Getting a Credit Card for a Small, New Australian Business

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Getting a credit card for a new business is hard. Not sure why, as the banks seem to throw credit at private individuals with no worries (e.g. me as a uni student getting approved for a massive credit limit with ease). Maybe this will be different now after the Royal Commission.

But be it a freshly incorporated entity, a startup, or a business without robust financials audited by the treasurer (well, maybe for some big banks they want audited financials), it’s not the easiest process to get a card with your business name on it.

Well, it seems to be a lot easier than a few years ago to get them! Here’s a story of two new companies getting some cards.

Company 1 - Card Issued by American Express

After incorporating my consulting company on the 1st of January 2017 (Happy New Year!), I researched getting a dedicated company credit card. Not possible it seemed. We were a new business, no income and no trading history.

So I sat back and put all expenses on my personal credit card. Not the most ideal situation as it made the finances a bit messy. It is also technically against most personal credit card terms of service to use a card for business purposes.

Then in early 2018, I kept noticing some great American Express business credit card sign up offers. So I really dig through the terms and conditions and saw just two:

  • ABN must be at least one year old and registered for GST. ✅
  • You must have personal income of at least $24k. ✅ (they accepted my income being paid from the business that applied for the card).

Great! Well. I’m probably personally liable for the credit due to the personal income check, but at least it is a legit business card.

So I applied for the American Express Business Explorer, and was approved shortly after for a mid-teens $k credit limit.

Very easy online process, they did call up and ask a few quick questions (confirming business name, ABN, type of work, etc.) and then promptly issued.

It may have helped that I’ve had a personal American Express card since 2011, but who knows.

Why did I choose the Business Explorer?

  • 100,000 Virgin Velocity Frequent Flyer points as a sign up bonus (it has changed now).
  • 2 American Express Membership Rewards Gateway points per dollar spent (equivalent to 1.5 Velocity or KrisFlyer points, with KrisFlyer being more valuable in my opinion).
  • A bonus 50,000 Gateway points if you spend $100,000 in a year (essentially taking the card to be 2.5 Gateway points per dollar, or 1.875 Velocity or KrisFlyer points).

With most of my business spend being payable with American Express, this is a nice little points earner!

Company 2 - Card Issued by NAB

Another company that was incorporated in July 2017. Shortly after registration, a bank account with NAB was opened (a great account, no fees and free access to The Village co-working space). This account essentially sat unused and barely any funds flowed in and out of the account.

Come 12 months later, I get some snail mail from NAB offering the NAB Rewards Business Signature pre-approved for the business with a $7k odd credit limit. First year annual waived and 100,000 NAB Rewards points (converts to 50,000 Velocity points) on sign up. Off I send in the form, and a week or so later the card arrives.

So that was a pretty easy process! Didn’t even start looking for one but it was issued. Checking the NAB site, requirements are:

  • ABN must be at least one year old and registered for GST. ✅
  • Your business must have turnover of at least $100k. ❌
  • Provide your profit and loss statement covering 12 months and up to date (within 120 days of your application). ❌

So it seems as I had an existing business bank account these requirements were waived (albeit the account barely used). On a side note, it definitely wouldn’t have been based on my personal bank account with NAB which has been empty and unused for years.

So there we have it. Two ways to get a credit card for a fairly new business, with this step being a mandatory:

  • Your ABN being a year old and registered for GST.

With the others being:

  1. Have some minimal personal income to apply (for American Express).
  2. Have a business bank account (for NAB).