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INSIDER SECRET: Amex small-business cards have great welcome bonuses, and they don’t count against the Chase 5/24 rule, which I’ll explain later.
Don’t be intimidated by the idea of applying for a small-business card from American Express. It’s not as scary as you might imagine. Conquer your fear and a whole new world of miles and points will open up to you.
You might worry that applying for an Amex small-business card is difficult, a waste of time, or even dishonest. But being approved for an Amex small-business card is relatively easy, and you don’t need to (and shouldn’t) mislead Amex on an application. You don’t need to be a multimillion dollar company to be approved. Something you already do — like freelancing or tutoring — may qualify you for a small-business card.
The application is straightforward, but it’s changed over the years. So here’s an update on what you need to know:
Further reading: How to qualify for business credit cards
Why consider small-business cards?
Here’s the million-dollar secret about opening small-business cards: Most do not appear on your personal credit report. This means that opening an Amex small-business card won’t hurt your chances of being approved for Chase credit cards later on. If you’ve opened five or more credit cards from any bank in the past 24 months (excluding certain small-business cards), Chase won’t approve you for some of their best cards.
Further reading: Chase 5/24 rule
Business credit cards are an easy way to get extra miles and points if you’re self-employed, or simply have a side hustle. Lots of folks may qualify for small-business cards without realizing it. For example, if you’re a freelance writer, a tutor, or a seller on eBay or Etsy, you could be eligible for a small business card.
Business credit cards do not come with all the consumer protections of a personal credit card. For example, banks can raise the annual percentage rate (APR) on your small-business card without warning (which they can’t do with a personal credit card). Understand the card benefits so you use the best credit card for your purchases.
Note: The Amex welcome bonus rules restrict you from earning a welcome bonus on the same card more than once. So if you’ve had a card before, you can’t earn the bonus when you open the card again. Before filling out the application, make sure you apply for the card with the highest offer. Amex occasionally targets customers for big bonus offers.
How to fill out an American Express business-card application
The American Express small-business card applications are similar to the personal credit card applications, but they have an additional page of required information. Fortunately, all Amex small-business card applications are nearly identical.
Here’s what they look like:
Step 1. Shortcut for American Express customers
If you are an existing American Express customer, you can click the “Already a Card Member?” button. Then, fill out your user ID and password to have the application automatically enter your existing personal information.
Step 2. Enter your business information
Here’s how to fill out the form for a business with a sole proprietor:
Legal business name: If you’re a sole proprietor, you can enter your full name as your legal business name.
Business name on card: This is the name of your business that you want printed on the credit card. This can also be your name.
Business address: This is your home address if you run the business from your home.
Industry type: The genre of work you perform.
Company structure: Sole proprietor (if the business is run by one person).
Years in business: This doesn’t mean the amount of time you’ve been making a profit. 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, you can enter “1-2 years.”
Annual business revenue: Enter the total amount you receive annually for selling your products. If you haven’t yet earned anything, don’t fib. Entering $0 is perfectly acceptable.
Estimated monthly spending: Let Amex know how much money you think you’ll put on your card each month to keep your business running.
Number of employees: You have at least “1 employee” (yourself) if you are a sole proprietor.
Federal Tax ID: If you’re a sole proprietor, enter your Social Security number (SSN). 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 nine digits, but is formatted as 123-45-6789. As a sole proprietor, your nine-digit Social Security number is your nine-digit Federal Tax ID.
It is very important to fill out all information in credit card applications truthfully. It’s much better to say that you have no annual income than to enter a fictitious amount. In the past, MMS team members have entered revenue of less than $100 and were still approved for a small-business card.
Step 3. Enter your personal information
Input everything you’d need to enter on a personal credit card application. Again, if you’re already an Amex customer, you can skip this step by signing into your Amex account.
Step 4. Verify and submit your application
Click the “Verify Application” box to agree to the terms and conditions.
Part of the terms read:
” … ALL CARD(S) ISSUED ON THE ACCOUNT WILL ONLY BE USED FOR COMMERCIAL OR BUSINESS PURPOSES …”
Getting a small-business card is a terrific way to keep your personal and small-business expenses separate. That said, I know folks who’ve occasionally used a personal card for business expenses or vice versa. Just know that American Express would like you to use the small-business card only for business expenses. Then, click “Submit Application.”
Step 5. Wait for approval
If you’re not automatically approved for the card, I recommend you do not call the reconsideration line, but instead wait until you get a message from Amex telling you their decision (or you see the result through your online application status). This will give you two shots at being approved.
If the Amex computers don’t end up approving you, there’s still hope. You can call the reconsideration line and provide more information about your small business. Sometimes, clarifying your situation with a representative can help get you approved.
When you call the reconsideration department, try to get a sense of whether the Amex representative is willing to help you early in the call. If the representative is unwilling to help, or appears to be a stickler, politely hang up (dinner is ready!) and call back later.
Top American Express business card applications
There are lots of great Amex small-business credit cards to choose from:
- The Business Platinum® Card from American Express – Up to 100,000 Amex Membership Rewards points (ends December 4, 2019): 50,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $10,000. Plus an extra 50,000 points after spending an additional $15,000 on qualifying purchases within the first three months. Terms Apply.
- The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card – 125,000 Hilton bonus points after spending $3,000 in purchases in the first three months. Terms Apply.
- Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express – 35,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first three months. Plus a $100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new card within the first three months. Terms Apply.
Small-business cards are a great way to earn extra miles and points, especially when you’re trying to stay below the Chase “5/24 rule.” That’s because most small-business cards don’t appear on your personal credit report.
You also don’t need an established business to get approved for a small-business card. Many folks have small businesses without knowing it. If you have a side gig, like selling items on Etsy, coaching a football team, or performing handyman duties for money, you could qualify for a small-business card.
Just remember to be truthful on the application.
Let me know about your small business card application experience. And subscribe to our newsletter for more how-to credit card posts like this.