Best Secured Business Credit Cards to Build Credit
Black Enterprise magazine Fall 2019 issue

A business credit card works just like a personal credit card but is reserved for business expenses. Getting approved for a business credit card is difficult, especially if your business is new or has less-than-perfect credit.

Secured business credit cards are an effective solution for many business owners because they usually have higher approval odds than unsecured cards. We compared popular secured cards to see which is the best fit for different business owners.

  1. Best Overall: Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card
  2. Best for Building Personal Credit: Secured Mastercard® from Capital One®
  3. Best for Business Owners on the Road: Discover it® Secured
  4. Best for High Credit Limits: Business Edition® Secured Visa® Card

Best Overall: Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card

There aren’t a lot of options for secured cards specifically for business use. Luckily, one stood out among the limited choices. The Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card is ideal for business owners looking to build business credit and earn rewards. It’s also the only business-specific secured card available nationwide.

Credit limits are between $500 and $25,000. You’ll deposit cash of your desired credit limit into a collateral account and as you make payments and replenish credit, Wells Fargo reviews your account. If payments are consistently on time, you may become eligible for an unsecured business card.

Why We Chose It

Unlike other business credit card options, the Wells Fargo Business Secured Card offers high chances of approval while also providing a rewards program. Many other secured cards, both business and personal, don’t offer rewards or have a lackluster program.

Additionally, the Wells Fargo card reports to major credit bureaus like Experian®. This can help you build your business credit score and successfully apply for a regular business credit card in the future. Other secured cards don’t report to credit bureaus. Or worse — they only report negative impacts.

The Pros

  • Wide credit limit between $500–$25,000 based on your deposit
  • No foreign transaction fees for international business travel
  • Rewards program to earn points or cash back on business purchases
  • Reports to major credit bureaus to build business credit
  • Customer support from the large Wells Fargo network via phone, email, or local branches

The Cons

  • Annual fee of $25 per year per authorized card
  • Reward points expire in three years
  • Cash back rewards only credited each quarter
  • Not covered by the federal protections of a consumer card

Interest Rates and Fees

  • Annual Fee: $25 per card, up to 10 cards
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None
  • Cash Advance and Balance Transfer Fees: Varied per individual card agreement
  • Interest Rate for Purchases: Prime Rate + 11.90%

Rewards and Perks

  • Cash Back: Earn 1.5% on every $1 spent, credited automatically each quarter.
  • Rewards Points: Earn one point for every $1 spent, plus 1,000 bonus points if your company spends $1,000 or more in a monthly billing cycle. Redeem points for things like merchandise, airline tickets, and gift cards.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fee: You won’t be charged an additional fee when making purchases internationally.
  • Zero Liability Protection: You won’t have to pay for any fraudulent purchases made on your card when reported promptly.

Apply Online

Best for Building Personal Credit: Secured Mastercard® from Capital One®

Unlike the Wells Fargo secured business credit card, the Secured Mastercard from Capital One is a personal secured credit card. You won’t get positive impacts on your business credit with this card, but you can increase your personal credit score. Many business credit lines and loans take your personal score into account if you don’t have business credit. Improving your personal score could help you get business financing in the future.

Even though the Secured Mastercard from Capital One is a personal card, it’s a good idea to keep business and personal expenses separate. Don’t use your Capital One card for personal purchases, or you risk complicating your finances at tax time.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One card is great for sole proprietors and newly formed small businesses. It allows you to build your personal credit, which can then be used to secure funds for your business. The card also comes with a unique initial deposit and credit limit system. You’ll get three different options for minimum initial deposit based on creditworthiness.

Depending on your current credit score, you may be able to deposit only $49, $99, or $200 and get a credit limit of $200. Most secured cards require you to deposit at least your desired credit limit and may require more.

The Pros

  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Potential to have a higher credit limit than your initial deposit
  • Receive access to a higher credit line after making on-time payments for five months
  • Protected from certain rate changes and other changes because it’s a personal card

The Cons

  • Won’t build business credit.
  • Has a high variable interest rate for purchases
  • Low starting credit limit may not cover all business expenses

Interest Rates and Fees

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None
  • Cash Advance and Balance Transfer Fees: $10 or 3% per cash advance, no balance transfer fees
  • Interest Rate for Purchases: 26.99% variable APR

Rewards and Perks

  • No Foreign Transaction Fee: Don’t worry about extra fees to make international purchases.
  • Personalized Payments: Set your own due date and make payments online, via check, or at a branch.
  • $0 Fraud Liability: You’re not responsible for any fraudulent charges on your card.

Apply Online

Secured business credit card for travel

(Photo by Flamingo Images on stock.adobe.com)

Best for Business Owners on the Road: Discover it® Secured

Another personal card that could be a good option for business owners is the Discover it Secured card. It offers a cash back rewards program with increased rewards at gas stations and restaurants up to a quarterly limit. All other purchases earn 1% cash back. At the end of your first year, Discover will match the cash back you’ve earned.

As a personal card, you won’t build business credit with the Discover it Secured card. However, you can build your personal credit. This could lead to increased opportunities to use your personal credit to secure business funding through loans.

Why We Chose It

Other secured cards rarely offer a rewards program, so the Discover it Secured card is a good choice to maximize business spending. Although it’s a personal credit card, it can be used solely for business expenses. It’s especially ideal for business owners who frequently travel by car. With 2% cash back on your first $1,000 in purchases at gas stations or restaurants, you could quickly earn $20 cash back each quarter.

Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of the Discover it Secured card is the waived late fee on your first missed payment. Most credit card companies charge extra fees when you forget to make a payment.

The Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Cash back rewards on all purchases, with increased rewards at gas stations and restaurants
  • Late payment fee waived on your first missed payment
  • Rewards cash back matched by Discover at the end of first year
  • Federal protection provided to consumer credit cards

The Cons

  • Won’t build business credit, only personal credit
  • Maximum credit limit of $2,500, which may not be enough to cover business expenses
  • High interest rate when you carry a balance

Interest Rates and Fees

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None
  • Cash Advance and Balance Transfer Fees: $10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, 3% intro fee for balance transfers, and up to 5% fee on additional balance transfers
  • Interest Rate for Purchases: 24.99% variable APR

Rewards and Perks

  • Cash Back: Earn 2% on your first $1,000 of purchases at gas stations and restaurants each quarter. Earn 1% cash back on other purchases and gas station or restaurant purchases over the $1,000 limit.
  • First Late Fee Waived: Don’t worry about extra fees if you forget to make one payment.
  • Matched Rewards Intro Bonus: Automatically receive a match on all the cash back you’ve earned in your first 12 months.

Apply Online

Best for High Credit Limits: Business Edition® Secured Visa® Card

Local banks and credit unions offer the Business Edition Secured Visa Card. The card is issued by First Bankcard, which partners with hundreds of financial institutions across the country. You’ll need to check online or with your local bank to learn if it’s offered in your area. Business owners with accounts at a local bank may be able to easily apply for the Business Edition Secured Visa Card from a local branch.

The Business Edition Secured Visa card is excellent for business owners who need a larger credit limit than many secured cards offer. Based on your security deposit, you could potentially receive a credit limit from $2,000 up to $100,000 for your business. The Business Edition Secured Visa Card requires a security deposit of 110% of your requested credit limit, subject to approval.

Why We Chose It

This secured business credit card is great for businesses that need a higher credit limit, as other cards offer much lower limits. The extra credit helps businesses that work in more expensive industries meet their purchasing needs. You’ll also earn interest on your security deposit. If you deposit the max $110,000 into the collateral account, interest earnings could quickly add up.

The Business Edition Secured Visa Card is also a good choice if you’re a loyal customer at your local bank. Having all of your business accounts, including credit cards, in one place makes managing business finances easier.

The Pros

  • Up to $100,000 credit limit, based on your creditworthiness and initial deposit
  • Earn interest on your security deposit
  • Eligibility to join Visa’s business rewards program, SavingsEdge® to save money on business purchases

The Cons

  • $39 annual fee.
  • Charges a 3% foreign transaction fee
  • Higher card fees than other secured cards
  • Not nationally available and may not be available in your area
  • Doesn’t provide the same protection as a consumer credit card

Interest Rates and Fees

  • Annual Fee: $39
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3% per transaction
  • Cash Advance and Balance Transfer Fees: $15 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, $10 or 5% of balance transfers
  • Interest Rate for Purchases: 20.24% variable APR

Rewards and Perks

  • Higher Credit Limits: Request up to $100,000 credit limit based on your creditworthiness.
  • Earn Interest: Your refundable security deposit earns interest in the collateral account.
  • Visa SavingsEdge: Get discounts on select business purchases when you use your card.

Apply Online

business woman

(Photo by prostooleh on stock.adobe.com)

What’s a Secured Credit Card?

Secured credit cards require a cash deposit from the cardholder as collateral. This security deposit ensures you have the money to pay your balance if you were to miss payments. In the event you can’t pay off your card balance, your credit card issuer could use your initial deposit to cover the amount.

Unlike secured credit cards, unsecured cards don’t require a deposit cash to get a card. However, unsecured cards usually require a fair or higher credit score. Secured cards can help subprime borrowers, such as those with no credit history or bad credit, get a credit card. Secured cards report payment activity to the major credit bureaus, so on-time payments can improve or build your credit score.

Do I Need a Secured Business Credit Card?

Generally speaking, it’s not in your best interest to get a secured credit card if you’re approved for an unsecured card. Secured cards come with the same risks as unsecured cards, but they usually also have fewer rewards options or benefits for cardholders.

Not everyone gets approved for unsecured cards, however. A secured business credit card might be a good option if you need to build business credit or improve your credit score.

Shopping Tips to Find the Best Secured Business Credit Card

Few credit card companies offer secured cards for business, and some don’t offer secured cards at all. American Express, for example, doesn’t currently offer a secured credit card for personal or business use. On the other hand, Bank of America offers a secured personal credit card but not a business secured credit card.

Finding the right business secured card will depend on your business needs, credit history, and cash available for the security deposit.

If You Have No Credit History or Poor Credit

Business owners with no business credit history should look for a card that provides reporting to the major credit bureaus. This builds your business credit, so you’ll qualify for unsecured business cards and loans. Likewise, you’ll need to make on-time payments on a card that reports to the credit bureaus.

Business owners with no personal credit history or poor credit may need to look for a personal secured credit card before getting a business-specific card. Use the personal secured card for business expenses only. Over time, you’ll establish a good personal credit history and be in a better position for business financing.

If You Have Fair Credit

Before choosing a secured card, see if you’re approved for an unsecured card first. Some credit card issuers offer unsecured cards for people with fair credit or low credit history. These cards are often labeled as student cards or cards for young adults.

What You Need to Know About Business Credit Reporting

Building both your business and personal credit scores is essential to securing future financing for your business. Both scores show lenders your likelihood of repaying credit accounts on time. However, most other aspects are different.

Personal Credit Scores

Business Credit Scores

  • Linked to an Employer Identification Number (EIN) or Tax ID Number
  • Reported to Equifax, Experian, and Dun & Bradstreet (D&B)
  • No common reporting scale or system, though many business credit scores are reported out of 100

Do Secured Business Credit Cards Report to Credit Bureaus?

One of the main reasons you’d get a secured business credit card is to build a business credit history. Cards that don’t report your payments aren’t going to help you build credit. Make sure you ask your credit card issuer if their secured business card reports to any of the major business credit bureaus. Any secured business card that doesn’t offer credit reporting may be a poor fit.