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The new Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card is clearly modeled after the similarly named personal credit card, the Chase Freedom Unlimited. But there are some subtle — and some not-so-subtle — differences between the two Chase credit cards.
The biggest (and most obvious) difference is that Business Unlimited is designed for small business owners, while Freedom Unlimited is a personal credit card. If you don’t own a business or don’t engage in some side work that might qualify, you won’t be eligible to apply for the Ink card. That may not be a huge deal, as both cards offer the same simple rewards structure and identical redemption options, including the opportunity to transfer points to one of the Ultimate Rewards transfer-enabled cards in Chase’s lineup. You’ll also pay no annual fee with either card.
That’s not to say there aren’t important differences beyond who qualifies. The two cards offer different welcome bonuses, introductory APRs and assorted perks, all of which you should consider before making a choice. And only the Business Unlimited card will help you build your business credit. You may also decide there’s no choice to be made, as owning both cards could help you keep business expenses separate from personal expenses, just as long as applying for both doesn’t push you up against Chase’s 5/24 rule.
Before we break down individual aspects of both cards, let’s compare the various features, fees and benefits offered by each.
Main Benefits and Features
|Earning Rates||1.5% cash back per $1 spent on every purchase||1.5% cash back per $1 spent on every purchase|
|Sign-Up Bonus||$500 after you spend $3,000 in the first three months||$150 after you spend $500 in the first three months; $25 after you add an authorized user and that user makes a purchase in the first three months|
|Redemption Options||Cash back can be converted to Ultimate Rewards points to be used on travel if account holder has a card in the UR family||Cash back can be converted to Ultimate Rewards points to be used on travel if account holder has a card in the UR family|
|Additional Cards||Free for employees; individual spending limits allowed||Free for authorized users|
|Foreign Transaction Fees||3%||3%|
|Rental Car Insurance||Primary||Secondary|
|Purchase Protection||Up to $10,000 per claim and up to $50,000 per account||Up to $500 per claim and up to $50,000 per account|
|Extended Warranty||Extends manufacturer’s warranty by an additional year||Extends manufacturer’s warranty by an additional year|
|Trip Cancellation/Interruption||None||$1,500 per covered person up to $6,000 per trip (as of August 26, 2018)|
For points and miles collectors, the most important feature of both of these cards is the ability to convert cash back into Ultimate Rewards points if you also have a card such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card. In this aspect, Business Unlimited and Freedom Unlimited are identical.
Because you can transfer your rewards to a Chase credit card that earns Ultimate Rewards, the value is potentially greater than 1.5% cash back. TPG currently values UR points at 2.1 cents each, meaning you could see a return of 3.15% for every dollar spent when you transfer your points at a 1:1 ratio to partners like United, Aer Lingus and Hyatt.
Even if you convert your cash back to Ultimate Rewards points and then book travel through the Chase travel portal, you’ll redeem at a higher value than with cash back. Travel booked through the portal with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card can be redeemed at a rate of 1.25 cents per point, or 1.5 cents per point with the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
So, redemption values aren’t going to nudge you one way or another. But let’s look at some of the other key differences that might…
The Ink Business Unlimited card carries a much more lucrative sign-up bonus than does the Chase Freedom Unlimited. With the Business Unlimited, you’ll earn a $500 bonus after you make $3,000 in purchases within the first three months after account opening. That cash back can then become 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points that you can transfer to another card. Based on TPG’s valuations, those points are valued at $1,050.
With the Freedom Unlimited, you’ll earn a welcome bonus of $150 after spending $500 in the first three months. There’s also an additional $25 bonus available if you add an authorized user and have them make a purchase within the first three months. When you earn both and convert them to UR points, your total sign-up bonus is worth $367.50 based on TPG’s valuations. Therefore, the difference between the two total sign-up bonuses is $682.50 — not an insignificant amount.
Choosing between APRs on these two cards is only a difference maker if you need to carry a balance. We don’t normally recommend this, but utilizing a 0% APR introductory offer on purchases and balance transfers could be an important part of funding your business’ startup costs.
With the Business Unlimited, you’ll receive an introductory 0% APR for 12 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers. After that you’ll pay a 14.99% to 20.99% variable APR. If you make a transfer, you’ll also have to pay a fee of 5% of the transfer amount or $5, whichever is more.
The Freedom Unlimited has an introductory 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months from account opening. After the introductory period, you’ll pay a variable APR of 16.74% to 25.49%. Balance transfers also incur a fee of 5% of the transfer amount or $5, whichever is more.
Chase has confirmed a number of upcoming price and return protection changes across many of its cards, most of which reduce or eliminate those benefits. But the issuer has also announced several important travel coverage changes that are coming to Freedom Unlimited. Beginning August 26, 2018, in addition to discontinuing the Lost Luggage Reimbursement and Travel Accident Insurance benefits, the Trip Interruption and Cancellation coverage caps will be reduced to $1,500 for each covered person per trip, up to a maximum of $6,000 for all covered people traveling together on the same trip. This is dropping from the current limits of $5,000 per person with a maximum of $10,000 per trip.
Meanwhile, Ink Business Unlimited offers one benefit that Freedom Unlimited can’t match: primary rental car coverage when you’re renting for business purposes. Many credit cards — including Freedom Unlimited — offer what’s called secondary coverage, meaning the coverage only applies after your own personal car insurance has been drawn upon first. Primary coverage takes your personal coverage out of the equation and protects you from deductibles or losses above a certain threshold. With its primary rental car coverage, Ink Business Unlimited allows you to decline the rental car company’s collision insurance and be covered by the card up to the cash value of the vehicle in the case of theft or collision damage.
Both cards offer purchase protection, which is coverage for up to 120 days against damage or theft of your recent purchases. The Business Unlimited has a higher benefit at up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account, while coverage caps at $500 per claim on the Freedom Unlimited.
Both the Ink Business Unlimited and the Chase Freedom Unlimited are valuable parts of the Chase credit card lineup. Because their redemption value can be far greater than 1.5% or 1.5x, they both fill in spending gaps that cards with bonus categories can’t touch. The difference in the sign-up bonus may be enough to push you toward the Business Unlimited card, especially if you know you’ll have no problem getting over the hurdle of proving you’re a business owner. But if you’re choosing between the two, examine your own needs to help make a sound decision.
Brand New Small Business Card! Earn $500 after $3,000 spent within the first three months. That's equivalent to 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points if you have another rewards earning card like the Ink Business Preferred, Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve. Similar to the Freedom Unlimited, this card earns unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases and has no annual fee - a no-brainer for small business owners!
- Earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
- Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase made for your business
- 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers
- Employee cards at no additional cost
- No Annual Fee