Business credit cards can be a useful tool for small business owners to separate their personal and business expenses, build credit for their business, and earn rewards. However, many business credit cards require a personal guarantee or a personal credit check, which can be a barrier for new businesses or businesses with poor personal credit.
Fortunately, there are business credit cards available that only require an Employer Identification Number (EIN), without any personal guarantee or personal credit check.
Requirements For Business Credit Cards With EIN-Only Options
To qualify for a business credit card with an EIN-only option, there are a few basic requirements that businesses must meet:
Business entity: The business must be registered as a legal entity, such as a corporation, LLC, or partnership.
EIN: The business must have a valid Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS.
Business credit history: Some issuers may require a minimum credit history for the business, while others may not have this requirement.
Revenue: The business must have a certain level of revenue or income to qualify for a credit limit.
Other factors: Some issuers may consider other factors such as industry, time in business, and financial statements when evaluating an application.
It's important to note that even if a business meets these requirements, approval for a credit card is not guaranteed and will depend on the issuer's discretion.
Know that EIN-only credit cards are far and few between.
How To Get Business Credit Cards With Just An EIN
Getting a credit card with just your EIN is still going to work similarly to getting a personal credit card, except for the fact that your SSN won’t be run, just your EIN. In general, the process will work something like this:
Step 1 - Search for lenders: When searching for lenders that accept only EINs, you’ll need to dig a little deeper than you normally would. Not all companies offer EIN-only lenders. Do a google search for “EIN-only credit cards”, “business credit cards using EIN-only”, or “business line of credit with EIN.” You might also like to review offers of companies listed on our list of the best business line of credit lenders.
Step 2 - Gather necessary documents: When you apply with just an EIN, you’ll need some documentation to prove that you’re a worthy borrower. You’ll provide your EIN, of course, but you also may need your business plan, business tax returns, and other financial documents associated with your business.
Step 3 - Apply online: When you pick the lender of your choosing, it’s time to apply. The process often takes just a few minutes and you’ll fill out business information and provide the documentation you gathered.
Step 4 - Wait for approval: After applying, you’ll likely wait a few days to a few weeks before hearing back from the company. If you’ve been approved, you’ll get your card in the mail within a few days.
What Types Of Business Credit Cards Can You Get With Only An EIN?
Corporate Business Credit Cards
Corporate business credit cards are reserved only for certain corporation types (C-corps, S-corps, LLCs, etc.). They have tough application processes because they don’t require a personal guarantee, and they often are meant for larger corporations rather than small businesses. Major issuers like American Express, Capital One, and Wells Fargo all offer corporate cards.
Corporate Store Credit Cards
There are corporate versions of many store credit cards. These are often credit cards that give high discounts at the store in question, and many only require your EIN number. Store credit cards are often more lenient to qualify for, but because of that, you’ll have high interest rates.
Corporate Gas Cards
Since many corporations have a fleet of vehicles, many gas stations (and the credit card issuers that work with them) offer corporate gas cards. Using these cards, the whole company can get substantial cash back at the pump. Some of these cards may require certain income levels though, since they’re meant for corporations.
Prepaid Business Credit Cards
Prepaid business cards often only require an EIN, if that. Since you’re prepaying the credit line, there’s no real risk to the lender so they don’t require a SSN to qualify.
These cards act more like debit cards than credit cards. You pay however much you want your credit line to be upfront and then you can spend until the amount you deposited is gone. This works best for businesses with multiple employees that only get certain spending limits.
Secured Business Credit Cards
You may find secured business credit cards that are more lenient on SSN requirements. This is only because you’re paying a deposit, which often equals your credit line, that the lender will use to pay down your debt should you cease making payments.
Business Credit Cards With No Personal Guarantee
While most business credit cards require a SSN, you will find a rare few that don’t. Again, you’ll likely need good credit, if not excellent credit, to get approved. Brex is a company that offers corporate credit cards that have no personal guarantee.
The In’s And Out’s Of EIN-Only Options
Yes, there are a few ways to get a business credit card with your EIN rather than your Social Security Number. That said, there’s an extremely limited number of credit card types and providers willing to just accept your EIN without also asking for your SSN.
Unless you have superb business credit, you’re not likely to qualify for EIN-only credit cards. If you don’t, credit card lenders need a personal guarantee that you’ll pay back any purchases you make on your card. That guarantee comes from your excellent personal credit which can only be checked through your SSN.
What Is An EIN?
An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a unique nine-digit number issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to identify a business entity. An EIN is required for a variety of purposes, including opening a business bank account, filing tax returns, and hiring employees.
An EIN-only option refers to a business entity that has no employees and does not file any tax returns other than an annual tax return for its owner. This type of business entity can be a sole proprietorship, a single-member LLC, or a partnership with no employees.
Why Do Credit Card Companies Want Your Social Security Number?
Credit card companies typically request your Social Security Number (SSN) for two primary reasons:
Identity verification: When you apply for a credit card, the issuer will typically ask for your SSN to verify your identity. Your SSN is a unique identifier that helps the issuer confirm that you are who you say you are and that your credit report accurately reflects your financial history.
Credit checks: Credit card companies use your SSN to perform a credit check, which helps them assess your creditworthiness and determine whether to approve your application. Your credit history, including information about past loans, credit card accounts, and payment history, is linked to your SSN, and credit card companies use this information to evaluate the risk of lending to you.
In addition to these primary reasons, credit card companies may also use your SSN for other purposes, such as to report your credit card activity to credit bureaus or to comply with federal tax reporting requirements.
It's important to note that your SSN is considered sensitive personal information, and you should take steps to protect it. Be cautious about sharing your SSN with anyone and only provide it when necessary, such as when applying for credit or opening a bank account.
You should also monitor your credit report regularly to ensure that there are no errors or fraudulent activity associated with your SSN.
Why Keep Business Credit Separate From Personal Credit?
Keeping business credit separate from personal credit is important for several reasons:
Limited Liability Protection: One of the main reasons to keep business credit separate from personal credit is to protect personal assets in case of business debts or liabilities. If a business is structured as a corporation or LLC, it is considered a separate legal entity from its owners, and its debts and liabilities are generally limited to the assets of the business.
However, if a business owner uses personal credit to pay for business expenses, they may become personally liable for the debts and liabilities of the business, which could put their personal assets at risk.
Easier to Manage Finances: Separating business and personal credit also makes it easier to manage finances and track business expenses. By using separate accounts and credit cards for business expenses, business owners can more easily keep track of income and expenses, monitor cash flow, and prepare accurate financial statements and tax returns.
Build Business Credit: Building a separate credit history for a business can also help it establish its own creditworthiness and borrowing capacity. A strong business credit profile can help a business secure loans and financing, obtain better terms on vendor contracts, and establish relationships with suppliers and partners.
Personal Credit Score: Keeping business and personal credit separate also helps protect the business owner's personal credit score. High levels of business debt or default on business loans could negatively impact the owner's personal credit score, making it harder to obtain personal loans or credit in the future.
Keeping business credit separate from personal credit is a sound financial practice that can help protect personal assets, improve financial management, and build a strong credit profile for the business.
Do EIN Numbers Have A Credit Score?
No, EIN numbers themselves do not have a credit score. An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a unique nine-digit number issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to identify a business entity for tax purposes.
However, a business entity with an EIN may have a credit score if it has established a credit history. Just like individuals, businesses can establish credit by borrowing money, using credit cards, and making on-time payments. The credit history of a business is typically associated with the business's name, rather than its EIN.
Credit reporting agencies such as Experian, Equifax, and Dun & Bradstreet collect and maintain credit information for businesses, which includes payment history, outstanding debt, and other financial data. They use this information to create credit scores and reports for businesses, which can be used by lenders and other financial institutions to evaluate the creditworthiness of the business.
So, while an EIN number does not have a credit score on its own, a business entity with an EIN may have a credit score and credit history associated with its name.
Is It Harder To Get A Business Credit Card Without An SSN?
It can be harder to get a business credit card without a Social Security Number (SSN), as many lenders require a personal guarantee from the business owner, which typically involves a credit check and a personal SSN.
A personal guarantee means that the business owner is personally liable for the credit card debt if the business is unable to pay. Lenders typically require a personal guarantee to ensure that they have some recourse if the business defaults on the credit card debt.
However, some lenders do offer business credit cards without a personal guarantee, and they may not require a SSN for the business owner. Instead, these lenders may rely on other factors, such as the business's credit history, revenue, and other financial information, to assess the creditworthiness of the business and approve the credit card application.
It's important to note that even if a lender does not require a SSN for a business credit card application, they may still request other personal information, such as the business owner's name, address, and date of birth, to verify their identity and perform a credit check.
It may be more challenging to obtain a business credit card without a SSN and personal guarantee, but it's not impossible. Business owners should do their research, compare different lenders and credit card offers, and be prepared to provide other relevant financial information to increase their chances of approval.
Your SSN is required by credit card companies in order for them to look up your personal credit score.
Benefits Of Using Just An EIN When Applying For Business Credit Cards
Using just an Employer Identification Number (EIN) when applying for business credit cards can offer several benefits for business owners, including:
Protecting Personal Credit: By using only the business's EIN, business owners can protect their personal credit score from any negative impacts associated with business credit card usage. This is because credit card activity associated with the EIN is not reported to personal credit bureaus, which helps keep personal credit scores separate and unaffected.
Building Business Credit: Consistent and responsible use of business credit cards associated with the EIN can help build a strong credit history for the business. A strong business credit history can help the business qualify for better financing rates, obtain larger lines of credit, and improve its overall financial standing.
Separating Business and Personal Finances: Using an EIN exclusively for business credit card transactions can help business owners more easily track and manage business expenses. This separation can help simplify accounting processes, streamline tax preparation, and make it easier to identify and manage cash flow issues.
Potential for Higher Credit Limits: Since credit limits for business credit cards are typically tied to the creditworthiness of the business, using just an EIN may provide a clearer picture of the business's financial health and creditworthiness. This can lead to higher credit limits and greater flexibility in managing the business's finances.
Using just an EIN when applying for business credit cards can provide several benefits, including protection of personal credit, building a strong business credit history, separating business and personal finances, and potentially higher credit limits. Business owners should carefully evaluate their options and choose the best approach for their specific needs and financial goals.
Should You Apply For A Business Card Without Using Your SSN?
Applying for an EIN really only makes sense if your business credit is better than your personal credit. Since it’s so difficult to find lenders willing to even let you apply without your SSN, you’re limiting your card choices substantially. Frankly, the options for borrowers willing to provide their SSN are simply better than the option for those who aren’t.
You’ll find high cash back, lower interest rates, balance transfer options, and more, but those credit cards are reserved for those willing to offer a personal guarantee through their SSN.
Additionally, small business owners are especially better off applying with their SSNs. Since corporate cards are the most common EIN-only card options, small businesses and solo entrepreneurs will have a hard time qualifying for these cards since they’re meant for large corporations.
Tips For Building Business Credit With Your EIN
Unless you have a good business credit score, you’re constantly going to have to provide a personal guarantee with any funding option associated with your business. This can make it difficult to keep your business and personal expenses separate.
Additionally, in the event that your business doesn’t do well financially, your personal credit score could plummet as well.
In order to continue building the business credit score associated with your EIN, you’ll want to follow the usual credit-building methods, including:
Apply for a DUNS number: Dun & Bradstreet is one of the major business credit bureaus and provides businesses with a DUNS number, another method of measuring business credit. You can request your DUNS number for free from Dun & Bradstreet.
Make your credit card and loan payments on time: One of the best ways to keep your score in good standing is by paying your bills on time. Consistent, on-time payments show that you’re responsible and can manage loans.
Only use your credit line when you need to: The more you use your credit line, the more your credit utilization goes up. Credit bureaus want to see you keep this number low, so if you only use your credit card when you absolutely need it, you can keep your utilization down.
Don’t apply for too many credit cards all at once: When you apply for more than one credit card in a very short amount of time, this signals that you’re desperately in need of financing. While this may be true, it signals to credit bureaus that you may not be great at managing money. This can drive down your score.
Your EIN only allows credit card companies to check your business credit score.
Comparing EIN-Only Business Credit Cards: Features And Benefits
When comparing EIN-Only business credit cards, there are several features and benefits to consider. Here are some key factors to keep in mind:
Credit limit: The credit limit is the maximum amount you can borrow on the card. Compare the credit limit offered by each card to determine which one is best suited to your business needs.
Annual fee: Some business credit cards charge an annual fee, which can impact your bottom line. Look for cards with reasonable annual fees or those that waive the fee for the first year.
Rewards: Many business credit cards offer rewards programs, such as cash back or travel points. Consider the type of rewards offered and the redemption options to determine which card will provide the most value to your business.
Introductory offers: Some cards offer introductory 0% APR or balance transfer offers, which can be useful for businesses looking to finance large purchases or consolidate debt. Consider the length of the introductory period and any fees associated with the offer.
Additional perks: Some cards offer additional perks, such as travel insurance, purchase protection, or extended warranties. Consider these additional benefits when comparing cards.
Reporting to credit bureaus: Check whether the credit card issuer reports to business credit bureaus such as Dun & Bradstreet or Experian. Regular reporting of on-time payments and responsible credit usage can help build your business's credit score.
Customer service: Look for a card issuer with good customer service, including a dedicated business support team and online account management tools.
When comparing EIN-Only business credit cards, it's important to consider all of these factors to find the best card for your business's needs. Take the time to research and compare different options, and don't be afraid to ask questions or negotiate terms with card issuers to get the best deal possible.
EIN-Only Business Credit Cards vs. Personal Guarantee: Which Is Right For You
Here's a table comparing EIN-Only Business Credit Cards and Personal Guarantee:
|Factors||EIN-Only Business Credit Cards||Personal Guarantee|
|Credit Reporting||Does not affect personal credit score||Affects personal credit score|
|Credit Limit||Based on the business's creditworthiness||Based on the owner's creditworthiness|
|Application Requirements||usiness must have an EIN||Owner must provide personal information and Social Security number|
|Risk to Personal Assets||Personal assets are generally not at risk||Personal assets can be at risk|
|Approval Process||Approval is based on the business's creditworthiness||Approval is based on the owner's creditworthiness and financial history|
|Interest Rates and Fees||Typically higher interest rates and fees||Typically lower interest rates and fees|
|Credit History Building||Helps establish and build the business's credit history||Helps establish and build the owner's credit history|
|Liability||Business is liable for the debt||Owner is liable for the debt|
When deciding between EIN-Only Business Credit Cards and Personal Guarantee, consider your personal financial situation, your business's creditworthiness, and your long-term financial goals. If you have a strong credit score and want to build your personal credit history, a personal guarantee may be a good option.
However, if you want to protect your personal assets and build your business's credit history, an EIN-Only Business Credit Card may be a better fit. Ultimately, the choice between these two options depends on your individual needs and circumstances.
How EIN-Only Business Credit Cards Help Separation Of Personal And Business Finances
EIN-Only business credit cards can be an effective tool for separating personal and business finances, which can provide several benefits, including:
Protecting personal assets: By using a business credit card with an EIN-Only requirement, business owners can limit personal liability for business debts. Separating business expenses from personal expenses can also help protect personal assets in the event of a lawsuit or other legal issues.s
Simplifying accounting: Keeping bussiness expenses separate from personal expenses can help simplify accounting and bookkeeping. By using an EIN-Only business credit card, business owners can easily track and manage business expenses, which can be particularly useful during tax season.
Building business credit: EIN-Only business credit cards can help businesses establish and build credit history separate from the owner's personal credit history. By making timely payments and managing credit responsibly, businesses can improve their credit scores and increase their access to credit in the future.
Improving financial transparency: Separating personal and business finances can improve financial transparency and make it easier to assess the financial health of the business. This can be particularly important for businesses that have multiple owners or investors.
Using an EIN-Only business credit card can be a valuable tool for separating personal and business finances. By doing so, business owners can protect their personal assets, simplify accounting, build credit history, and improve financial transparency.