A man in a suit looking at a laptop and a credit card.

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Getting a business credit card can make sense if you have a side hustle or an entrepreneurial venture that helps you earn some cash. However, your business may not need to be as “formal” as you think, and in fact, nearly anything can help you qualify for a credit card for your business.

Maybe you drive for Uber or Lyft on the side and get paid as an independent contractor. Perhaps you do some online freelance work, or you work as a virtual assistant (VA) for a few hours per week. Maybe you make homemade soaps and sell your product on Etsy, or you mow lawns in your neighborhood on your days off.

Any of these gigs could lead to needing a business credit card, which you can use to earn rewards while you separate personal and business spending. The best business credit cards even offer generous signup bonuses, and some offer cardholder benefits that make using them for all your of business spending a good idea.

But, how do you get approved for a business credit card? It’s easier than you think, but the following tips can help.

Define your business

Virtually all types of self-employment make you eligible for a business credit card.

Nearly any money-making activity can be worthy of a business card, and you don’t have to have a formal business structure of any kind. If you’re not an LLC or an S Corp, you can apply for a business credit card as a sole proprietor, which is perfectly legal.

In fact, the IRS explains sole proprietors using the following definition: “A sole proprietor is someone who owns an unincorporated business by himself or herself.”

If you have a formal business structure, then you likely have an Employer Identification Number (EIN) you can use on your business card application along with your Social Security number (SSN). If you’re a sole proprietor, on the other hand, you can apply using only your SSN.

Know your credit score

Person checking their credit score on a smartphone and laptop.

Next up, you should check your credit score. This step is important since card issuers will take your personal credit into account when approving you for a business credit card. They do this because, generally speaking, you’ll be personally liable for amounts your business charges to a card regardless of whether your business is profitable or not.

There are quite a few places to check your credit score for free, although different platforms may show you a different version of your credit score. Some credit cards also offer free credit scores, including FICO scores, as a cardholder perk.

Either way, you’ll be more likely to be approved for one of the best business credit cards if your credit score is at least “very good,” which includes any FICO score of 740 or higher. Individuals with FICO scores in the 670 to 739 range also have credit that is considered “good,” and will be more likely to qualify as a result.

Compare business card options

Delta jet on the runway

Now, spend some time thinking about the type of business card you prefer and the benefits you want the most. For example, do you want the chance to qualify for 0% APR on purchases for a limited time, or would you prefer to earn rewards? And if you are after rewards on your spending, what type of rewards do you prefer?

While rewards cards vary, you’ll typically come across business cards that earn flexible rewards, airline or hotel points or cash back.

Flexible travel rewards business credit cards

If you want to earn travel rewards, the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card from Chase is a popular option due to the flexibility of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. This card also starts you off with 100,000 points when you spend $15,000 within three months of account opening. A $95 annual fee applies.

On the redemption side, you can use your points for cash back, statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, travel through the Chase portal and 1:1 transfers to Chase airline and hotel partners. Some of these partners include Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, Hyatt, Marriott and others.

If you want a higher rate of rewards on all of your business spending, you should also consider The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express. This American Express business credit card starts you off with 15,000 points when you spend $3,000 within three months of account opening, and you also earn 2x points for each dollar you spend, up to $50,000 in spending each year, with no annual fee (see rates and fees).

American Express Membership Rewards points can also be used for a variety of redemptions, like covering purchases, booking travel through the Amex Travel portal or transferring to airline and hotel partners like Delta Air Lines, British Airways and others.

Airline and hotel business credit cards

Meanwhile, if you’re loyal to a specific airline and want travel benefits, you might consider an airline- or hotel-specific credit card. The rewards you earn won’t be as flexible, but you can often make progress toward elite status and receive other travel benefits.

For example, the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business Card lets you earn bonus Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQM) and a Medallion Qualifying Dollar (MQD) waiver toward Delta elite status. Plus, it includes an annual companion ticket you can use for flights within the continental U.S. and a free checked bag on all Delta flights. Right now, the card offers 95,000 bonus Delta SkyMiles after you spend $4,000 in the first three months of opening the account.

Many airlines and hotel groups now offer a variety of different credit card options with different benefits and fees. If you’re interested in a Delta card, make sure to assess all of your options before setting on a specific card.

Cash back business credit cards

If you’re after cash back instead, then a card with no annual fee can work. The Ink Business Cash® Credit Card is worth checking out since it earns bonus cash back on many popular business expenses:

  • 5% cash back: At office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services on up to $25,000 in combined purchases each year you have the card.
  • 2% cash back: At gas stations and restaurants on up to $25,000 in combined purchases each year you have the card.
  • 1% cash back: All other purchases.

New cardholders can earn $750 in bonus cash after spending $6,000 within three months of account opening. This card doesn’t charge an annual fee and new cardmembers are also eligible for a 0% APR on purchases for 12 months, followed by a variable APR of 17.74% – 23.74%.

Note that you can convert cash back earned with this card to Chase Ultimate Rewards points if you have an Ink Business Preferred, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

Related: There are three top-notch Chase Ink business credit cards, but which one is best for you?

What you need to apply

Once you’ve compared the top business credit cards to find the right fit, you may be ready to apply. Fortunately, you can quickly and easily fill out a business card application just like you would if you were applying for a personal credit card.

Here’s a rundown of the information you should gather before you hit the “apply now” button:

  • Your name and business name
  • Your social security number
  • An Employer Identification Number (if you have one)
  • Your address and phone number
  • Annual income
  • Rent or mortgage payment amount
  • The type of business you own
  • The industry your business is in
  • Annual business revenue
  • Number of employees you have
  • Years in business

Should you apply for a business credit card?

There are major benefits that come with picking up a dedicated business credit card, and they extend far beyond the rewards you can earn. Having a business card lets you track and manage your business spending all in one place, and it can also help you keep records separate in order to simplify your taxes.

Finally, many business credit cards come with benefits like free employee cards, primary auto rental coverage and purchase protection, which can make your card more valuable over the long run.

Click here for rates and fees of the Blue Business Plus card.
Click here for rates and fees of the Delta Business Platinum Amex.

Ready to apply for a business credit card? Find out which cards CNN Underscored chose as our best business credit cards available right now.

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