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Today TPG Senior Points & Miles Correspondent Jason Steele looks at two popular Ultimate Rewards business cards to see which one offers a better return.
Chase’s line of Ink Business Cards has been very popular over the years. The Ink Plus Business Card routinely makes TPG’s monthly list of top travel rewards cards thanks to its usually generous sign-up bonus and strong bonus spending categories. Meanwhile, the Ink Business Cash Credit Card is a great option if you’re looking for business cards with no annual fee.
The two cards are distinct, but similar enough that I wouldn’t blame anyone for mixing them up. That’s why — in light of the limited time bonus offers that are available for both cards — today I want to compare and contrast Ink Plus and Ink Cash to help readers sort out which one is the better fit.
This card is currently featuring a sign-up bonus of $300 in cash back after you spend $3,000 on the card within the first three months of membership. With Ink Cash, you earn 5% cash back on your first $25,000 spent each year at office supply stores, and on telecommunications services such as cellular phones, landlines, Internet, cable and satellite television. You also earn 2% cash back on your first $25,000 spent each year at gas stations and restaurants, and 1% cash back on all other purchases.
New Ink Cash cardholders receive 0% APR promotional financing on both new purchases and balance transfers for 12 months, with a 3% balance transfer fee. After that, the standard rate of 13.24% (variable) applies to any remaining balance. There’s no annual fee for this card, but there is a 3% foreign transaction fee that is imposed on all charges processed outside of the United States.
This version is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $5,000 on the card within three months of account opening. You’ll earn 5x points on your first $50,000 spent each year at office supply stores, and on telecommunications services (cellular phones, landlines, Internet, cable and satellite television). You also earn 2x points on your first $50,000 spent each year at gas stations and hotels, and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
Ultimate Rewards points redeemed from this card are much more lucrative than the rewards from Ink Cash. At the very low end, points are worth one cent apiece toward gift cards, merchandise and cash back. Additionally, you can use points to book travel directly through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal at a rate of 1.25 cents per point.
However, the best option is to transfer points to travel partners such as United Airlines, Korean Air, Hyatt and Marriott, where you can redeem for free flights and hotel stays. TPG lists Ultimate Rewards at 2.1 cents apiece in his most recent monthly valuations, so earning 5x points per dollar equates to a return of over 10%.
The standard interest rate for this card is 15.24% (variable), which applies to both new purchases and balance transfers. There is a $95 annual fee for this card, but there are no foreign transaction fees.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do I transfer points earned on the Ink Plus card to travel partners (airlines, hotels and Amtrak)? First, log into your Chase account and click on Go To Ultimate Rewards in the top right. From there, select your Chase Ink Plus account, which will take to you to the Ultimate Rewards portal, where you can then choose to Transfer Points or Transfer To Travel Partners under Use Points.
Next, you’ll be shown a list of six airlines, four hotel programs and Amtrak Guest Rewards. Choose the program you want, and you’ll be prompted for the name of the person holding the account at the travel partner, which can be you, your spouse or domestic partner.
Next, you’ll be asked to select the number of points to transfer (in increments of 1,000). Finally, you’ll confirm the transfer, which is nearly instantaneous and irreversible.
2. Can I have more than one Ink card? Yes, you can simultaneously hold both the Ink Plus and Ink Cash, as well as previously offered Ink cards that no longer accept new applicants (including Ink Bold and Ink Classic). You can also have separate card accounts for each business you own.
3. Can I apply for these cards if I don’t own a business? Technically no, but there are many types of businesses that qualify, including sole proprietorships. Furthermore, size doesn’t matter, as many small business owners start by opening a business credit card before their company begins generating much revenue or profit. So even if you make some money walking dogs or selling stuff on Ebay, then you are a small business owner and can apply for these cards using your Social Security number if you don’t have an Employer ID (EIN).
4. How do I use Ink Cash rewards? You can redeem rewards from your Ink Cash card via the Chase Ultimate Rewards website. You can receive cash back as a direct deposit to your bank account, or as a statement credit to your credit card account. In addition, points are worth one cent apiece toward gift cards, merchandise, travel reservations and even shopping at Amazon.com.
5. What’s the best way to use Ultimate Rewards points? If you have a Chase Ink Plus card, the best value can nearly always be found by transferring points to travel partners. When redeemed for last-minute airline travel or tickets in a premium cabin, it’s often possible to get 3-5 cents in value per point. In addition, points transferred to hotel programs can be very valuable, and I’ve found tremendous value in Amtrak awards for sleeper accommodations. For more ideas, check out TPG contributor Richard Kerr’s recent post on how to get the most value from your Ultimate Rewards points.
Who Should Get the Ink Cash Card?
This card is ideal for someone who’s just getting their feet wet with business credit cards, and wants to focus on cash back over travel rewards. 5% cash back on office supplies and telecommunications expenses can have a big impact on your bottom line, and 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations is valuable as well.
The big benefit this card has over Ink Plus is that there’s no annual fee, and it offers 0% APR promotional financing on both new purchases and balance transfers for 12 months, with a 3% balance transfer fee. Even its standard interest rate is slightly lower than that of Ink Plus. Since it does have a 3% foreign transaction fee, a card like this also makes sense for those who don’t anticipate doing business outside of the US, or those who have a different card with no foreign transaction fees.
Who Should Get the Ink Plus Card?
As one of the premier business cards for earning travel rewards, Ink Plus is an essential addition to the wallet of any serious collector of points and miles. It offers the rare opportunity to earn 5x transferable points on common business expenses, and a nice chance to earn 2x points at gas and hotels. By leveraging the strengths of the Ultimate Rewards program, cardholders can stave off some of the effects of devaluation, as they can wait until the last moment to decide which partner program offers the best value for a given award redemption.
At a time where an increasing number of Americans own a business of some sort (often in addition to their day job), business rewards cards create a new avenue for maximizing spending. Ink Plus and Ink Cash are both solid products, and with the current sign-up bonuses, now is a good time to get either one (or both). If you have other questions about these cards or Ultimate Rewards, please fire away in the comments below!
Which of these two cards works best for you?