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Can You Get a Business Credit Card Without a Personal Guarantee?

Updated Nov 19, 2020 | Published Jun 24, 20198 min read

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At a glance

A personal guarantee is usually required for everyday business credit cards. There are certain cards where they’re not necessary, though these typically cater to bigger, more valuable companies.

Credit Card Insider receives compensation from advertisers whose products may be mentioned on this page. Advertiser relationships do not affect card evaluations. Advertising partners do not edit or endorse our editorial content. Content is accurate to the best of our knowledge when it's published. Learn more in our Editorial Guidelines.

The information related to Shell Small Business Card, Office Depot OfficeMax Business Credit Account, The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express, and Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business have been collected by Credit Card Insider and have not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of these products.

To get a business credit card, you have to go through an application process that’s pretty similar to the one required of most consumer credit cards. You’ll have to supply some information about your business — its name and contact information, for example — but the gist is the same.

One of the more interesting similarities is that even though you may be applying on behalf of a business, you’ll generally still have to deal with a hard inquiry on your personal credit to get a business credit card.

What’s more, you’ll nearly always have to provide a personal guarantee that acknowledges your personal liability for your business’ credit card debts, and this can be a problem if you’re intent on keeping personal and business finances separate.

This point, in particular, brings up an important question: Is it possible to get a business credit card without a personal guarantee?

Technically, the answer is yes — you can get select business credit cards without a personal guarantee. But opportunities to do so are generally reserved for companies with big-league revenue and considerable cash reserves.

We’ll dig into the details, starting with the basics.

Or, you can skip to our card picks to see which cards you can get without a personal guarantee — plus the requirements you’ll have to meet in order to do so.

Can You Get a Business Credit Card Without a Personal Guarantee?

Let’s face reality.

Unless you’re representing a big corporation, you almost certainly won’t be able to get a business credit card without a personal guarantee.

Certain credit cards are available with no personal guarantee, but they nearly always have limitations. Options are usually restricted to corporate credit cards, and these cards are often only usable with certain merchants.

Designed for larger businesses, corporate cards often have stringent requirements that include annual revenue and/or cash reserve minimums in the millions of dollars. Others just require that borrowers use company assets for collateral, a system that’s not unlike the typical secured credit card. These rules are intended to reduce the risk that a borrowing business defaults on its debts. We’ve included some good examples below.

Even if you’re applying for a business credit card with your business’ EIN, you’ll likely still need to personally guarantee the card. When you use an EIN to apply, issuers will usually ask for your SSN later on.

On certain occasions, you may be able to increase the likelihood that you’ll be approved for a business card without a personal guarantee by maintaining a long and fruitful relationship with a financial institution. You could also simply focus on building a strong business credit history to prove that your business is good for its debts.

But even then, it seems very unlikely that you’ll be able to get a regular business card without a personal guarantee. If you’re still operating in the small business world, it’s especially safe to assume that a personal guarantee is just something you’ll have to deal with.

What Is a Personal Guarantee?

If you’re planning to apply for a business credit card in the near future, you might already understand the concept of a personal guarantee. But in case you don’t, here’s what a personal guarantee entails.

It’s pretty simple. A personal guarantee is a legally binding agreement that holds you responsible for paying off a business credit card’s account balance in full, even if that credit card is used explicitly in the name of a business.

Personal guarantees exist because businesses are formed and dissolved on a daily basis. If only the business were responsible for the debts accumulated on a given card, then credit card issuers would likely lose massive amounts of money left and right.

When you think about how personal guarantees protect issuers from their money simply disappearing, it’s probably a lot clearer why it’s as difficult as it is to get a business credit card without one.

Cards You Can Get Without a Personal Guarantee

By now it’s likely clear that business cards available with no personal guarantee are few and far between. That said, they exist, and you’ll find a few of your options below.

Insider tip

In addition to the cards below, large corporations may qualify for American Express corporate credit cards, which may not require a personal guarantee. These include corporate versions of the issuer’s most popular offerings, including the Gold and Platinum cards, plus custom programs tailored to each applicant.

Brex Daily Card

Min. credit levelEligibility determined by business financials
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APRNot Applicable - Paid in Full Daily
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • 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

The Brex Daily Card stands out from the crowd. It’s a flexible business card that’s not cobranded with a retailer — if you meet the requirements, you can use it anywhere Mastercard is accepted. Plus, you can choose from three excellent rewards programs, whichever would work best for you, and there’s a wide variety of credits and discounts for a host of services your business might find useful.

The Brex Daily must be paired with a Brex Cash money management account. The card will be paid daily from the funds in the account.

Consider contacting Brex before you apply if you’re not sure whether you’ll qualify.

Key Features

  • Not available to sole proprietors, unregistered businesses, and other non-individual liability companies
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Rewards: Choose from Tech Rewards, Life Sciences Rewards, or Remote Workforce Rewards
  • Perks: Credits for various services, including $5,232 for ZenDesk and $5,000 for Amazon Web Services; discounts for other services, including WeWork and Salesforce; virtual cards for online transactions
Insider tip

This card is paid every day, but Brex also provides a similar option that you can take 30 days to pay: the Brex 30 Card. It’s similar to the Brex Daily, but you’ll need $50,000 in a bank account if you’re a venture-backed company, or $100,000 if you’re not.

Stripe Corporate Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelEligibility determined by business financials
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APRNot Applicable - Paid in Full Monthly
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • 2% cash back in your top two spending categories per month
  • $50,000 in free payment processing after your first $5,000 in spend
  • $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

The Stripe Corporate Card is a lot like the Brex card we just described. It’s a charge card, paid off monthly, with a flexible rewards program and valuable benefits. It’s also available without a personal guarantee, and there’s no credit inquiry involved. But as is the case with the Brex card, this isn’t necessarily an easy card to get.

It’s available by invitation only, but you can request an invite. Not much of an obstacle. You don’t even have to use Stripe for payments to qualify.

The real challenge comes in meeting Stripe’s standards. Whether you’ll be approved for the card depends on several variables, including:

  • Payment volume
  • History with Stripe
  • Bank account history

That may sound ambiguous, but considering how the card’s called a “corporate card,” it stands to reason that your business’ payment volume and bank account balances will have to be somewhat high to qualify.

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: None
  • Perks: $5,000 in Amazon Web Services credits, three months of Basic Shopify 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 (see more benefits here)
  • Requirements: No clear-cut requirements; approval is dependent on your business’ payment volume, history with Stripe, and bank account history

 

Bremer Bank Visa Signature Business Company Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelEligibility determined by business financials
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR13.99%–22.99% Variable
  • 0% intro rate for purchases and balance transfers for 15 billing cycles, then your rates will be 13.99%–22.99% Variable.
  • You must visit a Bremer Bank location to apply for this card
  • Free employee cards with individual spending limits
  • Protection against terminated employees’ misuse up to $100,000
  • Get your company name embossed on your card
  • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • No annual fee

The Bremer Bank Visa Signature Business Company Card is basically the only true business credit card that’s available with no personal guarantee and isn’t classified as a “corporate card.” It still targets “medium to large businesses,” however, and it has high income and revenue requirements. Cardholders enjoy access to a free rewards program when using the card.

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Free rewards program available
  • Requirements: At least $1,000,000 in annual revenue and $350,000 in net annual income for at least the past two years
Insider tip

Bremer Bank also issues the Visa CommUNITY Credit Card, which requires no personal guarantee and is designed for nonprofits and municipalities.

ScaleFactor Visa Charge Card

Min. credit levelEligibility determined by business financials
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APRNot Applicable - Paid in Full Monthly
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • 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

Fully integrated into ScaleFactor’s accounting software (and only available to its customers), the ScaleFactor Visa Charge Card was developed to help small business owners clean up the expense management process. Users can easily issue physical, digital, and temporary cards with preset spending limits and expiration dates, and each card can be frozen or canceled anytime.

You can apply for this business charge card once you’ve connected your business bank accounts and accounting file to ScaleFactor. The application process has no impact on your personal credit and requires no personal guarantee.

Key Features

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Rewards: 1% cash back on all purchases
  • Expense management tools: 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

 

Shell Small Business Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelFair
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR23.00% (Variable)
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • 24/7 Online Account Management
  • Consolidated Statements: Group transactions by card ID with fuel and non-fuel purchase itemization.
  • Limit Purchases: To fuel only or allow convenience store and vehicle related purchases.
  • Designated Station Card Option: Allows employees to fuel at your preferred Shell locations

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

Only accepted at Shell gas stations, the rewardless Shell Small Business Card can be a convenient tool for companies with employees who are always on the road. Its key benefits include account management tools, like purchase limitations and specific gas station designations. There’s not much more to it.

Key Features

  • Can only be used at Shell gas stations
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Account management tools: Limit purchases, set a designated station, manage accounts online
  • Requirements: Cardholder must be associated with a government entity, a nonprofit, or a business that earns at least $1 million yearly and is at least three years old to get the card with no personal guarantee

 

Sam's Club Business Mastercard

Our rating
Min. credit levelFair
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR17.15% – 25.15% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • 5% cash back for gas in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, including gas at Sam’s Club (up to $6,000 spent per year, then 1%)
  • 3% cash back for dining and travel expenses
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Cap of $5,000 in cash back rewards per year
  • No annual fee
  • Add employee cards for free

In terms of credit cards you can get without a personal guarantee, the Sam’s Club Business Mastercard is actually fairly flexible. You can use it wherever Mastercard is accepted (and that’s nearly everywhere credit cards are accepted), and you get strong rewards on gas, dining, and travel.

Key Features

  • Can be used anywhere Mastercard is accepted
  • Annual fee: $0 (requires Sam’s Club membership)
  • Introductory bonus: None
  • Rewards: 5% cash back for gas in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, including gas at Sam’s Club, on up to $6,000 per year, then 1%; 3% back on dining and travel; 1% back on all other purchases; $5,000 cash rewards cap per year
  • Requirements: Cardholder must be associated with a business that makes $5 million or more per year, is two or more years old, and has more than 10 employees to get the card with no personal guarantee

 

Office Depot OfficeMax Business Credit Account

Our rating
Min. credit levelFair
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR23.99%
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • $50 statement credit after first purchase of at least $150 within 60 days of account opening
  • Accepted at Office Depot, OfficeMax stores, and on officedepot.com
  • No annual fee
  • Free additional cards

The information related to Office Depot OfficeMax Business Credit Account has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

The Office Depot OfficeMax Business Credit Account, like the Shell card above, isn’t very flexible. You can only use it at Office Depot stores, OfficeMax stores, and on officedepot.com. There are no rewards, but there’s a small introductory bonus.

Key Features

  • Can only be used at Office Depot, OfficeMax, and on officedepot.com
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Introductory bonus: $50 statement credit after first purchase of at least $150 within 60 days of account opening
  • Requirements: Cardholder must be associated with a corporation three years old or more with over $5 million in annual sales, a government entity, or a nonprofit organization to get the card

How Else Might a Business Credit Card Impact Your Personal Credit?

Personal guarantees aren’t the only connection between business and personal credit.

For one, even if your business has proven to be a dependable borrower through strong business credit, issuers will almost certainly conduct a personal credit check to determine whether you’re qualified to become a business cardholder. Amex and Capital One, for example, have confirmed that their business cards will always require personal guarantees and personal credit checks.

If you’re required to provide a personal guarantee to get the credit card, expect to submit to a personal credit inquiry, too. While the impact of a hard inquiry is temporary and typically quite small, it can affect your personal credit scores, and that’s something you may prefer to avoid.

It’s also vital to know that some credit card issuers will report business card activity not only to the business credit bureaus, but to the nation’s major consumer bureaus, too.

Specifically, both positive and negative activity on Capital One and Discover business credit cards will usually show up on your personal credit reports.

The remaining issuers, which include prominent names like American Express, Chase, Citi, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo, normally only report business credit card activity to personal bureaus if your debts are delinquent.

Both approaches have their benefits, so this is something you should consider before choosing a business credit card.

Preparing to Apply for Your First Business Credit Card

When it comes down to it, the average small business owner is going to have a pretty hard time finding a valuable business credit card that’s available without a personal guarantee.

In the meantime, if you’re simply looking for a way out of a personal guarantee and the accompanying inquiry because your credit scores need improvement, there’s an alternative that might be worth your time:

Invest the time required to develop positive credit habits that actually improve your credit scores.

Credit-building best practices include:

  • Paying the full statement balance on all of your credit accounts by the due date during every single billing period.
  • Minimizing your ratio of amounts owed to overall available credit (known as credit utilization).
  • Diversifying your credit profile with a healthy mix of credit, including both revolving and fixed accounts.

Once you think you’re ready to apply for a new business credit card, do your due diligence to find a card that meets your company’s demands. Our picks for the best business credit cards include options with no annual fees, cash back rewards on business staples like advertising and shipping, plus various must-have business benefits.

Here are a few of our favorites, all of which require a personal credit check and personal credit scores that fall at least in the “good” range:

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
(Rates & Fees)
Annual FeeNo annual fee
Regular APR13.24% - 19.24% Variable

The information related to The Blue Business® Plus Credit 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

  • Annual fee: No annual fee (Rates & Fees)
  • Rewards: 2X Membership Rewards points per dollar on the first $50,000 in purchases every year, 1X Membership Rewards point per dollar on all other purchases
  • Introductory bonus: None
  • Requires a personal credit check
  • Designed for applicants with good personal credit scores

 

Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business

Our rating
Min. credit levelExcellent
Details
Annual Fee$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Regular APR18.49% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

The information related to Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business 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 intro for first year; $95 after that
  • Introductory bonus: $500 cash bonus for spending $4,500 in the first 3 months
  • Rewards: 2% cash back on every purchase
  • Requires a personal credit check
  • Designed for applicants with excellent personal credit scores

 

Ink Business Cash® Credit Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelExcellent
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR13.24% - 19.24% Variable

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
  • Designed for applicants with excellent personal credit scores

 

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelExcellent
Details
Annual Fee$95
Regular APR15.99%-20.99% Variable

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 points per dollar on up to $150,000 spent per year on travel, shipping, online advertising, and telecom services; 1X point per dollar on all other purchases
  • Requires a personal credit check
  • Designed for applicants with excellent personal credit scores

If you’re not sure you need a small business credit card yet, there are plenty of personal credit cards with rewards and benefits that might help you get your ventures off the ground. Check out our favorite credit cards for young professionals and freelancers to explores some of your best options.

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For rates and fees of The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express, please click here.

Written by

Sean Messier

Sean Messier works to empower individuals with the knowledge required to use credit cards responsibly and to their advantage. His writing- and research-based background has granted him experience in an array of topics, from finance to business and beyond. Sean distills the knowledge accumulated over years of experience in the credit space into consistent, actionable articles, guides, and reviews.

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