Business credit cards vs business loans

Information verified correct on May 26th, 2017

Learn the differences between a business credit card and a business loan so you can make the right choice for your company.

Both business credit cards and business loans are popular financing options for many companies, but there are several key differences between the two. To find the better option for your business’s needs it helps to compare the two side by side and examine what these differences are.

Business credit cards are a lot like personal credit cards. They put a revolving line of credit in your pocket, which needs to be managed responsibly.

Business loans are usually tailored for a specific need such as buying essential equipment. They can be paid to you in installments or as a single lump sum, and often you’ll have the option to tailor your repayment schedule to suit your business’s needs. There are many different types of business loans available.

Compare business loans and business credit cards

Rates last updated May 26th, 2017
Min Loan Amount Max. Loan Amount Loan Term Application Fee
NAB QuickBiz Loan
An unsecured business loan from $5,000 that can be processed in 1 business day.
$5,000 $50,000 1 to 2 years $0 Go to site More
Prospa Business Loan
Apply for a business loan from $5,000 and enjoy a shorter loan term up to 12 months.
$5,000 $250,000 0.25 to 1 years $0 Go to site More
Moula Business Loan
Small business loans of up $250,000 approved and funded within 24 hours. Transparent fees and rates.
$5,000 $250,000 0.5 to 1 years $0 Go to site More
Rates last updated May 26th, 2017
Bonus Points Points per $ spent Complimentary Travel Insurance Cover Annual fee Minimum Income
Commonwealth Bank Business Gold Awards Credit Card
Earn up to 2 Awards points per $1 spent and receive an unsecured credit limit of up to $50,000.
VISA/MC: 1 AMEX: 2 3 months $150 p.a. Go to site More info
American Express Platinum Business Card
Receive 100,000 bonus points, earn up to 2 Membership Rewards points for every dollar spent, complimentary insurances and access to 800 VIP Lounges in 100 countries.
100,000 bonus points VISA/MC: 0 AMEX: 1 6 months $1,500 p.a. $75,000 Go to site More info
American Express Velocity Business Card
A truly dedicated business rewards credit card. Download all your card expenses in a format readable by Quicken, MYOB, Microsoft Excel and more.
VISA/MC: 0 AMEX: 1 N/A $249 p.a. $24,000 Go to site More info
Commonwealth Bank Business Interest-Free Days Credit Card
Save with 17.57% p.a. on purchases. Also enjoy easy integration into your online accounting software.
N/A $60 p.a. Go to site More info
Commonwealth Bank Business Awards Platinum Credit Card
Earn up to 3 Awards points per $1 spent and stay on track with instantly updated transactions.
VISA/MC: 1 AMEX: 3 6 months $300 p.a. Go to site More info
American Express Business Card
Earn up to 1 Membership Rewards point per $1 spent and extend your cash flow up to 51 days.
VISA/MC: 0 AMEX: 1 N/A $109 p.a. $24,000 Go to site More info
American Express Gold Business Card
Receive 10,000 bonus points on signup and earn 1 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent with uncapped earnings.
10,000 bonus points VISA/MC: 0 AMEX: 1 N/A $169 p.a. $24,000 Go to site More info
Commonwealth Bank Business Awards Credit Card
Earn up to 1.5 Awards points per $1 spent and easily integrate your online accounting software.
VISA/MC: 1 AMEX: 1.5 N/A $100 p.a. Go to site More info
Shell Card
Minimise your fuel costs at over 1,000 locations across Australia. Save 6 cents per litre off fuel purchases at all Shell branded sites and $0 monthly card fees for the first 6 months.
N/A $30 p.a. Go to site More info

The defining features of loans vs credit cards

If you’re looking for business finance, then either a credit card or business loan can work well, but there are enough differences between the two that one will usually be significantly more suitable than the other.

Business credit cardBusiness loan
FundingA specified amount of money that you can spend as a flexible, ongoing, revolving line of creditOne defined lump sum or multiple set payments
RepaymentMinimum monthly repaymentsA set repayment schedule
EligibilityTypically has strict requirementsMany options with less strict requirements are available
Interest ratesVaries, most offer purchase rates of between 10-20% p.a.Can be a monthly or annual rate. Typical annual rates for secured loans range between 3-10% p.a.
FeesAnnual fees, late repayment fees and more may applySignup fees, late repayment fees and more may apply
Other featuresRewards points, complimentary insurance and link-ups to accounting softwareTypically has no special features other than online account management
AdvantagesFlexible funding, continuously available money and bonus featuresMany different options, can be closely tailored and a choice of many providers
DisadvantagesTypically cost more than standard loansHas few special features, loan quality varies widely

How business credit cards are different to business loans

Business credit cards offer a number of advantages in comparison to typical business loans, mostly in the form of extra features. How extensively you plan on utilising these features often answers the question of whether or not a business credit card is worth it for you.

Business credit cards often come with the following bonus features:

  • Track your business spending more easily by seeing all expenses in one place
  • Access various account management and financial analysis tools
  • Give business credit cards to employees and manage the cards through one account
  • Enjoy rewards like frequent flyer points and complimentary insurance
  • Get access to perks such as free delivery or express shipments
  • Build your company credit score by using the card wisely

There are also downsides to consider:

  • Interest rates skew high, ranging from about 10% to 20% p.a.
  • Almost all business credit cards charge an annual fee, which is usually higher than the annual fee charged for an equivalent loan.
  • It can be difficult to get a business credit card. Eligibility requirements are usually more strict than with loans.
  • The cost of missing multiple repayments can rapidly escalate. An extended period of poor business might saddle you with growing debt.
  • If you depend on this credit to pay for business operations, then you might become abruptly stuck when it runs out

Choosing between a business loan and a business credit card

Generally speaking, a business credit card probably isn’t the right choice if you’re looking for ongoing funding. However, it probably is the right choice if you’re looking for an all-round business tool with built-in borrowing functionality. Business credit cards can help fund ongoing purchases and expenses, as long as you’re able to repay what you use each month. Taking full advantage of the extra features and benefits, as well as using the card for quick financing on the side, is an effective way to use a business credit card.

If your number one priority is getting financing, then a business loan is more likely to be right for you. You can borrow only the amount you need without locking yourself into a potentially expensive account, you can tailor your repayment plan and there are plenty of options for self-employed borrowers and people with an erratic credit history.

Picture: Shutterstock

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