Can I Get a Business Credit Card for Personal Use?

Am I able to apply for a business credit card for my own use?

Updated: May 18, 2024
Matt Crabtree

Written By

Matt Crabtree

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Answer: no, you are told not to make purchases for yourself using a company credit card, even if you have a good credit score. Credit cards issued to businesses must be used only for company expenses.

The ability to keep professional and personal spending separate is a major selling point for corporate credit cards.

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Since company costs are often deductible, separating them from personal finances may simplify tax preparation and help avoid scrutiny from the HMRC in the event of an audit.

However, unexpected events do arise. You use the incorrect card at the register, or your planned business trip turns into a shorter vacation and you book everything on your business card.

Key Lessons:

  • While it's not strictly unlawful to use a company credit card for personal expenses, doing so may result in a breach of the agreement's TOCs.
  • Negative effects on personal and corporate credit, account termination, and tax and legal ramifications are just a few of the potential outcomes.
  • Notify the appropriate parties and mark the transaction as “personal” if you use your company credit card for personal use.

Here's what you need to know about using a business card for personal use.

Is it unethical to use a business credit card for personal purchases?

Using a company credit card for personal use is not unlawful. 

Yet this does not make the proposal sound. Most credit card companies prohibit small business owners from using company credit cards for personal purchases. You may be in violation of your cardmember agreement if you do so. And there can be repercussions from it.

What happens if you use a company credit card for personal purchases?

Is there any additional fallout outside the obvious one of having to sort out the expenditures on your company's ledger? 

Yes. If your issuer notices that you are making purchases that have nothing to do with your company, they may terminate your account. And if that occurs, you risk losing all of your accumulated reward points, miles, or cash back.

There is little data to suggest that this is common practice, but all of the main corporate credit card providers warn against using a company credit card for personal expenses. They'll go so far as to have you sign a contract promising to use their corporate credit cards only for company expenses.

Some common phrases seen on business cards are as follows:

Per the terms of your Capital One Spark Cash Plus account, you have to accept that all cards will only have commercial or business use, not anything family, personal, or household related.

With the American Express Business Platinum Card, cards must have the intended use for business or commercial purposes.

The Ink Business Preferred Credit Card asks users to accept that business use only is allowed and not family, personal, or home expenses, as stated in the terms and conditions.

One reason this regulation is seldom enforced is because it is difficult for a credit card issuer to determine whether a transaction was made for personal or commercial purposes.

Is the supper you just put on your credit card for two occasions, one for romance and the other for business? Is the new laptop for professional or personal use? Client entertainment might be anything from dinner to a sporting event.

Pros and cons of business credit cards compared to personal credit cards

Pros

✔️ There's a chance you may have your credit limit raised.

✔️ If you use it often, you may raise your business credit score and qualify for lower interest rates on credit cards and business loans in the future.

✔️ If you need more cards for the rest of your squad, you can obtain them.

✔️ You may keep your corporate and personal funds completely separate and organised.

✔️ It is possible that it might be integrated into your existing accounting system.

✔️ You may qualify for business-specific bonuses and perks.

Cons

❌ If you sign a personal guarantee for a corporate credit card, you might still be held personally liable for the debt.

❌ The purchase is not guaranteed in any way.

❌ The number of credit card offers available to you decreases.

❌ Costs might increase when using a company credit card. 

Repercussions of non-business purchases

The repercussions of using a company credit card for non-business purchases?

In many cases, applying for a corporate credit card is simpler than applying for a personal credit card. Your firm does not need to be officially registered or fully operational to apply for a business credit card. 

Because of this, you may be tempted to charge everything related to your company on a single credit card. However, a company credit card should be used only for legitimate business expenditures.

Combining company and personal costs increases the complexity of your spending in many ways. You'll have trouble keeping accurate books, lose out on growth capital, and make it harder to establish a credit history for your company if you do this.

If you use a company credit card for personal purchases, you risk damaging your credit history and experiencing account issues.

Possible termination of your account

Acceptance of a business credit card implies acceptance of the associated terms and conditions. 

Some experts believe that most corporate credit card providers will require cardholders to sign an agreement promising that their company credit card will not be used for personal purchases. In addition, they have the right to terminate your card if you break the conditions of your agreement.

The following is an example of words that might be included in the terms and conditions for the Capital on Tap Credit Card: When applying for a Visa Business Card, you confirm that you are a business, single owner, or employee/contractor of a business, and that you will use the card only for business expenses.

The American Express Business Platinum Card has comparable terms and conditions as the personal version. Your card issuer may raise suspicions if they see unusual spending patterns beyond what is typical for your organisation.

By making personal purchases using a company credit card, you are breaking the card's terms of service and are subject to having your account closed.

Risking personal liability

If your firm gets into legal difficulties, combining its funds with your personal ones might make you personally responsible for its debts. 

Credit industry expert Greg Mahnken warns against “commingling” personal and company finances since “courts can pierce the corporate veil and hold you personally liable for the business' liabilities”.

The majority of credit card companies will not provide a company credit card without a personal guarantee being signed.

In the same way that charging significant company costs to a business credit card might put you at risk, charging large personal purchases to a business credit card can do the same thing. The risk of getting into legal difficulties makes it unlikely that you should.

There won't be many safeguards in place for buyers

You may not be as protected while making purchases with a company credit card as you would be with a personal credit card. 

This is because legislation governing company credit cards are different from those governing personal credit cards. The CARD Act, which was passed to safeguard consumers, does not apply to company credit cards in many ways. Included in these safeguards are:

  • The avoidance of unexpected interest rate increases.
  • Restrictions on future rate hikes for outstanding amounts.
  • Elimination of late interest fees for timely debt payments.
  • Priority is given to the greatest interest charges while making a payment.
  • There is also the fact that contesting charges on a corporate credit card takes more effort and time. There are fewer safeguards in place to protect you from debt collectors' aggressive tactics.

It will have an effect on both your personal and company credit

It's tempting to use your company credit card for personal expenses so you may raise your personal credit rating. 

On the surface, this is an appealing plan, but it is unlikely to provide the desired outcome. Since the vast majority of corporate credit cards don't report to consumer credit agencies, this is the case. It's unlikely that improvements to your corporate credit will have any effect on your personal credit rating.

Your personal credit score might take a blow if you use a corporate credit card for personal spending and then fail to pay the balance in full and on time. This is because, in order to get your company credit card, you will be required to provide a personal guarantee. Your personal credit will suffer if you can't meet balances.

Long-term, you'll be paying more

There are frequently higher fees and interest rates associated with business credit cards. The good news is that, in addition to the company costs themselves, almost all fees and interest on business expenses are tax deductible. 

However, there is no tax deduction for purchases made for one's own use. As a result, carrying a load from personal purchases made using a corporate credit card can cost you more money in the long run.

Keeping tabs on company spending will be more difficult

Keeping tabs on company costs can shed light on where expansion is needed and where money is being wasted. A budget helps you see where your money is going and where you may make cuts.

It's more difficult to assess the requirements of your company and its overall financial health when personal and business costs are charged to the same credit card.

Regardless of filters, personal expenses can blur the information in business reports, making it complex to work out the state of a business.

When seeking funding for your company, whether in the form of a loan, grant, or line of credit, it is essential that you maintain accurate records. It will be very difficult, if not impossible, to get financing for your firm if its finances are intertwined with your personal affairs.

It will be more difficult to file your taxes

Business expenditures may be written off in several cases. Spending money on yourself is not. If the HMRC decides to audit you, you'll have a lot more trouble if you've been mixing the two together.

Imagine you plan a work trip that doubles as a vacation for the whole family. During that period, you use your company credit card to pay for a series of meals. It's a mix of client meals and family dinners. 

It might be difficult to keep track of all the different meals separately in your budget. The HMRC is somewhat more thorough than your credit card company. You may have to pay penalties or even back taxes if an auditor finds mistakes in your claimed costs.

Is there any value in using a company credit card for non-business purposes?

Using a company credit card for things other than business costs might be a good way to boost your personal credit score and boost the odds of personal loans

Any purchases made on a company credit card will not reflect negatively on your personal credit score since many (but not all) business cards report solely to the business credit agencies. Maintaining a low utilisation ratio is one way to do so.

Credit cards for businesses are a convenient way to manage the many recurrent expenditures of operating a company, such as inventory, payroll, and vendor payments.

The boundaries between work and personal life seem to blur when one is busy trying to have everything taken care of. 

What happens if you use your company credit card for personal expenses?

It's not technically theft to use a company credit card for personal expenditures. However, the terms and conditions of your card agreement will likely be violated if you use your company credit card for personal purposes. It's best practice to keep your company and personal finances entirely separate.

Using business cards for personal use: The Verdict

It's generally not a good idea to use your company credit card for your personal expenses all the time. There's a chance nothing bad will happen, yet there are dangers anyway.

Also, if you wind yourself in financial problems, it might hurt both your personal and corporate credit if you use the two for your expenditures. However, if you use your corporate credit card for a personal purchase, it probably won't cause any problems.

Separating your company and personal finances: Some helpful hints

Using a company credit card is a convenient method to keep your personal and business spending distinct, which simplifies tax time. Because of this, accountants are spared the time-consuming task of examining each cost to confirm its legitimacy. 

Many credit card companies now provide direct connectivity with popular accounting software, making it simple to import company expenditures from your credit card statement. 

Consider getting an additional corporate card for those workers who often use their personal cards for workplace expenses. All of your company's costs will now be in one convenient location.

Related Guides:

FAQs

What happens if you make the mistake of using a company credit card for your own needs?

Is it unlawful to put personal expenses on a company credit card?

Is it a good idea?

How can I most effectively partition my corporate and private funds?

Impact on my credit?

What are the risks?

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