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Dedicated business credit cards offer many tools personal credit cards don’t have. They can save you money, help track expenses and simplify taxes.
If your business has an Australian Business Number (ABN), using a business credit card offers various benefits over personal cards, although there are also added costs. We would never advise you to do this, but many a startup was funded with business cards alone.
For starters, a business credit card requires you to have a very high credit score, much higher than personal credit cards. Typically, these cards come with a much higher credit limit than personal credit cards, but you can expect the annual fee and the interest rate to be larger as well. On the other hand, a business credit card will allow you to separate personal and business expenses and typically comes with more tracking and exporting features that make bookkeeping much easier and save hours of work at tax time. Such cards are particularly useful if you have staff, as you can issue purchasing cards to several people and set individual spending limits and restrict purchases to specific types of transactions to help track everyone’s expenses in a more streamlined way. In addition, many come with the same perks as personal cards when it comes to reward programs or with frequent flyer points. The insurance policies covering international travel, flight cancellations, loss and theft of purchased goods, etc. that often come with these cards can justify the higher interest rates.
Just like with personal cards, some of the cards listed here offer introductory offers of lower interest rates and reduced or waived annual fees, as well as bonus sign-up points.
Business credit cards are issued to a named company with an Australian Business Number (ABN), not an individual, and multiple cards can be provided to members of staff.
This means that the responsibilities associated with credit card usage and repayment of the debt are shared within the company, rather than with the individual cardholder. They can have built-in restrictions to limit expenditure, such as only being available for certain types of purchase. The cards issued to staff members can feature individually graded credit limits according to the person’s level within the company and their required expenses. In addition, credit limits on business credit cards are higher than personal credit cards.
Some cards offer special financial tools that help with expense tracking, budgeting, accounting and taxation. The ability to track your transactions is the major advantage of a business credit card. You can replace hours spent tracking down purchases into a spreadsheet with your exported monthly statement. Some cards that are purely aimed at businesses also allow you to export your purchases into popular accounting software such as MYOB. However, this transaction-tracking feature can be found elsewhere these days in the form of online cloud-based accounting software like Xero or inDinero.
Business credit cards often also offer extra benefits specifically designed for business owners such as insurance policies and discounts. In many other ways, business credits function identically to personal credit cards, allowing users to make purchases including online and over the telephone, make withdrawals at ATMs and buy foreign currency.
As with most credit cards, you need to be over 18 years of age, be resident or citizen of Australia, have a good credit history and earn above a certain annual income threshold, which varies between different credit cards. You also need to provide evidence of your financial records and ABN number.
Understanding how credit cards function, what features to examine, along with a clear understanding of your company’s specific financial requirements, are essential in finding the best business credit card for you.
Find a card that suits your business: The card you choose should have a credit limit that covers all the expenses your company requires. If the card features a rewards program, make sure it suits the way you and your staff spend, and offers rewards that can help reduce the cost of your expenditure.
The interest rate and your payment plan: Even if the bank allows you to have a large spending limit, you should still aim to clear the balance each month. The purchase rate applied to your credit card is an essential feature to consider since any ongoing debt on your balance starts to attract this interest. The rate should not be so high that it starts eating into company profits.
The annual fee: Credit cards for businesses usually feature a significantly higher annual fee than other credit cards. This covers all the extra business-specific features, rewards schemes, insurance policies and provides access to larger credit limits and greater spending power. Ensure that the annual fee is affordable and the extras you are paying for are genuinely beneficial to your company.
Look out for introductory offers: Banks often offer introductory offers to new customers, including low purchase rates for an initial period. This can be helpful for new businesses to make essential, one-off purchases, but you should be wary of how the deal changes at the end of the promotional offer. For any promotional deal on interest rates, always ask what the interest rate reverts to. A better choice in the long term could be a credit card with a higher rate that is set for the long term.
Make sure your credit history is in order: In order to be successfully approved for a company credit card, you need to have a very good credit rating. Once a year, you should request a report from a credit checking agency (like Dun & Bradstreet) to make sure everything is in order and there are no mistakes on file. A healthy credit history means the bank is more willing to provide high credit limits, lower variable interest rates and better financial options.
Organise your business finances: There is a great deal of responsibility in owning and using a company credit card. It is important to track expenses, ensure monthly repayments are met, and to monitor account activity if cards multiple cards are issued to members of staff. An accountant can help with keeping your financial records in good order, or if you do your bookkeeping in house, use a software tool such as Sage, Quicken or Xero.