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Credit Cards

The best business credit cards you can get with bad credit in 2024

Business credit cards for poor and average credit are rare. Here are the best options.

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Wentao Li | Istock | Getty Images

Business credit cards allow you to keep your personal and business expenses separate and may offer attractive rewards and perks. Whether your business has a team of employees or is a side gig where you work for yourself, a business credit card can provide valuable benefits.

However, most business credit cards require at least a good credit score or higher (670 and above). If your credit score needs some work, qualifying for this type of card may be challenging.

Luckily, you still have options. CNBC Select compared business credit cards you can get with poor or fair credit and analyzed each card's approval requirements, benefits and potential disadvantages to help you make an informed choice. Below are our top picks for business credit cards you can get approved for with less-than-ideal credit. (See our methodology for more information on how we choose the best cards.)

Best business credit cards for bad credit

Winner

Capital One Spark 1% Classic

Information about the Capital One Spark Classic has been collected independently by CNBC Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 1% on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    None

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    30.74% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    None

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Average

Terms apply.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Free employee cards
  • Average credit may qualify
  • Redeem cash back for any amount at any time
  • No fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.

Cons

  • No welcome bonus
  • No introductory 0% financing offers for purchases or balance transfers

Who's this for? The Capital One Spark 1% Classic* is an excellent choice for business owners with fair credit. Typically, it's challenging to get approved for an unsecured business credit card without good credit. The Capital One Spark Classic* is a rare exception as it doesn't require a deposit and has no annual fee.

The card offers a straightforward cash-back program, as well as useful benefits for business owners, including free employee cards, no foreign transaction fees, year-end summaries and purchase records available to download in multiple formats.

Runner-up

Bank of America Business Advantage Unlimited Cash Rewards Secured credit card

Information about the Bank of America Business Advantage Unlimited Cash Rewards Secured card has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    None

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    28.49% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    4% of each transaction (minimum $0)

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Poor/No credit history

Terms apply.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Bad credit may qualify
  • Opportunity to transition to an unsecured card for qualified cardholders
  • Flexible redemption options

Cons

  • $1,000 minimum security deposit
  • No welcome bonus
  • No introductory 0% financing offers for purchases or balance transfers

Who's this for? The Bank of America Business Advantage Unlimited Cash Rewards Secured credit card is a solid option for business owners who have poor credit but don't mind putting down a deposit to secure a credit line.

The minimum security deposit for the Business Advantage Unlimited Cash Rewards Secured is $1,000. If you get approved, it will also become your credit line. Later, as you continue to improve your credit score, Bank of America may upgrade you to an unsecured card.

The card offers above-average rewards, as well as benefits such as cash flow management tools allowing you to schedule automatic payments and transfers and download transactions into QuickBooks. Plus, if you have a Business Advantage 360 account with Bank of America, you can get free access to your Dun & Bradstreet business credit score.

Best for building personal credit

Discover it® Secured Credit Card

On Discover's secure site
  • Rewards

    Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, automatically. Plus earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

  • Welcome bonus

    Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    N/A on purchases

  • Regular APR

    28.24% Variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    New / Rebuilding

  • *See rates and fees, terms apply.

Pros

  • Cash-back program
  • Generous welcome bonus
  • Starting at seven months from account opening, Discover will automatically review your credit card account to see if you can transition to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit

Cons

  • Cash-back program limits earnings: 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, then 1%
  • Low credit line prevents cardholders from charging high-cost items or many expenses

Who's this for? The Discover it® Secured Credit Card is ideal for business owners looking to build their personal credit.

Since a card issuer may check your personal credit when you're applying for a business credit card, improving your personal credit score can help you qualify for more lucrative business cards. The Discover it Secured is one of the best cards for building credit available on the market, thanks to its rewarding cash-back program and additional benefits, such as no foreign transaction fees.

Discover also makes it easy to transition to an unsecured line of credit. Starting seven months from account opening, Discover will automatically review your account, and if eligible, will upgrade you to an unsecured card and return your deposit.

Find the best credit card for you by reviewing offers in our credit card marketplace or get personalized offers via CardMatch™.

FAQs

Do business credit cards verify income?

Credit card issuers may request proof of revenue or income, such as receipts, paystubs, invoices or other documents. For that reason, it's important to ensure you provide correct and verifiable information on your credit card application. Additionally, don't report any personal income, unless the issuer specifically asks for it or it's related to your business.

Do banks check personal credit for a business credit card?

Credit card issuers will typically pull your personal credit when you apply for a business credit card. However, there are a few cards, such as the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card, that don't pull your credit when you apply.

How do I know if my business qualifies for a credit card?

Most businesses, from sole proprietorships to corporations, can qualify for a business credit card. A business doesn't have to be registered or incorporated to apply. However, an independent, unregistered or unincorporated business owner will also be personally liable for any business credit card debt they accrue.

Don't miss: How to check your business credit score for free

How long does it take to get a business credit card?

A business credit card approval process can take less than a minute — or as long as two weeks, depending on the issuer. Once you're approved, you can expect to receive your new business credit card in seven to 10 business days.

How can a business get credit with bad personal credit?

Getting approved for financing may be a challenge for your business if your personal credit is poor, but there still are options available, including business credit cards specifically for those with fair or bad credit.

Can you build business credit with only an EIN number?

Most lenders require you to provide your Social Security Number (SSN) when applying for a business credit card, but you may be able to open a corporate card with only an Employer Identification Number (EIN). Here are some ways you can check your business credit score for free.

Does an LLC have its own credit score?

An LLC is its own business entity, and once you start using it to open business bank accounts and get financing, your LLC will have its own credit scores and reports. To start the process of establishing credit for your LLC, you'll need an EIN and should register for a D-U-N-S Number — a business credit score number with the reporting agency Dun & Bradstreet.

What is the lowest business credit score?

Unlike personal credit scores that start at 300 and go up to 850, business credit scores typically range from 0 to 100, or 0 to 300 for business scores using the FICO Small Business Scoring Service (FICO SBSS).

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Bottom line

A low credit score can make qualifying for a business credit card a tough task. Luckily, you still have a few options.

Before you apply, read the card's fine print to make sure it fits your business needs. For instance, most credit cards for bad credit require a security deposit. Evaluate whether it makes sense for your budget to put one down and remember that you'll want to use less than 30% of your available credit. This way, you'll keep your credit utilization ratio low, avoiding damage to your credit.

As you keep using your credit card responsibly, you'll likely see your credit score improve. With time and patience, you'll be able to qualify for more rewarding business credit cards, such as the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card and The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express. Terms apply.

Catch up on CNBC Select's in-depth coverage of personal financetech and toolswellness and more, and follow us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter to stay up to date.

Our methodology

To determine which business credit cards are the best picks for business owners with bad credit, CNBC Select analyzed the most popular credit cards available to U.S. business owners with poor or average credit. We compared each card on a range of features, including fees, minimum and maximum security deposit, APR, rewards and benefits for business owners, as well as any additional approval requirements and customer reviews when available. We also considered additional perks, the application process and how easy it is to redeem rewards.

The main criteria in our ranking were the rewards rates and accessibility to a small business owner without good credit. The fewer costs a card required, and the more rewards it offered to offset them, the higher it ranked on our list.

Click here to view the Cardholder Agreement for the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card.

For rates and fees of the Discover it® Secured Credit Card, click here.

* Information about the Capital One Spark Classic for Business has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
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