How To Choose a Business Credit Card
BY: ERICA BELL ON THURSDAY, JANUARY 10, 2013
Getting credit for your business is essential, regardless of size or industry. If you don’t have a lot of cash on hand or have to wait for payment for extended periods of time, business credit cards may be the way to go. Credit cards give business the flexibility and allow owners to separate their personal and professional finances. There are numerous options when it comes to choosing a credit card for your company, but there are three different things you’ll want to look at before you sign up.
RatesIf you have a personal credit card, you probably already have an understanding of how credit cards work. When it comes to your business, a few things are similar and some are different. Credit limits tend to be based on the personal credit score of the business owner and are higher than they would be for a personal card. Because of these higher credit limits, the rates are also generally higher for business credit lines than they are for personal ones. There are two rates you really want to pay attention to before picking up a company card.
- Introductory Rate: For a designated period of time, credit card companies offer an introductory rate to entice your business. Many people make the mistake of not asking what the rate will be once that period is over. Make sure you ask and that the rate is reasonable.
- APR (Annual Percentage Rate): Referred to as the “Interest Rate,” this percentage can either be a fixed rate or a variable rate. If you plan to carry a balance on your business card, you will need a card with a low interest rate.
When you’re choosing a business credit card, make sure you pay attention to all the associated fees. From annual to overdraft fees, if you’re not aware of costs that you can accrue simply from having and using the card, your credit, and business, can suffer.
- Overdraft fees: You don’t want to max out your credit limit. Overspending can happen but you should monitor your spending to make sure you don’t go over your limit. Overdraft fees can vary but are often costly.
- Late fees: Late fees are one way credit card companies make money from cardholders. If you’re unsure of your incoming cash flow, choose a card with low late fees.
- Annual fees: Few business credit cards come without an annual fee. Shop around to find a card that meets your needs while maintaining a lower annual fee.
- Transaction fees: Balance transfers and cash advances are just two examples of transactions that credit card companies may charge you for. Look for no or low transaction fees.
RewardsDifferent companies benefit from different rewards programs. If you or your employees travel frequently, look for a rewards program that offers travel discounts. You also shouldn't have to pay for your rewards program; there are a number of credit card companies who don’t charge for them.
- Choose a rewards program that offers something your business will use. Whether its cash, travel miles or something else, your rewards program should relate to your business expenses.
- Make sure your rewards are easily earned and redeemed. If you have to go out of your way to earn points or redeem them, the rewards program probably isn't a good fit.
- Look for limits. Some rewards are on a timeline while others have limits to how many you can earn. Know the limits so you don’t miss out!
As you choose a business credit card, it’s important to keep in mind that business can become personal. Small businesses are often asked to personally guarantee payment, which means bad business credit management will impact your personal finances. And while the perks or rewards program may seem to be worth the fees or rates, small businesses starting out without much capital should consider a card with no frills. The most important things to consider when choosing a business credit card are the rates and the fees. Make sure to shop around for your business and read the fine print before you sign the dotted line.Photo Credit: Andres Rueda