How to report income on a small business credit card application

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When you fill out the “income” part of a small business credit card application, you want to give the best out of your small business or side business, without stretching the truth. But income can vary widely from year to year, and credit card applications often don’t state what you should or shouldn’t include when filing.

So what counts as an honest, fact-based answer? Usually, in credit card applications, issuers want to know your verifiable gross income from the previous year.

What to include

Revenue is the income your business generates from services, sales, and other sources. NerdWallet asked top small business credit card issuers – American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citi and Discover – what, exactly, should be reported as income on a small business credit card application. company, and the responses were similar. General themes:

  • Applicants must declare their gross annual income – that is, income before taxes and other expenses are subtracted. This is different from profit, which is income minus costs.
  • Figures must be from the previous year. Typically, this means that you shouldn’t report forecast sales as revenue, although some issuers may agree with this if your business is new.

It’s important to stick to the facts when reporting your annual gross business income, but don’t sell short. Gross income can include multiple sources of business income.

“Typically, income comes from the sale of business products or services, the sale of surplus equipment or goods, the sale of shares in the company and various other sources, large and small,” Nikki Dolor , senior vice president and small business. responsible for underwriting cards at Bank of America, said by e-mail.

Important Note: You do not need to have a registered business, such as a limited liability company or an S corporation, to report income on a small business credit card application. You can also report income as a sole proprietor. You could be a sole proprietor, for example, if you:

  • Drive for a carpooling service.
  • Sell ​​items online.
  • Work as a freelance graphic designer.

If you are a sole proprietor, be sure to indicate this on your application when the issuer asks you about the legal structure of your business. And in the field where you add your tax ID number, fill in your social security number instead.

What to leave out

When reporting income on a small business credit card application, it is best to exclude:

  • Income you can’t verify. Don’t report it if you can’t verify it. In some cases, issuers may ask you for documents to back up the numbers you reported, so it’s best to stick with what you can prove. Lying or including far-fetched predictions could cost you approval.
  • Income that is unrelated to the business. It might seem obvious, but if you work full time and sell things on eBay as a side business, for example, the income from your full time job should not be considered “income.” However, it can be included in the “income” field of the request.

What if your business was new?

When your business is new, you may not have any income to speak of. And it is good to say so on your request.

In an email, Chase notes that applicants must report $ 0 in income if the business has no actual income. And Dan Arellano, vice president of small business cards at Capital One, said via email, “You should only report actual business-generated revenue on the app. “

Policies vary by issuer, but declaring a large chicken egg for income doesn’t necessarily mean your application will be rejected.

“We need both revenue and revenue in our app,” Discover explains via email. “For new businesses that have no income, we will rely on the income for decision making. ”

With some issuers it might be acceptable to include sales projections here as well. When businesses are new, “typically clients will report projected income based on their business plan, projected sales, and potential contracts,” says Dolor of Bank of America.

Just be sure to keep these supporting documents handy, in case the issuer answers any questions.

The specifics: what the major issuers have said

NerdWallet asked major small business credit card issuers what should be included and excluded from income reported on credit card applications. Here’s how each transmitter responded.

  • American Express: American Express charges “annual business income” on its small business credit card applications. This issuer declined to provide further details.
  • Bank of America: “For credit applications, customers typically report last year’s sales when providing gross annual sales figures,” says Dolor of Bank of America.
  • A capital letter: “For [the revenue] section, business owners should include the gross income received by the business over the past year, ”Capital One’s Arellano said. “Applicants must not include any income [or] income streams that are not directly related to the business on the app.
  • Hunt: According to an email from Chase, the income you report on your credit card application should be “what you last reported for your business income before any expenses or taxes.”
  • Citi: Citi charges “annual business income” on its small business credit card applications. The issuer did not provide further details.
  • Discover: “Applicants should include the latest available annual income that can be verified,” according to an email from Discover. The issuer notes that applicants should not include anything unrelated to business.


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