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Chase has continually upped the ante in the high-stakes travel rewards credit card game in the last few years. First came the Chase Freedom Unlimited, followed by the furor of the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Another card with a solid value proposition from Chase launched soon after: 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.
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 said businesses. 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.
In addition, because this card is subject to Chase’s infamous 5/24 rule, it’s also a great option for those business owners who are just getting started in the hobby. Anyone who has opened 5 or more credit cards over the last two years will almost certainly be denied. As a result, this card (or another Chase product) should be among the first ones for which you apply.
Finally, this card is a great option for those who regularly run into problems with breaking or losing cellphones, as the Ink Business Preferred is one of the few cards out there with cellphone protection.
If you’re approved for the card, you’re 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 and United.
Unfortunately, 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 over $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 situations may make this a nonissue.
When it comes to earning points, the Ink Business Preferred offers 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. If you max out these categories by spending the full $150,000, you’ll take home a total of 450,000 Ultimate Rewards points at a value of $9,000, a fantastic return of 6%.
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 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 nine airline programs:
- Aer Lingus AerClub
- British Airways Executive Club
- Flying Blue (Air France-KLM)
- Iberia Plus
- JetBlue TrueBlue
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
- United MileagePlus
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
And four 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.
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 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?
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. Even though this is less than TPG’s valuation of Ultimate Rewards points, it’s also very simple and doesn’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:
Cellphone protection: As mentioned above, if you’re prone to dropping your cellphone or accidentally leaving it behind somewhere, 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. This isn’t carte blanche to go scuba diving with your phone; 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, offering great peace of mind when unexpected problems arise.
Primary car rental coverage: Renting a car can be a risky (and expensive) proposition, but if you use the Ink Business Preferred card and are traveling for business purposes, you’re covered for theft and damage in the US and in most countries around the world. This means you won’t need to submit a claim to your own insurance company, preventing your rates from jumping. 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 when something goes wrong with that brand-new purchase.
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, formerly the Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN. Here’s an overview of how the two compare:
|Card Feature||Ink Business Preferred Credit Card||American Express Business® Gold Card|
|Welcome Bonus||80,000 Ultimate Rewards points (worth $1,600)||Up to 1 year free of both G Suite Basic for up to 3 users and ZipRecruiter Standard|
|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||25% Pay With Points bonus, roadside assistance (four free calls per year)|
* 4x is on the first $150,000 in combined purchases each year.
The annual fee on the Ink Business Preferred is significantly lower, and unlike the Business Gold it offers a points-based welcome bonus. If you don’t need G Suite or ZipRecruiter, you won’t get much out of the latter card’s sign-up offer, but its flexible 4x categories get you a return of 8%, compared to a return of 6% on the Ink Business Preferred’s 3x categories. Plus, you’ll earn 4x where you spend the most, from a list of six categories, so you have some extra flexibility.
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. 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 150,000 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 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 unique 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 made a big splash when it launched, and for good reason. 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 protection on cellphone theft or damage 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. In addition, the Ink Business Preferred is subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule, so if you’ve applied for several cards over the last two years, your application may 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.
The Points Guy Appraisal:
The Ink Business Preferred Credit Card launched in October 2016 and it quickly became one of the most popular business credit cards on the market. It has a strong sign up bonus, triple point categories and unique perks. This card earns a respectable 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