Business debit and credit cards

Types of debit and credit cards available for your business

Guide

There's a wide range of plastic payment cards on the market, offering an array of different terms and conditions and ways to pay off your balance.

Credit cards

Credit cards:

  • allow purchases up to a specified limit
  • offer an interest-free period
  • allow a minimum repayment each month, but charge interest on the balance
  • incur no interest if the bill is paid in full by the specified date
  • can be issued to employees, with an approved spending limit

There are numerous credit card providers - most are Visa or MasterCards issued through a bank or building society.

Read more about Visa credit cards and MasterCard credit cards.

Charge cards

Charge cards:

  • allow a period of credit - but must be paid off in full each month
  • can be issued to employees
  • allow you to set spending limits
  • may charge an annual fee

Debit cards

Debit cards:

  • are issued in conjunction with a business current account
  • might be cheaper than cheques
  • can only be used by signatories
  • may offer a greater degree of control - you can only spend what's in your account
  • have less flexibility than other cards

Pre-paid cards

Pre-paid cards:

  • enable businesses to manage and monitor spending
  • can be provided pre-loaded to employees to pay expenses
  • are available in different currencies as an alternative to travel cards
  • usually come with fees and charges - such as issuing costs, management fees, and transaction or ATM withdrawal fees

Travel cards

Travel cards:

  • offer a convenient way of paying business travel expenses when travelling
  • operate in the same way as other business credit or charge cards
  • offer additional benefits, such as travel insurance or currency facilities

Purchasing cards

Purchasing cards:

  • are generally restricted to big businesses or public-sector bodies
  • are issued by banks and companies such as Barclaycard and American Express
  • cut down on paperwork and the need for purchase orders

You could use a personal debit or credit card instead of a business card for business expenses, however this means you will be mixing personal debts with business debts.

It also makes it more difficult to track business expenditure - see using payment cards for your business.