Time for a Change? 6 Reasons to Swap Your Old Card for a New Business Credit Card

…And How to Find the Best New Business Credit Card for Your Business

Just as Thor has his hammer and Captain America has his shield, every business super hero needs an ultimate tool.  You cannot really call them all weapons right?  I mean, a shield is not about destroying, but about protection.  Everyone knows a hammer is a tool.  So, in short, tools can be used as weapons, and superhero tools can serve a variety of purposes, all for the greater good.  So too, can your business credit cards.  Sometimes, however, it is necessary to pursue a new business credit card, also for the greater good.  How do you know when that time has come?  Read on and we’ll tell you.

How Do You Know It’s Time for a New Business Credit Card?

You might not think it’s a hard decision.  Most business owners fall into two camps.  Either they are happy with their card and there is no need for a new one, or you just get a new card whenever you feel like it.  Unbeknownst to most, there actually is a right time and a wrong time to get a new business credit card.  Not only that, but there is also a right and a wrong way to handle the old one.  We can help you with both.

It might be time to ditch the old business credit card and get a new one if:

1.      The Fee is More than the Benefits are Worth

Maybe you are paying a hefty annual fee, but you justify it by weighing it against the rewards and interest rate you receive with the card.  It’s always wise to review that however.  Next time you are about to fork over that fee, take a look at what your options are.  Do you actually use the rewards offered with that credit card?  Are the rewards based on fuel spending and maybe you don’t travel?  Perhaps the rewards are at dining establishments you do not frequent.

Is that interest rate really the best?  Maybe you had a great promotional rate when you first got the card but now it’s nothing special.  Maybe the interest rate was the best available at the time but you are not so sure any more.

If either or both of these situations sound familiar, it may be time to ditch the old card and look for a new business credit card.  There is no point in paying the annual fee if you are no longer reaping the benefits that made you willing to pay it in the beginning.

2.      Your Spending Habits Have Changed

Have you outgrown the credit limit on your own card?  Maybe you spend more now that your business has grown.  It could also be that you spend on different things now.  In the beginning you may have used your card mostly for business supplies and sales dinners, whereas now you may use the funds for travel expenses and inventory more often.

Things change, and those things include spending habits.  The card that worked for your spending habits before may not be the best option for your current spending habits. Take a look at what you have versus what’s available in light of this, and you may see its time to ditch your old card and get a new one.

3.      You Now Qualify for Better Perks

For most business owners, their first business credit card is the first one for which they qualify for approval.  As your business, and your credit score, grows, you can get so much more.  If it’s been awhile since you shopped around, or if you see that you are getting unsolicited offers for cards that offer better perks than your currently have, it may be time to check out what new business credit cards are out there and ditch your old one.

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4.      You Can Get a Better Interest Rate with a New Business Credit Card

Another thing that you can get stuck with in the beginning, simply because you qualify for nothing better, is a lousy interest rate.  After you spend some time managing your business, and your finances, wisely, you are likely eligible for much better.

You can start with calling your current credit card company, but if they won’t budge, it’s time to drop the old card and start looking for a new business credit card.

5.      There is Any Better Offer With No Fee

Aside from a lousy interest rate and non-existent or useless perks, you can get stuck with an annual fee.  Sometimes the fee it worth it for the perks.  However, it is important to keep watch for cards that have better perks, better rates, and no annual fee.  Even if you get the same perks and the same rates, if there is no fee you are better off. If you are getting offers that do not include an annual fee, it might be time to find a new business credit card.

6.      You Anticipate an Upcoming Large Purchase

Sometimes it is simply a matter of dollars.  If you foresee a larger purchase in the near future, you may need to start looking for a new card.  For example, if you need to buy a new industrial refrigerator or oven, or both, you might not want to put that on a card you use for regular purchases.  Not only can it mess with the amount of funds you have available, but often you can find great deals on interest rates from dealers that sell what you are looking to buy.  It can help to save money and manage finances, by keeping larger purchases separate, if you just go ahead and open a new business credit card.

Bonus: Your Old Card Is Connected to Your Personal Credit Score

You need your business cards to be based on and reporting to your business credit.  In the beginning however, most businesses do not have business credit.  They can get cards based on their personal credit score, so they never even think about business credit.

When it comes to running a business however, business credit is better.

If you have great personal credit, you may think business credit is a non-issue.  Regardless of what your personal credit looks like, as a business owner it is important that you begin to build business credit. Here’s why.

If you use business credit to handle business transactions, your personal finances will not be affected by those transactions.  This means that if your business fails, your personal credit score will stay intact.  Also, you will not be personally liable for your business debts.

In addition, paying business expenses with personal credit cards can keep balances near the credit limit.  This is true even if you pay everything off each month.  Business expenses are large, and personal credit cards usually have smaller limits than business credit cards.

Your debt-to-credit ratio is affected by this.  That will negatively affect your personal credit score even if you make payments on time.

How to Build Business Credit

You know the why, now here’s the how.

Get an EIN

It is a number for your business, kind of like your personal SSN. Apply on the IRS website.  It doesn’t cost anything, and you can use it on business credit applications instead of your SSN.  You may still need to provide your SSN for fraud prevention, but it will not be used to access your personal credit score.

Formally Incorporate

A business must be incorporated to have business credit. The idea is that your business needs to be established as an entity separate from yourself in every way.  Incorporation not only accomplishes that, but it also offers you some liability from business debts.

Dedicated Contact Information

You need a dedicated business address and telephone number.  The phone number should be toll free, and the business should be listed in the directories with its own contact information.

Professional Website and Email

All businesses these days need a professional, user friendly website to be able to compete.  You also need an email address that is specifically for the business.  Do not use a free email service such as Gmail or Yahoo.  The business email address should use the same URL as the business website.

Business Bank Accounts

A separate business banking account is a must.  You can pay yourself from this account, but do not run personal expenses through it.

You Need a D-U-N-S Number

Yes, another number. This time it comes from Dun & Bradstreet.  They are the largest and most commonly used business credit reporting agency, so having a credit report with them is necessary for getting business credit.  The number is free on the D&B website, but they will try to sell you other services.  You don’t need any of them.

A Quick Note on How to Start Building Business Credit

Once you accomplish this, it is time to work on building your business credit score.  There is a process, and you have to work your way through it patiently.  It takes time, but the payoff is big.

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The Vendor Credit Tier

This is your way in.  These are vendors that will extend net 30 terms on invoices and then report your payments to the credit reporting agencies.  Once they start doing that, your business credit score will be established and grow from there.

This tier includes vendors such as Quill.com, Granger, and Uline that sell items you can use in your business every day.  Make a few purchases with net 30 terms, make your payments on time, and watch your business credit score explode. Find more about vendors that can help you build business credit here.

Working Through the Credit Tiers

After you have 7 to 10 accounts reporting from the vendor credit tier, it should be possible to get approval in the retail credit tier.  These are credit cards attached to specific stores such as Best Buy, Amazon, and Office Depot.

After you have several accounts reporting from the retail credit tier, you will qualify for cards in the fleet credit tier.  These cards are issued by companies like Shell, Fuelman, and WEX to be used for fuel and vehicle repair and maintenance.

The last tier is the cash credit tier.   When you have enough accounts reporting from each tier, and if you are keeping current on all your payments, your score will be strong enough to get your approval for these cards.  They are general credit cards such as MasterCard and Visa that are not attached to a specific store.  Typically, they have higher limits and more rewards options.

 

What to Look for in a New Card

This part is easy. You want something, everything if possible, to be better than the old card.  Your old tool should by default be more powerful than the old one.

  • Annual Fee– Whether the fee is the actual reason for the change or not, if you are changing anyway look for the lowest annual fee possible that also fulfills all your other needs.
  • Interest Rate– Again, maybe you are changing specifically for the lower rate, and maybe you aren’t. Either way you need to find the lowest interest rate possible that still gives you everything else you need.
  • Perks– look for perks you will actually use. If it’s all travel miles and you never travel, there is no point.
  • Credit Limit– A limit that will not handle your spending habits or the amount of your new purchase isn’t going to do you any good. Look for the highest limit you are eligible for. Remember that if you do not use it all, it will only help your debt-to-credit ratio, which in turn helps your credit score.

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As with all things, you can do an analysis of the cost versus the benefit. If the annual fee means you get a super low interest rate or perks that will save you several hundred dollars a year, it may be worth it.  Before you make a decision, consider this in light of the reason why you are changing versus what is available to you at the moment.

Should You Shut Down the Old Card?

This is where it can get iffy.  You might think it obvious that you close the old account.  That is not always the best option however.  It can actually be beneficial to keep it open.

The average age of all of the accounts on your credit report affects your credit score.  The older your accounts are, the better it is for your score.  Opening a new account already lowers that average, so closing an older account is going to lower it even further.

If you have had the account for a while, it might be better to zero it out and keep it active.  Be sure to determine what level of activity is necessary to keep the account active.  If you have to make a small monthly purchase and pay it off every month or so it may be worth it to keep and older account open.

Is it Time for a New Business Credit Card?

The short answer is, maybe.  If your credit is at a point where you can get better rates and incentives with a lower annual fee, then it is time to get a new card.  If your credit limit on your old card can’t support your current or changing spending habits, it’s time for a new card.  Lastly, if your business credit cards are on your personal credit report, it’s time to build business credit and get a new business credit card.

 

 

 

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