man using a credit card

5 min read

Key takeaways

  • When it comes to business credit cards vs. corporate credit cards, the main difference is the size of the businesses using them. Business cards are designed for small businesses, while corporate cards are best for midsize and larger companies with complex needs.
  • A big difference between the card programs is liability. Business cards usually rely on individual liability, while corporate cards rely on corporate liability.
  • If your company has a large number of authorized card users and consistently hits its spend limits, it might be time to transition from a business credit card to a corporate credit card program.

While the terms “corporate card” and “business card” are sometimes used interchangeably, they refer to two distinct types of credit cards. 

Learn how corporate credit cards vs. business credit cards compare.

Corporate credit cards vs. business credit cards

  • A corporate credit card is a card large companies provide employees to make work-related purchases. These cards often include perks such as expense monitoring, rebates or rewards for everyday business purchases and higher credit limits. They often come with corporate liability. Commercial cards also come with added data elements, which help companies track types of spend.
  • A business credit card is similar to a personal credit card. It offers smaller businesses access to credit, plus a set limit and annual percentage rate (APR) terms. Unlike corporate cards, business credit cards often rely on individual liability, which means one person at the company is personally responsible if the company can’t pay off the charges.

Key differences between business and corporate credit cards

“When it comes to choosing corporate cards vs. business cards, it’s not that one is better than the other,” said Nichole Schier, Head of North America Payment Solutions for Commercial Banking at J.P. Morgan.

“The level of complexity of your company’s needs will determine which program is best. If your company is growing and scaling, both in terms of operations and employees, you’re going to need a level of data, financial reporting and automation that only corporate cards can offer.” 

Business credit cards and corporate ones differ in other ways, too.

Eligibility requirements

  • Business credit card: All business types, including sole proprietors, are eligible, and there’s generally no minimum spend or number of employees required. Some providers limit the number of cardholders. Your financial institution will perform a credit check on the business owner, but not authorized users.
  • Corporate credit card: Generally, only C and S corporations are eligible for corporate card programs, which may require a minimum annual card spend. Some corporate card programs may require at least 15 cardholders.


  • Business credit card: The business owner is liable and held responsible for all debt incurred. “Liability is a major differentiator between business and corporate cards, and most business owners don’t want to be personally liable for the debt,” Schier said.
  • Corporate credit card: Corporate cards have corporate liability, meaning the company—not the business owners or employees—is liable for all charges made to the cards in the program. Employees, however, can be held responsible for unauthorized spending.

Payment terms

  • Business credit card: Like a personal credit card, business cards often have flexible payment terms, and businesses can carry a balance from month to month.
  • Corporate credit card: In most instances, the company must provide repayment in full each month.

Spend limits and requirements


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Benefits of business and corporate credit cards

Because they’re designed for companies of different sizes and with unique needs, each card program offers different benefits.

How business cards can help companies 

With business credit cards, organizations can:

  • Build credit: Using and paying off business credit cards can help increase a small business’s credit score, which could make it easier to obtain future financing.
  • Access travel and purchase protections: These can include purchase protection, extended warranties and cellphone protection, among others.
  • Earn rewards: Many business credit cards offer rewards that can be redeemed for cash back, gift cards and more.

How corporate cards can drive value

Corporate credit cards can drive value for businesses in several ways, including:

  • Streamlined payment processing: Corporate cards can reduce expenditure-related administrative tasks and paperwork, which can save businesses time and money.
  • Tracking and reporting tools: Corporate credit cards offer customizable spending controls and up-to-date records, which can help companies gain insights into their spending behaviors.
  • Increased controls: Corporate cards include restrictions on transaction types and amounts, allowing greater visibility into spending and a reduction in fraud.
  • Travel protections: Corporate cards generally offer extensive coverage for travel, emergency assistance and employee misuse.
  • Rebates or rewards: With corporate credit cards, organizations can choose between rewards and annual rebates.

Switching from a business card to a corporate card

Before switching from a business card to a corporate card, ask yourself a few questions:

  • How many authorized users do I have? The more authorized users you have on your business credit card, the more difficult it can be to track expenses. A corporate credit card program could help you better track and control spend through account and category limits and reporting features.
  • What’s my spend volume? If your company is using a business credit card and consistently hitting its spending limit, a switch could help. Corporate credit card programs generally offer a higher spending limit, but they also require businesses to pay the full balance on a monthly basis. "If you spend over $3 million, it’s better to use a corporate solution with a higher credit limit and tiered rebate benefit—you can get rewarded based on spend you convert to card, and even capitalize on fraud reductions if leveraging card instead of check and other forms of payments.” Schier said.
  • What kind of liability do I need? If your company has grown and expenditures have increased, you may not want to hold all the liability as the business owner.
  • Is my business scaling and expanding? Corporate cards can grow in complexity as your company grows. Whether you have multiple divisions in your company, hundreds of cardholders, or are paying off numerous invoices per month, corporate cards can provide additional services to fit your needs.

The answers to these questions can guide your decision. “But you should work closely with your banker to determine when to move from a business card to a corporate card or other commercial card program,” Schier said.

We’re here to help

As the largest issuer of commercial cards in the U.S.,1 J.P. Morgan offers companies a range of commercial cards with different features. Our experienced payments experts can help you select and implement an expense management program that best fits your needs.



The Nilson Report, Issue 1220, May 2022

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