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Providing a Social Security number to apply for a business credit card seems like it would be counterintuitive and often times frustrating. What does your personal information have to do with your business’s finances? Which is why you’ve likely asked yourself if you can apply for business credit cards using EIN only.
You are certainly not the only person to have asked this, believe us. It’s a very common question, which is why we’ve put together this guide to lay out your options for applying for a business credit card using EIN only.
We’ll also go over some more effective alternatives for addressing why you might have come to this question in the first place, since you’re certainly not alone.
If you’re looking to apply for business credit cards using your Employer Identification Number—or EIN—only, then you’re likely either trying to avoid personal liability on a business credit card, or you’re trying to avoid a personal credit check that most business credit card applications require.
If you’re trying to avoid personal liability, then look to corporate credit cards, gas cards, or prepaid business credit cards as your top options for business credit cards you can get with an EIN only.
Alternatively, you might be looking to apply for a business credit card using EIN only because your are working with poor personal credit. If this is the case, the most future-proof path is to build personal credit with responsible spending with the Secured Mastercard or the Spark Classic, even though they require more than your EIN to apply.
Before we can answer if it’s possible to get business credit cards using EIN only, let’s make sure we’re all 100% what an EIN is exactly, where you get one, and where to find it once it’s issued.
An EIN—which stands for “Employer Identification Number”—works much like a business version of a Social Security number. Your business’s EIN will be a nine-digit number that the IRS assigns to it. And, of course, it’s unique to your operation—that’s the whole point.
Your EIN—also known as a business tax ID number—will be required for lots of different things throughout the lifecycle of your business. You’ll need it, for instance, when you open a business bank account. Or if a retailer offers a business discount, sometimes they’ll require you verify your business status will an EIN. For reasons big and small, you should know how to find your business tax ID number.
Most business credit card applications require both the business owner’s Social Security number and the business’s EIN. The business owner’s SSN enable the credit card issuer to run a personal credit check, the results of which will—more often than not—be the deciding factor for whether or not the applicant qualifies for a business credit card.
Plus, the SSN lets the business owner be personally attached to the business credit card account, making them personally liable for the spending done on the card.
Apply for a Business Credit Card
What’s the main motivation to apply for business credit cards using EIN only? The answer to this question certainly differs from business owner to business owner, but there are two primary reasons for wanting to secure a business credit with an EIN only.
Here’s a spotlight on those two top draws of applying for business credit cards with EIN only, and you should be in a position to understand your next moves:
Credit card issuers tend to treat getting a business credit card using EIN as an earned privilege. And that usually comes with building credit and proving creditworthiness.
Whether your business has stellar financial credentials or you’ve prepaid your credit limit, you’ll have to reduce the risk that the credit card issuer takes on in order to obtain business credit cards using EIN only.
Corporate business credit cards are options for high-rolling business that want to secure business credit cards using EIN only. These cards let a business access a credit card account without one specific stakeholder taking on personal liability.
While some corporate business credit cards come with card-specific liability—which means each cardholder is responsible for the spending done on their specific card—others allow for company-only liability if that’s what you’re after.
As a result, many corporate business credit cards don’t require SSN and can be considered business credit cards that require EIN only.
Another alternative is to explore some corporate gas cards, which let your business qualify for company-only liability.
For instance, you can access the Shell Business Credit Card with your EIN only if your business fulfills a few requirements. With the Shell card, for example, if your business earns over a million dollars in revenue every year, and has at least three years of business history, then you could qualify for company-only liability for this corporate gas card.
Last up, if you want to apply for business credit cards using EIN only, but you’re not raking in tons of revenue, then one of your options is a prepaid business credit card. This type of business credit cards lets the person managing the account prepay business cards for employees to spend with.
Because prepaid business credit cards are low- to no-risk for card issuers, they won’t require a personal guarantee. As a result, they don’t require a SSN to apply, either.
That said, these types of business credit cards won’t be able to build credit for your or your business. Meanwhile, other business credit card choices let you build credit by spending responsibly, but they will require more than an EIN for their application.
If you want to access company-only liability with business credit cards using EIN only, then corporate credit cards, corporate gas cards, and prepaid are your only options that can help with that.
However, if your personal credit is suffering, and you want to avoid applying to a business credit card with your SSN as a result, there are ways to access business credit that, unlike getting business credit cards with EIN only, will help you build or rebuild your personal credit.
If you spend responsibly with a secured or subprime unsecured credit card, you’ll be able to build your personal credit. In turn, this improved credit will open up and improve your business credit card options for the future. And looking to the long term is going to be a great solution for you. (You know, that whole teach-a-man-to-fish thing.)
Here are two different, more future-proof alternatives to getting business credit cards using EIN only:
If you’re seeking business credit cards using EIN only because you’re working with a personal credit score below 550, then your very best plan for improving your business credit card options is building your personal credit with the Secured Mastercard.
With this secured credit card, you’ll provide a security deposit to secure your credit limit and to mitigate the risk that Capital One takes on by extending you this credit limit. As a result, business owners with personal credit that’s on the lower side will be able to access this credit building tool much easier than they would be able to access an unsecured credit card.
Though most secured credit cards will require that you put down 90%—if not all—of your credit limit’s worth, the Secured Mastercard will allow you put down a security deposit as small as 25% of your credit limit, depending on your creditworthiness.
Plus, if you can’t put down you security deposit in one lump sum, the Secured Mastercard lets you pay it off in installments, so long as it’s paid in full within 80 days of opening your account.
This all means that the Secured Mastercard is the most flexible secured card on the market, and it lets business owners with struggling credit rebuild their finances with responsible spending.
On the other hand, if you’re seeking business credit cards using EIN only because you’re working with fair personal credit, then you might be able to qualify for the Capital One Spark Classic for Business.
This unsecured business credit card is available to business owners with personal credit of 550 or higher. With the Spark Classic, credit-challenged business owners can access an unsecured credit limit and cash back rewards—a flat-rate, unlimited 1% cash back for every dollar you spend.
Even better, Capital One will report all of your activity on the Spark Classic to personal credit bureaus. As a result, your responsible spending will be that much more effective in improving your personal credit. That means better business credit card options, quicker.
And you’ll be able to access all of these perks for free—the Spark Classic comes with no annual fee at all.
Apply for a Business Credit Card for Building Credit
The Bento for Business card isn’t technically a credit card—it’s a prepaid business debit Mastercard. This is a great solution for business owners managing several employees, but whose low or limited credit has disqualified them from traditional business credit cards. When you sign up for a Bento card, you don’t have to worry about your personal credit score, since Bento doesn’t require a credit check to qualify.
Prepaid cards are front-loaded with your own capital. To fund your Bento’s line of credit, you’ll transfer funds directly from your own business bank account onto your card. Since you’re not paying monthly bills to a credit card company, you can’t use the Bento card to build credit, and it won’t affect your credit score, either.
What this card can do is help you oversee employee spending. Bento lets you easily set spend limits, track card activity, automatically integrate expense data into your bookkeeping software, and create as many cards as your business needs.
If your credit score is a concern, use the Bento card alongside a secured credit card or the Spark Classic. That way, you can build your credit score and take advantage of Bento’s great features at the same time.
You should now be well-equipped to move forward finding a business credit card using EIN only, or finding an alternative that’s with your best choice, regardless of your situation—or your goals. If you’re looking for a business credit card using EIN only in order to avoid personal liability on the card, then you’ll need to pick a corporate credit card or a gas card if you qualify. If not, look to a prepaid card.
That said, if you’re looking to apply for a business credit card using EIN only because your personal credit score doesn’t quite stack up, then really, really think about building your credit! Play the long game! Look to the Secured Mastercard or the Spark Classic to build your personal credit, and use a prepaid business debit card to easily oversee all your business’s spending at the same time.
With responsible spending and a little bit of time, you’ll eventually be proud to provide your SSN for a personal credit check on a business credit card application.