put a dent in your credit score, because most companies use a hard inquiry or hard pull. This means the bureau investigating your risk level will show up on your credit report—unlike a soft credit pull for things like insurance or apartment applications. Multiple hard pulls on your credit report in a row can raise red flags for prospective lenders.

If you get denied by your first choice, wait at least a few months before applying for another business credit card.

What to expect after applying

Response times following the business credit card process can vary, so don’t worry if it takes a few days to hear back. If you get approved, you can begin making business purchases right away.

Wait for a response

Sometimes, credit card companies respond to an application right away—especially if you have exceptional credit. Try to wait patiently and don’t apply for any other cards during this time.

If you get a denial, you can speak to the company directly and ask for their reasoning. Just be sure to wait a few months before trying again.

Begin spending

If you get approved, you can usually begin spending right away! Even without a physical card, you should have access to a business credit card number that will be active upon approval. You will also be given a specific credit limit by your card issuer. Do not exceed this limit or your credit score will take a hit and you will have to pay hefty fees.

Make sure to keep track of your expenses, and make payments on time. This will build your business credit and increase your eligibility for small business loans in the future.

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The takeaway

A business credit card is a great asset to any small business owner, and the best time to apply is when your personal credit score is high, you have an established LLC, and you haven’t begun making major business purchases yet. When you’re ready to apply, be sure to find the best signup bonuses and rewards and only apply for one business credit card at a time. After application, you can expect to wait a few days and begin spending as soon as you get approved.

Want to learn more about business credit?

Related content

Business credit card FAQ

Can you get a business credit card during start up?

If your credit score is good, you should be able to apply for a business credit card after establishing and registering your business.

Does Chase check personal credit for a business credit card?

Major lenders like Chase bank do check personal credit scores when considering applications for a business credit card. Good, qualifying credit scores are generally 670 and above. It’s also possible to raise your credit score if it’s not high enough to meet the application requirements.

Can a new LLC get a credit card?

You can qualify for a small business credit card as soon as you establish an LLC. Official registration for an LLC depends on your location, so check the local requirements when establishing your business.

Do business credit cards check personal credit?

Business credit card issuers do typically check the business owner’s personal credit score upon application. If your score is above 670, you should be able to get approved and can start making purchases as soon as you’re approved.

Can I use my EIN to apply for credit?

An employer identification number (EIN) can be used as part of your small business credit card application.

How can I build business credit fast?

The fastest way to build business credit is by securing a business credit card, making payments on time, and not exceeding your credit limit.

Disclaimer

At Business.org, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don't guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.

Emily Garland
Written by
Emily Garland
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