Putting Out with Business Credit Cards
Business credit cards have become popular as a source of financing for small businesses. The banks that issue business credit cards and many industry observers have identified small business credit cards as a potential area for significant growth. The personal credit card market is saturated, and the corporate business credit card market is relatively small.
The small business credit card market presents financial institutions with a really good business opportunity. Those banks that do offer small business credit cards noted that business owners are spending more and more every month and that they carry higher annual balances than the average personal credit card holder. This holds the promise of higher fees and interest revenue.
Generally, the business credit card carries credit limits that are double the amount of the average personal credit card. But where the personal credit card is almost pushed to the maximum of its credit limit, the business credit card’s outstanding balance is normally only about 75% of the credit limit. In spite of this, the risks on small business remain high. This is the reason why most business credit card issuers are very careful when processing and approving start-up businesses’ applications for business credit cards.
In one bank that issues business credit cards, about four-fifths of their business credit card holders have been in business for at least three years. Although this particular bank places a strong focus on developing their small business customer base, they have come to realize that there are higher risks associated with extending credit to small businesses. If you think about it, when in a bind, it would only be natural for people to default on payments towards their business credit cards before they default on personal credit cards. No one would want to impact their personal credit rating, although they might be willing to suffer some negative points on their business credit.
For this reason, most business credit card issuers will require that the business and the owner of the business accept joint liability for debt repayment on the business’ credit cards. Although there may be some initial grumbling about the personal liability involved, most business owners end up agreeing to this term, because the resultant access to cash and the ability to separate personal and business finances are of great value to them. Business owners also understand that securing a business credit card early on in the life of the business, helps it build its credit track record; and that the sooner a track record is established, the sooner the business will be able to carry the business credit card’s liabilities on its own.
Small business credit cards are convenient for travel and entertainment expenses. That is to be expected. But besides these, small business owners use their business credit cards to stock supplies, to supplement their inventory of products, and to cover other daily expenses.
For a time, the interest rates on small business credit cards were much higher than personal cards, as banks relied on traditional risk calculation methods and the absence of competitive pressure. That is not the case anymore. Business credit cards offering zero percent interest rates and reward-rich incentives are advertised widely. According to issuers, the uptake is high. After all, business owners mind their costs, and low interest rates and affordable fees will always be key selling points.