Am I liable for unpaid bills on a company credit card?

What to do if your name is on the card and your company isn't making payments

Your Business Credit with Elaine Pofeldt

Elaine Pofeldt is a journalist whose articles on entrepreneurship and careers have appeared in Fortune, Working Mother, Money and many other publications. She is a former senior editor at Fortune Small Business magazine and an entrepreneur herself, as co-founder of 200kfreelancer.com. Her book, “The Million-Dollar, One-Person Business,” was released in 2018. She writes "Your Business Credit," a weekly column about small business and credit, for CreditCards.com.

Ask Elaine a question, or see if your question has already been answered in the Your Business Credit answer archive.

If my company card was opened with the company’s state identification number, am I still liable for unpaid debt? 

If the card is in your name and you provided your Social Security number when opening it, then you are personally responsible for unpaid debt.
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Dear Your Business Credit,
I worked for a business that had me open up a business credit card under my name and used the company SID (state identification ) number and also company name. He told me it will not directly affect my credit because it is under our company’s SID number, so if anything it will only damage the company credit.

He has not paid for the credit card bill in months, and the credit account soon will be turned over to collections. My question is: Am I able to do anything about it or am I stuck paying for it?

I was misled into creating this account for this company and after they maxed out the card they just stopped paying the bills. My credit took a dive, and the situation has left me depressed. Any help would be great. Thank you in advance. - Daricky

Dear Daricky, 
Argh! Situations like yours really bug me. It is very selfish for business owners who lack access to credit to ask their employees to open business credit cards on the company’s behalf.

I usually hear about this when the employees have been burned by a boss who tries to piggyback on their good credit and then damages it by not paying the bills. I’m sure these bosses don’t plan to do harm, but in the end, they cause a lot of damage, as you are experiencing.

Generally speaking, when you open a business credit card, you must personally guarantee it by providing your Social Security number somewhere in the application process. That means that even if the business closes, you are agreeing to pay the debt.

Contact the credit card issuer

I am not sure what you mean by a SID number, but the state of South Carolina’s revenue department issues a unique identifying number that is used to identify a business when it comes to tax-related matters. I think this may be the number you are referencing.

However, even if you provided a SID, it is possible you signed a personal guarantee and you, not the business, are responsible for the credit card debt.

Given that you opened the card in your own name, I would suggest contacting the credit card issuer and asking for a copy of the cardholder agreement you signed, so you know where you stand. You may have to pay the bill, but the sooner you understand your obligations, the more quickly you can come up with a plan to deal with it.

Tip

Tip: Contact the credit card issuer and ask for a copy of the cardholder agreement you signed, so you know where you stand. 

Confront the business owner

In the meantime, you might tactfully ask your boss directly to pay the bill.

For example, you might say something like, “It appears the business is having cash flow problems, given that no one has paid the credit card bill in months.

“I’m really sorry to see that, but my credit score dipped by 100 points. Can you provide any quick help with this, perhaps by paying this month’s bill personally? The minimum payment is $45.

“And in the meantime, could I kindly ask that the business stop using the card? I’m sure you can understand I need to be able to rent an apartment, own a car, etc., and poor credit will make that very hard.”

Your boss might not like this, but you have to look out for yourself in this situation. Clearly, the company is not looking out for you.

I’d also suggest you start looking for another job. A small business that cannot pay its bills may not be around for long. 

See related: Am I on the hook for my business’s credit card debt?, 6 questions to ask about your company credit card



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Updated: 04-20-2018