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The growth and expansion of your company serve as tangible measures of success, indicating that your enterprise is progressing to the next stage. But as your business blossoms, your financing needs and goals can change — including your expectations for business credit cards.
Your business changes and the market does, too. A card that suited you well in the past may no longer be the ideal fit if you are spending differently or if you now carry a balance that you didn’t before. Or maybe what you want to get out of your rewards has changed — perhaps you used to travel a lot but now you are sticking closer to home and find cash back more appealing.— Ted Rossman, Senior industry analyst at Bankrate
Knowing when to switch business credit card issuers altogether is also important. Take the time to explore the advantages of switching to or adding a new business credit card, when it’s best to stick with your current card and what you should do with your original credit card if you make a change.
When to change business credit cards
As your business grows, your borrowing and financing needs change. Now may be a great time to consider choosing a new business credit card, especially if you can benefit from generous incentives and lower your financing costs with a lower interest rate or fewer fees.
Here are reasons and circumstances that might drive you to look for a new business card.
You have higher operating expenses
It’s likely your operating expenses will expand as you attract customers and grow your revenue. It’s essential to have sufficient purchasing power to acquire necessary items before you can receive payment from clients or consumers. A major reason why business owners seek new cards is they need more borrowing flexibility.
“For instance, if a startup initially had a $20,000 credit limit and now needs $70,000 to cover incoming orders, it might hit a bottleneck without upgrading,” says Joe Camberato, CEO of commercial lender National Business Capital.
If your current credit card has a limited spending cap, you can consider requesting a higher limit — or it could be time to apply for a new and stronger card.
Your card lacks business-friendly rewards or features
“If your current card doesn’t have business-friendly features or perks, it might be time to switch. For instance, some cards offer extra points or cash back on shipping, advertising and travel.”
— Leslie TayneFinancial attorney
If you initially started a casual business venture using a personal credit card and are transitioning to a more formalized company, you should consider obtaining a credit card specifically designed for small businesses. While personal cards allow you to charge business expenses, they lack the comprehensive functionality and specialized rewards offered by business cards.
Small business credit cards provide specialized tools that personal cards don’t, which can greatly ease business growing pains, particularly in areas such as bookkeeping, invoicing and accounting.
You yearn to give your business a bonus
If you’re on the brink of a significant expenditure for expansion, why not leverage the opportunity? While your existing batch of cards may boast impressive rewards programs, keep in mind that introductory bonuses are typically a one-time offer. Certain business credit cards — like the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card and American Express® Business Gold Card — present remarkably high introductory bonuses, which can be particularly advantageous for businesses in the growth stage.
“Credit card promotions with a 0 percent introductory rate are often available to new customers, and sign-up bonuses — typically in the form of cash back or travel rewards — are another perk of signing up for a new card,” Rossman suggests. “You might consider adding a new card every year or every few years to get these sign-up bonuses.”
You want your employees to have their own cards
Issuing individual cards to designated employees is a smart move for many businesses. Case in point: If you have a sales team that attends conferences and meets with clients, employee cards can be a convenient tool that eliminates the need for reimbursement. Or perhaps you wish to delegate purchasing responsibilities to a supervisor due to time constraints — with an employee card, you can save time and share some of the responsibility of the day-to-day business.
Moreover, authorized users can enjoy card perks like cell phone and purchase protection, travel insurance and extended warranty coverage. Meanwhile, you reap the benefits of elevated rewards that come with your employees’ increased spending.
Many business cards also allow you to set individual spending limits for authorized users, including those from American Express, Capital One and Bank of America.
“Card programs facilitate employee spending controls and rewards while streamlining expense reports.”
— Andrew LokenauthPersonal finance expert
You or your employees expect to travel
Perhaps you’re attending conventions or sales conferences or frequently commuting to new locations, either domestically or internationally. If so, you’ll want to make sure that your credit card aligns with your travel needs.
“If you or your employees will be traveling, a travel-specific card can help you earn airline miles or hotel points. Airline-specific credit cards often waive baggage fees, as well,” adds Tayne.
Those needs could include a card with no foreign transaction fees or trip cancellation insurance, not to mention money-saving rewards tailored to travel expenses.
“Frequent travel-focused rewards programs more than repay annual fees for businesses with extensive travel needs,” Lokenauth explains.
— Andrew LokenauthPersonal finance expert
You want to fund your expansion for less
Consider leveraging a specific feature offered by new credit cards that can help your business grow at a lower cost: A card that offers a 0 percent APR for an introductory period. These cards allow you to charge necessary expenses for your expansion and carry over a balance without incurring interest charges for a set period of time.
For instance, imagine needing to purchase a $50,000 oven for your second restaurant. If you were to use a credit card with an 18 percent APR and pay it off over 18 months, the financing fees could total $7,425, according to Bankrate’s credit card payoff calculator.
By using a 0 percent APR card instead and paying off what you borrow in full within the low-interest introductory period, you could avoid financing fees altogether. Just be sure to factor in the 3 percent to 5 percent balance transfer fee that typically come with these offers.
When is it better to stick with your current business credit card issuer?
They say the grass is greener on the other side. But that’s not always true when it comes to business credit card issuers. When deciding whether to apply for a new card, assess your situation to know which option might be right for you.
If your existing card issuer meets your business needs, you may not find any advantage in trading up.
“If you value an existing rewards balance, long credit history or rapport with your bank, stick with your current card,” Lokenauth says. “Larger established companies often retain original cards for stability and prestige perks.”
Additionally, in a higher-interest rate climate, “sticking with your current issuer might be more practical to avoid potentially higher rates with a switch,” notes Camberato.
Here are a few additional reasons to stick with your existing issuer.
You might be able to avoid a credit check
Applying for a card with a new issuer will almost certainly require a hard credit inquiry. That may not matter much if you don’t have any other loan applications on the horizon, but if you’re also considering a small business loan or other borrowing in the near future, too many inquiries can hurt your credit.
If you’ve established a relationship with your current personal or business card’s issuer, you might find it will agree to approve you for another small business card without conducting a credit check, helping you to protect your score. Check for pre-approved offers or just call your issuer and ask what options are available.
Maintain (and grow!) your rewards bank
It’s no secret that the top rewards credit cards can yield lucrative cash back or travel rewards for cardholders. Just because your credit card isn’t right for your business anymore doesn’t mean you have to give up on its rewards program.
The good news is that many issuers offer multiple business rewards credit cards so the issuer can effectively “grow” with your business. Perhaps the no-annual-fee rewards card doesn’t offer what you need any longer, but the $95-per-year card — that earns the same type of rewards — does.
In that case, contacting your issuer and requesting a product change could result in a card that better meets your needs, allows you to keep and continue earning valuable rewards and avoids a credit check.
“They may be able to switch you to one of their other cards, perhaps one that suits you better from a rewards perspective, or maybe a card with a lower annual fee or a lower interest rate,” Rossman points out. “A product change is better for your credit score than canceling a card because you keep the available credit.”
When should you consider switching to a new business credit card issuer?
Here’s how to know if now’s the time to completely replace that existing card issuer.
You’re eager to build business credit
Building a business credit history is essential for demonstrating creditworthiness as your business grows. The primary business credit reporting bureaus include Dun & Bradstreet, Experian Business, Equifax Business and Small Business Financial Exchange. Building a credit history with these bureaus reveals to banks and vendors the credit risk profile of your business.
If you discover your existing card issuer doesn’t report to these business credit bureaus, it could be time to switch it up.
Your issuer doesn’t have the options you need
It’s true that many large banks offer multiple business card options, but not all of them do. It’s possible that you’ve simply outgrown what your current issuer offers and need to move on for better rewards, more robust business accounting features or stronger business support.
“When your business expands or grows, you could be leaving benefits or points on the table with your current card,” Tayne advises. “See which spending categories your business typically engages in to learn if it aligns with the same spending categories of a new business rewards card.”
You need a larger line of credit
Whether stated or not, issuers have a set amount of credit they’re willing to extend to any given cardholder. Perhaps that amount is spread across multiple cards or it’s all part of a single card’s credit line.
Either way, if you know you need more — and can responsibly manage it — it might be time to move on to a new issuer that can extend the credit you need. It doesn’t mean you have to close your existing card account. In fact, your credit utilization will thank you for leaving the old card open.
What to do with your original credit card when switching
You don’t necessarily have to close your existing business credit card after receiving a new card from a different issuer — and, in fact, maybe you shouldn’t.
Rossman recommends keeping the old account open, as that account’s history can help your credit rating. Plus, it’s often a good idea to have a backup card in case you need it.
“But if you really want to cancel the account, you can usually dispose of the card by cutting it up if it is plastic. Metal cards sometimes need to be mailed back to the card issuer for proper disposal,” Rossman recommends. “Make sure to redeem any card rewards before canceling it, since those are usually forfeited upon account closure.”
The bottom line
It pays to shop around for a new or supplementary business credit card, particularly if your operation is flourishing, your staff and office are growing and you want to maximize potential benefits that can be mined from newly minted cards designed for entrepreneurs like you.
Review the best small business credit cards, checking the interest rates and financing costs on cards carefully, to perform an apples-to-apples comparison of rewards, bonuses and other incentives that can benefit your business.