Back in June of 2013, when Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) introduced the Small Business Credit Card Act to Congress, she was attempting to right a wrong that had hampered small-business owners since the consumer credit CARD Act took effect in 2010. That landmark law, which bolstered the rights of private consumers by encouraging transparency and fairness from the credit card industry, did not apply to business credit cards. Small-business owners, bereft of rights, had been left to fend for themselves.
One of the most egregious problems in the business credit sector is the use of “bait-and-switch” pricing, a practice that encourages business owners to sign up for a card with a variable rate that can change at any moment, making debt stability impossible for millions of business owners. As of October 2013, Bank of America is the only major card issuer that has extended protections against arbitrary interest rate hikes to cards that have been branded for small businesses.
2. Small Business Credit Cards Are the Best (and Worst) of Both Worlds
Despite the obvious and frustrating regulatory imbalance between personal and business credit cards, your ability to secure a small-business credit card is most likely tied to your personal credit history. If you submit an application for a small-business credit card, then the lender or issuer will begin the review process by examining your personal credit scores and rankings.
For first-time business owners, there is simply no way around it. However, once you obtain a business credit card, you should focus on building independent credit for your business, and maintaining a strict separation between your personal and business finances.
3. Account Changes Can Happen in an Instant
The 2010 CARD Act requires banks to give customers a minimum of 45 days notice before making critical changes to their accounts. Small-business owners do not receive the same protection, although a number of small-business lenders and credit card issuers are voluntarily adopting the policy.