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I’ve been getting questions on how to fill out the application for American Express business cards.
As always, please read The 5 Dangers of Applying for Credit Cards before applying for a new card.
Why Business Cards?
The American Express Starwood card is among my favorite business cards by American Express.
The credit line for American Express business cards does not show in my personal credit report and impact my credit utilization or credit aging, so it doesn’t impact my personal credit score in the long term. However, the credit inquiry does show in my personal credit report, but the effect drops off after 3 to 6 months (though the credit inquiry, as opposed to the business credit line, does stay on my personal credit report for 2 years).
Business cards are an easy way to get extra miles and points, and as I’ve written previously, many of us may qualify for businesses even though we don’t realize it. However, business credit cards may not have all the consumer protections which personal cards have.
Top American Express Business Card Applications
These are the top American Express business cards in my opinion:
- The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN – 25,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the 1st 3 months of opening your account
- American Express Starwood Preferred Guest
25,000 Membership Rewards points is ~$250 in gift cards, $250 towards travel when you use the “Pay with Points” feature, or potentially more when you transfer to airline or hotel partners such as British Airways, Singapore Airlines, etc.
That said, keep in mind that sudden increased spending on American Express business cards seem to trigger of Financial Reviews of all your credit cards by American Express.
American Express Business Card Application
The American Express Business Credit Card applications ask virtually the same questions whether you are applying for The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN or the Starwood Preferred Guest business card.
Step 1 – Shortcut for American Express Customers
If you are an existing American Express customer, you can click the button which says “Are you already a Cardmember?”. And then fill out your user ID and password to have the application enter in existing data for you.
I don’t have any rational basis to justify this, but I always fill out the information manually.
Step 2 – Enter Your Business Information.
Here’s how I fill out the form for a sole proprietor business.
- Legal Business Name: If you are a sole proprietor, your legal business name could be your own name, “John Smith” or the name of your business for example, “Custom Cookies.”
- Business Name on Card: This is the name of your business which you want printed on the credit card
- Doing Business As: If you operate a business under a name which is different than your legal business name, enter it here.
- Business Street Address: This is your home address if you run the business from your home.
- Industry Type: Select the type of business.
- Company Structure: Sole Proprietor (if the business is run by just one person).
- Annual Business Revenue/Sales: Enter the total amount you receive annually for selling your products. It can be zero, but don’t fib!
- Years in Business: For example, if you have been thinking of selling homemade cookies for the last 18 months and have been buying ingredients to test different recipes enter “1-2 years”
- Number of Employees: You have at least 1 employee (yourself) if you are a sole proprietor, so select “1.″
- Federal Tax ID: This is your social security number (as a sole proprietor). Note that the format of the text box in the application is for 9 digits, but in the format of 12-3456789. Your Social Security number is also 9 digits, but is formatted as 123-45-6789. As a sole proprietor, your 9 digit social security number is your 9 digit Federal Tax ID!
- Nature of Business: Select the option which fits in best with your business. For example, if you sell crafts online, I’d choose “retail” or choose “other” if none of the categories describe your business.
It is very important to fill out all information in credit card applications truthfully. It is much better to say that you have no annual sales than to enter a fictitious amount. In her last business card application, Emily entered revenue of less than $100 and was still approved for the card.
Step 3 – Enter Your Personal Information
Role in Company: As a sole proprietor, I select “owner.”
Estimated Monthly Spend: You can leave this blank if you want. Banks usually give you less credit for a business card and I don’t want to appear like I need a lot of new credit
Step 4 – Enter Your Personal Information
Enter your personal information, social security number etc.
Step 5 – Go to Verify
Click the box which says “Go to Verify” to agree to the terms and conditions.
One of the terms says:
“…and (d) are REPRESENTING THAT ALL CARD(S) ISSUED ON THE ACCOUNT WILL ONLY BE USED FOR COMMERCIAL OR BUSINESS PURPOSES.”
I can’t tell you what to do – you’ve got to decide that for yourself and as always do what you’re comfortable with. Emily and I have both used our business card for personal expenses and sometimes our personal cards for business expenses. But we try not to make it a habit.
But know that American Express would like you to use the business card only for business expenses. I suspect this is a way to protect consumers from the lower consumer protections which business cards have (compared to personal cards).
Then click “Submit Application”
Step 6 – Wait For a Response
I usually wait for about a week before calling the American Express reconsideration department at 866-314-0237. (unlike with Chase), because I usually get approved without having to call the American Express reconsideration department.
I also check my application status online.
If you do call the reconsideration department, it helps to get a sense of whether the rep is willing to help you early in the call. If the rep is unwilling to help or appears to be a stickler, politely hang up (dinner is ready!) and call back later.
Business cards are a great way to get extra miles and points, and they have the added benefit of not decreasing the average age of your credit history because the business credit line doesn’t sit on your personal credit report.
You also don’t need an established business to get approved for a business card, and many of us have businesses without knowing it. But it is important to be truthful on the application!
Also keep in mind that sudden increased spending on American Express business cards seem to trigger of Financial Reviews of all your credit cards by American Express.