When you start a company, you’ll need to get a company credit card and open a bank checking account. Having a company credit card allows you to keep your business and personal expenses separate and also lets you to start building your business credit history. The first two sections of this post cover getting a company credit card, and the second two address getting your company bank account.
What do I need to apply for a credit card?
Applying for a company credit card typically requires information such as:
- Company name and business structure (i.e., Delaware C Corp)
- Date and location where company was formed
- Your business tax ID number (a.k.a. your EIN – read more about it here!)
- Gross sales and net profit of company
- If your business does not have credit or income history yet (which as a new company is often the case), credit card companies may look at your personal history
- Personal information to verify your identity
Bear in mind that when you apply for a business credit card you will usually be required to sign a personal guarantee for liability for any credit card debt—if you default on the business card, you’re going to be responsible for past charges. Your personal assets likely won’t be protected by business structure in this situation. If your company is pre-revenue and you’re applying for a business credit card, having a pre-existing relationship with your bank (including a bank account or personal credit card) can help with the approval process.
How do I apply for a credit card as a foreign national?
The process for applying for a business credit as a foreign national is similar to the process described above; however, if you don’t have a social security number for tax identification then you will need to present an alternate form of identification, such as an EIN or an ITIN [link to blog post on EINs]. While less commonly used, these forms of ID are legally permissible.
Why do I need a corporate bank account and how do I open one?
Your corporate bank account shows that your personal funds are not mixing with revenue generated and money raised by the business. To open your bank account, you’ll need to make sure that you check off the items in this list:
- Prepare a corporate resolution authorizing particular individuals to open the bank account and sign checks
- Have photo ID for everyone authorized by the corporate resolution
- Have your EIN ready to present to the bank
- Bring your company’s Articles of Incorporation with you to show the bank
There are some banks that regularly work with startups, such as Silicon Valley Bank, and any advisors your company has should be able to point you to appropriate options.
How do international founders open U.S. bank accounts?
Setting up a bank account as the international founder of a Delaware C Corp is more difficult than doing it from the US, because many banks require account openers to visit the bank in person and provide identification as well as the required documents. There are some agencies that will help you open a bank account for a fee, and some banks that will make special arrangements to open the account from abroad. In most cases the first step should be contacting the bank to confirm their usual practice and plan your approach with that information.
Get Your Banking Ducks in a Row
Applying for a business credit card and opening a bank account for your company may feel tedious, but they are important steps to take early in your company’s life to ensure that you aren’t mixing personal and business funds and that you put clean processes for financial housekeeping in place before it becomes burdensome and complex to do so.