Many people aren’t aware of the fact that anyone can apply for business credit cards, even if they are not part of a corporation or LLC. Just use your own name as the business name, and your Social Security Number as the Tax ID.
Why? Because any individual can be a business as well. The business type is called a sole proprietorship. Maybe you sell garage sale items or crafts on eBay. Boom! You’re a sole proprietorship. Done any freelance work for a friend? You’re a sole proprietorship. This is the most simple business entity, but it is fully legit and recognized by the IRS. Unless you apply for another one, the name of your business is your legal name, eg. John Doe.
When you apply for a business credit card, you will have to put down both your Social Security number and the Tax ID number for the business. If you are a Sole Proprietorship, you Tax ID is your Social Security Number. (Unless you filed for a EIN). For the vast majority of business credit cards, if even you are a corporation or LLC, you will still be personally liable for business debts. That’s why they’ll usually ask you for your SSN anyways.
Remember, if you are a sole proprietorship there is no legal distinction between you and your business anyhow. Business debts are personal debts. Personal debts are business debts.
(Also, unless you want to deduct your purchases as qualified business expenses on your tax return, you really don’t need to worry about any tax issues or filing anything special with the IRS. You can simply buy things with the card and pay off the balance as you would your other credit cards. If you do want to take deductions, please consult your tax advisor.)
Because of this liability, you will get a hard credit inquiry to your personal credit report just like apply for a consumer card so that the issuer can make a decision whether to offer you credit. (Now, businesses can also have their own credit scores, but that’s another post for another time.) However, for most business credit cards the card itself won’t show up on your personal credit report. This means that you can open and close accounts, have a bunch of new accounts, and max out the credit lines without affecting your personal credit card score. This also means you can make thousands from playing the 0% Balance Transfer game without worrying about your credit score!
In addition, I use this fact to get more credit card bonuses. I was reminded of this recently by my mom, actually. My parents live in a smaller city which is basically only served by Delta Airlines, so they love SkyMiles. When you are in a small city, tickets are expensive since you can’t get a nonstop flight. So they always get over 2 cents to the mile when redeeming for free tickets.
Anyways, my mom applied for the Gold Delta SkyMiles American Express Card for the 17,500 free bonus miles (Even though now new card owners can earn 30,000 miles), and then my dad applied for the SkyMiles card for the free miles. My mom asked me if she could cancel the card and apply again to get more free miles. Not so quickly, I don’t think, but while don’t you apply for the Delta Business SkyMiles AmEx card for another 20,000 free miles? First year is even free too. She applied and got accepted, now next Thanksgiving is at my place 😉