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Since they launched, the family of Chase Ink cards for small businesses, including the Ink Plus and Ink Bold as well as the Ink Cash and Ink Classic, have been World MasterCards, but over the past few days, several readers have written in and commented on posts that when they recently applied for the cards, both were now Visa Signature products. I reached out to Chase to find out what was going on, and was informed that all the Ink cards will now be Visa Signatures. If, like me, you have either or both of these cards, they will still be World MasterCards – you won’t be getting a new card in the mail to replace your existing one – but when your current card expires, it will be switched over to Visa Signature.
So what does that actually mean? The truth is, not a huge amount for most cardholders. Many of the World MasterCard travel benefits such as travel accident insurance, car rental insurance and purchase protection are comparable to those offered by Visa Signature. World MasterCard does offer some other unique benefits, though, including:
MasterCard Easy Savings Program is a program for cardholders of MasterCards for small businesses that offers discounts, rebates and cash back when using your card at specific merchants. Current cash back deals include 5% at Avis and Budget, 10% from Monster.com, and 1% cash back at 19,000 gas stations across the US.
World Experiences and Offers at Fairmont, Mandarin Oriental and Relais & Chateaux properties, kind of like Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts. When you use the card to pay for your stay at participating hotels, you get special value-added perks. At Fairmont hotels, you receive a room upgrade to best available and late checkout (2pm) for free – though blackout dates do apply. At Mandarin Oriental properties, you receive complimentary breakfast, priority check-in and VIP status, which may include some kind of in-room amenity. At Relais & Châteaux hotels worldwide, you’ll receive the fourth night free or a bottle of champagne after a three-night stay.
Priceless New York is a perks program that with exclusive deals and offers in New York City that they email to customers, like access to exclusive concerts, or shopping perks like free delivery from FAO Schwartz and a $50 restaurant gift card for the Shops at Columbus Circle. The most recent addition to this program is the new Citi Bike NYC initiative where World MasterCardholders can explore New York by bike with a free 24-hour pass.
To see the full list of World MasterCard benefits check out the benefits page here.
Not to worry, though. In addition to comparable travel and purchase protections, Visa Signature cards come with a host of benefits themselves that rival those of World MasterCard including:
Visa SavingsEdge program for small businesses, which offers cardholders discounts and cash back when using their card at certain merchants including 5% cash back at hotels like La Quinta, Ramada and Days Inn, 4% cash back when renting from National and Alamo, 1% cash back on gas purchases at Texaco and Chevron, and 5% cash back on some business purchases like Microsoft365 and Lenovo products among others.
Visa Signature Hotels gives cardholders who book through the program and pay using an eligible Visa Signature card extra perks such as discounted room rates, room upgrades, free breakfast, early check-in and late check-out, dining and spa credits and more – and all these perks add up. That room upgrade can easily be worth hundreds of dollars alone, while free breakfast can be worth around $25-50. Parking can be up to about $50 a day in major cities, while WiFi can be $15. Throw in some food or spa certificates, and even if you’re paying above the most reduced, non-refundable rate you can find, you’re still coming out way ahead in terms of value.
Sonoma Wineries: The Sonoma County Vintners Association wineries have partnered with Visa Signature to offer cardholders a bunch of great perks to enhance the visiting and tasting experience up in California wine country including complimentary wine-tastings (usually two per cardholder), special reserve tastings and food pairings, and discounts on same-day wine and merchandise purchases. When you take a full day of tastings and purchases into account, you could really be saving some money here. Here is the full list of participating wineries.
Check out this post on the Top 10 Visa Signature Cardholder Benefits.
Great Card Perks Will Stay the Same
5X Spending Categories: Both the Ink Bold and the Ink Plus earn 5 points per dollar at office supply stores, as well as 5 points per dollar for cellular phone, landline, internet, and cable TV services excluding equipment purchases. The bonus is earned on expenditures up to a total of $50,000 per card year (250,000 Ultimate Rewards points) on the Ink Plus and Ink Bold, and $25,000 max per year on the Ink Classic and Ink Cash.
2X Spending Categories: All the Ink cards 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.
Portal Bonus Opportunities: When you log into the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal using one of these two Ink cards, you will also earn 2 points per $1 you spend on airfare and hotels, not to mention multiple points per dollar on tons of other online merchants when you shop online.
Transfer Partners: Because the Ink Plus and Ink Bold are two of Chase’s premium Ultimate Rewards cards, you can transfer the points you earn with them at a 1:1 ratio to any of the program’s 10 travel partners: British Airways, Korean Air, Southwest, United, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, IHG Rewards, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton and Amtrak. Check out this post for Ways to Maximize Each Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partner.
Overall, the Ink Plus is the credit card I spend the most on thanks to its valuable earning structure, great travel partners and other benefits. Though mine is currently a World MasterCard, when I get the new Visa Signature version, I’m still going to put most of my spending on it and take advantage of Visa Signature’s value-added benefits instead.
For more information on the Ink Plus and Ink Bold, check out these posts:
Maximizing the Chase Ink Office Store Category Spending Bonuses
A Detailed Look at Ink Benefits You Might Not Know About
Ranking the Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners
Top 10 Ways To Maximize Each Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partner
Why I Love Chase Ultimate Rewards
Ranking the Top Chase Travel Credit Card Offers
If you don’t currently have a MasterCard they come with a bunch of benefits, which I’ll highlight in a different post. In my opinion, the top 3 MasterCard sign-up bonuses are:
Barclaycard Arrival: 40,000 points after $1,000 spent within 3 months. $89 annual fee, waived the first year.
Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage World Mastercard: 50,000 miles after $3,000 in 3 months.
Chase United Explorer card: 50,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 in 3 months when you sign up for this card in a Chase branch or if you are targeted on United.com or 30,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months. $95 annual fee waived for the first year on both offers.
I’m interested to hear about your experiences – in the past, have you been able to get the sign-up bonus again for a card when it switched networks?