Whether you’re opening a business credit card for the company you own or applying for a card through your employer, it’s almost impossible to keep your personal credit out of the equation.
I’ve always been the kind of person leery of opening credit cards. So when financial and business advisors recommended that I get a business credit card, I wanted to know how it would affect my personal credit score.
We spoke to several credit experts to find out just how a business credit card can impact your personal finances, including your credit score. Here’s here:
1. Applying means a ‘hard inquiry’
The process of applying for a business credit card is almost identical to the process of applying for a personal one.
Leslie Tayne, a debt resolution attorney and author of “Life & Debt,” says that applying for credit on behalf of your business means a hard inquiry will occur on your credit report, just as it does when a lender reviews your credit history when you apply for a mortgage, car loan or personal credit card.
“Applying for a business credit card often requires a check of your personal credit, which will be reported as a hard inquiry,” Tayne says.
The credit inquiry could cause a minor drop in your overall credit score, Tayne notes. Many businesses use FICO credit scores, which range from 300 to 850, to assess your credit risk.
Applying for a business credit card “will likely result in a knock to your personal (credit) score of a few points,” Tayne says.
2. Business credit comes with a personal guarantee
When you sign up for a business credit card, you do have to provide your social security number. As a result, Tayne says, you are personally guaranteeing the debt of your business.
“You as the business owner are now responsible for your company’s debt,” says Tayne. “If your business defaults, you are personally liable to repay what is owed.”
3. Business and personal credit activity could overlap
Before you apply for a business credit card, it’s important to find out if the card will be linked to your personal credit, Tayne says. Some credit card lenders, she says, may report your business credit activity to your personal credit report without you knowing.
You want to avoid this if possible, Tayne advises. The reason? A financial slip up at your business could negatively impact your personal financial situation, she says.
4. Missed or late payments can hurt your credit
Staying current on your business’ credit card bill is a must, just as it is on your personal Visa or Mastercard. To avoid any dings to your credit score, pay your statement balance on time and, if possible, in full each billing period.
Nathan Grant, a credit industry analyst for Credit Card Insider, says paying your balance off each month benefits your credit score in two key ways. It keeps your so-called “credit utilization” (the ratio of your outstanding balance to your total card limit) low. Not carrying a balance also prevents you from having to pay interest on money you still owe the credit card lender.