The majority of business credit cards charge a personal guarantee, but there are a few options for businesses looking to avoid making one.
A business credit card is a must have for an entrepreneur who wants to keep their personal and business finances separate and for anyone looking to establish their business’s credit history. It’s understandable why making a personal guarantee in order to secure a business credit card would make some entrepreneurs nervous. Let’s take a closer look at why personal guarantees are often required for business credit cards — and how to avoid them.
Why business credit cards require personal guarantees
Here’s why: When you start a new business, card issuers are taking a big risk by lending you money. If the business fails, they want to get paid back. By asking you to give a personal guarantee, they have the option of going after your personal assets (to get what they are owed), which are likely to be more substantial than those of a brand-new business.
That said, not all startups are the same. If you’ve created a high-revenue startup in your first year or two, you might qualify for a business credit card that doesn’t require a personal guarantee. In other words, card issuers may be willing to try to go after the assets of the business if you don’t keep up with payments. However, these cards generally have stringent requirements for applicants.
Best no-personal-guarantee business credit cards
These are some of the best business credit cards that don’t require personal guarantees and also come with some great perks:
Brex Corporate Card for Startups: Best introductory offer
Why we picked it: Designed for venture capital-backed startups, the Brex Corporate Card for Startups* has no annual fee and unlimited points, plus it requires no personal guarantee.
- No annual fee
- No APR
- Rewards points on all spending, with points for rideshares, travel, “recurring software” and restaurants
- 30,000 Brex Rewards points upon signup and lifetime card fees waived (a $300+ value)
- Must pay balance in full every month
- Must be part of a corporation or non-individual limited liability company
- Business can’t be involved in certain activities, such as marijuana or gun sales or pyramid schemes
Who should apply: Corporations and non-individual limited liability companies are likely customers for this card.
Who should skip: If you’re a sole proprietor, an unincorporated partnership or an unregistered business, you should look elsewhere.
American Express Green Card: Best for business travelers
Why we picked it: The American Express® Green Card* offers a chance to earn 3 points per dollar on travel, transit and dining worldwide, which makes it a good fit for entrepreneurs who need to travel a lot for work.
- 3 points per dollar on travel
- Helps earn up to $189 annual statement credit towards the cost of CLEAR and up to a $100 LoungeBuddy credit
- Can transfer points to a variety of travel partners, including Delta Airlines, British Airways and Hilton
- Must go through American Express to book rewards travel
- Annual fee of $150 is high despite card’s travel perks
Who should apply: Travel-heavy entrepreneurs can get a lot of value out of this card.
Who should skip: Business owners that never need to travel should look at other options.
American Express Gold Card Review: Best for wining and dining
Why we picked it: The American Express® Gold Card* is a great option for businesses that frequently entertain clients or have a large number of employees for whom food is purchased. It earns 4 points per dollar at restaurants and 4 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
- No points expiration
- No blackout dates
- Can transfer points to multiple airline partners, including Delta Airlines
- Must redeem travel rewards through amextravel.com
- High annual fee of $250
Who should apply: Businesses with an emphasis on sales or client services should definitely consider this one.
Who should skip: Businesses that don’t spend money on food or dining won’t get maximum value from this card.
Stripe Corporate Card: Best for no interest
Why we picked it: The payment processor Stripe has also issued a corporate card that doesn’t require a personal guarantee to businesses that use Stripe and it doesn’t charge any interest or fees.
- No interest or fees
- Unlimited 1.5 percent cash back for all corporate purchases, (credited against your statement balance each month)
- Eligibility based on company’s payment volume, history with Stripe and bank account
- Must submit additional financial information if business doesn’t use Stripe
Who should apply: Businesses that use Stripe and are looking to earn cash back will find this card useful.
Who should skip: Businesses with small payment volume should probably look elsewhere.
Bremer Bank Visa CommUNITY Credit Card: Best for nonprofits
Why we picked it: If your startup is a nonprofit, consider the Bremer Bank Visa CommUNITY Card, designed specifically for nonprofits and municipalities. It comes with generous credit lines and grants access to a free rewards program.
- Free online expense reporting tools
- No fee for additional employee cards
- Mobile payment capability
- Available only for nonprofits and municipalities
Who should apply: Nonprofits and municipalities will appreciate the generous credit lines and free rewards program.
Who should skip: For-profit companies don’t have the option of applying for this one.
For most small business cards, you’ll have to provide a personal guarantee. If that’s the case, make sure you never borrow more money to grow your startup than you can afford to personally pay back.
It’s better to grow slowly and fund that growth through cash flow than to put yourself in a precarious financial position. No entrepreneur can make good decisions under crushing debt. By avoiding it, you’ll have the peace of mind you need to realize your vision for your business.
All information about the Brex Corporate Card for Startups and the American Express® Green Card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.