3 Ways You May Qualify For A Business Credit Card

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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.

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 can have a new business and apply for a business credit card as a business start-up.

You could be 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:

  • Have you started buying and selling collectible items for profit?
  • Do you sell books or other items for profit on e-bay or Amazon.com?
  • Do you get paid to coach, teach lessons, provide childcare, or do household repairs for others?
  • Do you sell homemade goods like baking or crafts for profit?

So take a few minutes to think about your situation.

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!

I’ve observed that many of us may be involved in business activities already, although they aren’t yet profitable.

For example:

  • If you buy and sell goods (books, CDs, etc) online for profit
  • If you regularly sell items from your home (yard sales, Craigslist, etc.) or have a booth at a flea market and regularly do this.

Remember, you don’t need to be an incorporated company to engage in business activities.  You can apply as a sole proprietor using your Social Security Number. 

And of course be truthful on your 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!

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Editorial Disclaimer: Neither the responses below nor the editorial content on this page are provided or commissioned by the bank advertisers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertisers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank advertisers. It is not the bank advertisers’ responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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150 responses to “3 Ways You May Qualify For A Business Credit Card

  1. Another great post. H
    ey did anyone ever tell you that you look like Steve Erkel?
    🙂

  2. I love your site
    I am new to the game and u explain all the steps so a new person can easily follow
    Keep up the great job

  3. The issue with this blog is that all the methods described to obtain large amounts of miles are due to what needs to be considered loop-holes or unintended functionality by those who provide the miles or points. What’s going to happen is that the companies providing the rewards will adjust their policies to discourage or prevent travelers from taking advantage of these unintended reward outcomes.

    At the end of the day there are no free miles or points, someone has to pay for them, and if the provider starts losing money because approximately 632,238,684 people play the system then the system will be changed.

    That change will only hurt those who have enough drive and dedication to find those loop-holes in the system. The reason this blog is popular is because more readers are too lazy or too inept to find these opportunities themselves but will happily latch on to the work of others.

    • @Rosie – Thanks for the compliment!

      @Dude – Thanks for the feedback! Companies constantly change the ways to earn miles and points and those of us in the game learn to adapt.

      However, I disagree that the mile & point game is a zero-sum game. Providers (banks, airlines, etc.) make lucrative offers because they expect to GAIN financially from making the offers. Sure, they may not gain immediately, but they certainly intend to (and do) profit from a vast majority of the folks who sign-up for the offers.

      632 million people is about TWICE the size of the current US population. You’re right that Million Mile Secrets is growing very fast, but we’re unlikely to get to 632 million readers by the end of this year. 🙂

      However, I’m not comfortable with you characterizing my readers as lazy or inept (please refrain from making unsubstantiated generalizations). I would argue that they’re quite resourceful since they found my blog within 9 days of publicizing my blog.

      @Ed- Thanks for the warning – you’re absolutely right! You NEVER want to lie on the application form. And Amex is notorious for asking for tax returns so that they can do a financial review – particular if you buy a lot of $1 coins and gift cards.

  4. One word of caution on getting business cards. I have been extremely successful with technique #2 that Daraius describes and so has my SO. One day we will actually maybe possibly open up that business of ours…

    But here’s the caution: be careful pulling this idea with AMEX. Those guys might approve you and then do an audit—a financial review–and they will ask for your IRS statements, etc. It’s a nasty 3-5 weeks until your name is cleared….

  5. @Dude, I think you have 2 things wrong in your post. The first is that you think these companies will make adjustments. Yes, they will but another door opens—it’s been that way for the 5 years or so that I’ve been doing this. I’m sure others out there have been doing it longer. And if the provider starts losing money, then that was a bad promotion for them to begin with, no?

    Also, the blog is popular because it is well written. There are plenty of other sites that tell you how to do what D is writing about, but he doesn’t make it purposefully obtuse. Would you rather that no one writes about the deals? (That’s never going to happen)

  6. The majority of readers likely came from milepoint, and it’s not that hard to find if you are a milepoint user.

    Of course it’s not a zero sum game, which is precisely why those who essentially play the system by taking advantage of the offers while not contributing to the bottom line of the companies who provide the offers will bring about change to the system by publicizing these deals. The 632 million figure was exaggeration for dramatic effect.

    I do stand by my statement that most people want to be lead because they are simply not capable to be leaders. Your blog is popular because you lead people toward rewards which they could have fairly easily figured out for themselves but they didn’t have the dedication, persistence, and vision to find. You know that’s true, I know it’s true, and anyone else who figured out for themselves how they can possibly get more miles and points without to actually fly/stay for them knows that to be true as well.

  7. @Daraius, you absolutely *nailed* the reason I got the AMEX Financial Review! I was so eager to meet my spend requirement to obtain my sign-on bonus, that I ordered both coins and gift cards the day I got it! I did not know about this trigger until I read about it (on FT) after the fact.
    Bottom line is that I don’t know how I could have reasonably avoided this without wasting a lot of time on FT reading about every possible bad thing that could happen. If reading through a bunch of FT posts is the way to avoid having people think I’m lazy, so what? Call me lazy (and mindful of my time).

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  9. @Dude – Thanks for the compliments, I admit I am one by no means the sharpest tack in the box and am always willing to let someone share their knowledge with me. A mark of a good leader is someone who is willing to listen & learn from others.

    You act like the companies are actually losing money over these promotions and that is extremely funny. The very fact, that frequent flier mile programs have been around for 30+ years says something for how well these programs work for them. No different from the people that clip coupons excessively, yet the merchandisers continue to distribute them.

    By the way, I have never heard of Milepoint until you mentioned it. In addition, it doesn’t really take any dedication, persistence, or vision to read through the FT forums and many other sites out there, just some time. Now the question persists in my feeble mind, “Why are you reading these posts?”

  10. Great ideas, I’ll have to use these to apply for the Citi Business Visa!

    Thanks!

  11. Great post…. So I applied for the Visa Business but wasn’t immediately approved like the personal AMEX and Visa (based on your other post). My question, is this normal?

    • @Paladin – I’ve been approved for only 1 business card instantly. I had to call for the others. In general, if you got a telephone number to call in and a application ID number, you will most likely be approved (step 5). If you got to only stage 3, you will most likely be denied. Good luck!

  12. Very creative ways to get qualified as a business. Very helpful!

  13. Yeah – I found the problem, I had missed your “Don’t apply sooner than 65 days” comment… my stupidity :/

  14. I applied for the two citibank 75k and was told offer expired. Do you have a different website to still get it? Thanks!

    • @Paladin – Don’t worry, there will always be a next time!

      @Diana Turk – Did you apply for 2 Citi AAdvantage business cards or personal cards? The 2-browser trick only works for personal AAdvantage cards. I checked the links on the blog and they still work – you can also try using the links on FlyerTalk.

  15. Financial Review?

    So this so called financial review only occurs on AMEX and not the Visa Citicards? Why not just lie low for two weeks and then start ordering coins so that you will not trigger financial review? Suppose someone’s tax returns cannot substiantiate their application then can you just have them lower your credit limit to $1000 so you can buy the coins? Or do they cancel your card completely??

    I once had to send it my driver license and utility bill to the Citi Fraud dept because I had a Fraud Alert on my file but I do not want to be forced into ever sending tax returns. 🙁

    • mike – The financial review is by American Express for American Express credit cards (like, say, the SPG card). The Citi Amex is issued by Citibank, not American Express so you likely won’t get a financial review. I’m not familiar with how American Express’ financial review unfolds and your ability to negotiate with them, so no comment.

  16. Thanks Daraius!
    Does anyone know when these bonus miles are credited to the account?
    I read elsewhere that the miles are awarded in Novemebr 2011 when this offer expires regardless of when the $4000 spend requirement is met. This doesn’t sound right…

  17. Hi Daraius,

    I would like to know how could I use these 15,0000 miles to redeem a R/T ticket to Malaysia (airport KUL) from Anchorage, AK (ANC).

    Thank you!

    • @Zhi – You can fly from Anchorage on partner airline Alaska Air to, say, Los Angeles and from there fly on Cathay to Hong Kong and then to KUL. Or you could fly from Anchorage to any city where American or Japan airlines fly to tokyo and from there to KUL. You can’t book these awards online, so you will have to call in for them.

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  19. Hi Daraius,

    Do you know if the City Visa Business Card offer for 75k miles with $1500 in purchases in 6 months is still active? I clicked on your link, but I got an error message on their website.
    Thanks and keep up the good work!
    Al

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  21. What do you suggest doing when someone like Citibank asks for a certificate of Sole Proprietorship?

    • @Nathan – Some states don’t require you to register a business so you may not need a business license. In general, Citi accepts utility bills and bank statements as documentation for a business. You’re not guaranteed to get approved, so if you’re not sure, it may be best to pass on the business card.

  22. I just had this problem with Citi. They want proof business exists: lease, utility bill, or bank account with the business name. I explained it was just me a computer and my dining room table. I had a friendly rep; we spent a solid minute chatting about last weeks snow storm before getting down to business. Oh well

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  25. I just had a problem with Chase. I told them about my “intent” to start selling my musical equipment online but they said they could not approve me since they did not have any information on my “business,” i.e., revenue, etc… 🙁

  26. Would it be worth calling the reconsideration line after they already reconsidered me after an initial denial?

  27. I have a rental property. Do you think if it will qualify me to apply for a business card? thanks.

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  29. Hey Big D, so what about tax related questions? What if they want to see ur tax returns for your sole p?

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  33. I’ve been selling on eBay and Craiglist for roughly 10-12 years, respectively. I never once thought that I could qualify this as a legitimate buisness? Do I need to register as a L.L.C or the like, so that I can provide them with a #?

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  37. I just got approved for AMEX SPG business card. Do I have to watch which purchases I make on it? I met the spending limit on the personal card so now want to focus on business card. Thanks!

    • @Jayson – Apologies for getting to this so late, but your SSN is your Tax ID for the credit card application form.

      @Soosie
      – Congrats! Not sure what you mean, but I’ve used my business card for all types of expenses.

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  42. I applied for the Citi Business Visa and was declined due to lack of a credit history for my business, but was immediately approved for the personal visa because my personal credit history is great. I called the reconsider line for the business but no go. I am waiting to see if a letter to Exec. Review will get me there! But if your business (not you!) doesn’t have a credit history, you might not want to apply for this card… if I’d known, I would have just applied for the two personal cards to get the miles instead. Way easier.

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  44. I have some questions I’d love to have answered about this.

    First off, my dad owns an S-Corp (but a small business, with just him, my sister, and me as employees), and recently got a Chase Ink Cash (due to the no annual fee). I also got an employee card with that.

    Question 1) Since I already have a Chase Ink card with my name on it, can I apply for, say, a Chase Ink Bold for my own itty-bitty side-business of tutoring? Or would I be denied having two cards since I have the Chase Ink Plus employee card?

    Question 2) If indeed, I can apply for my own card, when I state my revenue, if I (purely theoretically, of course) receive some of my payment for tutoring services in cash, should I not include that in my revenue on the application?

    Question 3) If indeed, I can apply for, and do get my own card, is there anything for tax purposes that I should worry about, in terms of earning and redeeming rewards for personal purposes?

    Question 4) If I cannot apply for my own card due to my employee card with my father’s S-Corp, would I be able to use that card for, say, paying off my fiancee’s student loans through ChargeSmart, and transfer the Ultimate Rewards points somehow to my account? (Both in terms of physically doing so and in terms of legality). If I pay for, say, $12k in student loans using the Chase Ink Cash card, repay my dad’s business $12k from my own personal funds, and transfer the points (if that can be done), would that be acceptable?

    Thanks for your time and response.

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  53. Richard Hornback

    Has anyone indicated that their business is selling on ebay? I mean mine really is. I sell stuff my family no longer needs. It is not much, but probably made $500 or so last year.

    Any experience on if the credit card companies would consider this as a business?

    Thank you!

  54. Richard Hornback

    Hi I applied for the american airlines business card. I am planning to fly my family to Singapore this summer. The best rate is $1446 x 4, so I am looking for help in deferring the cost somewhat.

    About 10 years ago I had a one-man computer consulting company. It was profitable. So I put that down on the application. But then I fibbed on the revenue. I put 10K.

    I now work for a company and I do not moonlight on computer work.

    My application was denied with this message:

    o The credit report shows no information available.

    following credit reporting agency:
    Experian Commercial Relations – RFR

    Any advice on what I should do?

    Thank you!

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  56. Hi Darius,

    I just got approved for Citicard Visa with 50 K AA miles after going through a reconsideration call and got $11k limit. Dont want to do the two browser trick due to recent rejections by citi as some folks have been getting. Do you suggest I should apply for the business card from Citi through your link which also offers 50K miles?

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  59. Can you normally be approved for two or more credit cards from the same company ie. chase, if they are different cards, ex. chase marriott rewards card, chase sapphire or do you have to wait until one is cancelled?

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  63. I just applied for the Southwest plus business card for my wife. She has a business selling things on Etsy. She was not immediately approved so we called the reconsideration line. After talking to the rep, we were denied because her personal credit history was too new (so they said). Any advice? We’d like to try for the companion pass. Can we get a plus and premier? Should we call the reconsideration line again? She has a legit business.

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  66. I know this is 2 years after the fact but I wanted to respond to @Dude.

    The reason credit card companies stay in business at all is that the vast majority of consumers are bad with credit. Rewards cards are no different. So while “those who game the system” may cost them, it’s more than made up for by those who pay interest and carry a balance. And the sign up offers are a great way to attract those profitable customers.

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  76. When I initially commented I appear to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on each
    time a comment is added I get four emails with the exact same comment.

    There has to be a way you are able to remove me from that service?

    Thank you!

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  80. I would like to get some business cards like the Ink Bold and the Ink Plus, but I don’t have a business. However, my brother does and I would like to ask him if I could get a card through his business. What can I say to assure him that it is not detrimental to his business if I get a card through him?

    If that is not possible I may try to form a business as sole proprietor. [I have read your articles on this] My question on that is can I use a P.O. Box or should I use my own address. I have many other personal cards with that address.

    • @StephenM – He will get a credit inquiry and is responsible for the debt on the card, so you’ve got to assure him that you’ll pay the bills back in time! You can use your home address since many folks run businesses from their homes.

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  85. Daraius –

    I would add to the 2nd category – or perhaps create a separate 4th category – that professionals who are licensed (Architects, Engineers, etc.) can also apply for business credit cards with the intention of providing consulting services to prospective clients. Since they are licensed by a state to perform professional services this is a great way to apply for a business card!

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  88. Hi Daraius

    I was trying to fill up the AMEX Business – Simply Cash card. Most field are ok but there is a compulsory FEID field.

    I dont have an existing registered business BUT based on the guidelines above I thought I would put the small sales etc I do on craigslist and ebay as part of my business.

    So what do we do on the application for FEID – It says it is a compulsory field ?

    This is not there on the Citi Application for a business card.

    Please let me know

    Thanks
    Abdul

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  90. What are the tax implications when applying as a sole proprietorship?

    For example, I understand that sole proprietorships are responsible for IRS tax for 1040, schedule C.

    However, it’s easy to consider a scenario where there is fairly high revenue, but no PROFIT … .Consider a business of selling old family/friend items on eBay. (1) The net sales minus eBay fees is less than original purchase price. Or (2) the net profit from the family/friend is less than the eBay/Paypal fees.

    Would a schedule C be required then?

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