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Key Differences Between Business & Personal Travel Credit Cards

Understand the key differences between personal and business travel credit cards that can help you earn rewards, which you can then redeem for flights and hotel stays.

By Mike Faden | American Express Credit Intel Freelance Contributor

5 Min Read | August 4, 2021 in Cards

 

At-A-Glance

A business travel credit card may help you separate your business finances from your personal finances.

Small business credit cards may differ from personal credit cards in areas including legal protections, rewards, and credit limits. 

Business credit cards often come with tools for managing and reporting business expenses.

Business credit cards may help you build business credit, which can help you get business loans and favorable supplier terms. 

If you run a small business or are self-employed and travel for work, a travel credit card can be a useful tool – helping you earn rewards that you can redeem for flights and hotel stays, along with other perks. The question is, should you get a business travel credit card to pay for those expenses or use a personal travel credit card?

 
To help decide, it’s important to understand the key differences between personal and business travel credit cards. Here are six areas to consider:

  1. Separating business and personal finances.
  2. Legal protections.
  3. Rewards.
  4. Credit limits and interest rates.
  5. Expense-management tools.
  6. Credit reporting. 

Before delving into these differences, it’s worth noting that business travel credit cards work similarly to personal credit cards in many respects. When you make purchases using either type of card, you earn reward points that you can redeem for travel such as flights or hotel stays, and you may also qualify for a range of other rewards. But they also differ in certain aspects that could be important to a small business owner. You can generally apply for a business credit card even if you’re self-employed and don’t operate as a formal business entity, such as a corporation.

 

1. Separating Business and Personal Finances 

Paying for expenses with a business travel credit card can help you keep your business and personal finances separate – which is required if your business operates as a corporation; it’s also recommended for legal and tax reasons even if you’re a sole proprietor. Even though you may be able to pay for business expenses with a personal credit card, some experts say that using a business credit card can make it easier to demonstrate that you’re drawing a clear line between personal and business expenses. However, experts say that when you open a small business credit card account, many issuers require you to personally guarantee payment – so you’re generally still personally liable for paying your business’ credit card bills. 

 

2. Personal Cards May Offer More Legal Protections

Personal credit cards provide legal protections that may not be included with business credit cards. Specifically, the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 – often referred to as the CARD Act – established rules covering many aspects of personal credit cards, including how much time users have to pay their bills, notice periods for interest-rate changes, and allowable fees.1 The CARD Act doesn’t cover business credit cards. However, many major issuers voluntarily provide some of the same types of protections for business credit card accounts. If you apply for a small business credit card, it’s a good idea to check whether the issuer provides the protections that are important to you. 

 

3. Business Travel Cards May Offer Business-Related Rewards

Business travel credit cards generally offer many of the same types of rewards as personal travel cards. Depending on the card, you may earn several points per dollar spent on travel-related expenses such as flights and hotel stays, and at least one point per dollar on other purchases. You can redeem those points for more travel. Some cards also offer credits towards airline and government fees, a car rental insurance benefit, and no foreign transaction fees. Some business travel credit cards also offer rewards specifically tailored to businesses, such as additional points for large purchases or when you spend a lot in specific categories, such as technology or advertising, credits toward technology purchases, or flexible payment terms.  

 

4. Credit Limits and Interest Rates May Differ

Business travel credit cards often provide higher credit limits than personal credit cards because businesses tend to make and spend more money than individuals. That higher limit may be useful to cover everyday supplies, big purchases and other operational expenses. On the other hand, some business credit cards may also have higher interest rates than personal credit cards. 

 

5. Business Cards Offer Expense-Management Tools

If you sign up for a business travel card, the card issuer may provide apps or other tools to help track expenses. These tools may let you capture images of receipts with your phone’s camera, categorize transactions, import transactions into accounting software, and build expense reports. 

 

6. Credit Reporting Can Help Build Business Credit History 

A business credit card may help you establish business credit and build a good business credit score, which is separate from your personal credit score. Business credit can be important for several reasons. For example, a strong business credit score may help your business get loans and more favorable terms from suppliers. Some companies may also consider your business credit score when deciding whether to do business with you. Because your business credit line is separate from your personal credit line, you generally can use your business credit without worrying about affecting your personal credit utilization, which plays an important role in your credit score.

   
However, it may be difficult to completely separate your business credit from your personal credit. Some issuers, for example, may report payment activity to both business and consumer credit bureaus, so if you fall behind on business credit card payments it could affect your consumer credit score. And when you apply for a business travel credit card, most issuers will check your personal credit, which generates a “hard inquiry” that may temporarily affect your personal credit score.   

 

The Takeaway

Business travel credit cards may help you separate business finances from your personal finances. They may differ from personal credit cards in several key areas, including rewards, credit limits, and expense-management tools. They can also help you build business credit.

Mike Faden

Mike Faden has covered business and technology issues for more than 30 years as a writer, consultant and analyst for media brands, market-research firms, startups and established corporations.

 

All Credit Intel content is written by freelance authors and commissioned and paid for by American Express. 

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