Business credit cards are valuable tools for managing company purchases, and you can come out ahead with the wide variety of rewards and perks many of these accounts offer. However, most business credit cards require a personal guarantee as a condition for opening the account, which makes you personally responsible for all payments and any resulting debt.

Like all lenders, credit card issuers want to mitigate risk. A personal guarantee provides a measure of assurance to the issuer that the account holder will handle the account as per the agreement. The guarantee acts as a type of insurance policy. If you fall behind on payments and default on the debt, the credit card issuer can attempt to collect the debt.

If that prospect makes you uneasy, you may consider a business credit card without a personal guarantee. Your options will be far more limited and the qualifications will be stringent, but a few cards like this do exist.

Here’s what you need to know about the best business credit cards currently available that do not require personal guarantees and how they work.

Best no-personal-guarantee business credit cards

Here are the best no-personal-guarantee business credit cards that are currently available:

SVB Innovators Card: Best for fast-growing companies

Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) has developed the SVB Innovators Card* with the early-stage company in mind. To qualify for the card, you’ll need a business banking account with SVB. In addition to not requiring a personal guarantee, there’s no annual fee or fee for cards you want to distribute to your employees. It’s a charge card and not a credit card, so you’ll have to pay in full by the due date, and there is no APR because you won’t be revolving any debt.

The SVB Innovators Card comes with a business rewards program, too — you’ll earn 2X points for every dollar you spend, and you can redeem points for statement credits, gift cards, merchandise and booking travel.

Brex 30 Card: Best for significant rewards

Not only does the Brex 30 Card not require a personal guarantee, but it also comes with an outstanding rewards program. Cardholders with a Brex Cash account who make daily payments on their card can earn 8X points on rideshares, 5X points on travel booked through Brex Travel, 4X points on restaurants, 3X points on eligible Apple purchases through the Brex Rewards Portal, 1.5X points on ads and 1X points on everything else. It’s a charge card, so you can’t revolve balances, and there are no hidden fees. You also won’t pay an annual fee.

In place of a personal guarantee, you’ll need to link a corporate bank account (with a minimum of $50,000) to serve as a security deposit. Additionally, your card’s credit limit will be determined by the amount you hold in that account and your spending patterns.

Ramp Corporate Card: Best for flat rewards

The Ramp Corporate Card*, which is also a charge card, doesn’t require a credit check or personal guarantee. It also comes with no fees of any kind, such as annual fees, foreign transaction fees or setup fees. Plus, you’ll get unlimited physical and virtual cards, all of which can be monitored or locked in real time.

The Ramp Corporate Card earns a flat 1.5X points on all purchases, making it best suited for business owners who don’t want to keep track of bonus categories or worry about meeting certain requirements to earn rewards.

Office Depot Business Credit Account: Best for carrying a balance

With the Office Depot® Business Credit Account*, you’ll get $50 off your first purchase of $150 or more (if made within 60 days of account opening), which will be applied as a statement credit. Although this card doesn’t offer rewards, you can earn 2 percent back on select items, including office supplies, furniture and technology with an Office Depot OfficeMax Rewards membership.

Additionally, this is a credit card and not a charge card, which can help when cash is tight and revolving a balance is necessary. There is also no annual fee and the APR will range from 20.80 percent to 29.99 percent non-variable. Lastly, it’s important to note that this is a closed-loop card, meaning that it can only be used at Office Depot OfficeMax stores.

How to qualify for business credit cards with no personal guarantee

Generally, your business will need to be well established and have an EIN to qualify for a business credit card with no personal guarantee. This is because these types of cards are usually corporate cards. Corporate cards generally don’t require personal guarantees because they are issued to a company rather than to an individual. As such, they are developed for incorporated businesses, such as an LLC, and not developed for a small-business owner who might be an individual or a sole proprietor.

In place of a personal guarantee or a personal credit check, a business card issuer may protect its interests in other ways. You may have to open a deposit account with the bank or link a bank account to your card and keep a certain amount of money in the account. Although not technically a security deposit, the cash in the account underwrites the business card’s line of credit. Or, you may have to demonstrate that your business is profitable and has an especially high monthly or annual revenue stream.

How to minimize personal liability with a business credit card

In the event of default, the amount of money you would be responsible for depends mainly on the type of personal liability clause:

  • Limited liability: The issuer can collect on a set dollar limit.
  • Unlimited liability: The issuer can collect on the entire amount due, plus financing and legal fees.

The type of liability clause that’s attached to your personal guarantee should be outlined in your contractual agreement.

Outside of avoiding accounts with personal guarantees, you can minimize the amount you would be responsible for by staying in control of your account. You can avoid surprises by paying your bills on time and in full, halting all charges when you cannot pay the minimum requested payment and checking your balance frequently.

If your employees have cards connected to the account, review their charges. Many issuers allow primary cardholders to set lower charging limits or locks on employee cards, so take advantage of those features if they’re available.

Are business credit cards with no personal guarantee worth it?

When comparing business credit cards, no-personal-guarantee options may be attractive if you don’t want to be personally liable for business debt. While the credit card company may be able to sue your business for unpaid credit card debt, your personal assets would be kept separate and protected.

There are several downsides, though. Business credit cards with no personal guarantee are typically unavailable to sole proprietors, and meeting the additional requirements (such as minimum account balances or revenue streams) can be challenging. In general, there are few business cards available without a personal guarantee, and they might have fewer perks and rewards than other business cards, too.

Alternatives to consider

If you’re unable to qualify for a business credit card with no personal guarantee, you may want to consider some of the top business credit cards on the market. These cards are a better fit for small businesses. They usually require good to excellent credit, along with a personal guarantee, but they often come with incredible perks and rewards.

You’ll want to look for rewards that will get you the most points or cash back for the spending you’ll be doing for your business. You may find, at least at first, that a personal rewards card works better for your business. As your business grows, your expenses may also grow, in which case you may want a card with a higher spending limit and benefits that suit your evolving business.

Even if your credit score is low, you’ll have options — but you should probably start with one of the best business cards for people with bad credit. Once you’ve established a track record for paying your balances on time, you can apply for an upgrade and start getting better rewards and perks for your business.

If you haven’t yet established credit, you may want to consider one of the best secured business credit cards. With a secured card, you put down a cash deposit as collateral for the credit line. Secured business cards tend to offer fewer benefits and rewards for your business than unsecured cards, but they can help you build a positive credit history for your business. Pay your balances responsibly for at least six months, then consider asking your card issuer if you qualify for an unsecured card.

Note that if your business is brand new, your consumer credit scores are more important than your business credit. Banks will look at your personal score to decide whether or not you’re eligible for loans and credit, and what the terms will be. When applying for your first business credit card, assume the same rules apply for credit scores as for personal cards — the better your score, the better the card. Once you’ve established your business, a different kind of credit comes into play. Business credit reports and scores are similar to consumer credit scores, but somewhat more complex and designed to reflect your company, rather than you as an individual.

FAQs

*All information about the SVB Innovators Card, Ramp Corporate Card and Office Depot® Business Credit Account has been collected independently by Bankrate and has not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.