Every major bank and credit card provider offers cards tailored to the needs of small-business owners. In fact, small businesses are big business for banks and credit card processors—that’s why you’ve been receiving “pre-approvals” in the mail since the day you incorporated! But before you sign up for a card with amazing business-friendly rewards or an unbelievably low introductory rate, take a minute to consider the pros and cons of opening a new small-business credit card.
According to Ben Woolsey, director of marketing and consumer research at CreditCards.com, an Austin, Texas-based business credit card review site, “Almost every major business credit card will fulfill about 80% of what you need as a new small-business owner, but that extra 20% is more nuanced depending on how you plan to use the card.”
In other words, buyer beware! Sometimes getting what you need, or even what you want, can put your business in a bind, constricting growth and compounding debt. Before you jump right in, ask yourself these two tough questions.
1. What Are You Going to Use It For?
If you plan to use your new business credit card to make large purchases that you will not be able to pay back immediately, then your top priority should be to target a business credit card with a 0% introductory rate. Several providers offer cards with razor-thin introductory APRs, but of course, each introductory rate lasts only for a predetermined amount of time. Ultimately, you may want to sacrifice a few points of APR for a longer introductory term window.
However, if you’re planning to obtain a business credit card primarily for the convenience of making regular purchases, and if you plan to pay your bills in full each month, then you are better off searching for a card with a comprehensive rewards program. Sure, the fees might be slightly higher, but sometimes the rewards justify the fees, especially if perks like entry into exclusive airport lounges will improve your quality of life.
2. Is Your Financial House in Order?
If you aren’t currently paying all of your bills on time, then you might not be ready for a dedicated business credit card. By missing a single payment, you expose your business to the risks associated with arbitrary interest rate hikes, a problematic and predatory lending practice that affects business owners but not private consumers.
Small-business owners are not protected by the federal CARD Act, and late-payers are often subject to unfair fees and penalties. As always, buyer beware!
Photo Credit: Images Money, Flickr