Generally, applications for business credit cards require an EIN or a Social Security number with a personal guarantee. Here are some options if you don’t want to provide the latter.
Opening a business credit card can be an ideal way to start building a credit history for your business that is separate from your own.
Generally, applications for business credit cards require an EIN or, if you don’t have an EIN, a Social Security number with a personal guarantee. This is required under the Patriot Act. (You can apply for an EIN online.)
It is hard to find a business credit card that does not require you to provide your Social Security number or a personal guarantee – generally these are only available to larger small businesses and beyond.
Even if you apply with an EIN, you will also need to provide a Social Security number for many cards, so I’d suggest having that information at hand. Lenders want to be paid back, and often for small and newer businesses, the owner has more assets than the actual business. Those assets could be tapped if the credit card bill is not paid.
Business cards that don’t require a personal guarantee
One card where you don’t have to provide a personal guarantee is Brex Corporate Card for Startups, available through Emigrant Bank. This card is designed for scalable tech, e-commerce and life sciences businesses.
This card has no annual fee, requires no personal guarantee and offers rewards points. It is designed for companies with over $100,000 in annual revenue or over $50,000 and backing from professional investors.
This is a charge card, so your balance must be paid in full every month. There is no APR. Credit is based on the cash you’ve raised and equity in the company, as well as company spending patterns. Brex says it offers credit limits 10-20 times higher than traditional business cards.
However, you must be part of a corporation or non-individual LLC to qualify for this card. You cannot be a sole proprietor, part of an unincorporated partnership, part of an unregistered business or part of a business registered outside of the U.S. to qualify.
And you cannot be involved in certain business activities, such as the sale of cannabis or multi-level marketing. The list of prohibited businesses was recently updated.
Another card that does not require a personal guarantee is Bremer Bank’s Visa Signature Business Company Card. Aimed at medium to large businesses (the application does not provide a definition of “medium to large”), it does not require a personal guarantee and offers a rewards program. You must request information from the bank.
See related: Use credit cards to boost cash flow at your business
Someday, there may be more credit card options for small business owners who don’t want to provide their Social Security number to a credit card issuer or a personal guarantee, but today there is a glaring gap in the marketplace. For the sake of the many entrepreneurs who are seeking these cards, I hope that credit card issuers are paying attention.
Once you’ve secured a business credit card, consider whether there are routine charges you can put on it to start building up your business’s credit history. Ideally, only use up to 30% of your available credit to keep credit utilization low. That can help to boost your credit score. Also, be sure to pay the bill on time or a little early.
Don’t purchase anything you can’t afford on the card. That can ultimately hurt you, especially in an uncertain economy where many businesses can’t predict their cash flow.