Dangers of putting business expenses on a personal card
Ask a question.
Dear Your Business Credit,
If I open a personal credit card to pay for a new business, can the bill then be paid from the business account? -- Natasha
I ran your question past Robert Brennan, an attorney at SoCalCreditDamage.com, in La Crescenta, California.
He said that this is really an accounting issue. Let's say you use your "business" card only for your startup and save receipts to show you're using it solely for that purpose. In that case, you can count the card as being for business use on your taxes, he noted in an email. However, if you mix in too many personal charges on your card, you will likely run into problems, he said. That is an easy temptation for a small-business owner, especially if you carry the card in your wallet.
There are other pros and cons to using a personal card for business. Personal cards come with some consumer protections that business cards do not. But they will not help you build up a credit history for the business -- something that can help you win lower interest rates if you ever need a bank loan. For more discussion on this, see "Business card benefits outweigh limitations for most businesses." Since it sounds like you have a business bank account or plan to open one, your bank will probably start sending you offers to open a business credit card, assuming you have good credit.
Your note mentioned you are considering opening a credit card to pay for a new business. I hope the card is not going to be your sole source of financing and that you keep your borrowing to a minimum.
It's fun to read stories of entrepreneurs who started out with almost no capital and achieved mind-boggling success. But what seldom gets covered are all of the entrepreneurs who use credit card financing to fund a business that doesn't work out or may have succeeded if only they had more money to keep going. Sometimes I get letters from these folks in the aftermath, and paying down their debts can be a nightmare.
I'm not saying this to discourage you. Wells Fargo found in a January survey of small businesses that optimism is at a seven-year high. My advice is to save up what you will need to start and run the business for at least the first three months, and then open the business. Seeing if you can sock away the money will help you figure out if you have the financial discipline to run a small business. And it will get you off to a better start than many businesses have. Good luck!
Meet CreditCards.com's reader Q&A experts
Does a personal finance problem have you worried? Monday through Saturday, CreditCards.com's Q&A experts answer questions from readers. Ask a question, or click on any expert to see their previous answers.
- If I'm not liable for my company's credit card debt, why is a collection agency calling me? – If you have a credit card from the company you work for with your name on it, you can find yourself battling creditors if the corporation doesn't pay ...
- Can the wine club I belong to charge my card before pickup? – Many subscription services charge your card on a set date every month, regardless of when you pick up or receive your purchase ...
- Q&A: How should I fund my side business? – If you're looking to start a side gig or small business and need some money upfront, consider saving up a small fund to get started and work on building great credit to qualify for a business credit card later ...