Author Elaine Pofeldt

Elaine Pofetdt

Elaine Pofeldt writes the Your Business Credit column for, answering a question every week about small business and credit. Got a question? Ask Elaine.

Pofeldt is a journalist who specializes in entrepreneurship and careers, contributing to publications such as Fortune, Money, Working Mother and many others.

She is a former senior editor at Fortune Small Business magazine and co-founder of, a website for independent professionals.

Elaine Pofeldt's stories at

Am I liable for unpaid bills on a company credit card? -- If you have a company credit with your name on it, you could be liable if the company doesn't pay ... (See Liable)

The best business credit card for fair credit -- If you're starting a new business and need a business card but past credit problems leave you with only fair credit, what are your options ... (See Business card)

Help, I'm an unauthorized authorized user -- No one has a right to make you an authorized user on their card, since it can badly damage your credit ... (See Unauthorized)

Business credit card can damage your personal score -- If you have authorized use of a business credit card, it could show up on your credit score and if the company uses up a lot of the card's limit, this could negatively affect your score ... (See Business card)

Can you recoup expenses for unused services? -- Business owners confront a lot of monthly expenses, which may make it easy to miss payments you're making for services you don't use ... (See Recoup)

Do zero liability rules apply to corporate cards? -- Business owners who issue corporate cards may not enjoy the luxury of zero liability rules, which protects them against fraud. ... (See Zero)

What to do if you're charged for something you didn't order -- What you can do if you receive merchandise you didn't order and the merchant refuses to make a refund ... (See Refund)

Which business credit card is best? -- If you don't own a business but pay for a lot of business expenses, you may consider getting a business credit card. ... (See Business)

Beacons expanding beyond big retailers, restaurants -- Geolocation technology sends coupons and info to people in shops, hotels and even waiting for a bus ... (See Beacons)

Charging customers who don't show up -- Can a business owner who takes down credit card information for a reservation have the right to charge the card in case of a no-show ... (See Business)

Securely storing customer card data -- Business owners need to take down credit card information in a secure manner so that they don't make their customers' information vulnerable to theft and risk a fine themselves ... (See Security)

How a business can fight fraudulent online orders -- If a business receives a fraudulent online order and ships the merchandise, is the company responsible for the cost? ... (See Fraud)

'Digital nomads' have options for transactions abroad -- As more entrepreneurs start online companies, the freedom to live anywhere in enticing. But, it's important to know what services are available to keep transactions smooth ... (See Digital nomad)

Settling business card debt in collections -- If a business card debt with a personal guarantee goes sour, do your best to settle ... (See Debt)

Limit business partners' access to your credit -- Don't let partners in small business sink your credit by ringing up charges on a card in your name. ... (See Small business)

Former employer says you used business card fraudulently -- Your options when accused of using business card for unauthorized purchases ... (See Options)

How to check a small business's credit report -- Good credit will affect the interest rates lenders give you when you apply for a loan. ... (See Credit)

Taking credit card fees out of employees' tips -- Yes, you can take card fees out of charged tips, but your employees may resent the practice ... (See Tips)

Can you dispute an honest credit mistake? -- Lack of interest payments on a deferred payment deal tanks husband's credit score ... (See Mistake)

What are my rights regarding credit card surcharges? -- Many businesses impose surcharges when customers use a credit card for under a certain amount. However, there are laws in place to protect you from being charged extra unfairly. ... (See Surcharges)

Am I liable for grown son's business debt on shared card? -- What to do if a child is an authorized user on your card, racks up business debt and can't pay ... (See Debt)

Can you update a client's credit card expiration date? -- If you have a client's card on file that you are allowed to charge for services and the expiration date has expired, can you guess what the new expiration date is and add it without checking first? ... (See Expired)

Does a business have the right to charge a card on file? -- If a once-loyal customer stops paying, investigate before charging ... (See Invoices)

What to do if you suspect card fraud by a customer -- How to prevent a purchase being made with a fraudulent card. ... (See Fraud)

How to avoid paying convenience fees on utility bills -- Utility companies may charge a convenience fee if you pay by credit card. ... (See Convenience fees)

Credit card surcharges can be costly for business -- For the moment, California law allows these charges ... (See Surcharges)

How to avoid unwanted purchases on company credit card -- To prohibit employees from purchasing certain items, employers can use MCC codes for help ... (See Company cards)

Can you run a card on file for payment without approval? -- A repeat customer gives business a card number that doesn't work, but has a card on file that does. ... (See Card)

How your business can avoid charge-backs, account problems -- Chargebacks can cause problems for business owners when it comes to their accounts. There are ways to improve customer service and cut down on charge-backs ... (See Charge-backs)

An old card, left open after divorce, can mean new debt -- Debt collectors don't care what your divorce decree says ... (See Old card)

Inform customer before your business runs card number on file -- If your business is left with an balance and has a card on file for an unresponsive customer, it is probably OK to run the card - but document your efforts to reach them ... (See On file)

Shady business partner opens up credit in your name -- Straighten out the credit mess, then get a new partner ... (See Business)

Businesses must beware unauthorized card use -- Fraud liability, loss of ability to accept cards may follow if you don't follow merchant rules ... (See Unauthorized)

Keep medical debt from being reported to credit bureaus -- Prevent the credit score damage before it happens ... (See Lucky break)

Don't try to fix and flip houses with 0-percent cards -- Risky investments require cash reserves, not plastic ... (See Flipping)

Mailing goods to a customer? Require a signature -- For small businesses that send products by mail, a signed record will show it was delivered and avoid chargeback disputes ... (See Signature)

Take steps to pay down debts on shaky business now -- You've racked up personal debt to start a business and its revenues are shy of what you expected? Shift into pay-down mode, even if it means taking a second job ... (See Business debt)

Business partner's personal debts on card may be grounds for suit -- An authorized user isn't normally liable for card debts. But you may still have legal recourse against a small-business partner who won't pay personal charges they rang up on your card ... (See Business partner)

Poor personal credit hurts business card application -- Even with good business credit, your chances of approval for a business credit card are poor until you rebuild your personal credit score ... (See Business)

Will I be held liable for my failing business’s credit card debt? -- Even if your small-business credit card accounts aren't appearing on your personal credit report now, they may if you default ... (See Business debt)

How to ask members to cover nonprofit's card processing fees -- How you word such a request has less to do with credit card laws than with regulations governing nonprofit fundraising ... (See Fees)

Financing your business without relying on personal credit -- You can fund a startup without a personal guarantee, but it won’t help you build business credit ... (See Business credit)

Plan carefully before opening multiple small-business credit cards -- Multiple business cards may help your credit score and increase your rewards-earning potential, but first consider how you will manage them ... (See Business cards)

Title loan causing overdrafts? You may have recourse -- Title loans can put you into a vicious circle of debt through automatic withdrawals from your bank account. But if the lender doesn't follow certain rules, you may be able to file a formal complaint ... (See Loan)

For tip-earning employees, credit card surcharges may beat alternative -- Credit card surcharges are complicated and may irritate customers. While that could hurt the tips of the merchant's employees, it may be better for them than one alternative ... (See Fees)

Authorized user not responsible for deceased company president’s debt -- As the authorized user on a small-business credit card, you are not liable for debts on those cards, even if the primary cardholder dies. But if you own the business, there are special considerations ... (See Debt)

Startup didn't launch, so credit rebuilding needed -- Living on credit cards during startup has risks, but with time you can recover a good credit score ... (See Startup)

If you co-signed, relative's business card debt is now yours -- A family member's refusal to pay a debt that you guaranteed puts you on the hook ... (See Debt)

How to protect your credit when your spouse starts a business -- You can help your entrepreneurial spouse make sure their startup doesn't jeopardize the family's finances ... (See Credit)

No permission needed for card updater services -- Merchants don't need your permission to use these services, but if you don't want to renew, you can always cancel your subscription ... (See Update)

Handling employees' personal purchases on company cards -- It may be legal to charge an administrative fee to employees who put personal expenses on their company card, but there are simpler solutions to consider ... (See Purchases)

Handling employee abuse of business credit card -- It is not a crime for authorized users to put personal expenses on a company-issued credit card. But there may be simple ways to recoup the costs and prevent future abuse ... (See Abuse)

Tips for breaking your merchant services contract -- It helps to know what's in your credit card processing contract before you try to break it ... (See Services)

Can a state mandate businesses accept cards? -- No law requires a merchant to take credit or debit cards in payment, but businesses that spurn them risk losing customers ... (See Acceptance)

Improperly closed business can cause tax collection headaches -- Tax collectors may come after a small business that is sold but not officially closed. But there are ways to fight back ... (See Tax collectors)

Paying deceased's bill doesn't imply liability for authorized user -- Authorized users are not responsible for debt incurred on a credit card account, even if they make payments after the primary cardholder dies ... (See Liability)

Yes, merchants can get new card info on recurring charges -- Updater services allow merchants to know when your credit card information changes, and to alter their records accordingly. If you don't want to continue the subscription, you'll need to cancel it directly ... (See Updater)

Debt consolidation may not cure cash flow problems for business -- A debt consolidation loan may lower overall small-business credit card payments, but you also need to fix cash flow problems ... (See Debt)

How your business can get customers to pay upfront -- You'll need to overcome resistance to advance payment by offering greater value ... (See Upfront payment)

Long after business is sold, old card debt arises -- A small business owner who handed over a credit card account when he sold his business is being hassled by collectors for debt he didn't ring up ... (See Old debt)

Using an EIN to apply for a card, build business credit -- A small business can start building credit with a home improvement store credit card, but be sure you're doing it for the right reasons ... (See EIN )

Marijuana businesses find card processing still elusive -- Some avenues exist for legal pot-based businesses that want to accept credit cards, but details are sketchy and insiders say some are full of risks ... (See Legal pot)

Small-business options for dealing with supplier debt -- Whether a vendor can come after you for delinquent debt depends on what type of business structure you have and the contract you signed ... (See Business debt)

Get that debt deal agreement in writing -- The owner of a failed business made a debt repayment deal with his credit card issuer over the phone, but now collectors are demanding much more. He still has options, but not as many as if he'd gotten the deal in writing ... (See Business debt)

3 steps for establishing business credit -- Business credit can be challenging to build, so it helps to come up with a battle plan from the outset ... (See Business credit)

Disability income may be safe from business-debt collectors -- Credit card debt racked up for a now-defunct business may still be collectible, though the owner's disability payments are probably off limits ... (See Disability)

Credit card surcharge laws in limbo in California -- Law prohibiting surcharges is unenforceable for now, but that's under appeal. Other options might be better for nonprofit medical clinic ... (See Surcharges)

Second job could help save entrepreneur's debt-ridden startup -- It's not uncommon for small-business owners to rely on other income sources during the company's first few years ... (See Job)

Card updater services keep customers' auto-payments flowing -- Services offered by card networks for merchants could help prevent customer attrition ... (See Autopay)

When buying gasoline for business, watch discounts, surcharges -- Depending on your state, gas stations may try to offset merchant processing costs by putting a surcharge on credit card sales, or offering a cash discount ... (See Gas)

Business cards usually require a personal guarantee -- The small-business credit card that doesn't require good personal credit is an often-sought but seldom spotted myth ... (See Business card)

EMV rules for vending machine owners -- Vending machine owners face a small liability risk if their card-accepting machines are not EMV compatible ... (See EMV and vending machines)

Credit utilization important for businesses, too -- Paying your balance in full every month is ideal but if you can't manage that, keep your balance as low as possible ... (See Business credit)

Autopay clients leave you open to more fraud, not EMV liability -- When customers use automatic payments, it's considered a card-not-present transaction. Those sales are not covered by the EMV liability shift rules instituted in October ... (See Autopay and EMV)

Using business's tax ID is no shortcut to building credit -- When it comes to credit, most business is personal ... (See Business credit)

Does a business card's guarantor own its rewards points? -- Agreeing to guarantee a cardholder's debt doesn't automatically grant you the card's benefits ... (See Business rewards)

Accepting international payments with Square -- For small business owners who use Square to accept credit cards, selling to overseas customers is allowed. But there are a few things you should know to make it easier on your customers and yourself ... (See International Square)

Closing a business card while preserving your credit score -- Closing a business credit card may hurt your personal credit score as much as closing a personal card. ... (See Business card)

Mystery withdrawals could be your lender, not a thief -- If money is disappearing from your business account, it could be fraud, but it may also be a lender you've given permission to take a portion of your receivables each month ... (See Receivables)

EMV terminal recommendations for small business -- With the EMV liability shift looming, merchants are looking to upgrade their credit card readers. These recommendations and tips can help you choose the right one ... (See EMV terminals)

Need a small-business loan? 3 ways to beat the big-bank brush-off -- Small banks tend to have higher approval rates for small-business loans. Here's how to improve your chances of getting one ... (See Business credit)

Collectors have numerous ways to get money from entrepreneur -- Some small-business owners don't get regular paychecks, which makes it harder for debt collectors to garnish their wages. But they can still find other ways to collect ... (See Business debt)

Accepting credit cards won't affect nonprofit's tax status -- Getting a credit card reader to accept donations won't impact the personal finances of the person who opened the organization's business account ... (See Nonprofit)

Get authorization for customer's card before delivering goods -- If you don't take time to get a customer's credit card purchase authorized before you deliver their purchase, you may have little recourse ... (See Authorization)

5 steps to prepare your finances for a startup -- Too many entrepreneurs rush into launching their business without adequate preparation, which can lead to a cash flow crunch ... (See Startup finances)

Co-owner's personal bankruptcy clouds your business credit -- Think twice before applying for personal credit for your business if your partner can't manage money well ... (See Co-owner bankruptcy)

Is it time to negotiate a new merchant account? -- Some business owners stick with a merchant services account they secured as a startup, but that now costs them more than they should be paying ... (See Merchant account)

Business at risk in personal bankruptcy -- In both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you may have to give up your business, even if it's failing ... (See Bankruptcy)

Business debt caused by partner's con? You're still on the hook -- A business owner must pay credit card debt he owes, even though it was caused by an ex- business partner's shenanigans ... (See Business debt)

If disputing a charge with PayPal, approach merchant first -- if you want to continue to maintain a good relationship with a merchant, it's always better to try to seek a refund from him directly than to go straight to a card issuer or a third-party processor such as PayPal ... (See Refunds)

Business and personal expenses better on separate cards -- You can legally use a small-business credit card for all of your spending, but there are advantages to keeping them separate ... (See Separate business card)

Lowering merchant fees on large sales -- If your business sells big-ticket items, merchant fees on credit card transactions can add up. That doesn't necessarily mean you should limit your card acceptance, though ... (See Merchant fees)

Cash back rewards scarce for business owner with bad credit -- Bad personal credit? Rewards may be out of reach until you raise your score, even if your business itself has good credit ... (See Cash back for business)

Almost all business cards require personal guarantee -- If no one in your organization wants to guarantee a business card, you'll probably need to look at other options such as reimbursing expenses on personal cards and establishing trade credit with suppliers ... (See Business cards)

Remorseful fraudster must find way to repay business partner -- A small business owner who defrauded his partner seeks solutions from the creditor, but most must find a way to pay the debt -- or face legal repercussions ... (See Business fraud)

Add your business as authorized user on personal card? Not likely -- Adding your business's Employer Identification Number to your personal card would be a quick way to build business credit -- if it were possible. Unfortunately, there are usually no such shortcuts ... (See Business credit)

To get a business loan, you may need to buff personal credit -- Getting business credit before establishing good personal credit is like trying to learn to run before you can crawl. Take the first step by establishing good credit practices ... (See Building business credit)

Your rights when disputing fraudulent charges on a business card -- If a fleet card that wasn't being used by a small bushiness is suddenly maxed out, the owner's right to dispute and void the charges is similar to the rights for consumer cards ... (See Fraud charges)

7 tips for using online alternative business lenders -- When banks turn them down for loans, small businesses are increasingly turning to online "alternative" lenders. The loans they provide can be a lifeline, but higher interest rates mean you should proceed with caution ... (See Online alternative business loans)

Credit for startups almost always requires your Social Security number -- You may be asked for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) but you will almost certainly have to supply a Social Security number too ... (See Business credit)

Denied: 4 credit cards for 4 businesses -- If you've got multiple businesses and keep getting turned down for business credit cards, consider other financing sources while you build credit for the companies ... (See Business cards)

Card acceptance fees too high? Shop for a new merchant processor -- Franchisees paying high credit card acceptance fees may lower them by shopping for a new merchant processor or promoting customers to pay by other means ... (See Merchant fees)

Merchants can usually add credit card fees -- Merchants in most states are allowed to tack on a surcharge or convenience fee when you use a credit card. But some states still ban surcharges and it's not always good business practice ... (See Surcharges, convenience fees)

Disputing an auto repair chargeback is possible but time-consuming -- A warranty, labor costs and 500 miles of distance all complicate a chargeback that a car repair shop says is not legit. But there are ways to dispute the complex complaint ... (See Chargeback)

New business shouldn't inherit partner's old debt -- Your new business partner's old debt shouldn't be inherited unless expressly assumed, but have a lawyer check it and be aware it may limit your new venture's access to credit ... (See Partner's debt)

Merchant guesses card expiration date to renew subscription -- No laws specifically prohibit subscription-based businesses from guessing a customer's card expiration date to auto-renew their payments, but the practice is iffy ... (See Card expiration)

Refinancing your mortgage to pay down a pricey business loan -- Paying down a high-interest business loan by refinancing your home may save you some money. But there are risks -- especially for a business that's shrinking ... (See Mortgage refi for business debt )

No 2-in-1 card for tax-exempt organizations -- Nonprofits are exempt from sales tax, and retailers have programs to accommodate them, but no all-in-one card avoids sales taxes at point of sale ... (See Tax-exempt)

Dangers of putting business expenses on a personal card -- Paying your new small business's expenses with your personal card may be convenient, but it has limited benefits and adds new risks ... (See Personal credit)

Beware shady merchant processing contracts -- A lawsuit by an out-of-state company that supplies credit card machines deserves the plaintiff's attention -- but scams exist in the industry so read your contract carefully and talk with a lawyer if in doubt ... (See Merchant contracts)

Big debt from business failure? Try talking to creditors -- A couple who closed their 20-year-old business struggle with $50,000 of remaining debt. It's a stressful situation but there are ways of tackling it ... (See Business debt)

Receipt requirements: Law differs from card network rules -- You don't legally have to print your business's full address on customer receipts, but MasterCard and other card networks have more stringent requirements ... (See Receipts)

What merchants should do if customer presents unsigned card -- Merchants handed a card with no signature or "See ID" should make the customer sign -- or risk having to eat fraud-related losses ... (See Signature)

Payments made out to your LLC are harder to garnish -- As a small-business owner, if you have an LLC it's best to have clients make checks out to the LLC rather than to you personally. Besides helping separate your personal and business finances, it may help protect you from wage garnishment for past debts ... (See Garnishment and LLCs)

Jail or no? Penalties for using partner's credit card -- Stealing a business partner's credit card can lead to prosecution and jail time. But charges rung up by an authorized user are not considered theft ... (See Partner)

Why your employer may deny you a company card -- A small business has to weigh several factors before giving a new employee a company card for travel expenses. Understanding them can help employees and small business owners both start off on better footing ... (See Company cards)

'Joint and several liability' clause shares business debt risk -- Small businesses have a hard time finding credit cards that don't require a personal guarantee. There are some that will allow you to share the liability with your company, but that has limits ... (See Liability)

What merchants should do when they suspect card fraud -- No merchant wants to offend honest customers by turning the shopping experience into what feels like a prosecution. At the same time, you can't afford to turn a blind eye to fraud ... (See Merchants and card fraud)

Minimize costs of card acceptance without surcharges -- Interchange fees can add up for small businesses that accept credit cards. But adding a surcharge for card-paying customers is not the answer – especially in states where surcharges are banned. There are other ways to mitigate card acceptance costs ... (See Merchant fees)

Business or personal credit: Which can be built faster? -- Generally speaking, you can build personal credit faster than business credit. But for small-business owners, it's important to pursue both ... (See Building credit)

Understanding 'consent' to charge a card -- A merchant needs consumer consent before charging their debit or credit card for a purchase. But there are some gray areas where misunderstanding of the law can cause disputes ... (See Consent)

Hidden debt shouldn't hurt spouse's business credit -- A woman's personal debts should not endanger her husband's business credit. But the fact that she has hidden the debt from him signals other kinds of problems ... (See Debts)

A business may spurn debit cards, but why? -- Small businesses running subscription-type services may find debit and prepaid cards a hassle. But think carefully before refusing to accept them ... (See Refuse debit)

How startups can quickly begin accepting credit cards -- An entrepreneur wants to temporarily share a card processing machine with an established business while he gets his company up and running. Bad idea. But there are other ways to quickly begin accepting credit cards from customers ... (See Quick acceptance)

Can I open one rewards card for multiple businesses? -- There's nothing stopping you from using a single card for multiple companies you own, but it's generally not good business practice. There may be better ways to rack up rewards ... (See Rewards)

Should you get a credit card for your new startup? -- Getting a business credit card can be helpful for a new business, but not in lieu of getting enough startup financing ... (See Startup card)

Replacing a credit card after husband's death -- A widow and small-business owner wonders how to replace a credit card with a $36,000 credit limit that had to be closed after her husband died ... (See Card shopping)

How to cut your business' foreign wire transfer fee costs -- When selling overseas, you can't make foreign wire transfer costs vanish, but you can negotiate their size, bundle your bills or bake them into your prices ... (See Wire transfers)

Am I liable for my business' corporate card debt? -- A small-business owner's responsibility for the company's credit card debt depends partly on the kind of card. Corporate cards and small-business cards treat liability differently ... (See Corporate cards)

Don't travel? Opt for other business rewards -- If you don't travel much for business or pleasure, there's no point in getting a small-business credit card that specializes in travel rewards. Instead, look for a cash-back card or one that earns rewards you can use ... (See Business rewards)

Will an ITIN help me get a business card without a personal guarantee? -- Avoiding use of a Social Security number when applying for a small-business credit card is difficult. A few people may be able to use an individual taxpayer identification number, but most Americans can't get one ... (See ITIN)

Payment options budding for legal marijuana businesses -- Eager to profit from the fast-growing, legal cannabis market, some entrepreneurs are offering new payment approaches, but it is too soon to tell how they'll hold up in the long term ... (See Marijuana payments)

Can I pass on charge-back fees to my customers? -- When a customer disputes a charge directly with the card issuer, the merchant gets hit with a charge-back fee. Technically, you may be able to pass that on to the customer but it's probably not good business practice ... (See Charge-backs)

How can I change our business's merchant category code? -- The wrong MCC for a hotel can short circuit charging privileges for corporate credit card holders and cost the hotel business. To fix the problem, you need to understand how the codes work ... (See MCC)

Should I pay my business's bills by credit card? -- Using plastic to pay contractors and other recurring business bills can be a good way to rack up rewards points and improve cash flow. But beware it does not become a crutch ... (See Business bills)

Am I liable for business debt my partner hid? -- Your partner rang up debts before you even joined the firm, and now a collector is calling you. Don't trust the collector -- or your partner. Keep calm and call a lawyer ... (See Debt )

Shielding business accounts from levy by personal creditors -- If you think a creditor may levy your business account to collect past-due personal debts, there are things you can do. Moving personal assets to a new business account isn't one of them ... (See Levy)

Will a maxed out business card hurt my personal credit? -- Most small-business credit cards are backed by a personal guarantee, so maxing them out may affect your personal credit record. But the bigger question is why you need to do so in the first place ... (See Credit limit)

How Sam's Club card changes affect business users -- As Sam's Club is transitioning to a new card with new cash-back rewards, it's time for businesses to look at whether to stick with them ... (See Business cash back)

Keeping customers on contracts amid credit card churn -- For a gym owner, data breaches at other merchants are costly. As customers are reissued credit cards with new account numbers, some are dropping their auto-pay agreements ... (See Retaining customers)

How can I protect my point-of-sale system against security breaches? -- Lax POS security can cost your small business steep fines from credit card issuers if your system is breached. Safe password practices are one of your best defenses ... (See POS security)

Beware of advance-fee credit card scams -- If you see an ad promising that a third party can get you a credit card if you pay a fee to them in advance, pass it right by. Fraudsters use such scams to target people desperate for credit ... (See Advance-fee scams)

Fight payment processing fees in medical payments -- Insurance companies and government agencies are increasingly using plastic and virtual credit cards to pay doctors. But practices can request other payment methods that carry lower fees ... (See Medical payments)

Business loans from banks: 5 ways to boost your approval odds -- Bank lending is picking up for small businesses. But you'll have a much easier time getting a loan if you've taken steps to improve your company's credit profile ahead of time ... (See Business credit)

Should I try crowdfunding or a loan for my startup? -- Crowdfunding and bank loans are both challenging to land for new businesses. A third option may make more sense ... (See Startup funding)

Can businesses charge large test payments? -- Gas stations and restaurants add temporary "holds" on credit card bills until they know the final balance, but other merchants should avoid this tactic ... (See Test charges)

Is employee responsible for boss's default? -- If a small business owner defaults on debt on a company credit card she issued to a former employee, is the worker responsible for the debt? ... (See Boss's debt)

Making 0% cards work for your small business -- If your mailbox is filling up with 0-percent-interest credit card offers, they could be a good source of small-business financing. But you have to use these balance-transfer deals strategically, say experts, or you could run into trouble ... (See No-interest credit)

Who goes to jail for fraudulent credit card use? -- Businesses that accept stolen credit card information may be on the hook for a refund. But the thief is the one who broke the law -- and cardholders need to take steps to prevent further damage ... (See ID theft)

Compare rewards cards for business gas spending -- If your business buys gasoline, why not be rewarded? Business credit cards and specialized fleet cards both offer programs to reward and track fuel purchases ... (See Gas rewards)

Small-business bank loans become a bit easier to get -- Bankers are becoming a bit more accommodating to small businesses, new research shows, but they're still hard, so know all your choices ... (See Bank loans)

Meeting with your banker to talk small business loans -- Your banker should be a key member of your advisory team. To make your business more loan-ready, you will need your banker's input on what the bank wants to see when it evaluates a loan application ... (See Loan meeting)

Accepting credit card orders by phone: a new-business owner's guide -- For a new restaurant owner concerned about accepting credit cards for call-in orders, a merchant processing account may not be the best thing -- at least not in the beginning ... (See Phone payments)

How can I build business credit? -- Building a credit record for your small business that's separate from your personal credit is a gradual process. You can take steps to get started while the business grows ... (See Separate business credit)

Is it OK for merchants to accept credit cards from minors? -- If a parent has formally authorized a minor to use a credit card, accepting it isn't a problem. But getting some reassurances in writing is best practice ... (See Cards and minors)

How soon should retailers switch to EMV? -- The heat is on for merchants to adopt terminals that will read smart-chip cards. But with many small firms facing rising costs from all sides, it may pay to wait to upgrade ... (See EMV)

Can non-immigrants get business credit without an SSN? -- Most loans and credit cards are going to ask you for a Social Security number at some point in the application process, but if you are adamant about not giving it out there are a few options ... (See SSN-free)

Time to refinance small-business debt? Five questions to ask -- Many entrepreneurs got the cold shoulder from their banks during the credit crunch and turned to other, high-interest lenders or credit cards instead. Now could be a good time to forget about past snubs and try to get a bank loan to refinance costly debts ... (See Refinance business debt)

Can personal credit suffer due to old business debt? -- Your loan contract will determine whether an old business debt can be held against you, in court and on your personal credit ... (See Business debt, personal credit)

Getting a business card without a Social Security number -- For foreign nationals setting up shop in the U.S., it's not easy to get a business credit card. Most applications require a Social Security number, but there are a few exceptions ... (See SSN-free)

Cut personal credit ties to a failing business -- You're president, but not the owner, of a failing business, but the company cards are in your name? Close those cards -- pronto ... (See Credit risk at business failure)

Can my business add a surcharge for card-paying customers? -- Swipe fees can weigh on a business's bottom line. But examine your business contracts and state law before passing them on to customers who pay with debit or credit cards ... (See Surcharges)

Financing equipment when partners' credit profiles differ -- Sharing business debt can be tricky, especially if one partner's credit profile is stronger than the other's. But there are ways to do it where both partners are still protected ... (See Financing)

Choosing a credit card processor for a medical practice -- If your doctor's office or medical practice is in the market for a merchant account provider, you may be able to get a deal through a professional organization. But there are other considerations besides price in choosing the right one ... (See Medical)

Can I borrow to pay my business tax bill? -- It's usually better to borrow money to pay your tax bill than to rack up penalties and interest with the IRS. You have a few options, including credit cards ... (See Tax bill)

Do I need credit cards to build my business credit? -- Responsible use of credit cards is an easy way to build a credit record for your small business. But there are other ways, if you're determined to stay card-free ... (See Business credit)

Freezing business card accounts after the company fails -- A company president wonders how to stop his former business partner from charging more on credit cards the partner opened for the business ... (See Partner debt)

Should I offer e-receipts to customers? -- Electronic receipts are becoming more common in brick-and-mortar stores. Besides saving paper, they're a fairly simple marketing tool ... (See E-receipts)

Help! Our supplier is trying to change our payment terms -- If a supplier is tightening credit, find out why and check your contract carefully. You may be able to fight the change or at least ask for the original terms as a courtesy ... (See Supplier credit)

With small-business loans elusive, credit cards may be an option -- It's still not easy for many small businesses to get bank loans -- one of the cheapest sources of financing. Here's what to do if you're turned down ... (See Small-business loans)

3 ways to minimize holiday returns without losing customers -- A spate of post-holiday returns can make a real dent in your profits. There are ways for even small businesses to minimize returns without offending customers used to generous policies from retail giants ... (See Holiday returns)

Is my credit score good enough for a business card? -- Many business cards require excellent credit -- but what qualifies as "excellent" depends on the scoring system ... (See Business credit )

New business financing sources to try when the bank says no -- With bank loans still eluding many small businesses years after the global financial crisis, new online services are sniffing out opportunity to fill the gap in the credit marketplace ... (See Financing sources)

What are some good business rewards card deals for end of year? -- December can be a good time to rack up rewards points if you’re making year-end purchases to maximize your business tax deductions. The best deal for you depends on how you plan to use the card and your preferred rewards ... (See Business rewards)

Can you ditch your merchant account for a better deal? -- If you have signed a legal contract with a card processing company, you are most likely on the hook to follow the terms of the agreement, even if another company offers you a better deal ... (See Merchant accounts)

How to get cash for your business without credit -- If you need to buy a few hundred dollars' worth of supplies for your business but credit cards aren't an option, you might want to examine your expenses, get a job, or both ... (See Business cash)

Savvy ways to finance holiday inventory -- Retailers need to avoid financing inventory they are not sure they can sell — which can leave them stuck paying interest on goods they'll have to mark down in January. That's especially true for those who rely on costly credit card financing ... (See Inventory)

Entrepreneurial and under 21? You'll need to build a credit record -- Starting a business at age 20 often requires credit. The CARD Act makes building a credit record more difficult for young people, but it can be done ... (See Credit)

A glitch with e-statements, and poof! Your APR is 30% -- If you never signed up for electronic statements and ended up missing payments because of the switch, you may have grounds to reverse the credit damage ... (See E-statement woes)

Is a widow liable for using dead husband's card? -- After the death of a spouse, continuing to use his or her plastic can be considered fraudulent. And if you can't make the payments, the issuer can come after you ... (See Debt on dead spouse's card)

Using a cash-out refinancing of your home to pay off a business loan -- Before you rush into refinancing your small-business loan with a cash-out refi, make sure you understand the risks. You may get a better interest rate, but could ultimately pay more ... (See Refinancing)

Options for accepting overseas payments expand for small business -- It's easier than ever to expand your business by pursuing international customers. But accepting payments is sometimes a hitch. New services -- as well as old standbys -- can help you get paid ... (See Sales)

Church should limit users of its credit card -- A small church struggles to get receipts from five users of its credit card account. But changing the account name isn't enough. It needs to consider more restrictions ... (See Church)

Is the primary cardholder for nonprofit personally liable? -- If you're named on the agreement as the primary cardholder, you are personally liable for any debt your organization incurs. A written contract with the nonprofit might lower your risk but won't eliminate it ... (See Nonprofit)

When does a merchant account make financial sense? -- If you accept payments by credit card only occasionally, Square or PayPal are viable options, but above a certain sales volume, merchant accounts make sense ... (See Card payments)

Protecting your business from credit card fraud -- If your business makes a sale to a fraudster, you could lose the cost of the goods in addition to a charge-back fee. Know-how and technology make the best defense ... (See Charge-backs)

Can I impose a max on credit card customers? -- If your business sells high-ticket items, credit card swipe fees can add up. The law won't keeping you from imposing limits on card spend but consider other options before you take that route ... (See Limits)

Can my business require a minimum purchase for credit card customers? -- Merchants can impose on their credit card customers a minimum purchase requirement of up to $10 -- but that doesn't mean you should. And debit cards are a different story ... (See Payment minimums)

Can my small business afford to stop accepting AmEx? -- A small business owner wants to stop accepting American Express, reasoning that other credit cards and debit cards are cheaper. But he needs to weigh the costs against the fact that AmEx cardholders are loyal and high-spending ... (See AmEx)

Can you build business credit without a Social Security number? -- To apply for business credit, you will likely need to use your Social Security Number or an Employer Identification Number -- which you apply for using your SSN. ... (See SSN)

How a Bangladeshi entrepreneur can pay for international purchases -- A small business owner from Bangladesh is looking for a way to buy supplies and services from other countries. Bangladesh's central bank restricts international credit card transactions, but there are a few options ... (See Prepaids)

If your company fails, your credit card rate can rise -- Your business is shuttered and you're left with credit card debt. Now the issuer is hiking your interest rate. Is it really allowed to do that? Most likely, yes. Here's what you can do ... (See Business card rate hike)

Does it make sense to refinance business credit card debt? -- Small businesses with good credit may benefit from transferring business card debt to a lower-interest loan or 0-percent interest card ... (See Refinance)

Repayment, settlement, bankruptcy: Facing debt from failed business -- A business owner has unpaid credit card debt worth thousands. Should she settle, file for bankruptcy or something else? ... (See Business debt)

Will accepting credit cards help my business's cash flow? -- A survey shows that 83 percent of businesses that accept credit cards ring up more sales -- with most reporting higher revenues and faster payments. ... (See Cash flow)

Internet tax law could create challenges for small businesses -- If the Marketplace Fairness Act passes, running a small Internet store could get more complicated. Business owners would potentially have to collect sales tax for every state they ship into ... (See Internet tax)

Where to look for credit, funding for minority-owned business -- For a young, African-American entrepreneur looking to start a small business, credit can be tight -- especially if you're still paying off student loans. Here's where to look for advice, and money ... (See Minority business)

Should you take on credit card debt to pay for a new employee? -- A new boutique owner is considering hiring a part-time salesperson so she can devote more time to marketing efforts. But to do so, she'd need to charge expenses such as inventory on a credit card. Is it worth it? ... (See Hiring)

Resist tapping retirement funds for small-business financing -- Starting a business in your 50s brings special considerations. Step away from the retirement savings and don't forget about health care costs ... (See Startup financing )

Defaulting on some of your cards risks losing them all -- If your business is failing and you default on several credit cards, the issuers of your other cards will know about it and may cut you off -- but you have ways to escape the jam ... (See Damage reduction)

Finding a free bankruptcy lawyer for business, consumer debt -- If you're considering bankruptcy but can't afford a lawyer, there are a few options available for you. Some bankruptcy attorneys do pro bono work, or you may be able to file the papers on your own ... (See Filing for free)

Are there any special lending resources for women entrepreneurs? -- The number of small businesses owned by women is growing rapidly. But women don't seek or get bank financing at the rate men do. The SBA offers special help for female entrepreneurs who need loans ... (See Businesswomen)

Should I give more employees company cards? -- In a small business, handing out credit cards to everyone can create headaches. You'll typically share responsibility for the account with the business. But there are times when giving out more cards can make everyone's lives easier ... (See Employee cards)

Should we charge our customers to use credit cards? -- Credit card surcharges are now legal, along with minimum purchase requirements for customers who want to use credit cards. But for some convenience store owners, is the money worth the business they'll lose from irritated customers? ... (See Surcharges)

When does it pay for consultants to accept credit cards? -- If you have a consulting business, customers may want to pay with credit cards. Providing that convenience isn't free, but it could be worthwhile ... (See Consultants accepting cards)

Can you apply for a business card -- before you own a business? -- If you’ve checked out the sweet perks that come with small-business rewards cards, you may be tempted to apply, even if you’re not a business owner ... (See Business cards)

How to improve your chances of getting an SBA loan -- A banker will look at many factors when evaluating whether to grant you an SBA-guaranteed loan, from your personal credit to the profitability of your business. Here's how you can prepare to apply ... (See SBA)

Rebuilding credit to run your new business -- If your personal credit is in the basement and you want to start up a business, getting a business card will be tough -- but not impossible. Here's how ... (See Rebuild credit)

Is there any such thing as good debt for a small business? -- Debt is often associated with poor planning or being in financial straits. But for a small business, there are times when it's smart to use debt as a financing option. Knowing when is the tricky part ... (See 'Good debt' for business)

Will my husband's business card debt hurt my credit after divorce? -- You could be responsible for payments due on your spouse's small business credit card, even after you divorce. The answer lies in your state's divorce laws, the credit card issuer's policies and whether you signed the card agreement ... (See His business, your debt?)

Credit and finance options for young entrepreneurs -- If you're a student or new grad trying to get credit for a startup, your options may be limited. Alternatives exist, however, if you're creative, ambitious -- and lucky ... (See Funding)

Will I inherit my partner's debt when I go into business with him? -- If you're joining up with a business owner who already has some credit card debt, be careful. Depending on the type of account he's got, you could lose out if he fails to pay up ... (See Business debt)

Keeping business credit off of your personal record -- Small business credit cards require the owner to personally guarantee them. Does that mean they show up on your personal credit record? Not necessarily ... (See Business credit)

How wise is it to get a second small business credit card? -- If you're thinking of transferring the balance on your small business card to one with a lower interest rate, there may be better options than getting a second card ... (See A second business card?)

Hackers up the ante for small-business data security -- It’s getting trickier for small-business owners to keep customers’ credit card information safe. Still, there are steps you can take. They're not free, but can save you money in the long run ... (See Avoid breaches)

How to pick the best rewards credit card for your business -- Finding the right business card means finding one that rewards you for what you spend on. But don't forget to count up the card's fees, too ... (See Business rewards)

Getting business tax information from a closed credit card account -- Banks can close your credit card account for any number of reasons. But you are entitled to get the information you need to file tax returns for your small business ... (See Closed account tax data)

Should you fund your startup business with a credit card? -- We’ve all read articles about entrepreneurs who borrowed their startup money on credit cards -- and built wildly profitable companies. But credit card financing is very risky business ... (See Risky business)

Is it worthwhile for gas stations to accept credit cards? -- A small-business owner wonders if it's worth accepting plastic at his new gas station. The answer depends in large part on the local market ... (See Accepting gas cards)

Which credit cards should your small business accept? -- Generally speaking, the more payment options you offer, the easier it will be to make sales. But you have to consider costs. ... (See Acceptance strategies)

1099-Ks: Small businesses face new penalties, paperwork for tax reporting -- Credit card issuers and third-party settlement organizations like PayPal are now required withhold 28 percent of gross receipts from merchants who have not given them the company’s correct information ... (See New 1099-K form)

Business card benefits outweigh limitations for most businesses -- Credit cards aimed at small businesses don't come with many of the protections found in consumer cards. But companies still tend to find them better for business expenses than consumer cards. ... (See Business vs. personal cards)

How to dispute fraudulent charges on a business gas card -- A reader wants to know what rights he has in disputing fraudulent charges made to his company's WEX gas cards ... (See Disputing business card charges)

Q&A with D&B: How businesses can start on the road to credit -- So how do you join those lucky folks in finding bank financing? Today, it takes a very proactive approach to building a strong credit score for your business ... (See Business credit scores)

Financing your small business with credit cards: A capital idea? -- In this economy, small business loans are tough to get, so credit cards may be the solution for keeping operations afloat ... (See Small-business funding)

Consumers gain right to dispute credit report errors directly with merchants -- As of the summer of 2010, if a merchant puts inaccurate information on your credit report, you can force them to investigate the problem. But you have to do it right ... (See Fix credit report errors)

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Updated: 03-30-2017

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