Why You Should Consider a Business Credit Card, Even If You Don’t Own a Business

Photo (cc) by Andres Rueda

I review dozens of credit card offers each week to find the best deals. Check out more on our credit card page.

Banks offer credit cards for consumers and they market others for “business.” What’s the difference? Not much. But there are situations where business cards offer superior value to their consumer counterparts with very few drawbacks.

The difference between consumer and business credit cards

There was a time when there was virtually no difference between consumer and business credit cards. But since the enactment of the CARD Act of 2009, consumer credit cards are covered by new protections, primarily affecting things like late and over-limit fees, as well as how interest rates are charged on balances. Business cards were exempt from many of these protections.

If you carry a balance, you shouldn’t be looking for a reward credit card, business or otherwise: You should find one with the lowest interest rate. But if you pay off your balance each month, and are looking for the best rewards, you might find them with a business card.

Business cards offering better rewards

The Ink Plus Business Card from Chase offers 5 points per dollar spent at office supply stores and on telephone, television, and Internet service. You can’t get this deal from any of their consumer credit cards.

The American Express SimplyCash business card also offers 5 percent cash back on purchases from office supply stores and telephone services, and 3 percent cash back at gas stations, better than most gasoline cards. It has no annual fee.

Can I get a business card if I don’t have a business?

Yes. These cards are great for employees who travel on company business. They also make sense for anyone who has some form of home-based income. This could be selling things on eBay, freelancing, even babysitting. And once you have the card, you’re free to use it for non-business purchases.

Do I need an Employer Identification Number (EIN) to apply?

When you fill out an application for a business credit card, it asks you to provide an Employer Identification Number, or EIN, the business equivalent of a Social Security number. If you don’t have an EIN, however, as a sole proprietor, you’re allowed to use your Social Security number instead. This isn’t dishonest, it’s what sole proprietors are supposed to do. In fact, many applications explain that customers should provide their Social Security number if they do not have an EIN.

Bottom line? If you pay off your balance every month, the best card is the one with the biggest rewards. If that’s what you’re looking for, there’s no reason to exclude business cards from your search.

Note: While we attempt to be completely objective when reporting on credit cards, this site may be compensated by issuers when a reader applies for a credit card through the links within credit card stories or on our credit card search page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
Beware These 3 Tax Penalties on Retirement Accounts
Beware These 3 Tax Penalties on Retirement Accounts

Protecting a nest egg is tough — but you can make the situation far worse with some boneheaded mistakes.

10 U.S. Jobs That Are Disappearing Fastest
10 U.S. Jobs That Are Disappearing Fastest

Think twice before pursuing these shrinking occupations.

Watch This: Organize Your Home With Dollar Tree Products
Watch This: Organize Your Home With Dollar Tree Products

Here’s how to organize every corner of your home using only items from a dollar store.

3 Cable TV Companies Hiking Prices for 2020
3 Cable TV Companies Hiking Prices for 2020

Still married to your cable company? Hold on to your wallet!

36 Things That Will Be Obsolete Soon
36 Things That Will Be Obsolete Soon

The writing is on the wall for dozens of things we have grown up with.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
9 Mistakes Everyone Makes When Shopping on Amazon
9 Mistakes Everyone Makes When Shopping on Amazon

Are you losing money due to any of these missteps?

Can a Divorced Widow Claim Her First Husband’s Social Security Benefits?
Can a Divorced Widow Claim Her First Husband’s Social Security Benefits?

The rules are complicated when it comes to eligibility for survivors benefits.

Can a Twice-Divorced Woman Claim Social Security Survivors Benefits?
Can a Twice-Divorced Woman Claim Social Security Survivors Benefits?

Understanding survivors benefits rules is the key to getting the most from your benefit.

10 Things I Always Buy at Trader Joe’s
10 Things I Always Buy at Trader Joe’s

From snacks to sweets to side dishes, stock your cart with these time-tested favorites on your next TJ’s run.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

5 Ways Social Security Will Change in 2021
5 Ways Social Security Will Change in 2021

These adjustments will affect both workers and retirees in the new year.

11 ‘Disposable’ Items You Should Be Reusing
These Are the 10 Worst Cars for Depreciation
These Are the 10 Worst Cars for Depreciation

Two types of vehicles are especially likely to see steep plunges in value.

8 Things You Should Buy at Restaurant Supply Stores
8 Things You Should Buy at Restaurant Supply Stores

You don’t have to be a chef or a restaurant owner to shop here.

15 Free Streaming Services to Watch While Stuck at Home
15 Free Streaming Services to Watch While Stuck at Home

These free movie streaming sites offer thousands of movies and TV shows, including recent releases and beloved classics. If you love free movies, online sites are where you need to look for the best list of features that are just one easy click away.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

There are easy high-paying majors available in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required. We’re here to help you find easy degrees that pay well.

Stop Buying These 19 Things Online
Stop Buying These 19 Things Online

The internet has changed how we shop. But for some things, you’re still better off buying the old-fashioned way.

Cut These 11 Expenses Now If You Hope to Retire Early
Cut These 11 Expenses Now If You Hope to Retire Early

Like the idea of financial independence? Part of the FIRE equation is cutting costs.

27 Things You Should Never Pay For — and How to Get Them for Free
27 Things You Should Never Pay For — and How to Get Them for Free

When you know the tricks, you can save big on all kinds of useful things that others pay for.

4 Tax Credits That Will Be More Generous in 2021
4 Tax Credits That Will Be More Generous in 2021

If you are eligible for these tax breaks, they will slash your federal income tax bill — dollar for dollar.

7 Reasons to Carry Mortgage Debt Into Retirement
7 Reasons to Carry Mortgage Debt Into Retirement

It often makes financial sense to not pay off your mortgage before retiring.

These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020
These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020

Medicare Advantage customers themselves rate these plans highest.

5 Secrets of Seniors Who Keep Their Minds ‘Young’
5 Secrets of Seniors Who Keep Their Minds ‘Young’

Here is why some seniors’ brains work as well as those of people who are decades younger.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.