Written by guest author Meredith Wood.
A number of problems can arise in a business: broken equipment might need to be replaced, you might need to replace a bad batch of inventory, or you might need extra money to pay your bills. But what are you supposed to do if you don’t have the money you need in order to solve these problems?
Sure, you can take out a business loan, seek out angel investors, or ask your friends and family for donations. But most of those options require some lead time, which may not be available if you have an immediate problem to solve. If other funding options don’t seem like the right fit, did you know you can also use a credit card to finance your business? To decide if this is the right decision for you, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of business credit cards.
Pros of financing your business with a credit card
Fast access to cash
If you need money quickly, getting a business bank loan probably won’t be your best bet since it can take months to secure. In this case getting a business credit card might be a good decision. It’s an extremely quick process and can provide you with immediate access to cash.
Low-cost introductory offers
When you use a credit card, you’re only responsible for repaying the money that you borrow and you’ll only be charged interest for what goes unpaid by the end of the month. This means that if your card sits idle, or you pay off your balance before the month is up, you won’t be charged any interest and borrowing is essentially free!
Some credit cards even offer 0% APR introductory financing, so if you need money to purchase something you know you won’t be able to repay by the end of the month, you can still skate by without making any interest payments for as long as the promotion lasts. Just make sure you don’t rack up so much debt that you won’t be able to pay it off before the interest payments do kick in.
When you sign up for a business credit card, you won’t be required to offer up any collateral. This can be a great solution if you can’t meet the collateral requirements of a traditional small business loan.
Use it again and again
Having a credit card is similar to having a revolving line of credit. You’ll have a set borrowing limit that you can pay down and use again without having to reapply. Plus, having that access to money whenever you need it can be a huge lifesaver—especially if you find yourself needing additional working capital from time to time.
Credit cards often come with rewards, which can translate into things like cash or flight mileage. If you decide getting a business credit card is the way to go, make sure you check out the rewards each card offers so you can choose one that will directly correlate with the needs of your business.
Using a credit card for your business purchases will not only help you keep your business and personal expenses separate, it can also simplify your bookkeeping and save you a lot of time when tax season rolls around.
The downside to using credit cards for financing
Low spending limits
Many credit card limits don’t exceed $50,000—so if your capital needs exceed that, you might be better off applying for a small business loan.
Costs can skyrocket quickly
Credit cards are only cheap if you can pay your balance off before the end of each month. If you don’t think this will be realistic for your spending needs, be prepared for hefty interest rates. On the lower end you might have rates around 13%, however, most credit cards have rates that are in the 20% range.
Although you aren’t required to put up any collateral to secure a business credit card, you may be required to sign a personal guarantee. This means that if you don’t make your credit card payments, the card provider would have the right to seize any or all of your personal assets until they are able to cover the costs of your remaining debt.
Weighing your options
As you can see, there are plenty of benefits to using a credit card to finance your business—and also several downsides. But all of these factors—good or bad—really come down to what you plan to use the money on.
If you need money to cover a few minor costs that need immediate attention, a business credit card can be a great option. On the other hand, if you need a large sum of money to expand your business, you may be better off considering other small business funding options.
Before making a final decision, be sure to weigh the pros and cons of each as to make sure you’re making the best financial decision for you and your business.