Key takeaways

  • If you’re looking for a sole proprietorship business card, know that most cards from top issuers let you apply as an individual business owner.
  • The best business credit cards for sole proprietors are offered from issuers like American Express, Capital One and Chase.
  • Some business credit cards for sole proprietors earn cash back, whereas others earn flexible rewards that can be redeemed for travel and more.
  • Before you apply for a business card, compare options based on their rewards rates, welcome offers, fees and cardholder perks.

While some business credit cards require you to have an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your business to apply, others open their applications to sole proprietors who apply with a Social Security number (SSN) instead. You can also apply with both an SSN and an EIN if you have one, although the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) says individual business owners without employees don’t need to have an EIN in most cases.

With an SSN only, you can apply for a business credit card using that number in place of an EIN. Before you do, however, you should compare the best business credit cards for sole proprietors based on the rewards you can earn, cardholder perks you can access and fees that apply.

Ink Business Preferred Credit Card: Best for flexible rewards

Why we picked it: The Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card starts new cardholders off with 100,000 points when they spend $8,000 within three months of account opening. Cardholders also earn 3X points on the first $150,000 spent on travel and in select business categories (shipping purchases; internet, cable and phone services; and advertising purchases made with social media and search engines) each year (then 1X points) and 1X points on other purchases.

More importantly, rewards come in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which can be used for gift cards, cash back, select merchandise, travel through Chase and points transfers to Chase airline and hotel partners.

Pros

  • Earns flexible Chase Ultimate Rewards points
  • Generous welcome offer and earning rates
  • Free employee cards
  • Get 25 percent more value when redeeming points for Chase travel
  • Comes with some travel insurance benefits (including trip cancellation/interruption insurance)
  • Receive purchase protection and extended warranty coverage
  • No foreign transaction fees

Cons

  • $95 annual fee applies
  • Rewards cap in bonus categories
  • Only earns 1X points on non-bonus spending


Who should apply: Apply for the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card if you want to earn rewards that can be redeemed for a range of options, including travel through Chase and points transfers to airlines and hotels.

Who should skip: Skip this card if you want a business credit card with no annual fee.

The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express: Best for travel rewards with no annual fee

Why we picked it: The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express lets individuals earn American Express Membership Rewards points with no annual fee. Specifically, cardholders earn 2X points on eligible, everyday business purchases (on up to $50,000 per calendar year). After spending $50,000 on the card, cardholders will earn 1X points on other eligible purchases.

Cardholders can also earn a welcome offer of 15,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $3,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership.

Pros

  • Earns Amex Membership Rewards points for travel
  • Intro APR offer for purchases available
  • Free employee cards
  • Comes with extended warranty coverage and purchase protection (terms apply)

Cons



Who should apply: Apply for the Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express if you want to earn points for travel that can transfer to airlines and hotels. Also, consider this card if you want a business credit card with no annual fee.

Who should skip: Skip this card if you want to earn cash back instead of travel rewards. After all, Amex Membership Rewards points are worth less than 1 cent each if you redeem for cash back, statement credits or merchandise.

Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card: Best for cash back

Why we picked it: The Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card offers a flat rate of 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases and no annual fee. New cardholders can also earn a welcome offer of $900 in cash back when they spend $6,000 within three months of account opening.

Pros

  • Generous flat-rate rewards and welcome offer
  • Intro APR offer for purchases available
  • Free employee cards
  • Some travel benefits, like travel and emergency assistance services
  • Get purchase protection and extended warranty coverage (terms apply)

Cons

  • No direct transfers to Chase airline and hotel partners
  • No bonus categories to maximize
  • Charges a 3 percent foreign transaction fee


Who should apply: Consider the Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card if you want flat-rate rewards, no annual fee and an intro APR offer on purchases.

Who should skip: Skip the Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card if you want to earn a higher rewards rate and you’re willing to pay an annual fee.

Capital One Spark Cash Plus: Best for no preset limit

Why we picked it: The Capital One Spark Cash Plus is a top business charge card that doesn’t come with a preset spending limit. Cardholders can earn a flat 2 percent cash back on all purchases, plus a one-time cash bonus of $1,200 after spending $30,000 on purchases within three months of account opening.

Pros

  • Generous rewards rate and welcome offer
  • Free employee cards

Cons

  • $150 annual fee applies (can be refunded every year you spend at least $150,000)
  • Balance must be paid in full each month
  • High spending requirements to earn the welcome bonus


Who should apply: Sign up for the Capital One Spark Cash Plus if you want to earn a generous cash back rate and you don’t mind paying an annual fee, or if your business spends at least $150,000 on purchases and bills each year.

Who should skip: Skip the Capital One Spark Cash Plus if you want the option to carry a balance from one month to the next since this charge card requires full payment each billing cycle.

How to apply for a business credit card as a sole proprietor

When you apply for a credit card as a sole proprietor, you have the option to use your SSN, an EIN or both. These steps can help you get the credit card you need:

  1. Compare business credit cards. Compare business credit cards you’re interested in based on their rewards rates, welcome bonuses, fees and more. Find a card that offers rewards and benefits that make sense for the way your business operates and spends.
  2. Check eligibility requirements. Check for minimum credit score requirements or business eligibility requirements, such as the need to be operational as a business for a certain amount of time.
  3. Fill out the application. Apply for the card you want with your SSN, EIN or both, your full name, your business address, your business income, years in business and other requested details.
  4. Supply documentation. You may have to supply the card issuer with proof of your business income or the legal structure of your business, which you can upload online or send in the mail.
  5. Get approved. Many business credit cards offer a decision within a few minutes online, whereas others notify you of your approval or denial by mail.

The bottom line

The best business credit cards for sole proprietors offer rewards for spending, consumer protections and the flexibility that comes with a line of credit you can borrow against. All the cards on this page also help build personal and business credit, although they also require a personal guarantee that says you’ll pay back borrowed funds even if the business fails.

Take a look at some of the best business credit cards to compare cards and options for your small business, and look for any offers you may be interested in. If you don’t get approved right away, take steps to improve your credit score and your business income. Then, apply again in several months or a year.