How to Use a Credit Card for a Small Business

How to Use a Credit Card for a Small Business

Many wannabe entrepreneurs, young and old, are thwarted from actualizing their big and promising business ideas and dreams primarily because of their lack of social support and startup capital. 

And you may just be one of these wannabes.

In terms of financing a small business startup, personal credit cards may be the last option because of the high debt trap risks and all other negative stigmas surrounding these financial tools.

You might have come across — read and heard — stories about horrible and discouraging financial disasters, but there are also successful ones that bring inspiration and thus, support the use of credit cards, even personal cards, for business purposes.

Most experts, in seemingly conventional wisdom, strongly advise always separating personal from business credit cards due to complicated tracking of transactions, varying benefits, and liabilities. 

But if what you have for now is just one or two personal credit cards, then those will still do and are completely fine for your business startup expenses. Owning multiple cards is way better. You may assign one or two for your business while others are for your personal use.

Equally, it is more than just good practices rather highly advisable, to keep your credit utilization low, make on-time payments, and know when to graduate from personal to business credit cards. 

Take note that card payment defaults brought about by your failed business will damage not the business, but your personal credit. So, you need to be extra careful and take control of your swiping for any business transactions.

Regardless of these forewarnings, here are nine (9) possible ways to use your personal credit card for financing the startup and operations of your small business. You may:

  • charge your purchase of startup equipment on your card and pay in installments,
  • make cash advances or quick cash loans for your space renovations and rentals,
  • pay your business utilities and get an expense breather for weeks,
  • make savings on your fuel expenses and shipping fees,
  • earn rewards as you replenish your stocks and make other purchases,
  • get access to a convenient fund for any unforeseen operating expenses,
  • make recurring and international payments safely,
  • promote your small business online, and
  • get bigger loans through tied-up programs for a business scaleup. 

How to Use a Credit Card for a Small BusinessBefore you try these ways, make sure you fully understand how credit cards work, their pros and cons, and your responsibilities as a cardholder. Credit cards can build your credit score — or ruin it.

[1] Charge your purchase of startup equipment on your card and pay in installments. You can easily kickstart your small business and actualize your idea or plan if you have a source of capital, maybe as instant and convenient as a personal credit card.

You might need a decent laptop and a printer for your e-commerce business, and you can anytime purchase and charge them on your card. Before you head to the mall and do so, go check for existing promos and discounts first.

On the other hand, if you plan to put up a brick-and-mortar shop or just a sari-sari store in your neighborhood, then you’re probably thinking as well of acquiring your initial merchandise and supplies from the big e-commerce platforms such as Lazada and Shopee or even the local groceries.

Most of these, if not all, accept credit card payments. Check with your card issuer or with any existing promos and offers if you can also stretch the payments in months of installment terms while enjoying zero or at least manageable interest rates.

With your business plan, determine your startup capital and expenses. You may just focus on the basic operational expenses and set the budget that you’re ready and willing to risk. Consider your credit card limit and set the amount you can charge on it for the business

[2] Make cash advances or quick cash loans for your space renovations and rentals. A cash advance is a quick cash that you can borrow and withdraw anytime from your credit card limit. You don’t need any additional documents or tedious application processes, but only an ATM PIN to avail of it. 

However, it comes with a special monthly interest rate as high as 3% plus other service fees. If you can leverage this cash advance, and you think you can pay it the soonest, then it may be a good source of additional business capital.

Other than a cash advance, other credit cards also come with tied-up quick cash loans and pay-all programs which allow more fund sources and channels for cash payments and wire transfers. 

For instance, Citibank has its Citi PayAll wherein you can send cash to bank accounts or even e-wallets and pay for services, professional fees, monthly dues, and even your space renovations and rentals.

You may even pay your carpenter or any of your workers their daily or monthly salaries using Citi PayAll, but this may be best taken as your last resort so to avoid a complicated financial setup.

If you plan on making a credit card cash advance or availing of such PayAll, do the math and find out how much interest to pay in varying terms, consider the risks and opportunities, and set targets to pay them off.

[3] Pay your business utilities and get an expense breather for weeks. Your business revenues for the first months may not yet be enough to cover all operating expenses, including the utility bills such as electricity, internet connection, and water. 

You can take a breather from the financial burden by paying these bills with your credit card. You may have a week or a month of grace period until the actual payment, or you may convert these into installments and pay down soon.

You’ll pay a little finance charge, maybe 2% or 3% depending on your card program, i.e., if you don’t pay your balance in full or just the minimum on the next statement due date. 

If such an interest rate is completely bearable and you’re confident that you’ll be able to catch up with all payments soon, then you may reallocate your other finances to more serious aspects of the business in the present.

[4] Make savings on your fuel expenses and shipping fees. If you run a small business that operates using a vehicle such as for procurement of stocks, door-to-door delivery of goods, or just booking courier services, then there is always a credit card that is right for you and your business.

It may be a co-branded card offered in partnership with your favorite gas station. You may charge your fuel purchases on this card at a big convenience and get rewarded with cashback, points, and other discounts.

Citi Grab Credit Card, for example, gives away PHP2,000 worth of Grab vouchers for an all-year-round spend of PHP120,000 and 5x reward points on Grab spend of up to PHP10,000 per month. 

In most cases, customers pay the shipping fees of goods ordered upon their delivery at the doorstep, but if you can add it up to the order price and charge it on your credit card, then you’ll make the most of such rewards and privileges.

[5] Earn rewards as you replenish your stocks and make other purchases. Not only with the fuel expenses and the shipping fees, rewards such as points, miles, and cashback, may also be earned when you shop online and offline for your business supplies and merchandise with your credit card.

If you’re running a retail business, buying in bulk from your suppliers, even the grocery stores and e-commerce platforms, may normally give you big discounts. 

With a credit card, you may not only enjoy complete payment convenience and earn rewards but also use promotional coupons which may give you an additional 10% or even more discounts, especially during mega sales.

You may redeem such accumulated rewards in any way you want, but it’s always better to use the proceeds also for business purposes. You may use them to buy more and replenish your stocks.

[6] Get access to a convenient fund for any unforeseen operating expenses. If you are into running a business, you then constantly need reserved or buffer cash for contingencies.

Your equipment may need servicing or replacement after months or years of business operations. You may need a new tire for your delivery vehicle. Or, you may just need additional manpower for a sudden order uprush.

As an entrepreneur, you must always be prepared for these unexpected and unforeseen events, and so do your sources of funds. 

You cannot afford to compromise the operations, the product and service quality, and all other aspects of your business, especially if you’re just a startup.

With an available credit card, you may patch these unexpected expenses without getting special loans or debts which may require additional documents, take time to get approved, and come with high-interest rates.

[7] Make online and recurring payments safely. Recurring payments are common in operating a business. These may be for bills, subscriptions, memberships, and other marketing expenses.

While you can also pay them with your debit card, it can be more convenient and safer to charge them on your credit card, especially if payments are made online or through websites. 

Some credit card issuers even provide companion cards, for instance, the BPI eCredit Card, which is designed for safe and secure online shopping and payments.

Credit cards typically use special online security features such as encryption and fraud monitoring to keep your personal and account information safe. 

You may also make use of the card lock features and avail of purchase protection insurance which covers fraud, loss, and damage of purchased items paid through your credit card.

[8] Promote your small business online. Promoting business online, particularly on social media, remains effective and efficient these days because people stay online most of the time. 

With proper page and post boosting on Facebook and other digital marketing campaigns and strategies, you will surely penetrate the market, gain new customers, and make more sales.

Interestingly, you don’t need any specialized knowledge and technical skills to get your digital marketing onboard. You just need a little creativity, a conscious mind to manage effective campaign settings, and a credit card to pay for the services.

You might also want to make premium subscriptions to graphic design tools and applications, such as Canva and Visme, and level up the looks and quality of your digital campaigns. 

[9] Get bigger loans through tied-up programs for a business scaleup. Building good credit takes time and consistency, but it’s worth the wait. You might want to check your credit score from time to time.

If you’ve been using your credit card responsibly and paying right on time, your credit score may already be high enough to get easily qualified for bigger loans.

Credit cards also come with tied-up personal loan programs and occasional loan offers for select cardholders in good credit standing. 

Unsurprisingly, most of them are simply offered by phone and do not require any income documents. You just have to fill out some online forms, give your consent, and get the loan disbursed to your declared bank account.

With these bigger loans, you may finance any possible streamlining and expansion of your business operations. You may also consolidate your existing business loans and cover major expenses which you may not be able to do with a simple cash advance or other smaller quick cash loans.

Read also:

Credit Card Stigma — and Why Filipinos Should Break It. This article explores the existing negative stigma surrounding the use of credit cards, provides the benefits of getting one, and warns against the financial risks that weigh almost equally with the benefits.

How to Choose the Right Credit Card [Beginner’s Guide]. This article provides beginners with a seven-step guide to choosing the right credit card and a detailed discussion on the most important factors to consider in making informed choices.

19 Tips for First-Time Credit Card Users [in the Philippines]. This article tailored for beginners provides extremely helpful tips on how to navigate through the world of credit cards and how to maximize their benefits and rewards for a healthy financial life.

13 No Annual Fee for Life (NAFFL) Credit Cards in the Philippines. While annual fees are tradeoffs for top-notch rewards and benefits, the credit cards listed in this article do not have any annual membership fees and are thus worth applying for and keeping active while building credit.

To easily get approved for a Citibank Credit Card, apply through our referral link. 

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