Can I get a Business Credit Card Without a Business?

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Can I get a business credit card without a business may seem like a weird question to ask, but it makes a lot of sense when you start doing your research. In the last year, personal credit cards have had disappointing welcome bonuses, whereas business cards have generous offers with a reasonable minimum spending requirement. That means you can earn many points fast, which is essential if you want to travel hack

While some people who don’t have a formal business may be hesitant to apply for a business card, the reality is that people do it all the time. I’m not necessarily encouraging it, I’m just saying is a great strategy if you want to earn points quickly.

Can I get a business credit card without a business?

The short answer is yes, but it depends on the credit card provider and what you’re willing to do. When applying for a business credit card, the application will ask you for your business details. In most cases, you can put in whatever you want, and it could qualify you for a business credit card. That said, if you’re going to make something up, make it somewhat related to your everyday job.

I’m not suggesting you lie, but it’s never been easier to be a business owner. If your side hustle is driving for rideshare companies or doing food delivery, then you have a business. Technically speaking, if you provide advice or service to friends or family, you also have a business. 

What many people don’t realize is that you also don’t technically need to register a business to have a business. In many cases, there’s no need to. For example, someone who resells items from Kijiji or Facebook Marketplace has a business, but there’s no real reason to register. Also note that you’re not required to register for a GST or HST number unless you hit $30,000 in income each year. In other words, taxes is not something you need to worry about.

What is a business credit card?

A business credit card is pretty much the same as a personal card, but it may include some additional benefits, such as:

  • Extended payment options
  • Increased spending limit
  • Increased earn rates
  • Protection from employee abuse
  • Business and expense management tools

It doesn’t matter if you run a small business, have hundreds of employees or you’re a freelancer. Access to one of Canada’s best business credit cards can help you improve your day-to-day operations. A business credit card ensures you’ll have the funds to operate and grow your business. Alternatively, business credit cards are just another tool to manage your expenses or earn you more points.

Business credit card requirements

While filling out a business credit card application, it’ll ask you for information about your business. The most common things will be things such as the name and address of your business. Remember, since anyone can have a business and side hustles are considered a business, there’s nothing unusual about having your own name, or a made-up business name, and your personal address as your business information.

There’s also typically a business income question. Obviously, the more income you make, the more likely you’ll be approved. That said, many people get a business credit card as they set up their business when their income is zero. Since that doesn’t always look great, they may put their projected income instead.

Although business income is relevant, you need to consider how credit card providers operate. For example, American Express has no formal income requirement for its personal credit cards. It’s safe to assume that they probably operate under similar conditions for their business credit cards. 

I suspect many credit card providers are more interested in your credit score during the approval process since that’s a more accurate way to tell if you’re creditworthy.

Again, I’m not suggesting you lie, but if you’re asking, can I get a business credit card without a business? The answer is yes if you’re creative.

How to qualify for a business credit card

I’ve listed the requirements above, but credit card providers have the right to audit each application. Even though you might be approved immediately, credit card providers may check your account later. This can happen when you immediately charge a large purchase after getting your card. 

There are also some business credit cards in Canada that may require you to head into a branch to prove that you have a business before they approve you. Some people might be concerned about these requirements, but there’s no reason to freak out.

For example, if you live in Ontario, Canada, the cost to register a business with the government is $60. It only takes a few minutes, and you can choose your business name and type of business. You could easily input information that matches your business credit card application.

Now, let’s say your credit card provider wants you to prove your income. All they’re really looking for is money coming into your bank account. You don’t need to have a separate business bank account. You can just show your personal bank account. Income could be things such as your regular payroll or e-transfers from friends, family, or even yourself if you have another bank account.

The easiest business credit card to get in Canada

Determining the easiest business credit card to get is purely subjective. As mentioned, American Express typically doesn’t have a minimum income requirement, and they’re well within their rights to ask you to prove that you have a business. Also, in most cases, your personal credit score will directly affect your application process.

Generally speaking, you’ll likely be approved if you have a good credit score. However, if you get asked to prove your business later, you better take the steps to show that you have things set up properly. 

In my opinion, these are the best business credit cards in Canada to get:

American Express Business Gold Rewards Card

  • $199 annual fee
  • Up to 115,000 Membership Rewards points welcome bonus when using a referral link
  • Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards points when spending $5,000 in the first 3 months
  • Earn 10,000 points when you charge $20,000 each quarter (yearly benefit)
  • Earn 1 Membership Rewards point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • 55 interest-free days
  • Mobile device insurance

The American Express Business Gold Rewards Card is easily the best business card to get if you’re looking to earn points fast. The welcome bonus is typically 75,000 American Express Membership Rewards points when you charge $5,000 to your card in the first 3 months. This is a lucrative deal because no personal credit card offers you that many points for such little spending.

Those points are valuable since you can transfer them to Aeroplan and Marriott Bonvoy. This is incredibly important for people who want to rack up many travel points. For example, if you applied for one of the best Aeroplan credit cards and the American Express Business Platinum Card, you could easily have more than 150,000 Aeroplan points. That’s enough points for quite a few trips. 

Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card

  • $150 annual fee
  • 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy points when you charge $6,000 in the first 3 months
  • Earn 5 Marriott Bonvoy points per $1 spent at participating Marriott properties
  • Earn 5 Marriott Bonvoy points per $1 spent on gas, dining, and travel for the first 6 months, up to 15,000 points
  • Earn 2 Marriott Bonvoy points for per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual free night certificate worth up to 35,000 points

The Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card will appeal to people who want to earn points that can be used at hotel chains. Since Marriott has more than 7,000 properties in 120+ countries, you won’t have any problems spending your points. Speaking of points, the welcome bonus is usually between 50,000 – 70,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. Plus, you get an annual free night certificate worth up to 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. That’s an incredible deal for a credit card with an annual fee of just $150.

If you frequently stay at Marriott properties, you can take advantage of the increased earn rate of 5 points per $1 spent. Spending on gas, travel and dining get you 3 Marriott Bonvoy points per $1 spent. All other purchases earn you 2 points per $1 spent. This card also gives you 15 annual Elite Night Credits, which go towards increased status. Note that these 15 nights do not stack with what’s offered with the personal Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card

Final thoughts

Just a few years ago, regular consumers would never consider a business credit card if they didn’t have a business. However, with personal credit cards offering weaker welcome bonuses, people are willing to apply for a business card because the offers are so good. While it’s entirely possible that the credit card companies could audit your account, setting up a business only takes a few minutes and doesn’t cost very much.

About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi

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