It can be tough to find business credit cards with no personal guarantee. In fact, it may seem like every single card offer requires you, as an individual, to serve as a guarantor.
Why? Since credit card loans are unsecured, banks want an extra line of defense in case your business can’t pay its debts. As a result, almost every bank asks for a personal guarantee on business credit cards. As such, it’s hard to come by business credit cards with no personal guarantee requirement.
In some cases, you can waive the personal guarantee requirement. However, this doesn’t rely on the card you apply for but on your relationship with your business’s bank. What does that mean, then? It’s complicated, so we’ll go into the details of what exactly the personal guarantee means, how you can (at least try to) get it waived, and what your top options are for a business credit card with no personal guarantee requirements.
First, let’s dive into the mechanics of a personal guarantee. Essentially, when you guarantee a business loan, you’re saying that you’ll personally pay off the loan if the primary payer (your business, a co-signer on a personal loan, etc.) defaults. Since any lender is taking a risk when they give you money, they want to ensure that they have a way to mitigate their risk—and, knowing that there’s a failsafe in place in the form of personal security helps them feel more confident to take a gamble on you.
So, just like a term loan, most small business credit card terms include a clause saying that you’re personally responsible for paying off the balance if your business can’t do it. (That’s why card issuers are concerned about your personal credit when you’re applying for a business credit card; after all, you’re the one paying the bills and ensuring the company that they’ll get their money back.)
It’s important to know that personal guarantees hold whether you’re an S-corp, C-corp, or LLC. Registering your business as an LLC limits your personal risk if, say, your company gets sued. But it doesn’t let you off the hook on your business credit card debts.
There are two ways you can get business credit cards with no personal guarantee requirements. Both of them rely on your business’s financials and credibility, rather than the cards themselves.
You might be able to negotiate your way out of a personal guarantee based on your solid payment history, good business financials, and a low debt-to-credit ratio. Some banks will waive the personal guarantee after you’ve had the card for a while, made your payments on time, and built up your business credit score. If you already have a line of credit with a bank, the bank may waive the personal guarantee requirement on subsequent rounds of funding.
In short: The bank has to trust you. Remember, this is all about risk.
Larger, more established businesses might be able to escape the personal guarantee based on their track records. For instance, some business credit cards will waive a personal guarantee if businesses have a certain amount of time in business under their belts, with demonstrated, substantial, consistent revenue—generally meaning upward of $1 million (or more).
The catch here—yes, a catch—is that these cards are often issued by stores instead of banks, so your spending power is limited to certain places or products.
As previously stated, most business credit cards that don’t require a personal guarantee are issued by stores instead of banks. Nonetheless, there may be an option out there that makes sense for your business. Here are the top business credits cards with no personal guarantee:
In order to get a Sam’s Club Business Credit Card, you must (unsurprisingly) become a Sam’s Club member. Once you do, you’ll gain access to a nice rewards program. With this card, you’ll earn 5% cash back on eligible gas worldwide, 3% cash back on dining and travel, 1% cash back on other purchases at Sam’s Club and wherever Mastercard is accepted. This rewards program is unique in that you can earn rewards on purchases outside of Sam’s Club.
There’s also no annual fee for this card, but you will have to pay your annual Sam’s Club membership (between $45 to $100). What’s more, Sam’s Club offers a $30 statement credit if you spend $30 on your card within the first day.
If you’re a road warrior, or you manage a fleet of drivers, the Shell Small Business Card could be one of the best business credit cards with no personal guarantee for you. You can acquire this card free of charge, and it doesn’t come with monthly recurring fees or account setup fees. You also won’t have to pay for the additional cards that your employees will use. The Shell business credit card comes with free unlimited additional cards.
You may also earn rebates of up to $0.06 per gallon with the Shell Small Business Card; however, keep in mind it can only be used for purchases at a Shell gas station or participating Jiffy Lube. Still, it is a good option for small business owners in the transportation industry who want to provide their team with an easy way to pay for gas.
As we mentioned, almost every bank wants a personal guarantee when you open a business credit card. That is unless your business meets certain requirements or you negotiate a personal guarantee waiver after the fact. That’s unlikely for most small business owners. You can, alternatively, look into store business credit cards without personal guarantee requirements—but even then, if you don’t find yourself prohibitively limited by the business size requirements, you’ll likely want more spending flexibility.
Here’s a good work around, though: Not all business credit cards will impact your personal credit score.
Even though card issuers are concerned with your personal credit when you apply, some issuers may only do a soft pull of your personal credit, which won’t affect your credit score (versus a hard pull, which will show up on your credit report as a small, temporary reduction). Take American Express, for example: From what we’ve seen, Amex typically only does a soft credit pull when you apply for one of their business credit cards.
Then, you’ll have another consideration after you take out a business credit card. Some business card issuers report your usage—on-time payments, debt-to-credit ratio, credit limit, etc.—to personal credit bureaus. But not every single one. This can be helpful if you need to carry a balance on your business credit card and don’t want it to negatively impact your personal credit utilization. For instance, credit cards issued by Bank of America, Citibank, BBVA, and Wells Fargo won’t impact your personal credit score.
On the other hand, Discover and Capital One report business card usage to personal credit bureaus. Meanwhile, Chase and U.S. Bank only report seriously delinquent accounts.
If you can’t get a business credit card with no personal guarantee, here are our top picks for business credit cards that are better for your personal credit score.
Great For: Travel rewards on unlimited spendingRead Full Review
|Welcome offerafter spending $3K in first 90 days of account opening||Rewards ratedepending on where you spend||Annual fee||Minimum credit|
|30,000 bonus points||1.5 or 3 points||0||700|
Perhaps you’re excited about the idea of a Bank of America business credit card, since they’re among the business credit card issuers who won’t report your behavior to personal credit bureaus. BofA has many great cards for small business owners, but an especially excellent option if you travel often for business, particularly domestically.
Their Business Advantage Travel Rewards Mastercard has nearly all of the best things you’ll want in a business credit card. It starts with an easy-to-access welcome bonus: When you spend $1,000 during your first 60 days with the card, you’ll earn a welcome bonus of 25,000 miles. Or you can redeem this welcome bonus as a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.
There’s no annual fee with this card, plus it comes with a nine-month 0% intro APR period (after that, a variable APR will set in at the market Prime Rate, so check with the issuer for details). You’ll earn rewards, too: 1.5 points for every $1 with no cap; and 3 points for every $1 spent on travel (car, airline, and hotel) booked through the Bank of America® Travel Center. That’s one of the best rewards rates out there.
Great For: Making purchases with a 0% intro APR periodRead Full Review
|Intro apron purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening||Regular aprvariable||Annual fee||Minimum credit|
|0%||16.24% – 24.24%||0||700|
As a reminder, American Express, in most cases, usually only performs a soft credit pull when you apply for one of their business credit cards. So, if you happen to be shopping for a card with a 0% intro APR offer, nothing can beat the American Express Blue Business Plus.
That’s because this card has a 12-month intro APR period. You can think of it like a 12-month interest-free loan. After your intro period is up, a variable APR will set in according to the market Prime Rate and your creditworthiness. So, you’ll want to be careful that you have a plan to pay off any debt before those 12 months are up.
Outside of the intro period, your perks include earning 2 points for every dollar you spend on your first $50,000 in purchases annually. After that, you’ll earn 1 point for every dollar you spend with the card. Plus, there’s no annual fee.
Great For: Typical business expensesRead Full Review
|Intro apron purchases for 12 months||Regular apr(Variable)||Annual fee||Minimum credit|
|0%||15.49% – 21.49%||0||660|
As we mentioned, Chase won’t report your business credit card usage to personal credit bureaus unless you’re seriously delinquent. That goes for this card, too, of course. So as long as you borrow responsibly, you’re in the clear.
The Chase Ink Business Cash is among the best cash back business credit cards you can get as a small business owner. It’s the best for typical business expenses, and, generally, cash back is great for business owners who want to earn rewards for their spend, but don’t want to have to do any extra work to redeem those rewards.
This card also has a fantastic 12-month 0% intro APR period on purchases. (Same deal here—a variable APR will set in once the 12 months is up.) You can earn big here with its tiered rewards program: 5% cash back on office supplies and phone, internet, and cable services (up to a combined $25,000 spent annually); 2% cash back on gas and restaurants (up to a combined $25,000 spent annually); 1% cash back elsewhere.
There’s no annual fee with this card, and once you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first three months with the card, you’ll earn a $750 welcome bonus.
Great For: Simple cash back rewardsRead Full Review
|Welcome offerif you spend $4,500 in the first 3 months||Rewards rateon every purchase with no caps||Annual feefirst year, then $95||Minimum credit|
|$500||2% cash back||0||660|
We recommend the Capital One Spark Cash for Business credit card because you’ll get unlimited 2% cash back for every dollar you spend. This means every time you swipe your Capital One Spark Cash for Business, no matter where, no matter when, you’ll be earning an even 2% cash back. Capital One doesn’t cap the amount of cash back you can earn every year, which is quite rare for a business credit card.
When you sign up for a Spark Cash for Business card, you’re also eligible for a $500 cash bonus if you spend $4,500 during your first three months with the card. However, keep in mind that this card also comes with a $95 annual fee after your first year.
The biggest lesson here? Business credit cards with no personal guarantee requirements are hard to come by. Plus, they’re usually out of reach for small or new business owners.
That said, you can still find a clever workaround—and earn rewards in the process. You’ll find excellent cards that’ll not only have minimal impact on your personal credit score, but will also help out your business with beneficial perks at the same time. Surprising, but cool.
Georgia McIntyre is the director of content marketing at Fundera.
Georgia has written extensively about small business finance, specializing in business lending, credit cards, and accounting solutions.