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If you’re a business owner, using a business credit card is a no-brainer: You’ll have access to a steady stream of working capital to finance your small business, and the potential to earn great perks and rewards. But if your credit is less than stellar, you may be concerned about whether there are easy business credit cards available—especially if you have bad credit and need to rebuilt it.
As you might know, the higher your credit score, the more business credit card options you’ll have available to you. If you have bad credit, on the other hand, your options will be limited—but not zero.
Because many consumers struggle with their credit scores. According to Experian, only 22.3% of Americans have excellent credit scores, and 21.2% have deep subprime credit scores. So, logically, there have to be a few easy business credit cards to service that 21.2% of the population.
And there are! The easiest business credit cards to get are those with a low, or no, minimum credit score requirement.
First of all, though, we’ll show you exactly how credit bureaus are looking at your credit. That’ll help you take control of your credit score, and help you get on the path to rebuilding it. Then, we’ll show you easy business credit cards to get (they’re different than the best business credit cards for bad credit, FYI).
Although most of these cards don’t come with the best rewards programs, they’ll certainly give you the financing solutions your business needs. Plus, if you use these easy business credit cards responsibly, you can build your credit enough to level up to even better business credit cards in the future.
As a reminder, your credit score is a numerical gauge of your history with money. But you might be wondering how, exactly, that number is generated—and who (or what) does the creating.
Basically, lenders, including credit card issuers, send information about your credit activities to the credit bureaus (the three big ones are Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax). Then, the bureaus convert that information into a three-digit score, ranging from 300 to 850, or “bad” to “excellent.” Generally, those scores are categorized as follows:
Every credit bureau uses their own, mathematical algorithm to generate your credit score. But they’re all variations on the FICO system, which is by far the most common credit-scoring system (of which there are many) out there.
You might be a little unsure about which “activities,” exactly, the credit bureaus use to create your score. And they may not be the activities you’d expect: For one thing, creditors don’t report personal information like your marital status or personal income. Although if you were concerned about that information impacting your credit score, you’re not the only one: According to TransUnion’s recent survey on credit myths, 44% of consumers believed that marital status goes into your credit report.
Which is, in fact, a myth!
Rather, the credit bureaus are interested in the activities that directly indicate how well or poorly you manage your financial obligations, including:
Again, every credit bureau uses their own method to weigh these credit activities. However, it’s pretty much guaranteed that the bureaus will most heavily consider your payment history and credit utilization.
Everyone’s score starts at 850, and mistakes—like paying bills too late—take you down a few (or several) notches.
So, you have a lot of opportunities to prove that you’re responsible about handling credit. But you have just as many opportunities to lower your credit score, too.
And, the truth is, there are so many reasons why someone’s credit score may be challenged right now. Maybe they’re brand new to the lending world, so their credit history is merely limited. (It’s no mistake that consumers’ average credit score increases with age.) Maybe they splurged on a large purchase, increased their credit utilization ratio, and struggled to pay down their balance. Maybe they have a recent bankruptcy on their report, which can cause major damage to a credit score.
But your credit score is important to lenders, including credit card companies, because that score is just one, handy way of showing lenders how well or poorly you’d be able to manage your loan.
So, if you have bad credit, lenders (or, for our purposes, credit card companies) may think that you could repeat those financial mistakes you’ve made in the past. And, in that case, they fear you won’t be able to pay them back what you owe them this time around, in full and on time.
If you’re applying for a small business loan, a bad credit score might disqualify you for a loan, or it may fetch you less desirable terms, like high interest rates and short repayment periods. And if you’re applying for a business credit card, a bad credit score will probably disqualify you from that card entirely.
So, those with bad credit will have less business credit card options available to them. But “less” doesn’t mean “none”! There are a few easy business credit cards to get for bad credit—they just may not look like the business credit cards you’re expecting.
→TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read): Your credit score is a measure of your history handling money, and any mistakes you’ve made in managing your credit accounts lowers your score. Since that number indicates to lenders how well or poorly you’d be able to pay back your loan, those with bad credit have fewer borrowing options, and they may be disqualified from certain business credit cards entirely.
Whether they’re secured, unsecured, or another type of card entirely (which we’ll explain in a bit), these cards will help you build your credit, earn you perks, make running your business a lot easier, or all of the above. And, importantly, they’re all relatively easy to qualify for, making these the perfect options for people with challenged credit.
For the most part, when people talk about credit cards, they’re talking about “unsecured” credit cards. A few of the easy business credit cards on this list, on the other hand, are “secured” credit cards.
So, what’s the difference between secured and unsecured credit cards?
Essentially, a secured credit card requires that the cardholder puts down your own cash as collateral. That cash deposit also acts as the whole or the majority of your credit line. Because the credit card company is armed with that collateral in case you default on your payments, they’re more willing to extend secured credit cards to high-risk borrowers—aka those with bad credit.
Unsecured cards, on the other hand, don’t require any collateral, and the credit issuer determines your credit line based on a few factors in your credit card application (including, of course, your personal credit score). However, unsecured credit cards come with perks and benefits, and secured cards usually don’t.
Secured credit cards are great options for people working with less-than-stellar credit, because they’re relatively easy to qualify for. And, importantly, they’ll help you build your credit. Most secured card issuers report information to the credit bureaus, so your credit score will benefit from responsible card usage. Keep in mind, however, that not all card issuers report to all three credit bureaus, so it’s best to read the fine print on your secured credit card to make sure.
Other than that cash collateral, secured credit cards function just like unsecured credit cards, so you’ll also carry a balance from month to month. Paying off that balance in full and on time, too, will help you boost your score.
Okay, now that we’ve got the jargon down, let’s move onto the easiest business credit cards to get for bad credit.
The first easy business credit card on this list is actually a personal credit card. Normally, we don’t recommend mixing your personal finances with your business finances, but there are very few secured business credit cards on the market. So, responsibly using a secured personal credit card strictly for business purposes could be a good way to start building your credit. That way, you can ultimately advance onto an unsecured business credit card.
The Capital One Secured Mastercard is one of the best secured credit cards you’ll find. First of all, the card issuer accepts credit scores below 550 to qualify, so that’s great news for those with challenged credit scores.
There are also no annual or hidden fees on this card. Which is also good news, since you’re already putting down cash to create your credit line, so you’ll probably want to keep the rest of your cash output to a minimum. And that cash deposit/credit line is flexible. The minimum required cash deposit is either $49, $99, or $200, and those with lower credit scores have a lower minimum required cash deposit. You’ll also have the opportunity to raise that credit line if you make your first five monthly payments on time.
On the downside, the Capital One Secured Mastercard doesn’t come with any perks. However, Capital One reports card usage to all three credit bureaus, so if you use this card responsibly, you’ll be able to to build up your credit score.
The Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card is that rare secured business credit card we were talking about.
Since it’s secured, of course, the Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card is one of the easiest business credit cards to get. If qualified, you’ll create a credit line of any amount between $500 and $25,000.
Unlike most secured credit cards, the Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card does come with a few perks: You can choose to receive cash back or rewards points on all of your purchases.
And since this secured credit card is intended specifically for businesses, you can create up to 10 employee cards. You’ll also have access to Wells Fargo Business Online, so you can easily track and manage spending across all those cards.
On top of the cash deposit, you will have to pay an annual fee on this card. But, at $25, it’s much lower than most other annual-fee cards out there.
Here’s another reason why this is a great starter business credit card: Wells Fargo periodically reviews your account usage to determine whether you’re eligible to graduate to an unsecured business credit card. They’ll make that decision based on factors like timely bill payments, low credit utilization, and personal credit score—which is just more incentive to use your business credit card responsibly, and boost your credit score in the process.
Keep in mind, however, that only existing Wells Fargo customers can apply for their secured business credit card online. If you don’t have a relationship with the bank, you’ll have to apply for this credit card in person.
Secured credit cards are ideal for small business owners who want easy access to working capital, but whose credit scores disqualify them from traditional business credit cards. But, if you use your secured credit card responsibly, you’ll see your previously challenged credit score increase. And, ultimately, it just might increase enough to qualify for an unsecured business credit card.
If that’s the case, we’d recommend the Capital One Spark Classic for Business credit card as your first stop. That’s because, at 550, it has one of the lowest minimum credit score requirements you’ll find on an unsecured business credit card.
The Spark Classic has no annual fee, plus it offers 1% cash back on every dollar you spend, with no limit on how much cash back you can earn.
And, as an unsecured credit card, Capital One reports card activity to the credit bureaus—so this card can help you build or rehab your credit score, as long as you’re using it responsibly (by which we mean, for the most part, paying your bills on time).
Technically, this list’s easiest business credit card to get isn’t a credit card at all. Rather, the Bento for Business is a prepaid business debit card.
Like a secured business credit card, you’ll load up your Bento for Business card using your own funds, and that amount works as your credit line. You’ll hook up your business bank account directly to your Bento card, so you can easily, and securely, fund your cards anytime you want. Then, you can use the Bento anywhere that accepts Mastercards.
Unlike a secured business credit card, however, you’re not paying monthly bills to a credit card company, which means you can’t build credit with this card. But that also means that Bento doesn’t check your credit score at all when you apply, making this a great option for credit-challenged small business owners.
The real benefits of the Bento card are in its solutions for small business owners who need to manage employee spending. First off, you can create as many employee cards as you need, and set specific budgets on each of those cards. You’ll get the first two employee cards for free, then pay one flat fee per account for all additional cards on a sliding scale.
Plus, the Bento can integrate into your business accounting software, so all card activity is readily available for you come tax season. Bento also has a mobile app and a dashboard, so you can track exactly which employees are using their cards—and where and how they’re using them—and manage their budgets accordingly.
Again, you can’t use the Bento to build your credit. (But, again, the Bento doesn’t require any minimum credit score to qualify, making this an incredibly easy approval small business credit card.) So, if you’re hoping to build credit, you’re best off using the Bento in addition to either a secured credit card, or the Spark Classic, once you can swing that 550 minimum credit score.
→TL;DR: Restore bad credit with a secured credit card, a secured business credit card, or an unsecured credit card with a low minimum credit score requirement. In addition, use a prepaid business credit card for its employee-management perks. These are all some of the easiest business credit cards to get.
If you want to use a business credit card to help finance your small business, but your bad credit disqualifies you from most traditional business credit cards, know that you still have options.
Your best plan of attack is to use a business credit card that’s easy to get. These are three of your best options:
(If you do go for the Capital One Secured Mastercard, be sure to use this card strictly for business purposes, so you don’t risk mixing your business and personal finances.)
Use these cards to build your credit, so you can ultimately advance onto an unsecured business credit card with more, or better, perks and rewards. And, In addition to using a credit card, sign up for the Bento for Business Prepaid Mastercard if you need to manage employee spending. There’s no credit check required, so you’ll have a shot at qualifying for this card even if your credit score is challenged.
Not only are these easy business credit cards to get, but they’re easy to apply for, too: You can apply for all of these cards online. (With the exception of the Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card, which you’ll need to apply for in person if you’re not an existing Wells Fargo customer.)
Do keep in mind, however, that some of these business credit cards will make a hard pull on your credit score when you apply. Hard pulls ding your credit score a small amount—just about five points—but, if you’re credit score is already challenged, you’ll want to avoid further damage whenever possible.
Definitely do your research, and be as sure as possible that you’ll be able to qualify for the card you’re aiming for. Then, you’re ready to apply for a business credit card, use it responsibly, and watch your credit change from “bad” to “good.”