Key takeaways

  • The best business credit cards on the market today typically require good to excellent credit, or a FICO score of 670 to 850
  • Business owners with bad personal credit might only be able to qualify for a secured business credit card, which requires putting down a security deposit
  • To qualify for an unsecured business credit card, business owners with bad credit will likely need to work on improving their credit first

Although an impressive credit history and a high credit score aren’t requirements to start a business, having these tools in your arsenal can definitely help. After all, you may eventually want to borrow money from a financial institution so you can pay for the costs of a launch, manage ongoing operations and more. With a high credit score and a lengthy credit history in your profile, most lenders will like what they see.

To appeal to a lender, however, your past business credit history will be relevant. Since your business has yet to start, you won’t have a business credit profile that can help you qualify for credit products.

At this point in the process, lenders will assess your personal creditworthiness to determine qualifications and set terms. This is also where you’ll run into issues if you have bad personal credit due to mistakes you’ve made in the past.

Fortunately, you can overcome the problems associated with bad credit to qualify for a business credit card — and a business loan, since that might be necessary, too.

What credit score is required for a business credit card?

As you begin looking for ways to build business credit, you’ll notice that many business credit cards rely on your personal credit and require a personal guarantee. A personal guarantee ensures that, if your business doesn’t succeed, you are still legally responsible for paying the debt out of your personal funds.

The best business credit cards on the market today require good to excellent credit, or a FICO score of 670 or higher. Some of the best business credit cards with exceptional rewards and perks may even require a credit score of 700 or higher.

There are also business credit cards for fair credit and business credit cards that don’t require a credit check at all. As an example, the Capital One Spark 1% Classic* requires at least fair credit, or a FICO score from 580 to 669. For business owners with poor credit, the Revenued Business Card is an option. This card doesn’t require a hard credit check at all and it offers 3 percent cash back on all purchases.

Build up your personal credit score

To know what is dragging your credit scores down, pull your credit reports up. You can get a report from each of the three credit reporting agencies — Experian, TransUnion and Equifax — once per week through a federally-backed website called

The information listed in the sections for trade lines, public records and credit inquiries of your credit reports are all inputted into scoring models, so read your reports carefully. If you spot any inaccuracies, you’ll need to file a dispute with each credit bureau report that lists false information, as well as the company that is reporting the false information in the first place.

To improve your credit score (even when the negative data is still being listed), be sure to:

  • Pay all credit accounts on time. Although late payments hurt credit scores (especially when there are many late payments or the accounts are seriously delinquent), establishing a perfect payment history from this point forward will help mend the damage.
  • Reduce credit card debt. If you have credit cards and they’re maxed out, reduce the balance to well below the credit limit. Most experts recommend always owing less than 30 percent of your available credit limit, or less than $3,000 for every $10,000 in revolving credit limits you have access to.
  • Consider opening a personal credit card. Consider opening a personal credit card. There are many credit cards for people with bad credit. Once you have a card, choose a small bill to charge each month, then pay it off in full and on time.
  • Add utility and cellphone accounts to your report. The more on-time payments you have on your credit report, the better. Experian has a free Boost program where you can add non-credit accounts to your file. Those payments should help give your FICO 8 credit score at least a few extra points.

With this strategy, you can build your credit over time. For the best approval odds, you’ll want to aim for a credit score of 700 or higher, or a credit score at least in the good range. As a reference, here’s a breakdown of the FICO scoring ranges:

  • Excellent: 800-850
  • Very good: 740-799
  • Good: 670-739
  • Fair: 580-669
  • Poor: 300-579

Find a business credit card you can qualify for

Although you can use a personal credit card for your business, it’s better to get one specifically for your company. After all, business credit cards offer benefits that are designed to help business owners do everything from accounting to expense management. Just be aware that any business cards you get remain your personal responsibility. Even if it’s in your business’s name, you will be on the hook for all payments and any outstanding debt.

Even if your credit is bad, there are still some good business cards for people with bad credit to consider. But if you’re able to build your score to at least the good credit range, you can then start looking into the best business credit card options. As you’ll see, there are many, so give this task plenty of time. Just make sure you meet a business card’s requirements before submitting an application.

Be aware that some business cards are charge cards while others are credit cards. With a charge card, there is no preset credit limit and you’ll need to pay the entire balance within about 30 days. With a credit card, there is a maximum amount you can charge, but you can pay at least the minimum requested payment and then revolve the rest. Ultimately, you may want one of each.

Also, almost all business cards have rewards programs attached to them, so read over a program’s details and focus on the perks you’ll use. Rewards programs differ, too, so make sure it’s a good match for your business. One card may offer an exceptional rewards value for restaurant meals, while another offers boosted rewards on office products. Or, if you think traveling will be in your future, concentrate on a business card that gives you travel perks related to flights, airport amenities, hotels and car rentals.

It’s also worth noting that many business credit cards offer excellent sign-up bonuses, too, which will allow you to earn a large amount of points, cash or miles after spending a certain amount within a specific time frame after card activation.

Some business cards also offer 0 percent intro APRs on purchases for a fixed number of months, which will give you a nice amount of time to pay for your venture’s needs before financing fees are assessed. As long as you pay the debt in full before the real APR begins, you’ll essentially get a free loan.

Finally, prepare for annual fees. Not all cards charge them, but if you can get enough perks and rewards out of an account, you’ll come out ahead.

Best business cards for people with bad personal credit

If you have bad personal credit and you need a business credit card, the following options could work for your needs.

Revenued Business Card

  • Earn a $500 welcome offer when you spend $5,000 on purchases within three months of account opening
  • Earn 3 percent cash back on all purchases
  • No annual fee or hidden fees

The Revenued Business Card is a combination of a prepaid card and a flexible line of credit, and you don’t even have to go through a hard credit check to qualify. Instead of relying on your credit, this card looks at your business revenue and uses projections to establish your creditworthiness.

The Revenued Business Card won’t help build your credit though, and that’s a major downside. Also, note that the Revenued Business Card automatically charges interest on your purchases based on a “factor rate” you agree to ahead of time.

Bank of America Business Advantage Unlimited Cash Rewards Secured credit card

  • Earn 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases
  • Minimum security deposit of $1,000 required
  • No annual fee

The Bank of America® Business Advantage Unlimited Cash Rewards Secured credit card* is a secured credit card for business, so collateral is required upfront. In this case, the collateral you’ll need to put down is a minimum security deposit of $1,000. This card does give you 1.5 percent cash back on all spending, and Bank of America says it will periodically review your account to see if you’re eligible to upgrade to an unsecured card.

Other perks you’ll get include cash flow management tools, several travel insurance benefits and free access to your business credit scores through Dun & Bradstreet.

The information about the Bank of America® Business Advantage Unlimited Cash Rewards Secured credit card was last updated on May 1, 2023.

Business Edition Secured Mastercard Credit Card

  • Security deposit between $2,200 and $110,000 required
  • Earn interest on your security deposit
  • $39 annual fee

The Business Edition® Secured Mastercard® Credit Card* from the First National Bank of Omaha (FNBO) lets you request your own credit limit between $2,000 and $100,000 (subject to approval), with your security deposit serving as 110 percent of your credit limit amount (between $2,200 and $110,000).

A $39 annual fee applies, but this card makes it easy for small business owners to seamlessly track and monitor spending. Other perks cardholders receive include cash flow management tools, up to 50 percent off select QuickBooks subscriptions, up to $20 off TurboTax federal products and mobile receipt management.

Need more business financing? Look into loans

Credit and charge cards tend to be great for short-term financing, while business loans are preferable for big-ticket expenses that you want to pay off over several years.

To get a business loan with the best terms, it’s best to wait until your credit is in decent shape. However, if you must borrow a significant amount of money right away and then pay in equal installment payments, there are startup business loans available for bad credit.

Loans with no credit checks still pass through an approval process, but the lender analyzes your assets and income for approval instead of your credit history. If it appears that you can make the payments that are associated with the loan, it should be approved. Other lenders do check credit reports and scores, but the standards for qualification are low.

In either case, loans that are developed for people with bad credit tend to be smaller and come with higher interest rates than those for people who have good credit.

Whichever loan you get, simply pay it off according to the agreement. Assuming the lender sends information to the credit reporting agencies (most do, but if you get a “no credit check loan,” ask the lender to be sure), it will help your credit score grow.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

    • Many business credit cards do a personal credit check when you apply, and most also require a personal guarantee. These are good reasons to work on improving your personal credit score before you open a business (and long after).
    • Creditors may only check one of your credit reports when you apply for a business credit card, or they may also check several reports. Unfortunately, you may not know which credit report creditors will use before you apply.
    • There are several secured business credit cards available, with each one requiring you to put down a cash deposit as collateral. While putting down collateral for a business card may not be ideal, these cards give you the convenience of using a credit card for purchases while giving you the chance to prove your creditworthiness.

The bottom line

To qualify for a business credit card (and a business loan), take action to improve your personal credit history. Shape up your FICO score, identify the right business card for your needs and consider a business loan. Take these simple steps and you’ll not only repair your bad credit, but you’ll then be able to apply for better credit products for your business.

*The information about the Capital One Spark 1% Classic, Bank of America® Business Advantage Unlimited Cash Rewards Secured credit card and Business Edition® Secured Mastercard® Credit Card has been collected independently by The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.