We get this question all the time. People want to avoid bringing their work home with them, not only mentally and emotionally, but financially as well. They want their business spending to be their business spending, and not in any way connected to their personal finances. That way their family’s financial well-being would not be at risk should their venture fail.
Unfortunately, WalletHub research has shown that all major business credit card issuers require personal liability for business card use and relay monthly usage information to the owners’ personal credit reports. In fact, we are only aware of one business credit card with no personal guarantee: U.S. Bank’s Visa Signature Company Credit Card, which is targeted to companies with $1 million to 10 million in annual revenue.
The long-held notion that business credit cards provide personal liability protection by limiting responsibility for debt and default to one’s business is therefore little more than a common myth. The falsity of such a belief is further evidenced by the fact that business credit card applications require you to provide your Social Security Number (SSN) in addition to your company’s Federal Tax Identification Number, or Employment Identification Number (EIN). Additionally, most business credit card applications clearly disclose liability policies.
Small businesses simply aren’t large enough entities to warrant limited liability. They are generally funded by one person or a few individuals, whose personal finances are directly connected to the company’s. “Small business credit cards that are issued to owners of pass-through businesses are equivalent of individual ownership and likely treated as such,” says Dr. William Dunkelberg, Emeritus Professor of Economics at Temple University. Banks therefore view joint liability between a company and its owner(s) as more than justified.
With a larger company, on the other hand, ownership as well as responsibility for the misuse of credit are likely to be far more segmented and the business’ financial assets far more substantial. This dynamic makes limited liability, in turn, far more appropriate for a larger company than for a small business.
While you cannot mitigate your personal liability as a small business credit card user, you can decrease the chances that it will come into play by approaching business spending strategically and opening credit cards with the best rates and lowest fees. After all, the best defense against liability problems is intelligent business decision making.