For a business loan, you have to create a business plan, build business credit, complete the application process, sell the lender on your business, and cross your fingers that your loan officer will think your big idea is as viable as you do.
Credit cards, on the other hand, are a convenient, readily available source of capital. Eight out of ten small-business owners already have them, and using them to fund a startup is a fairly common strategy among entrepreneurs. Lots of successful businesses have been started with credit cards. But, is using credit cards to start a business a smart strategy?
Pros of Starting a Business With Credit Cards
To be fair, there are several advantages to using credit cards to fund a startup. If there were not, it would not be such a popular option among new business owners. First, as mentioned above, you probably already have a credit card. Instead of making a trip to the bank, you can simply reach into your wallet for instant capital.
Second, credit cards allow business owners to spend money as they need it. There is no need to reapply every time expenses come up, and no need to start paying off a loan before you have the chance to utilize its proceeds. Third, you can utilize funds from credit cards in whatever manner you choose to. There are no investors to consult, and you do not need to convince a bank of the wisdom of your choices.
Cons of Starting a Business With Credit Cards
For all of their obvious advantages, credit cards as a startup-funding strategy have some pretty sizable drawbacks. One of the biggest is the fact that using credit cards to finance business expenditures makes the business owner personally liable for said expenses. If the business goes belly-up, as an unfortunate number of small businesses do, the business owner’s personal assets will be squarely in the sights of collecting creditors.
Even many so-called “small-business” credit cards require that the cardholder put their personal credit on the line in order to secure the line of credit. Using these cards to finance a new business is basically the same as using one’s personal credit cards to do so.
Another downfall associated with using credit cards to start a business is how it affects your personal credit. Starting a business is not cheap, and having large business expenses on your personal credit can decrease your credit score. This could harm your chances of being approved for a mortgage, auto loan, or other personal credit products.
Business Credit to the Rescue
By building business credit and taking advantage of the financial options that having good business credit offers, business owners can limit their personal liability, protect their personal credit ratings, and gain access to larger amounts of capital than they would be able to access based on their personal credit ratings.
When starting a business, using credit cards for financing may be the most convenient option, but smart business owners make the transition to leveraging their business’s credit rating in order to secure financing as soon as possible.