As a business owner, it’s smart to have access to as many different sources of capital as possible. And while you have plenty of options to choose from, a business credit card is a fantastic way to finance small purchases and ensure cash flow remains steady despite outside influences. But do you know what to look for when choosing a card?
5 Things to Consider and Look For
Many business owners internally deal with the dilemma over whether to use a business credit card or a personal credit card – especially in the early days. But despite appearing similar on the surface, there are some distinct differences between these two classes of cards that make choosing a business card the better choice. Be sure to do your own research on these nuances in order to find out if a business card really is right for you.
While there are a couple of instances where it doesn’t make sense to use a business credit card, there are also plenty of situations where it does. One of the biggest benefits is that a business credit card gives you some clout.
'A business credit card can also help your business establish its credit history, which is different from your personal credit history,' personal finance expert Louis DeNicola explains. 'This can be useful, and sometimes necessary, if you want to take out a business loan, apply for a grant or receive lower rates on business insurance policies.'
Then there’s the fact that many business credit cards simplify bookkeeping with built-in accounting platforms and other expense-tracking features. Protection also tends to be amplified, which is more important than ever in a world where attacks and hacks are often the biggest stories of the day.
At the end of the day, the process of finding the right business credit card can be complicated. The key is to recognize your priorities (i.e. are you trying to conduct a balance transfer or rack up rewards points?) and then compare different offers to find the one that benefits your business the most in both the short and long term.
Here are a few of the factors you’ll need to consider as you evaluate your options:
The first thing to think about is the interest rate on a business card. Depending on how much you plan on using the card, slight variances in rates can make a huge difference.
With that being said, interest rates aren’t everything. Business cards are different in that rates can change with very little warning. So, be sure to use any low introductory offers you receive as soon as possible.
With a business credit card, you can’t afford to get lazy. The IRS has very specific requirements outlining what you must document and how these records must be kept. Thankfully, many leading credit card providers offer built-in accounting features to make these demands easier for you. Some of these features include expense reporting, account monitoring, year-end summaries, and QuickBooks integration.
Don’t underestimate the importance of rewards. If you spend a lot on your business credit cards every month, you can accumulate some pretty awesome benefits. The key is to evaluate where you spend your money and choose a card that aligns with your expenses. For example, certain credit cards reward you for staying at particular hotels or using specific car rental companies.
How many of your employees will need cards? The majority of business credit cards offer complimentary cards to employees (up to a certain limit). However, do your research to find out how these cards impact things like reporting and rewards. You may encounter certain fees with different cards, depending on how you’re intending to use them and what sort of features you want.
As a word of caution, it’s absolutely imperative that you read the fine print of any business credit card before getting too far along in the process.
'The 2009 Credit CARD Act, which added extra consumer protections to personal cards, doesn’t cover business credit cards,' DeNicola warns. 'Unlike personal cards, the interest rate on business credit cards can change without forewarning and penalty interest rates (rate increases after a missed payment or when the credit limit is exceeded) can be applied to past purchases.'
As you do your research online, you’ll naturally begin to uncover some of the pros and cons of different cards, but nothing replaces reading the fine print.
Choose the Right Business Credit Card
Choosing the right business credit card isn’t as easy as selecting the first one you come across, but it also doesn’t need to be super challenging. Once you understand what features you’re looking for, you can begin to evaluate your options and focus on the ones that provide the right benefits.