Key takeaways

  • As a small-business owner, you'll start out with one credit card and add to your portfolio as needed.
  • Small-business credit cards tend to have large credit limits, but multiple cards will add another layer of protection if you need to make expensive purchases for your business.
  • Small-business cards have varied offerings, so by having multiple cards at your disposal, you can build a portfolio of your ideal rewards rates and benefits.

As a small-business owner, you will want to have the right credit card for your venture. In fact, you may want more than one card so you can ensure financial safety while getting ahead with the perks and rewards that come with these specialized products. Each business credit card has its own attributes, so it’s important to review what they offer and apply for cards that will help you achieve your goals.

Here’s how to know when adding more accounts to your credit portfolio makes sense and the benefits of doing so.

Should you own multiple business credit cards?

Just as consumers often need several personal credit cards to pay for the things they want and to build good credit, it’s also a smart strategy for small-business owners to have multiple credit cards designed for business use.

The main reason you will likely want a more robust small-business credit card portfolio is the immediate borrowing power they offer via credit lines. When you’re running a business, you will want to have sufficient access to capital for everything from start up costs to managing operations and covering emergencies.

Instead of needing to turn to a business loan, which can take time to apply for and typically requires an established company history with a proven revenue stream, a business credit card will give you instant access to the funds.

Although some business credit cards have high credit limits, especially when compared to personal cards, the credit line on a single business card may fall short.

For example, the card you have may come with a $20,000 limit, but one month you may find that you need to charge $30,000. In that case, you’ll want to have at least two cards with the same limit on hand, but three is preferable as exhausting the limits on those accounts can hurt your credit rating.

Benefits of owning multiple business credit cards

Credit card issuers that offer business credit cards embed their products with special perks and rewards. You probably won’t get all the perks you want out of one single card, but by layering them, you can enjoy a variety of benefits.

Look for cards that offer the type of perks that are going to help you and your business succeed. These include:

  • 0% intro APR offers. There’s nothing like borrowing money from a bank without having to pay any financing fees. If you have a business card that offers a 0 percent intro APR, you can buy what you need without additional interest being added.
  • Rewards programs. Different cards offer different rewards programs. Some may give you bonus rewards on phone bills, office supplies or advertising or offer a flat-rate on all purchases.
  • Unique perks. Some small-business credit cards feature access to accounting systems to keep you organized, as well as itemized quarterly or year-end reports with spending categories and can help you maximize your tax deductions. Others may not have such robust systems.
  • Free employee cards. Want to give certain employees the opportunity to charge on your account? Not all business credit cards offer free employee cards. Those that do should let you customize their access so that you’ll be protected against unauthorized charges.
  • Business credit building. You may assume that all business cards report activity to the business credit bureaus, such as Dun & Bradstreet, but that’s not so. In fact, they may only send negative information to those agencies. Before you apply, contact the issuer and ask about its reporting practices.

When to add another business credit card to your portfolio

If you’re just launching a business, you’ll want to start off with a single business credit card. To get your first business credit card, you’ll need to define your business (sole proprietors are fine, but you’ll usually have to submit the business name) and make sure your personal credit score is high enough to qualify.

Check out the various card offerings on the market (including our list of the best small-business credit cards) and focus on options that match your needs and credit rating. When you apply, you will be entering information about your business but also your personal credit information. In fact, almost all business credit cards require a personal guarantee, which means you’ll be responsible for the payments even if all the debt was a result of your business expenses.

Once you’ve established a history of using that business credit card responsibly, start exploring other business credit card options. Identify card features you don’t already have and look for options that can boost your portfolio.

For example, if your first business credit card offers cash back rewards, and you expect you’ll be traveling in the future, look for a business credit card that offers points or miles on travel-related expenses. Want to be rewarded for taking clients out on the town? Look for a card that offers high rewards on dining and entertainment. Also be on the lookout for statement credit-earning opportunities related to services or products that you use regularly — from cloud storage to Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credits.

The bottom line

As you can see, business credit cards can help safeguard you against coming up short on funds in case of emergency or help manage operating costs without having to seek alternative forms of capital. They also offer the kind of benefits that are especially useful for small-business owners.

Only apply for cards that you’re sure you can qualify for, though, and be sure to time your applications instead of applying for multiple cards at once (it’s best to wait three to six months in between applications).