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Chase has an impressive assortment of consumer travel rewards credit cards that include the Chase Freedom Unlimited, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve. On the business front, Chase also offers a solid value proposition with the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card.
While there are many small business credit cards out there, this one has a unique set of perks that may make it a great option for business owners looking to maximize their earning potential and unlock valuable rewards through the Ultimate Rewards program. Moreover, it comes with one of the highest sign-up bonuses we’ve seen from Chase or any business credit card.
Who Is This Card For?
This card is clearly geared specifically toward those with small businesses and the varied expenses that typically come along with operating them. While it’s possible to apply (and get approved) for a card like the Ink Business Preferred without a formal business, the earning rates and added perks I’ll cover below are most appealing to those with an actual company.
Because this card is subject to Chase’s infamous 5/24 rule, it’s a great option for those business owners who are just getting started in the rewards card hobby. Anyone who has opened five or more credit cards across all banks over the last two years will almost certainly be denied. So, you’ll need to be under 5/24 at the time you apply in order to have a shot at being accepted. As a result, this card (or another Chase product) should be among the first ones for which you apply. Fortunately, the card will not add to your 5/24 score.
Finally, this card is a great option for those who regularly run into problems with their cellphone, as the Ink Business Preferred provides cellphone protection when you pay your monthly bill with the card.
If you’re approved for the card, you’ll be eligible to earn a sign-up bonus of 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. This haul is worth a whopping $1,600 based on TPG’s most recent valuations, mainly due to the fact that the points can be transferred to an array of travel partners like Hyatt, Iberia, Marriott and IHG.
The spending threshold required to earn the sign-up bonus ($5,000) is a bit higher than most other cards with a low ($95) annual fee, as you’ll need to spend an average of more than $1,600 per month in the first three months to ensure you get the points. Then again, many businesses could spend that in a few days, so your individual situation may make this a non-issue. Additionally, small businesses with multiple employees can request unlimited free employee cards so they can help hit the requirement.
When it comes to earning points, the Ink Business Preferred offers a variety of bonus categories that can be quite lucrative to small business owners. You’ll earn 3 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases in the following categories:
- Travel, including airfare, hotels, rental cards, train tickets and taxis
- Shipping purchases
- Internet, cable and phone services
- Advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines
This $150,000 threshold is based on your account anniversary year, so it’ll reset each year when you renew your card. Since TPG’s most recent valuations peg the value of Chase Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents apiece, you’ll get a fantastic return of 6% on purchases in these categories. And, if you max out these categories by spending the full $150,000, you’ll take home a total of 450,000 Ultimate Rewards points, which TPG values at $9,000.
Once you’ve surpassed that mark, the purchases you make in the aforementioned categories will drop down to match the earning rate of all other purchases: 1 point per dollar spent. Though that’s not too exciting, you’re still looking at a 2% return, which isn’t bad for a card with a $95 annual fee.
Earning a big haul of points is one thing; redeeming them for maximum value is an entirely different story. Fortunately, the Ultimate Rewards program is filled with valuable options thanks to its 13 transfer partners. This includes 10 airline programs:
- Aer Lingus AerClub
- British Airways Executive Club
- Emirates Skywards (as of August 2019)
- Flying Blue (Air France-KLM)
- Iberia Plus
- JetBlue TrueBlue
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
- United MileagePlus
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
And three hotel programs:
In addition, most of these transfers post instantaneously, ensuring that you aren’t stuck waiting for the points or miles to arrive and wind up missing out on the redemption you wanted.
I’m particularly partial to a few of the programs. World of Hyatt is one of my favorites, as I’ve transferred Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt and then redeemed at fantastic hotels like the Park Hyatt Zurich and Park Hyatt Mallorca. I’m also a big fan of the British Airways Executive Club thanks to the program’s distance-based award chart. I’ve redeemed Avios on short-haul American Airlines flights and (in some cases) received 5+ cents per point of value — although expected devaluations may soon make this type of redemption less lucrative.
Regardless of which partner you choose, the power of the Ultimate Rewards program (and really any transferable point currency) is the flexibility it allows. You aren’t locked into a single airline or hotel, and you can wait until you’re ready to book to commit to one. In some cases, you can even pit programs against one another. Why transfer 45,000 Ultimate Rewards points (or more) to United for a round-trip flight from the US to Hawaii when the same flight would be just 35,000 miles booked through Singapore KrisFlyer?
Of course, you also have the option of redeeming these points at a fixed rate of 1.25 cents apiece for travel purchases like flights, hotels and rental cars that you book through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. Or, if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you could transfer your points to that card and redeem your points at a fixed rate of 1.5 cents apiece toward travel. Even though these options are less than TPG’s 2-cent valuation of Ultimate Rewards points, they’re also very simple and don’t require much effort to utilize. Remember, too, that when you redeem Ultimate Rewards points directly for airfare, you should earn full miles and elite credit, just as you would on a regular paid ticket.
While the earning rates and redemption options alone make this an intriguing card, you’ll also be able to utilize a number of added perks that make it even more valuable for cardholders. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the benefits:
Cellphone protection: As mentioned above, if you’re prone to damaging your cellphone, the Ink Business Preferred could be a great option. When you charge your monthly cellphone bill to the card, you and eligible employees on the plan receive up to $600 per claim for damage or theft of cellphones. You’re limited to three claims in a 12-month period and must pay a $100 deductible per claim. Nevertheless, this is a terrific benefit that is rare among credit cards.
Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance: If you must cancel or cut a trip short due to a covered issue (like illness or severe weather), you’re eligible for up to $5,000 of coverage for prepaid, nonrefundable travel expenses, which offers great peace of mind when unexpected problems arise.
Trip delay reimbursement: If a covered trip is delayed by a covered hazard for 12 or more hours — or long enough to require an overnight stay — you’ll be eligible for reimbursement of up to $500 per ticket in reasonable expenses. This can really save you in situations like poor weather where the airline generally won’t provide any compensation. Note that you only need to charge part of your common carrier fare to the card to use this benefit, so you’ll be covered on award tickets if you put the taxes and fees on the card.
Primary car rental coverage: Renting a car can be a risky (and expensive) proposition, but if you use the Ink Business Preferred card for the entire rental cost and are traveling for business purposes, you’re covered for theft and damage in the US and in most countries around the world. Bear in mind that this doesn’t offer any liability coverage, but you are covered up to the actual cash value of the vehicle you’re renting.
Purchase protection: In addition to the cellphone protection, you’re also covered for other purchases. If an eligible item is damaged or stolen within the first 120 days after purchase, you’re covered up to $10,000 per claim ($50,000 per account). While I’ve fortunately never had to use this type of perk, it can be a lifesaver if something goes wrong with that brand-new purchase.
Extended warranty protection: Purchases that have a US manufacturer’s warranty of three years or less will get coverage for an extra year. This can be extremely helpful when an item stops working shortly past the scheduled end of its warranty.
Which Cards Compete With Ink Business Preferred?
When it comes to competition, this particular segment of the travel rewards credit card market is a bit narrow. When you consider the overall value proposition of the Ink Business Preferred, there’s really only one true competitor: the American Express® Business Gold Card. Here’s an overview of how the two compare:
|Card Feature||Ink Business Preferred Credit Card||American Express Business® Gold Card|
|Annual Fee||$95||$295 (see rates and fees)|
|Welcome Bonus||80,000 Ultimate Rewards points (worth $1,600) after you spend $5,000 in the first three months||Up to $500 back in the form of statement credits by purchasing qualifying services with FedEx using your Card within the first 3 months of Card membership, (Offer ends 11/06/2019)|
|Earning Rates||3x points on up to $150,000 in combined travel, shipping, telecom and advertising purchases; 1x point everywhere else||4x points on the two select categories where your business spends the most each billing cycle from this list: airfare purchased from airlines, US purchases for advertising in select media, US purchases made directly from select technology providers, US purchases at gas stations, US purchases at restaurants and US purchases for shipping*|
|Additional Perks||Cellphone protection; primary car rental coverage; various shopping and travel protections||25% Pay With Points bonus, roadside assistance (four free calls per year)|
* 4x is on the first $150,000 in combined purchases each year (then 1x).
The annual fee on the Ink Business Preferred is significantly lower, and the card offers a higher points-based welcome bonus than the Business Gold. The Business Gold offers flexible 4x categories that can get you a return of 8%, compared to a return of 6% on the Ink Business Preferred’s 3x categories, but you’ll only earn 4x on two categories.
There’s some overlap when it comes to the categories themselves: Both offer bonus rewards for shipping purchases, airfare and advertising, but the Ink Business Preferred has a wider travel category and offers bonus points on telecom purchases, while the Business Gold offers bonus points for spending at restaurants and gas stations in the US. With the Business Gold, maxing out the 4x bonus categories would get you 600,000 points in a year, worth $12,000, while maxing out the Preferred’s 3x bonus categories would get you 450,000 points in a year, worth $9,000.
Also keep in mind that the two cards earn different types of transferable points. As noted above, you’ll earn Ultimate Rewards points on the Ink Business Preferred, and those can then be transferred to the 13 aforementioned travel partners or redeemed directly for travel through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal at 1.25 cents apiece. On the other hand, you’ll take home Membership Rewards points on the Business Gold Card. This program has 21 travel transfer partners, including options like Air Canada’s Aeroplan and Delta SkyMiles. Be sure to consider which program works best for you when choosing between the two cards.
The Ink Business Preferred Credit Card is easily one of the best all-around cards available for small businesses and freelancers. The sign-up bonus is among the highest we’ve seen from Chase, and if you have significant spending across the four bonus categories (travel, shipping, advertising and telecommunication providers), you’ll take home a bunch of extra Ultimate Rewards points. Finally, you and your employees will enjoy various travel protections, shopping protections and will also have primary coverage when renting a car for business purposes.
That being said, the card’s main competitor (the Amex Business Gold Card) has some solid benefits as well, so be sure to keep that in mind if you’re a small business owner comparing the two. Remember that the Ink Business Preferred is subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule, so if you’ve opened more than four cards over the last two years, your application will likely be automatically rejected. However, if you’re just getting started, I’d highly recommend starting with this card, especially if you can pair it with other cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Freedom Unlimited to complete TPG’s powerful Chase trifecta or quartet.
Official application link: Ink Business Preferred Credit Card with up to a 80,000-point bonus.
Additional reporting by Benji Stawski.
For rates and fees of the Amex Business Gold Card, please click here.
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WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION: $1,600
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3 points per dollar on the first $150,000 in combined spending on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services, and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year
- Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases–with no limit to the amount you can earn
- Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Redeem points for travel, cash back, gift cards and more – your points don't expire as long as your account is open
- No foreign transaction fees
- Employee cards at no additional cost
- $95 Annual Fee