Although business credit cards emphasize their many benefits to small business owners such as record keeping, rebates on business expenses, and travel related perks, there are also some potential pitfalls related to using a business credit card for small business owners. Below are a few common risks associated with using a business credit card:
Potential for Abuse: Many business owners find the possibility of instantly funding their start up business with a credit card to be very appealing. However, when there is very little or no cash available to a business owner, the potential to abuse credit cards is great. During a business start up, an entrepreneur usually has difficulty obtaining loans or other ways of financing their business, and they turn to credit cards to purchase the items needed. As with many small business start ups, it sometimes takes several years to begin to see a profit. Therefore, they stay in debt, adding financial burden to the new business.
High Interest Rates: Business credit cards, like other credit cards, often charge high interest rates. The accumulation of these interest rates when the card is not paid off monthly can add a large amount to business expenses. This occurs most frequently with cards that offer low introductory rates. Card holders may not be aware of the amount this rate will increase after the introductory period ends. Because of this, and due to low minimum payments, business credit cards may take longer than expected to pay off completely.
Risk to Reputation: Just as with personal credit cards, if business credit cards are not used responsibly and carefully they can lead a new business into a large amount of debt as well as damage the reputation of the business by lowering it’s credit score. This can make it even more difficult to get credit or loans with suppliers in the future. It can even put an owner out of business.
New businesses can be very expensive and the cost of doing business can be very high. However, with effective and careful credit card management and careful planning when choosing a business credit card, most of the downsides of business credit cards can be controlled or avoided altogether. Using a business line of credit rather than a credit card is the best way to avoid many of these pitfalls. Business lines of credit usually have more flexible and also more favorable financing terms.