What does a business credit card mean to your company? That you run a legitimate business, of course. It's a crazy paradox: Put cash on the table to pay for a business lunch and you've laid down real money, but the classier move is to deftly toss a gold card on top of the bill.
But good impressions aren't all business credit cards deliver. CPAs insist putting business charges on plastic helps you later, when you need to sort out tax-deductible expenses. Then, too, it's whispered that the IRS much prefers seeing this sort of orderly accounting whenever it does an audit. Another plus: A business credit card gives you a "float" between the time of purchase and the day when you've got to ante up the cash--usually there's at least a three-week gap, but sometimes you'll enjoy six or more weeks of interest-free use of somebody else's money. And in a cash-flow pinch, of course, you can pay off your balances over time--meaning credit lets you buy that computer today, when you need it, even if the company till is currently empty.
Spend too much, too fast, however, and you'll be hit with huge interest charges--which can jeopardize both your business and your personal creditworthiness. The bottom line: Business credit cards are terrific tools--if you use them shrewdly.
Read on for pointers on where to get--and how to use--business credit cards.