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Travel Tuesday Top 10: Benefits of the Ink Bold and Plus Cards

by on May 28, 2013 · 29 comments

in Chase, Top 10

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Update: The offers mentioned below for the Chase Ink credit cards has expired. View the current offers here – Ink Plus, Ink Bold, Ink Cash.  

Believe it or not, I spend a lot of time at dinner parties helping people get their wallets in shape. While people are generally pretty savvy with their personal credit cards, I’m always amazed at how many business owners are completely bungling their points earning strategies. As a small business owner myself, I’ve leveraged business credit cards for years to help me separate finances and also reap valuable rewards.

There are a lot of business card options out there, but the gold standard, in my opinion are the Ink Bold and Plus cards. Apart from offering unparalleled lucrative 5X category spending bonuses at office supply stores and on telecommunications, many other benefits often get overlooked. Beyond the lucrative 50,000 point sign-up bonuses (and waived $95 annual fees for the first year) there are a lot of reasons I keep these cards in my wallet:

1. Transfer partners: Like the Sapphire Preferred, the Ink Bold is one of Chase’s premium travel credit card products and lets you transfer the Ultimate Rewards points you earn to the program’s travel transfer partners including: British Airways, Korean Air, Southwest, United, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, Priority Club and Amtrak. If you have one of the starter cards in Chase’s portfolio like the Freedom or Sapphire, which also accrue Ultimate Rewards points but which cannot be transferred to partners, and if you carry the Ink Bold or Plus (or Sapphire Preferred) you can combine the points from your accounts and then transfer them, so carrying the Ink Bold opens up a lot more travel possibilities. You can learn about my ranking of Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners here.

I love going abroad, but hate paying foreign transaction fees.

I love going abroad, but hate paying foreign transaction fees.

2. No foreign transaction fees: One of my biggest credit card pet peeves is the foreign transaction fee most cards charge on purchases made outside the US. This can range up to 3%, taking a big chunk out of your budget. It shocks me how many credit cards that are specifically geared towards travelers charge foreign transaction fees, but Chase leads the pack with its array of credit cards that waive this pesky pecuniary concern and let you charge away while getting away.

3. Spend Flexibility: The Ink Bold is a charge card, not a credit card, which means there is no set monthly limit, which can give you the spending power you need when you need it the most. However, you must pay it off in full each statement period or incur very high interest and fees. That’s not an issue for me, so I like having the additional spending power in case I need to make a big charge that might otherwise overshadow the credit limit on another card – you know, in case I got carried away at the Prada outlet outside Florence. Note: Chase probably won’t let you buy a private jet, so if you have any extraordinary charges you can call and see if you can either borrow credit from other Chase lines or get an authorization for a big charge.

The Ink Plus is a credit card, meaning you can pay the balance over time, albeit with interest fees. While I pay my bills off every month, sometimes small business cash flow can be crimped (that customer who forgot to send that huge check in the mail before your credit card bill was due), so it’s good to have the option of using a credit card and avoiding the monstrous fees of paying a charge card late.

Added bonus: Since it is a business card, all purchases sit on your business credit line, which means it won’t affect your personal credit utilization (and thus score) since that is the #1 factor of your FICO score.

4. Category spending bonuses: Apart from the 5X bonus on office supply stores and telecommunications, both the Ink Bold and Ink Plus also earn 2 points per $1 at gas stations and for hotel expenses – but only when purchased directly with the hotel. Booking on Orbitz or other outside websites (or travel agents) won’t get you the points. As for gas, Chase only requires that a merchant has a code for those categories – which is less restrictive than Amex’s requirement for the Premier Rewards card’s 2x gas station bonus which requires the gas to be purchased at a standalone gas station – so as long as the merchant at which you purchase the gas is coded as a gas station, you should receive 2x points with the Chase cards.

5. Portal bonuses: When you log into the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal using your Ink Bold or Ink Plus account, you’ll find not only bonuses at various merchants where you can earn multiple points per dollar, but you’ll also earn 2X points per $1 on airfare you purchase through portals like Travelocity and Expedia, bringing their earning potential into line with that of the Sapphire Preferred.

Having this card would allow you to be reimbursed for your damaged or stolen items.

Having this card would allow you to be reimbursed for your damaged or stolen items.

6. Purchase protection: (UPDATE – As of June 2013, Ink cards are now Visa Business Cards and are no longer World MasterCards so these benefits do not apply.) Because the Ink Bold is a World Mastercard, it offers cardholders four point purchase protection including extended warranties and purchase protection of up to $3,000 per claim and $20,000 per 12-month period on gifts, internet purchases, and overseas purchases for up to 90 days from date of purchase. Mastercard will repair, replace or reimburse you for the damaged or stolen item.

7. Cash-back Flexibility: I’ve met many small business owners who simply want to earn cash-back on their spend. The beauty of the Ink Cards is that in addition to being able to transfer your points to incredibly valuable transfer partners, you can also use your points for statement credits at the rate of 1 point = 1 cent. So think about it- the 5 points per dollar you spend on office supplies and telecommunications could actually translate into 5% cash back to your business’ bottom line. To do this, login to Ultimaterewards.com -> Use Points -> Pay Yourself Back. That 50,000 point sign-up bonus = $500 in statement credits.

Use your points for statement credit if that's what your want

Use your points for statement credit if that’s what your want

8. Lounge Club Membership: Ink cardholders get access to The Lounge Club, which is a network of over 300 lounges internationally. Each year you get two free passes and after that it is $27 per visit. This benefit is good for all Ink cardholders, including additional cardholders (which are free to add). There are currently 18 US airports with Lounge Clubs, including 4 at LAX: the T2 Air France Business Class Lounge, Terminal 6 Alaska Airlines Boardroom and Tom Bradley Relax and Skyteam/KAL lounges. You will be mailed an invitation code once you become a new cardmember and link to signup. Check out this post for more details.

US Airports with Lounge Club lounges

US Airports with Lounge Club lounges

9. Jot App for Expense Management: I hate keeping track of business receipts, which becomes problematic with expense reports and correctly keeping track of writeoffs (in other words my accountant hates me). The free Jot app allows you to instantly tag expenses to different projects and even snap pictures so you can exactly reconcile them later. You can manage all of your employee card accounts instantly and while it has some of the same functionality of the general Chase app, it allows you to dig further and get information you need quicker. Overall, it saves time and to me, time is money!

The Jot App allows you to instantly tag purchases so you don't forget what they were.

The Jot App allows you to instantly tag purchases so you don’t forget what they were.

10. Ink Insider Benefits: The Chase Ink team has lined up exclusive benefits with Google, Avis and Expedia for cardholders. You can get $150 in free Google Adwords advertising and access to Google webinars to help build your online business via advertising. The Avis benefit is pretty solid- you get a $15 coupon off of a 3 day rental just for registering and then free AvisFirst, upgrades, GPS discounts and a free rental day after every 7 rentals. Now with all things, you need to comparison shop (rentals using this program may be more expensive than Priceline or other eligible discounts).

Avis benefits for Ink cardholders

Avis benefits for Ink cardholders.

All these are reasons the Ink Bold is integral to my points-earning strategy and why it will be in my wallet for a long time to come.

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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  • Joyce

    Thank you for the post. I currently have an Ink Bold. Is it possible to also get approved for the Ink Plus as well?

  • Joseph

    Yes, Joyce and you would get the bonus and another Lounge Club card offering two free entrances per year.

  • Elaine

    I know that many people in the points and miles community feel snowed by the large number of posts pushing credit cards, posts that offer little new info and sometimes offer less-than-the-best offers. I do not disagree with them. However, I am about to have my husband apply for the Ink Bold card for his tiny consulting business. He gets what I am doing as part of my new hobby but remains both bemused and confused by the steady stream of new cards that show up in his wallet. It goes best when we can apply online and he gets automatically approved. But I anticipate that he’ll need to speak to a recon person at Chase, so I have printed the post with a plan to highlight what he can say to explain why the CSP card we have is not enough. I am aware of all the points you made and know that there is nothing really new here, but for me, it is timely, and that does add some value. Thank you.

  • Elaine

    One more thing – do you know how long it takes to get the passes to the Lounge Club? Is it immediate upon signing up, or do you have to wait for passes to come via snail mail? I am trying to time the app for the Ink Bold so that we have it in time for a trip we’ll be taking between Aug 20- Sept 16, when I expect we’ll make the $5000 minimum spend. It’d be nice to have the lounge passes before we depart. I did check your 2012 post on the pass but found no answer to that question. Thanks again.

  • Jeff Tewlow

    Is this an ad?

  • Sara

    I know there are many ways you might have a business and you don’t know it. I have a business card with Chase for my Etsy shop. My husband is a bit more leery of the business card world. He does have a lot of business expenses that he must submit for reimbursement each month. It would really be helpful to keep them separate and have a dedicated business care. He does not own the business. In your experience is that enough to get a business card issued?

  • lycidas1

    You mention Lounge Club passes are good for additional cardholders too. Does this mean each cardholder gets two passes/year, or that there are only two passes total to be used between all cardholders?

  • Cindy

    My husband and I have both been doing app-a-ramas since January and are both owners of a (the same) LLC. We successfully both applied for Delta Am Ex personal & business cards. Next he successfully applied for the American Citi Business MC and a few months later during one of my churns, I applied for a second American Citi Business MC and was immediately denied because they said that each business could only have one card. We could have multiple authorized users, but we could not have more than one account. Does anyone know if this is standard and if this is the same with Chase? We have both been eyeing the Ink cards and technically given our roles would have a reason to keep expenses separate by account, but I don’t want to risk getting denied again. Thanks in advance.

  • Maximus

    Just got the Ink Classic (same benefits as Ink Bold/Plus, except no annual fee and bonus points are only for the first $25,000). Also, I called Chase and asked them to combine my online personal and business accounts (can’t do it over the web).

  • John V

    My 2 cents: Jot is worthless.

    On a more practical note, there’s another advantage to the Plus over the Bold that you didn’t mention:

    Because the Plus is a credit card, you have the option of converting it a lower level Ink Card that has no annual fee.That’s a nice option to have if you find that you no longer want/need the annual fee or added travel benefits of the Bold/Plus but want to keep the card open for 5X/2X points earning. The Bold is non-convertible. So if you don’t want it, you have to close it.

  • John V

    The classic doesn’t have the transfer partner aspect, does it?

  • thepointsguy

    Each gets two free

  • thepointsguy

    No but if you have another card like sapphire preferred you can transfer to that UR account and then from there to partners

  • thepointsguy

    They send them in the mail- took about a week or so

  • lycidas1

    Aaaaaand I’m adding an AU. Rawk.

  • John V

    Yes. And that only adds to my point that I made above about the Plus being convertible. You can get the Plus, get the bonus and then convert to no fee Ink and keep the benefits of the Plus provided you have the CSP. And you pay one annual fee of $95 instead of two. All the better….

  • Elaine

    Thanks!

  • Elenor

    Did y’all notice in the Avis Corporate Awards Program you get free Avis First membership? A few hoops to jump through: I did NOT find a better price (in fact the ‘corporate’ price was $3 higher!) on a 4-day rental at LAX.

  • Juju

    Is it possible to get the ink bold in a world elite mc?

  • tkl

    I have a sole proprietorship consulting business. In reality, my business expenses are pretty minimal. But I was planning to get an Ink card and transition most of my personal spend to it as well as cancel one of my personal credit cards. Would that hurt my personal credit rating since card issuers would see one personal card go away as well as most of my personal spending?

  • jgrin

    I wanted to get an INK BOLD PLUS card, but just as I was ready to commit I noticed that the only expenses that qualify for the first $5,000 were business expenses. I was going to charge health insurance premiums, a new refrigerator to meet this requirement, but they are not business expenses. I called and this was verified. Do they really check?

  • thepointsguy

    Not in my experience

  • jgrin

    Thanks for you quick reply

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  • Cheryl Liew

    Hi The Points Guy! Is there anyway to apply for one of these Chase Business Cards as an individual – or must I get my company officially to apply on my behalf?

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