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A reader who asked not to be named emailed me the following question:
“Do you have advice on how I can get the Citibank VISA business card?”
I’ve received a few other emails asking the virtually the same question, so I thought I’d make it the subject of today and tomorrow’s posts.
What is a business?
Before we go any further, let’s review the definition of a business from Wikipedia:
A business (also known as enterprise or firm) is an organization designed to provide goods, services, or both to consumers. Businesses are predominant in capitalist economies, in which most of them are privately owned and formed to earn profit to increase the wealth of their owners
Note the key elements in the definition:
- Designed to provide goods and services
- Privately Owned
- Formed to earn profit
Also note that while businesses are formed to earn profit (why would you form a business to make a loss?), it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are currently profitable.
The word “organization” in the definition above refers to the ownership structure of the business which could be a 1-person sole proprietorship or a joint-stock corporation with thousands of shareholders.
Adam Smith wrote:
The propensity to truck, barter and exchange one thing for another is common to all men, and to be found in no other race of animals.
We may just not realize that many of our daily activities could be considered businesses!
3 ways which may qualify you for a business credit card:
1) Existing Business
You own an existing business. For example, you are John Smith and you own Acme Plumbing.
Well, that’s easy then, isn’t it? Just fill out the application form with your business information and hit submit!
2) Business Start-Up
In my experience, you don’t need to have an existing business to apply for a business credit card as a business start-up.
You could be contemplating starting a business venture and are applying for a business credit card to help keep your business expenses separate from your personal expenses.
Starting up a business is a very legitimate reason to want a business credit card!
I updated the post to mention that I learned about this method of getting a business credit card by talking to a Chase telephone representative. I was explaining to the representative that Emily applied for the business credit card in order to to buy crafts and make paper bookmarks to sell on Etsy.com.
“Oh!” said the representative. “You’re in a business start-up venture. Here’s what we can do…”
Here are some potential start-up situations which you may have experienced:
- Are you thinking of selling your stamp or watch collection?
- Are you thinking of selling books on e-bay or Amazon.com?
- Are you thinking of having regular yard sales and need to buy refreshments & candy for the visitors?
- Are you on holiday in Turkey and thinking that you could sell that cool souvenir to your friends back in the US?
- Are you thinking of selling your delicious homemade cookies as a side hobby?
So take a few minutes to think about your situation. You just may find that you have a business start-up situation in your life that you never knew about!
Remember, in my experience, to get a business credit card as a start-up, all you need is the intent of starting a business.
Now start-up business are very risky to lenders (only 1 in 2 survive more than 5 years), so banks are usually stricter in approving business credit cards for start-up businesses. Also, the banks will usually assign a very low credit line to business credit cards which are for start-ups.
3) You’re already in business but don’t know it!
I’ve observed that many of us may be involved in business activities, but not know it. That may be because our business activities produce a loss instead of a profit, and we usually associate businesses with profits!
- If you sell used books or CDs on ebay or Amazon.com you may be in business.
- If you have yard sales every 2 months, you may be in business.
- If you buy trinkets while on holiday in the hope of selling them for a profit, you may be in business.
Remember, you don’t need to be an incorporated company to engage in business activities. And don’t lie in the application!
In tomorrow’s post we’ll walk through how to fill up an application form for a business credit card.
What types of business activities have you been involved in, but have not considered to be a true business? Tell us about them in the comments!
Disclosure: I don’t get any referral bonus or payback from Citibank for this post or for the links to the Citi AAdvantage credit cards. In the spirit of full disclosure, I do own negligible amounts of Citigroup stock.