Chase Ink Bold: Which Card Is The Best for You?

by on August 20, 2012 · 25 comments

in Chase, Credit Cards, Ultimate Rewards

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Credit card companies have a special ability to confuse customers by naming multiple card products similarly while tweaking the benefits of each offering, sometimes just minimally. To the average consumer, it can be very difficult to figure out the best product for their particular needs.

Chase just recently revamped their Ink Bold business card offering with the launch of the new Ink Plus product, so I thought I’d compare and contrast the differences between the four major Ink cards: Bold With Ultimate Rewards, Plus, Cash and Classic. Leveraging the Ink Bold cards and their 5/2/1 point-earning structure is a central strategy towards maximizing my Ultimate Rewards points, which I think is one of the most valuable points currencies out there. I’ve written several times on how I maximize the amount of points I earn by using Ink Bold, Sapphire Preferred, Freedom and Chase Checking accounts, and a little bit of coordination and understanding when to use each card for what type of purchase can pay off in the long run. With that, here’s a high level analysis of the Ink Bold card offering:

Premium = Ability to Transfer to Partners
Ink Bold With Ultimate Rewards
and Ink Plus are the “premium” Ink Bold cards in that they have $95 annual fees (both waived for the first year), but accrue points into Ultimate Rewards, which allows partner transfers to United, British Airways, Korean, Southwest, Hyatt, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, Priority Club and Amtrak. Both award 5 points per dollar spent on office supplies/cell phone/internet/landline/TV spend on office supplies (up to $50,000 per year), 2 points per dollar on gas stations and hotels (up to $50,000 annually) and 1 point per dollar on everything else.

These cards are nearly identical. The main difference is that  Ink Plus is a credit card and Ink Bold With Ultimate Rewards is a charge card. Charge cards often give bigger spending power, but require full payment every month or else you get hit with high fees and penalties. Credit cards generally have pre-set limits, but if you need to carry a balance, the cost is less (though still not a bargain). Both sign-up bonuses are the same at 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points, and you can get the sign-up bonus on both cards for a potential 100,000-point payday, which I recently did in my last round of applications.

In the past 11 months I’ve actually gotten the 50,000-point sign-up bonus three times: one Ink Exclusives card (now discontinued), an Ink Bold with Ultimate Rewards and most recently the Ink Plus. My Ink Plus application was not approved right away – I had to call the reconsideration line and explain that I needed the Ink Plus card to get the flexibility to pay over time if I ever needed it. Which card is better? It really depends on your needs, but I prefer the Ink Bold with Ultimate Rewards simply because I always pay my balances off every month (or else the value of the points earned is negated by the interest paid), though the Ink Plus makes sense to those whose businesses may need the flexibility to carry balances from time to time.

Basic = No Annual Fee With Lucrative Earning Potential
Ink Cash
and Classic are the no annual fee cards that come with a 20,000-point sign-up bonus for the Ink Classic and $200 cash back for the Ink Cash. They also offer 5x bonus spending on office supplies/cell/internet/landline/TV, but the Ink Cash rewards 2x points on gas and restaurants while the the Ink Classic’s 2x is gas and hotels. On top of that Ink Classic points accrue into Ultimate Rewards vs. cash back only on the Ink Cash card.

In general, the Cash card is geared towards non-travelers, though cardholders actually earn their cash back in the form of Ultimate Rewards points which you can still use for travel; and the Ink Classic is travel focused, giving two LOUNGE club passes per year. If you have a card that’s enrolled in Ultimate Rewards (Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold with Ultimate Rewards or Ink Plus), Chase will allow you to combine points between all of your accounts (see a screenshot of my Ultimate Rewards login page below), even if one of your Ultimate Rewards cards is not a “premium” card.  So if you have either the Ink Cash or the Ink Classic you can combine those points into a premium account that will make them transferable to partners. The main difference to note between the two cards is in their 2x category spending bonuses, so when deciding which one to get, it would be most useful to determine whether you’ll be spending more on restaurants or hotels, and that will help you choose which card to apply for in order to maximize your earning.

Chase will allow a personal and business card to be approved in the same day, so if you are getting a personal card, you may want to think about one of these Ink products. You can use your social security number and apply as a sole proprietor even if your business is in its very early stages without revenue. It’s always better to keep any potential business expenses separate from your personal spend and the banks realize that, even for the smallest of businesses.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Traveler

    Good summary Brian.

    Can you combine points between your personal accounts (Sapphire) and business accounts (Ink Bold)?

  • thepointsguy

    Yes- instantly and for free

  • dan

    WHICH cards transfer points to the airlines/hotels and which dont?

  • thepointsguy

    Ink Bold With Ultimate Rewards, Inl Plus and Sapphire Preferred transfer to airline/hotel/travel partners

  • Haplo859

    So 2 questions:

    in theory can we get the sign up bonus for all 4 cards?

    If we had all 4 cards then we’d have the ability to earn 5x points on 200K worth of office supply spending?

  • FourN6Doc

    In theory yes, but realistically you would probably only be able to get 2 Ink cards at the same time.

    If you had all 4 cards the 5x points would be on 150k of spend. The Ink Bold and Plus have a 50k limit on the 5x spend categories and the Ink Classic and Cash have 25k limit (50+50+25+25 = 150).

  • Asdfasdfa

    You should change your name to Raymond… so that it would say R Kelly on your rewards screen

  • thepointsguy

    Not a bad idea- especially if they match my account balances to his! (money, not points obviously!)

  • Tom

    This is a great blog – thanks for your great work. Any idea what time the Sapphire Preferred news will break today regarding the changes to that card?

  • thepointsguy

    Nothing major with the card itself or signup bonus as far as I know. Stay tuned!

  • ckey

    I have an ink cash and although it is marketed as earning cash back, the cash back is actually earned in the form of UR points. So not really different from Classic besides the 2x category

  • garkman

    Yeah this is a pretty major oversight on TPG’s part…needs to be fixed

  • thepointsguy

    Being fixed now- thanks for calling out. Didn’t realize it was a UR card

  • ckey

    You weren’t entirely wrong. Until a few months ago (not sure exactly but I think about 6-8) the Ink Cash had a different reward structure, where there was no 5x category, but all the categories now included in 5 and 2x earned 3x. Then, the card didn’t earn UR points. When they introduced the 5-2-1 card they started using UR. I recently upgraded my old one to the new one once I realized what I was missing.

    BTW the first paragraph in the Basic section still mistakenly says “Ink Classic points accrue into Ultimate Rewards vs. cash back only on the Ink Cash card.”

  • PJ

    What is the cap on 5 % rebate for Office Supplies on Cash and Basic Ink cards ?

  • Tahsir Ahsan

    Just applied for this. Called reconsideration line and they asked me a BARRAGE of questions. at least 15-20 questions. I found it kind of odd, but he finally came back and approved me. Pretty crazy. he pulled info from other credit cards and asked what i Use them for in addition to asking why some of the balances were high.

  • Pam 1980

    What are the spending requirements for the classic or cash cards? Thanks, liked this post.
    Is freedom better than either 2 of these since it’s also no annual fee card?

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  • Yaokai Jiang

    Hi, thanks for writing this up!
    I wonder if you can get all three signup bonuses for bold + plus + classic? Thanks!

  • thepointsguy

    Yes it is possible

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  • jocelyn

    can you redeem your points on an ink buisness card for cash or just travel? can you use your points on an ink cash/ classic for either cash and/ or travel? i currently have a freedom which from what i understand i can get cash back or use towards travel correct?

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