Is a corporate card the same as a business card? 

Business credit cards and corporate credit cards are similar – they are both owned by companies rather than individuals and are strictly for business use. However, they are used by different types of companies. You may be eligible for one, but not the other.

6 min read
Business woman using credit card

What is a corporate credit card?  

Designed for well-established businesses, corporate cards have the option to be used by multiple employees throughout a company. They require you to have a large annual revenue and for the balance to either be paid by the employer in full each month, or for the minimum amount to be repaid each month. You can either settle this centrally or take an individual approach.  

Depending on your company policy, your corporate credit card account may either have hundreds or just one account holder. Capped and tracked spending are common features, so you can keep an eye on what your employees are using it for. You may also benefit from various corporate rewards, such as: 

  • cashback 
  • shopping discounts 
  • rewards 
  • insurance
  • 0% interest on purchases  

Every corporate card will offer different benefits, so it can be helpful to shop around. 

How do corporate credit cards work? 

They can either have:

  • full corporate liability - meaning that the company has to pay any debt and the lender doesn’t check employees’ credit history
  • or combined liability - where the account holder and company are jointly liable. The employee must pay their own charges on the card and file an expense report to get reimbursed. In this case, the lender would check the employee’s credit score. But it would be a soft search, that doesn’t leave a footprint.  

Can you get a corporate credit card for a small business? 

Most lenders have strict criteria when it comes to corporate credit cards. Normally you have to: 

  • be a certain size 
  • have been around for long enough 
  • generate a large amount of revenue
  • have a certain number or employees
  • or a combination of the above 

This means that you will struggle to get a corporate credit card unless you are a large, corporate company. However, lenders all have different criteria. So, it may be worth checking out the market to see if you are eligible for one. 

What is the difference between a corporate card and a business card?  

Business credit cards

A business credit card can be used by anyone who is a business – whether you’re a sole trader, limited company or another type of business owner. No matter how small you are (as long as you meet the eligibility criteria), you can take one out. It’s possible that you’ll need to sign a personal guarantee and have your personal credit history checked by the provider, especially if this is the first line of credit you’ve taken out as a business. 

The most common eligibility requirements for a business card ask that you:  

  • are over 18 years of age 
  • have a permanent UK address 
  • have no personal or business County Court Judgements (CCJs) for non-payment of debts 
  • have a UK business bank account 

It’s always best to check the specific criteria of the business card you’re thinking about getting before making an application. 

Corporate credit cards

Corporate credit cards are normally reserved for big corporations. They are designed to have multiple cardholders and benefits that suit bigger companies. 

It’s likely that your business will need to have a good credit score as well as meeting revenue and size requirements. The application process is also more complicated and generally requires an audit. 

Benefits of corporate credit cards  

There are many corporate credit card benefits:  

  • you can access rewards that directly benefit your company
  • there are better spending controls than with most other business cards 
  • they have simplified tracking and analysis of all purchases
  • you can use your credit card statements for tax purposes 
  • many lenders have dedicated customer service representatives or account managers
  • your employees don’t have to wait for reimbursement  

Disadvantages of corporate credit cards  

You should also consider the disadvantages of a corporate credit card: 

  • there is a lengthy, tough application process 
  • you can’t get one as a smaller company 
  • the lender might charge you for each additional cardholder  
  • employees can’t earn their own rewards through using their own credit card and getting reimbursed  
  • there is an annual fee

Do corporate cards affect your credit score?  

No – only the company’s credit score is affected by the card. This is because all the transactions on the card are part of the company’s credit history. While an additional account holder will probably have their credit history soft searched as part of their application, this won’t leave a footprint. 

When should a business switch to a corporate card?  

There’s no specific right time – when and if you should switch depends on your company’s circumstances. If your business generates millions of pounds in revenue and you want to move liability over to the company, getting a corporate card may be a good idea. But if you're a small to medium-sized enterprise, it may be worth sticking with a business card for a while longer. 

How to get a corporate credit card   

Follow these three steps below to get the best corporate credit card to benefit you and your company. 

1. Think about which benefits are important to you 

Corporate credit cards come with benefits that can greatly impact your business – if you pick the right one for you. Is it important for you to have lower charges for additional cardholders? Or do you want a perk like business or travel insurance? Deciding which benefits are important to you will help you approach researching the market in the right way. 

Tip: Decide which benefits you want based on realistic, existing benefits from major providers. 

2. Do your research 

All the choice can be overwhelming. Speak to different lenders or brokers in order to see what they can offer you. It’s also a good idea to do your own research in order to make sure you don’t miss any good deals. Comparison websites are great because they generally have access to a large portion of the market. 

Tip: Try approaching the provider you do your business banking with – they may be able to offer you an existing customer discount. 

3. Complete the application process 

Unlike with personal credit, you can’t just fill out an online form. You will need to go through a lengthy process in order to get accepted. If you’re applying for a corporate card, you might have a Chief Finance Officer that you can lean on. 

Tip: If you have the option, use an eligibility checker to see how likely your business is to get accepted before you apply.  

Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.