Business Credit Cards — The Mother Lode

Date Added: February 11, 2007 11:21:37 AM
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Category: Money & Finance: Credit & Debt: Credit Cards
Given the variety of business credit card programs available, anyone with decent credit should seriously consider one. Although intended primarily for small business owners, the offers combine every kind of credit card contract. Business credit cards are available with low APR, zero introductory interest rates, balance transfer options, rewards (like airline miles or cash back), and on and on. Business cards offer travel discounts on cars and hotels, frequent flyer miles, travel insurance, even restaurant savings.

Business card contracts usually offer comparatively lower interest rates and much higher credit limits. (Of course, it's expected that you will have somewhat better credit history.) Issuers are eager to offer superior benefits since business owners generally spend more and tend to maintain a higher balance.

They're convenient for large or small expenditures, whether office furniture or stationary supplies. Gone is the need to maintain a petty cash account. And every business owner has seen the day when emergencies arise that present the need for unexpected additional funds. It's times such as those when those high credit limits come in handy.

Nearly all provide, free of charge, quarterly or annual reports that categorize expenses. This helps manage cash flow and makes it easier to track tax deductible items. They help around tax filing time, when you need to total those items. They also help separate personal from business expenses.

Since issuers are eager to do business with other businesses, the customer service associated with such cards is usually superior. Different 800 numbers from those offered consumers are available and the person on the other end is often more eager to assist.

Business cards can be issued to more than one individual. The business owner, or authorized representative, can specify an unlimited number of additional card bearers, who receive a different account number. This makes tracking expenditures by different employees easier.

It also makes abuse easier to detect. Terminating one account is as easy as a phone call and your primary account remains active and unaffected. Of course, as the primary account holder, you are still held responsible for any charges made. One way to deal with this unfortunate, but all too common, issue is to use pre-paid cards. Pre-paid cards allow you to load a card with a specified quantity of funds, which automatically caps the amount for which you can be liable.

For businesses that experience lag in accounts receivable (and who doesn't?), business cards can help smooth out cash flow bumps. Pay now with the card, invoice the client, and you'll be better able to time paying your expenses when your clients pay you.

Every major financial institution offers business credit cards. Some have several programs. Everything from Platinum cards to Debit cards are offered, usually with the same low rate and no annual charge. And here's the catch — which for once is in your favor. Anyone can consider him or herself a business owner. No special proof (such as a business license) is required. Most programs are available through the issuers' web sites. You fill out the form, a credit check is performed by an automated computer system, and you receive an answer within seconds.

For a business owner with a thousand things more to do than time to do them, it doesn't get better than that.
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