What Credit Cards Can You Apply for With an EIN?

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Business credit and personal credit often seem like two entirely different worlds. There are different credit bureaus, credit reports, and credit scores; the cards work differently and feature different requirements; and the methods used to build each type of credit can differ significantly.

In spite of this, your personal credit will almost certainly still play a role in business lending decisions. That’s not always ideal, so some businesspeople seek ways to apply for business credit cards while keeping their personal credit entirely out of the picture.

One of the more commonly proposed solutions is to simply apply for business credit cards using only your Employer Identification Number (EIN), rather than your Social Security number (SSN). That should help keep the focus on your business, right?

Actually, that’s not usually true.

It’s easy to find credit cards you can apply for with your EIN. In fact, many major business credit card applications simply ask for a “tax identification number” (an EIN is just that) before they ever request your SSN.

But the harsh reality is that there are very few cases where business credit card issuers won’t request your SSN. Which means that you’ll seldom get a business credit card without your personal credit coming into play (but it is possible to get certain business cards without personal guarantees).

We’ll talk about why later on. But first, we’ll mention a few cards that you can at least apply for with an EIN. Just remember that doing so won’t help most business owners avoid a personal credit check or personal guarantee, and you’ll likely still have to provide your SSN before you’re approved (the Brex, Stripe, and ScaleFactor cards are exceptions).

What Credit Cards Can You Apply for With an EIN?

You don’t have to look far to find a business credit card you can apply for with an EIN. Browse business credit cards from a variety of major issuers, and most will be accompanied by an application that looks something like the one below.

The “Tax identification number” section is where you’d put your EIN. As you can see, you have to use your SSN from the beginning if you’re a sole proprietor.

In addition to Chase, most other big-name issuers, including American Express, Bank of America, and Capital One, have applications that work the same way.

The key issue is that the ability to apply with your EIN is by no means a guarantee that you won’t have to submit to a personal credit inquiry, or that you won’t have to fork over your SSN as well.

That’s because nearly every business credit card requires a personal guarantee, which means you’re legally liable for its balance. And since that essentially makes you responsible just like any personal credit card, it’s no surprise that the issuer will want to know how you’ve handled past debts.

If you’d like to give it a shot regardless, consider some of our favorite business cards, all of which offer employee cards and at least a few other basic business card benefits.

NOTE: Nearly all of the below cards will require a personal credit check and good personal credit (at least).

Capital One Spark Cash Plus

  • Min. credit level: Good
  • Annual Fee: $150
  • Purchase APR: Not Applicable – Paid in Full Monthly
  • Earn up to a $1,000 cash bonus; $500 once you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months, and $500 once you spend $50,000 in the first 6 months of account opening
  • Earn unlimited 2% cash back on every purchase, everywhere-with no limits or category restrictions
  • Earn an annual $200 cash bonus every year you spend $200,000 or more
  • Comes with no preset spending limit, so it can adapt to your needs based on your spending behavior, payment history and credit profile
  • Rewards won’t expire for the life of the account, and you can redeem your cash back for any amount
  • Add employee cards for free, and earn unlimited 2% cash back from their purchases
  • $150 annual fee
  • Spark Cash Plus has no APR because your balance is due in full every month
Spending Rewards
  • 2% cash back on all purchases
Introductory Bonus
  • $500 after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months; $500 after spending $50,000 in the first 6 months

Balance transfers

A balance transfer is a way to move debt from one card to another with the goal of saving money on interest.

  • Intro Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Regular Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Balance Transfer Fee: N/A
  • Penalty APR: N/A
  • Late Fee: 2.99% of unpaid portion
  • Returned Payment Fee: N/A
  • Additional Cards Annual Fee: N/A
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: N/A

Key Features

  • Free employee cards
  • Shopping protections: Purchase Security, Extended Warranty Protection, Price Protection
  • Travel protections: Rental Insurance Coverage, Roadside Dispatch, Lost Luggage Reimbursement, Travel Accident Insurance
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $150

Ink Business Cash® Credit Card

  • Min. credit level: Excellent
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Purchase APR: 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 12 months, then 13.24% – 19.24% Variable
  • Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year
  • Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year. Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • With Fraud Protection your card transactions will be monitored for possible signs of fraudulent activity using real-time fraud monitoring.
  • With Zero Liability you won’t be held responsible for unauthorized charges made with your card or account information.
  • No Annual Fee
  • Redeem rewards for cash back, gift cards, travel and more through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases
Spending Rewards
  • 5% cash back on Lyft rides (through March 2022)
  • 5% cash back on up to $25,000 spent per year at:
    • Office supply stores
    • Internet, cable, and phone services
  • 2% cash back on up to $25,000 spent per year at:
    • Gas stations
    • Restaurants
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
Introductory Bonus
  • $750 cash bonus for spending $7,500 in the first 3 months after account opening

Balance transfers

  • Intro Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Regular Balance Transfer APR: 13.24% – 19.24% Variable
  • Balance Transfer Fee: Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • Penalty APR: Up to 29.99%
  • Late Fee: See Terms
  • Returned Payment Fee: See Terms
  • Additional Cards Annual Fee: N/A
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars

The information related to Ink Business Cash® Credit Card has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

Key features

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Introductory bonus: $750 cash bonus for spending $7,500 in the first 3 months after account opening
  • Rewards: 5% cash back on Lyft rides; 5% cash back on up to $25,000 spent per year at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services; 2% cash back on up to $25,000 spent per year at gas stations and restaurants; 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Requires a personal credit check

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

  • Min. credit level: Excellent
  • Annual Fee: 95
  • Purchase APR: 15.99% – 20.99% Variable
  • Earn 100k bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,000 cash back or $1,250 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • With Fraud Protection your card transactions will be monitored for possible signs of fraudulent activity using real-time fraud monitoring.
  • With Zero Liability you won’t be held responsible for unauthorized charges made with your card or account information.
  • Redeem points for cash back, gift cards, travel and more – your points don’t expire as long as your account is open
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Purchase Protection covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account.
Spending Rewards
  • 5X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on Lyft rides (through March 2022)
  • 3X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on the first $150,000 spent per year on:
    • Travel
    • Shipping
    • Internet, cable, and phone services
    • Advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines
  • 1X Ultimate Rewards point per dollar on all other purchases
Introductory Bonus
  • 100,000 bonus points for spending $15,000 in the first 3 months after account opening

Balance transfers

  • Intro Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Regular Balance Transfer APR: 15.99% – 20.99% Variable
  • Balance Transfer Fee: Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • Penalty APR: Up to 29.99%
  • Late Fee: See Terms
  • Returned Payment Fee: See Terms
  • Additional Cards Annual Fee: N/A
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: N/A

The information related to Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

Key features

  • Annual fee: 95
  • Introductory bonus: 100,000 bonus points for spending $15,000 in the first 3 months after account opening
  • Rewards: 5X points per dollar on Lyft rides; 3X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on up to $150,000 spent per year on travel, shipping, online advertising, and telecom services; 1X point on all other purchases
  • Requires a personal credit check

American Express® Business Gold Card

  • Min. credit level: Good
  • Annual Fee: $295
  • Purchase APR: 14.24% – 22.24% Variable
  • Welcome Offer: Earn 70,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Gold Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.*
  • MORE REWARDS: Get 4X Membership Rewards® points on the 2 select categories where your business spent the most each month. 1X is earned for other purchases. **
  • **4X points apply to the first $150,000 in combined purchases from these 2 categories each calendar year.*
  • AIRLINE BONUS: Get 25% points back after you use points for all or part of an eligible flight booked with Amex Travel, up to 250,000 points back per calendar year.*
  • PAY OVER TIME OPTION: Decide whether you want to pay eligible purchases in full each month-or pay over time with interest.*
  • *Terms Apply
Spending Rewards
  • 4X Membership Rewards points per dollar in the two categories with the highest spend per billing cycle (up to $150,000 in combined purchases per year, then 1X):
    • Airfare purchased directly from airlines
    • U.S. advertising purchases: online, TV, radio
    • U.S. providers of computer hardware, software, and cloud solutions
    • U.S. gas stations
    • U.S. restaurants
    • U.S. shipping
  • 2X Membership Rewards points per dollar for eligible purchases from Amex Travel
  • 1X Membership Rewards point per dollar for other eligible purchases
Introductory Bonus
  • 70,000 bonus points for spending $10,000 on eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership

Balance transfers

  • Intro Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Regular Balance Transfer APR: 14.24% – 22.24% Variable
  • Balance Transfer Fee: N/A
  • Penalty APR: 29.24% Variable
  • Late Fee: $39 or 2.99% of any past due Pay in Full amount, whichever is greater.
  • Returned Payment Fee: $39
  • Additional Cards Annual Fee: N/A
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None

The information related to American Express® Business Gold Card has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

Key features

  • 25% airline bonus: Get 25% of your points back when booking eligible airfare through American Express Travel using Membership Rewards Pay with Points.
  • The Hotel Collection: A $100 hotel credit and room upgrades when available for every eligible two-night stay
  • Point transfer: To a selection of airline and hotel partners
  • Amex Offers: Access to extra point offers at a wide variety of merchants
  • Shopping and travel protections: Baggage Insurance Plan, Trip Delay Insurance, Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance, Global Assist Hotline, Extended Warranty, Purchase Protection
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $295

Enrollment required for select benefits; terms and limitations apply. American Express® Business Gold Card

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

  • Min. credit level: Good
  • Annual Fee: $695
  • Purchase APR: See Pay Over Time APR
  • Welcome Offer: Earn 120,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with your Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Plus, 0% Intro APR for 12 months from the date of the account opening on purchases eligible for Pay Over Time. After that, your APR will be 14.24% to 22.24% based on your credit worthiness and other factors as determined at the time of account opening.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in value per year for statement credits on select purchases with your Card, including up to $400 with Dell Technologies, up to $360 with Indeed, up to $150 with Adobe and up to $120 on wireless telephone purchases. Enrollment required.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year toward baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • $179 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $179 back per year on your CLEAR® membership.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
Spending Rewards
  • 5X Membership Rewards points per dollar on Flights and Prepaid Hotels booked through Amex Travel
  • 2X Membership Rewards points per dollar for other eligible purchases through Amex Travel
  • 1.5X Membership Rewards points per dollar (up to $2 million spent per year) for eligible purchases of $5,000 or more, and eligible U.S. purchases from:
    • Construction material and hardware suppliers
    • Electronic goods retailers and software/cloud system providers
    • Shipping providers
  • 1X Membership Rewards point per dollar on other eligible purchases
Introductory Bonus
  • 120,000 bonus points for spending $15,000 within the first 3 months

Balance transfers

  • Intro Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Regular Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Balance Transfer Fee: N/A
  • Penalty APR: 29.24% Variable
  • Late Fee: $39 or 2.99% of any past due Pay in Full amount, whichever is greater.
  • Returned Payment Fee: $39
  • Additional Cards Annual Fee: N/A
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None

The information related to The Business Platinum Card® from American Express has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

Key features

  • Global Lounge Collection: Complimentary access to Priority Pass, Centurion, American Express International, Delta Sky Club, Escape, Airspace, Lufthansa, and Plaza Premium Lounges
  • Up to $200 in airline fee statement credits annually: Good for incidental costs like checked bags and inflight food, not tickets, at your selected airline
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit: A statement credit for the application fee of either Global Entry ($100 once every four years) or TSA PreCheck ($85 once every four-and-a-half years)
  • Complimentary elite hotel statuses: Hilton Honors Gold status and Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status
  • $400 Dell statement credit: Enroll to get up to $400 in annual statement credits for U.S. purchases with Dell: $200 from January through June, and $200 from July through December.
  • $360 in annual statement credits for Indeed: Up to $90 in statement credits per quarter for all Indeed hiring and recruiting products and services
  • Up to $150 in annual statement credits for Adobe: Annual credits for select Adobe products, including Adobe Creative Cloud and Acrobat Pro DC
  • Up to $120 in annual statement credits for wireless services: Up to $10 per month, good for purchases of monthly wireless services made directly from U.S. wireless telephone providers
  • The Hotel Collection: A $100 hotel credit and room upgrades when available for every eligible two-night stay
  • Fine Hotels & Resorts Program: Daily breakfast for two, room upgrades when available, amenities valued at $100, and more at eligible properties
  • Point transfer: To a selection of airline and hotel partners
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $695

Enrollment required for select benefits; terms and limitations apply. The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

Brex Daily Card

  • Min. credit level: Eligibility determined by business financials
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Purchase APR: Not Applicable – Paid in Full Daily
  • Choose either Tech Rewards, Life Science Rewards, or Remote Workforce Rewards
  • $5,000 in Amazon Web Services credit over a year
  • $150 in Google Ads credit
  • 5% rebate on Microsoft ad products
  • 40% off your first 12 months of QuickBooks
  • 25% off an annual Monday.com subscription
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • No annual fee
  • Not available to consumers, sole proprietors, unregistered businesses, and other non-individual liability companies
Tech Rewards
  • 8X points per dollar on:
    • Rideshares
    • Taxis
  • 5X points per dollar on:
    • Flights booked through Brex Travel
    • Hotels booked through Brex Travel
  • 4X points per dollar on Dining
  • 3X points per dollar on:
    • Recurring Software purchases
    • Eligible Apple products via the Brex portal
  • 1.5X points per dollar on Ad purchases
  • 1X point per dollar on every other purchase
Life Sciences Rewards
  • 8X points per dollar on Conference tickets
  • 5X points per dollar on:
    • Flights booked through Brex Travel
    • Hotels booked through Brex Travel
  • 3X points per dollar on eligible Apple products via the Brex portal
  • 2X points per dollar on Lab supplies
  • 1.5X points per dollar on Ad purchases
  • 1X point per dollar on every other purchase
Remote Workforce Rewards
  • 8X points per dollar on Collaboration tools
  • 4X points per dollar on Food delivery services
  • 3X points per dollar on Recurring Software purchases
  • 1.5X points per dollar on Ad purchases
  • 1X point per dollar on every other purchase
Introductory Bonus
  • 10,000 bonus points for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months; 20,000 bonus points for linking payroll to Brex Cash (Brex Cash customers only)

Balance transfers

  • Intro Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Regular Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Balance Transfer Fee: N/A
  • Penalty APR: N/A
  • Late Fee: See Terms
  • Returned Payment Fee: See Terms
  • Additional Cards Annual Fee: First 4 for free; $5 per month after that
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None

The information related to Brex Daily Card has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

Key Features

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Rewards: Choose Tech Rewards, Life Science Rewards, or Remote Workforce Rewards
  • Perks: Various credits and discounts for Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Ads, WeWork, Salesforce, Twilio, HubSpot, ZenDesk, and more
  • Not available to sole proprietors, unregistered businesses, and other non-individual liability companies
  • Does not require a personal credit check

Unlike the other cards above, Brex doesn’t require a personal guarantee for its cards (there’s one other card offer: Brex 30 Card). That means you can apply using only an EIN.

But your business will have to meet some requirements before you’re approved for a Brex card. The Brex Daily must be paired with a Brex Cash account, while the Brex 30 requires $50K in a bank account for venture-backed companies, or $100,000 if you’re not venture-backed.

Stripe Corporate Card

  • Min. credit level: Eligibility determined by business financials
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Purchase APR: Not Applicable – Paid in Full Monthly
  • 1.5% cash back on every purchase
  • $5,000 in Amazon Web Services credits
  • Three months of a basic Shopify Subscription for free
  • $436 in Zendesk credits per month for the first year
  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • No late fees
  • No personal guarantee required
  • You must request an invitation and be accepted to apply
  • Must have a Stripe account to apply
Spending Rewards
  • 1.5% cash back on all purchases

Balance transfers

  • Intro Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Regular Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Balance Transfer Fee: N/A
  • Penalty APR: N/A
  • Late Fee: None
  • Returned Payment Fee: None
  • Additional Cards Annual Fee: $0
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None

Key Features

  • Available by invite only
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Rewards: 2% cash back in your top two spending categories each month, out of several options; 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Introductory offer: $50,000 in free payment processing after your first $5,000 in spend
  • Perks: Three months of a basic Shopify Subscription for free, $436 in Zendesk credits per month for the first year, 40% off HubSpot for the first year, 50% off Expensify for six months, $5,000 in Amazon Web Services credits
  • Requirements: No clear-cut requirements; approval is dependent on your business’s payment volume, history with Stripe, and bank account history
  • Does not require a personal credit check

The Stripe card is similar to the Brex cards. There are no personal guarantees or credit checks required, but you have to meet Stripe’s standards when it comes to payment volume, your history with Stripe, and your bank account history.

ScaleFactor Visa Charge Card

  • Min. credit level: Eligibility determined by business financials
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Purchase APR: Not Applicable – Paid in Full Monthly
  • Charge card — balance must be paid in full monthly
  • 1% cash back on all purchases
  • Set spending limits on employee cards
  • Employees can upload expenses and receipts from mobile
  • Easily issue physical, digital, or temporary employee cards
  • Ability to freeze and cancel cards with the touch of a button
  • No annual fee
  • 1% cash back on all purchases

Balance transfers

  • Intro Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Regular Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Balance Transfer Fee: N/A
  • Penalty APR: N/A
  • Late Fee: See Terms
  • Returned Payment Fee: See Terms
  • Additional Cards Annual Fee: $0
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: See Terms

Key features

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Rewards: 1% cash back on all purchases
  • Perks: Virtual cards with customizable expiration dates and spending limits, mobile expense upload and verification
  • Requirements: Applicants must be ScaleFactor customers who have connected business bank accounts and accounting files to ScaleFactor
  • Does not require a personal credit check

Similar to the Brex and Stripe cards, the ScaleFactor Visa has no impact on your personal credit. However, you must be a ScaleFactor customer in order to apply.

Divvy Credit Card

  • Min. credit levelEligibility determined by business financials
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APRSee Terms
  • Rewards are based on your chosen payoff schedule: up to 7X points per dollar at restaurants, up to 5X at hotels, up to 2X on software subscriptions, and up to 1.5X on all other purchases
  • Weekly, semi-monthly, or monthly payment terms
  • Various credits and perks for business services
  • No personal guarantee required if approved by business credit
  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fee
Spending Rewards
  • Up to 7X points per dollar at Restaurants
  • Up to 5X points per dollar at Hotels
  • Up to 2X points per dollar on Software Subscriptions
  • Up to 1.5X points per dollar on all other purchases

Balance transfers

  • Intro Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Regular Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Balance Transfer Fee: N/A
  • Penalty APR: N/A
  • Late Fee: 2.99% or $38, whichever is greater
  • Returned Payment Fee: N/A
  • Additional Cards Annual Fee: N/A
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: Up to 0.90%, plus 0.20% currency conversion fee

Key features

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Rewards: Up to 7X points per dollar at restaurants, up to 5X points per dollar at hotels, up to 2X points per dollar on software subscriptions, up to 1.5X points per dollar on all other purchases
  • Perks: Works with the Divvy budget and expense management software; Tools to manage employee spending; Unlimited virtual cards; Thousands of dollars in special offers and discounts
  • Requirements: You can be approved based on your business credit alone; if your business credit isn’t sufficient, Divvy can try approving you based on your personal credit, which would include a personal guarantee.
  • Does not require a personal credit check

What Is an EIN, and How Do You Get One?

Still not sure how an EIN works? If you’re delving into the business world, it’s something you should learn about ASAP.

Employer Identification Numbers (EINs) are nine-digit tax ID numbers issued by the federal government (through the Internal Revenue Service) to employers and other individuals who meet certain criteria. According to the IRS, EINs are “used to identify the tax accounts of employers and certain others who have no employees,” but they also afford business owners certain privileges and abilities that can contribute to a business’ long-term success.

An EIN allows you to:

  • File business taxes
  • Open business bank accounts (EINs are often required, but not always)
  • Streamline the business loan application process
  • Establish a business credit file
  • Apply for and receive business permits
  • Keep your SSN private during business dealings

Applying for an EIN is free, and anyone whose “principal business, office or agency, or legal residence” is located in the U.S. or its territories can do it. All you need is a valid Taxpayer Identification Number; options include your SSN, or a past EIN. You’ll get your EIN immediately upon successful activation.

Applying for a Business Credit Card With an EIN

Applying for a business credit card will often require an EIN, though you’ll generally have to provide your SSN, too. The process is fairly straightforward, and it’s not terribly different than applying for a consumer credit card.

Why Would You Apply for a Business Card With an EIN?

There are few reasons why applying for a business card using only an EIN would be necessary, but commonly cited motivations include:

  • Keeping your SSN private
  • Avoiding a personal guarantee in favor of company liability
  • Avoiding a hard credit inquiry on your personal credit

Unfortunately, using your EIN on a business credit card application will rarely accomplish these goals.

Even if your business has a robust business credit history, there’s a very high chance that the issuer will still request your SSN and check your personal credit. In fact, for most business cards the issuer probably won’t check your business credit at all.

It’s equally likely that you’ll have to provide a personal guarantee, because they serve as a valuable line of defense for credit card companies. A few notable exceptions there are the Brex and Stripe cards, mentioned above.

We reached out to Amex and Capital One’s business support teams, and they both confirmed that all business credit card applicants must submit to a personal credit inquiry and provide a personal guarantee. There’s no way to avoid it, no matter how rich your business credit history. We can’t guarantee that’s the case with other issuers, but with few exceptions, it’s probably safe to assume it is until you check.

How Do You Apply for a Business Card With an EIN?

When you apply for a business credit card, you’re required to provide much of the same basic personal information you would for a consumer card. The key distinction is that you’ll also have to provide certain information related to your business. This generally includes your business name, the role of your business, its contact information, and revenue information, among other things.

You’ll also have to provide a Tax Identification Number, and that’s where your EIN comes into play.

EINs and SSNs are both classified as Tax Identification Numbers, and while the majority of business credit card applications will probably require you to provide both, certain cards (like the aforementioned Brex card) allow you to apply with just your EIN.

Sole proprietorships will often have to provide an SSN up front, as we mentioned earlier.

In some cases, you may be able to apply using different information if you call the issuer’s application line to speak with a rep. So if you don’t see the options you want it’s worth giving them a call.

Can You Apply for a Business Credit Card Without a Hard Personal Credit Inquiry?

Personal credit inquiries can throw a wrench into the business card application process.

Poor personal credit could decrease your likelihood for approval despite your business being perfectly capable of repaying its debts.

And even if that’s not a concern, hard inquiries can have a negative impact on your personal credit scores, though it’s generally temporary and minor.

There aren’t many cards that don’t require personal credit checks and guarantees, and they typically require that you represent a large and profitable corporation.

The good news? There are ways to get business credit cards even with poor personal credit (though an inquiry may still take place).

Here are your options:

  • Use a secured business credit card: Secured business credit cards work basically the same way as secured personal cards. You provide a refundable deposit, and that usually sets the credit limit. Since there’s little risk on the lender’s part, secured business cards can be fairly easy to get, even with poor personal credit.
  • Build business credit with trade lines: Credit cards are one good way to build business credit, but trade lines are also vital. If you build a solid relationship with a vendor, you may be able to establish a line of credit and request that your positive payment activity be reported to business credit bureaus (if it wouldn’t be already). Then, once you’ve built a few years of positive business credit using this type of credit line, it might be easier to qualify for business credit cards without dealing with a personal credit check (but that’s not a guarantee).
  • Use your banking relationship as leverage: Banks love loyal customers, especially when they’re businesses. So if you’ve forged a long and positive relationship with a bank or credit union, particularly if it’s on a local level, you might be able to get a decent business credit card even with poor personal credit scores. Emphasis on “might.”

Why Use Business Cards?

If you’re still new to the world of business credit, you may have a basic idea of why business credit cards are so helpful. But even so, all small business owners should understand exactly why they’re so important in today’s business landscape.

  • Business cards make it easier to separate business and personal finances: Charging all of your company purchases to a business credit card can make it considerably easier to track your expenses.
  • Business cards make employee spending simpler: Providing key employees with credit cards connected to your primary business credit card account can stimulate productivity while helping your business earn more rewards. Employee cards are often offered for free or for a relatively small fee.
  • You can earn rewards on business-specific bonus categories: Business credit card rewards programs often offer high reward rates in categories you won’t find with personal cards, such as office supply stores, telecom services, and even online advertising purchases. These rewards may take the form of cash back, rewards points, or miles.
  • Credit cards can build business credit: While the business card application process may involve your personal credit, most card issuers report positive business credit card activity to business bureaus. Tackling business expenses with a credit card and paying off the statement balance in full by the due date is a good way to flesh out your business credit history. Solid business credit scores, in turn, can lead to easier access to small business loans in higher amounts, lower interest rates on loans and credit cards, and other valuable benefits.

Discover and Capital One report positive business credit card activity to both business and personal credit bureaus. Most other major issuers, like Chase, American Express, and Bank of America, report business card activity to personal bureaus only if your debts are delinquent.

Choose Your Card Carefully

Think you’re ready for a new business card? Whether or not you’re using your EIN in the process, you’ll want to make sure the card complements your business spending.

The best business credit cards will provide rewards categories that make sense for your spending habits, and enough overall value (by way of both rewards and benefits) to justify the annual fee some cards require.

For added value, keep an eye out for business cards with big signup bonuses, which often provide more bonus points than their personal counterparts, as well as 0% intro APR offers for balance transfers, purchases, or both.

Expecting to do business around the world or make purchases in foreign currency? You’ll also want to look for strong travel rewards cards with no foreign transaction fees.

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