If used properly, a business credit card can help your business spread costs, manage cash flow, facilitate staff spending and build your business credit rating. We’ve taken a look at the major providers to find some of the best UK business credit cards.
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Business credit card vs. personal credit card
A business credit card is similar to a personal credit card, in that you’re given a credit limit and an agreed interest rate and there’s a minimum amount that you must pay off each month.
The difference is that a business credit card is issued to your business, and a lender will usually look at your business credit score to decide what they’ll offer you, although bear in mind that they will often check your personal credit score too.
You can apply for more than one card on the credit card account if you want to issue cards to other directors or staff, but your credit card account will have a ‘business limit’, which is the maximum amount of credit your business can use across all of its cards. Business credit cards often come with higher limits than personal credit cards: dependent on credit rating, your small business may be offered a limit of between £1,000 and £10,000, for example.
Business credit card charges can count as an allowable expense, which means they can be deducted when you’re calculating your taxable earnings, although it’s always a good idea to double check the rules with your accountant.
Applying for a business credit card
You can apply for many business credit cards online or over the phone, but usually you need to be an existing business bank account customer. To apply, you will need to answer some questions about your business and your desired credit limit and number of cards.
Credit checks for business credit cards
When you apply for your business credit card, the lender will perform a credit check on your business, and they may check your personal credit rating too. Usually, the better the credit rating you have, the better deals you’ll be offered. For example you may be offered a higher credit limit, a better interest rate, an interest-free period, or rewards.
Is it possible to get a business credit card with no credit check?
If you have a bad credit score (business or personal), lenders may be reluctant to offer you a business credit card, or they may give you a very low credit limit. Although some lenders are more willing than others to lend to businesses with bad credit scores, none of them offer no credit check at all: you’ll always have to go through a credit check to get your business credit card.
Business credit cards for new business
If you’re trying to get a credit card for a new business without much of a credit history, the lender is likely to look at your estimated turnover and your personal credit history, and they may ask for copies of bank statements and business plans before they will approve your application.
Best business credit cards in the UK
NatWest business credit card
The NatWest business credit card is for small businesses with a turnover of up to £2 million. The minimum credit limit is £500 and the maximum is subject to status.
The representative APR is 23.2% (variable). There’s an interest-free period of up to 45 days for purchases if you pay your balance in full on time.
The annual fee for the NatWest business credit card is £32 per card, although if your business is just starting out, this fee can be waived for the first year.
As an added extra, you can get up to £50,000 worth of travel accident insurance automatically if you pay for overseas business travel using the business credit card.
Once you’ve got your business credit card you can manage it online, but to apply for the card you need to call or download and send the application form.
Other charges and terms apply. See the NatWest website for further details.
RBS business credit card
RBS and NatWest are both part of the RBS Group, so the RBS business credit card is the same as the NatWest one.
Businesses with a turnover of up to £2 million can get a business credit card with representative APR of 23.2% (variable), an annual card fee of £32, and up to 45 days interest-free on purchases if the balance is paid in full. The travel insurance perk applies too.
Other charges and terms apply. See the RBS website for further details.
Santander business credit card
The Santander business cashback credit card is for small to medium size businesses with up to two directors, owners or partners. You can get 1% cashback on business purchases you make with the credit card.
The representative APR is 23.7% (variable). There’s an interest-free period of up to 56 days for purchases if you pay your balance in full on time.
The annual fee for the Santander business credit card account is £30, with additional cards available at no extra cost.
You can’t apply for the card online - you’ll need to visit a local Santander branch to make your credit card application.
Other charges and terms apply. See the Santander website for further details.
Lloyds business credit card
The Lloyds business credit card is for small businesses looking for a credit limit of up to £10,000. The minimum credit limit is £1,000.
The representative APR is 22.4% (variable). There’s an interest-free period of up to 45 days for purchases if you pay your balance in full on time.
The annual fee for the Lloyds business credit card account is £32 per card. Existing Lloyds business banking customers can apply for a business credit card online.
Other charges and terms apply. See the Lloyds website for further details.
Barclays business credit card
The Barclays business credit card is for small businesses with a turnover or expected turnover of at least £10,000. The minimum credit limit is £1,000 and the maximum is £10,000.
The representative APR is 26.4% (variable). There’s an interest-free period of up to 56 days for purchases if you pay your balance in full on time.
The annual fee for the Barclays business credit card is £32 per card, although the first 12 months is fee-free.
You can apply for the credit card online.
Other charges and terms apply. See the Barclays website for further details.
American Express business credit card
American Express offers business charge cards, with no interest rate because you must pay the outstanding balance in full each month. There’s no preset spending limit, but your purchasing capacity ‘evolves according to the needs of your business and adjusts based on your current spending patterns, payment history, credit record and financial resources.’
For the basic card, there’s no annual membership fee. For the gold business card there’s an annual fee of £125 (although the first year is fee-free) but rewards include membership points, which can be redeemed on things like business travel, office equipment and corporate entertainment. For a higher annual fee, there’s the platinum business card.
We’ve only compared a few of the deals available: other providers are available and the best deal for you will depend on your individual circumstances. Please do your own research, and seek professional advice if necessary.
Business credit cards can be very expensive if you don’t pay them off each month, and you should always read the terms and conditions carefully.
What’s been you experience of applying for business credit? Tell us in the comments.