business credit card
July 19, 2007 2:26 PM   Subscribe

Can a person legally get and use Business Credit Cards such as American Express Business, Visa Business...etc..etc..?

I already got a business card I use for my personal use... I got this by applying my own name as a business name...

However, I am about apply for a second card with much better offers...

But while reading Terms and Conditions... It says I have to use the card for business only.

Now.. I do very small amount of freelance work.. however, i am planning to use the business card for my personal debt transfer.

Is this legal? I have had my first business credit card with out problem.. and have been using it with out problems... But now i am starting to wonder.... I don't mind if the card company yank my credit card back later.. but I am worried about any legality....

I am have good credit score and have never paid late nor default for 20 years...... I called the card company.. and they basically repeated what the terms and rules said...basically no help..
posted by curiousleo to Law & Government (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Well, you could actually make yourself a company ( incorporate yourself). My dad, a serial entrepreneur, did this a while back. I don't know how viable this would be for your situation, but you would be a business, and therefore skirt any legal issues with the business card.

Here are a few relevant links.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 3:04 PM on July 19, 2007

I get offers for those cards all the time. FWIW, I am not a business.

It's possible that if you look at the agreement you'd sign, you're personally responsible for whatever debts you ring up, regardless of what fancy business name is printed on the card. (I'd look at the most recent offer I've gotten, but this morning was trash day.)
posted by gimonca at 3:11 PM on July 19, 2007

Best answer: For what it's worth, I worked in customer service for the business side of a credit card company and people used their business cards for personal use all the time and we never cared. I don't know about the technical legality of it, but as long as you're making your monthly payment I can't imagine anyone would ever even notice.
posted by logic vs love at 3:24 PM on July 19, 2007

Response by poster: At the moment I don't want to incorporate or creat a business.

I do know the benefits of creating business identity.. but.. for now.. i just want to use the benefit of current business card offers...

I am very responsible person so far.. but getting a 0% interest for a year is very beneficial compare to my what my personal loan charges... If I make good payments all the time.. I don't see any problem toward the card company.. It is just that I am worried about not following their terms & conditions regarding the use of the card.

technically I can be a sole-prop... as I pay my taxes on those I do my freelancing.. Only problem is that I want use the credit line for my personal use....

personally I don't see who can get hurt doing this.
posted by curiousleo at 3:27 PM on July 19, 2007

I have an American Express Business Gold Card that I've had for years. It's got a business name on it that isn't "registered" anywhere. My "business" doesn't have it's own bank account, or otherwise exist legally. I do freelance work on the side, but operate as a sole proprietorship and take payment to my name, not to my business name.

I got it because I got an application in the mail from Amex and I filled it out. I basically use it for personal stuff: gas, food, etc... It's better than using a revolving credit line. It also comes in handy when I have to travel for my day job, because those expenses are often in the thousands, and I got burned once for hitting the limit on another card and was almost stranded in NYC. Amex doesn't have an official credit limit, and my employer reimburses me before the bill comes, usually.

Oh, Amex also offered me a "Business Management Account" that I took them up on after several years on the gold card. I don't know if they really care whether I'm a legal business entity, I think they're just happy that I pay the fees every year and pay for the membership rewards program (which I used to get an mp3 player). :)
posted by CaptainZingo at 3:52 PM on July 19, 2007

"Illegal" Somehow I doubt it. I'm pretty sure anyone can justify that they're a business somehow. Most people are in the business of collecting a paycheck. Defining "business" as they defined "business" is the trick. See if it says in the fine print.

I was once audited by AmEx for my business card, apparently because my spending profile was off or something. I don't remember what I had to send them, probably a copy of my DBA filing or a 1099. Not much as I remember. At worst they'd keep me from making future charges on the account. They didn't and haven't bothered me since.
posted by Ookseer at 6:00 PM on July 19, 2007

None of this is definitive, but every such cardholder agreement I have ever seen is not really a business account, in that the business is not legally liable, the cardholder (person) is.

I also know I can get any business NAME printed on one of my own (personal) credit cards, which also suggests to me that the "company" part is meaningless. (I'm partial to "Halliburton" and "New York Yankees Baseball Club" myself, as both are great conversation starters.)

And another anecdote in lieu of real evidence: I knew a person who, in cliche disgrunted employee fashion, once ran up $9000+ on their company card on their way "out the door". Even without legal action, the credit card company (Citibank, I believe) immediately went after the person, not the company.

(PS to CaptainZingo: Your Amex does have a limit, the same as any other card. The difference is that Amex won't TELL YOU what the limit is. You get to find out. It's a fun game to play when you're somewhere in Southeast Asia with no food and no hotel, believe me.)
posted by rokusan at 6:10 PM on July 19, 2007

I have a corporate card on account of working for The Man. I've had a few personal items on it once or twice, basically from absent mindedness. The problem has never been not with Amex but with corporate audit, who let you do it but make you jump through hoops.

Anyway, who are they to say what's business and what's not? If they ask, claim you're a mystery shopper and tell them to go to hell.
posted by IndigoJones at 7:16 PM on July 19, 2007

The Man

^ now there's a business name to put on your business cc

posted by Heywood Mogroot at 8:40 PM on July 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

posted by jtfowl0 at 11:27 AM on July 21, 2007

« Older Is there life after 'I Now Pronounce You Chuck and...   |   Your software swiss-army knife? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.