Having a business credit card gives business owners plenty of valuable incentives. Many business credit cards offer perks and rewards, such as cash back on certain types of purchases, zero-interest balance transfers, and airline miles.
In addition, business credit cards provide instant access to capital, and make financing smaller purchases simple and fast. Using a dedicated credit card for all business expenses makes tracking and itemizing business costs easy, which is especially beneficial at tax time.
So, it’s easy to see why credit cards are such a popular financing option among small-business owners. But did you know that many business credit cards can affect your personal credit ratings?
Mixing Business and Personal
Most small-business owners, especially those who own new companies, will find that when applying for a business credit card, they will be required to provide the card issuer with their Social Security number. They might not think twice about it, but when a business credit card is tied to the cardholder’s Social Security number, it’s also tied to their personal credit rating.
This presents certain problems. First, having business expenses on one’s personal credit adversely impacts one’s credit-to-debt ratios. This can make it more costly and difficult to qualify for a mortgage, an auto loan, or a personal line of credit. It can also impact utility deposits, insurance costs, and a host of other financial factors.
Having personal credit tied to a business credit card also makes the business owner personally liable for business debts. This is a major compromise, as one of the chief reasons for forming an LLC or corporation is to protect the business owner’s personal assets from business liability.
What Can You Do?
The best thing to do if you want to avoid risking your personal assets through business credit card use is to build your business’s credit rating. There are business credit cards available that are tied solely to the business’s Tax ID, and the liability belongs solely to the company. But businesses with poor or limited business credit ratings are unlikely to qualify for such cards.
You will want to do your homework or enlist the services of a trusted adviser when hunting for the right business credit card. Card issuers typically do not advertise the fact that some of their business credit cards do not report to the personal credit bureaus, so you may have to do some digging to find those that do not.