Credit cards for small business
By Ben Woolsey
You’ve finally followed your dreams of opening your own small business. You know you have the skills, desire, and ambition to make your business work, but what you don't have is a business credit card. What's worse, you don't know what type of credit card you should get for your business.
Choosing the right type of credit card for your business is very important. The last thing you want to happen is to have your business generating money solely to pay off your credit card debt. Even worse, you certainly don't want to have to close your business because of outstanding debt. Instead of seeing credit as a problem for your business, view it as a useful tool in helping you achieve success.
Extending cash flow
For businesses that rely on consistent cash flow to pay for supplies or contractors (such as landscapers, hair salons, interior designers), a credit card that can aid in purchasing items from clients before invoicing customers is ideal. For example, a landscaper may use a credit card at the beginning of the month to buy materials from a wholesale nursery and then pay it off when the statement comes, after the customer has paid. This way, money paid out does not need to come out of the landscaper's cash accounts. If your business falls under this situation, you should look for a credit card with high limits and benefits for paying off within 30 days. If your billing cycle to customers goes longer than 30 days, look for a low interest credit card so it won’t matter if you carry a balance for a month or two.
Business travel and entertaining
Businesses that require frequent travel and/or client entertaining should look at promotional cards that offer bonus benefits. For example, airline frequent flier cards offer benefits both for making charges to their credit cards and for flying their airlines. Consult with your accountant on how these benefits can be used for either business or personal use.
Another option is to look for a credit card with no spending limit, such as an American Express card. For professionals who travel and entertain frequently, carrying this type of card is a way of ensuring that you can cover all business costs. However, these cards do charge annual fees and need to be paid off at the end of the billing cycle. If cash flow does not allow payment in full, then a card with a high limit that allows you to carry a balance may be a better fit.
If you are the type of business that works primarily on a cash basis or that doesn’t need to purchase inventory on a regular basis then a credit card for periodic or emergency uses would be best. Look for a small business credit card that offers a moderate credit limit with a low annual percentage rate (APR). This way, if extra money is needed, it is available for your business and can be paid out over time.
How your business chooses to use credit needs to be discussed between you and your financial adviser or accountant. Making the right choice when it comes to corporate credit can help make your business more of a success.
Published: October 22, 2005
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