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If you run your own business--whether it's a retail store, direct sales, hobby shop or freelance consulting--chances are you've thought about getting a business credit card. It's probably a good idea, since it makes it easy for you to separate your business expenses from your home expenses, a task that helps keep your paperwork organized and simplifies things at tax time. When you're ready to apply for a business card, follow this checklist:

1. Choose a card

Some cards offer special deals, financing or rewards for small business owners. For example, some rebate cards offer you a percentage back on everything you buy at a certain store, like a warehouse store or online store. Other cards offer cash rebates when you spend at supermarkets, gas stations or home improvement stores. If you travel often, a frequent flier or travel rewards card might get you the best and biggest bonuses. Choosing the right reward card--depending on the type of business you operate and the expenses you incur--can mean extra money in your pocket all year long.

2. Gather up paperwork

You'll need basic information about your company's financial situation, including the name of your business, the tax identification number, the business address, the number of years you've been an owner, the number of employees, the nature of the business, the business' average annual income, and the amount in the business' checking account. You'll also need to know the legal entity of your business, such as whether it's a sole proprietorship, a corporation, a partnership, a non-profit, etc.

3. Fill out the application

You can find applications for almost all business credit cards online, although in most cases you can also call and apply over the phone (a good idea if you have any questions). Depending on your credit rating, you may have to provide extra documentation of your business' current financial status, so be prepared to mail or fax information if requested. After you fill out the application, approval can take anywhere from thirty seconds to a month.

To find business credit cards online, do an Internet search or check the websites of major credit card companies.

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