One year of earning and burning with the Ink Business Preferred Card

Sep 5, 2019

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The Ink Business Preferred Credit Card quickly became one of the most popular small-business credit cards after its launch in October 2016. The reasons are compelling: a strong sign-up bonus, the ability to earn triple points in many categories, multiple options for redeeming those points and unique benefits such as cellphone protection that aren’t offered by other cards.

Best of all, the annual fee is only $95 — a bargain, particularly when you compare it to the American Express® Business Gold Card, which costs $295 annually (see rates & fees), and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, which charges $595 (see rates & fees).

If you’re reading this and thinking “I’m not a businessman/woman,” think again because you don’t need to have a large corporate structure or a brick-and-mortar store to qualify as a business. If you sell things through online merchants, teach music or sports, or work as a freelancer, you could qualify and should consider looking into a business card.

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)
You don’t have to run a big business to qualify for the Ink Business Preferred Card. (Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

If you’re new to the points game, one of the most important decisions you’ll have to make is choosing which travel rewards credit cards to carry in your wallet. Very few travelers can rack up thousands of points and miles through travel alone, so your everyday spending habits play a critical role in boosting your account balances. If you’re able to take advantage of a business card like the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card you could unlock a whole other world of travel rewards.

In This Post

5 reasons to get the Ink Business Preferred

1. A high sign-up bonus

After you spend $15,000 in the first three months of card membership, you’ll be rewarded with 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points (enough for a round-trip business-class ticket on some airlines). Ultimate Rewards Points are among the most valuable points currencies around and the bonus is worth $2,000, according to TPG’s most recent valuations. In addition, they transfer to 10 airline and three hotel loyalty programs.

You know your spending patterns better than anyone, so you can assess whether the goal of $15,000 in three months is achievable. If you’re just getting started in your business or if your purchases are seasonal, time your application ahead of a period when you know you’ll have major expenditures.

2. Earn bonus points across a variety of categories

Not only are Chase Ultimate Rewards some of the most valuable points out there, but the Ink Business Preferred Card also enables you to accumulate them quickly. You’ll earn 3 points per dollar on the first $150,000 in combined purchases each account anniversary year in these categories:

  • Travel (planes, trains, taxis, hotels and rental cars among other expenses)
  • Shipping
  • Internet, cable and phone
  • Advertising on search engines and social media sites

All other purchases earn 1 point per dollar. The $150,000 threshold is a yearly limit, so your your ability to triple your points will start over each time you pay your annual fee.

(Photo by Luke Stackpoole via Unsplash)
Earn 3 points per dollar on the first $150,000 on travel, including taxis. (Photo by Luke Stackpoole via Unsplash)

3. Plenty of ways to redeem points

This is another area where the Ink Business Preferred Card really shines. Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to 10 airline partners:

When you take alliance partners into account, this gives you an incredibly wide range of airline options. British Airways Avios, for example, give you access to Oneworld alliance partners such as American Airlines, Finnair and Japan Airlines. In addition, your points transfer to three hotel programs:

Points transfer to all partners at a 1:1 ratio, and most transactions are instant. You can also choose to redeem your points for 1.25 cents apiece (or 1.5 cents apiece if you also have the Chase Sapphire Reserve and combine your points with that account) through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. Plus, you’ll accrue frequent-flyer miles on any flight bookings made through Chase, since they’re treated as paid tickets.

4. Cellphone, travel and purchase protection

How many times have you dropped, damaged or misplaced your cellphone? The Ink Business Preferred is one of the few credit cards to offer cellphone protection. You and your employees listed on your phone bill are covered for up to $600 in theft or damages per claim, provided the number is listed on your monthly bill and you pay your bill with your card. There’s a limit of three claims per 12-month period, with a $100 deductible per claim.

Image by Pornchai Jaito / EyeEm / Getty Images
The Ink Business Preferred Card is one of the few to offer cellphone protection. (Image by Pornchai Jaito / EyeEm / Getty Images)

The Ink Business Preferred Card also offers a host of travel benefits:

Primary car rental insurance — If you decline the collision damage waiver at the rental company counter and pay for the rental with your card, you’re covered for physical damage and theft, towing and loss-of-use charges up to the full value of the vehicle. This is primary coverage, which means you don’t need to file a claim with your personal insurance company. Liability (damage to other persons or vehicles) is not covered. Rentals must be for business purposes within the U.S., although personal rentals are covered for international trips.

Trip delay and cancellation insurance — If your trip is canceled because of a covered condition (such as illness or severe weather), you can be compensated up to $5,000 for prepaid expenses such as airfare or hotels. For a delay of 12 hours or more, you can be reimbursed up to $500 for your hotel room, meals and transportation (documentation from the airline is required to verify the flight delay). In both cases, you’ll need to pay with your card and keep receipts.

Baggage insurance — When traveling on a common carrier and charging your fare to the card, each traveler is covered up to $3,000 for the loss of either checked or carry-on baggage, including $500 for items such as jewelry, watches, cameras and electronic equipment. In addition, you’re covered up to $500 for the purchase of essential items if your baggage is delayed for more than six hours.

Travel accident insurance — You and your traveling companions are covered up to $500,000 for accidental death or dismemberment on a common carrier.

The card comes with purchase protection as well. If you buy an item for either personal or business use that is stolen or damaged, you’re covered up to $10,000 per claim with a limit of $50,000 per account. At least some part of the purchase price must be charged to the card. Items not covered include animals and living plants; boats, cars and other motorized vehicles; items purchased for resale; medical equipment; perishables and cosmetics; computer software, and items under the control of a common carrier (such as checked baggage, which is covered elsewhere). This benefit can be extremely important to a small-business owner purchasing office furniture or electronic equipment.

5. Pool your points from other Chase cards

Chase offers three products that are essentially cash-back cards: the Chase Freedom® (No longer open to new applicants), Chase Freedom Unlimited® and Ink Business Cash® Credit Card. However, those cards also earn points that can be transferred to Ultimate Rewards points (provided you have a card that earns Ultimate Rewards points, such as the Ink Business Preferred, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve®). This enables you to enhance the value of other Chase cards in your wallet. The information for the Chase Freedom has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Further Reading: Ink Business Preferred Card Review

Earning and burning

So if you open the Ink Business Preferred, earn the sign-up bonus and use the card exclusively for the first year, where does that leave you? Obviously, the answer depends on your spending patterns, so for this analysis I used consumer-expenditure data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the most recent year available (2017) to estimate what an “average” household would spend (and thus earn) on the card in one year.

I made the following assumptions:

  • Only the “Other lodging” category under “Shelter” can easily be paid with a credit card (since you’ll pay a fee for paying most mortgage and rent payments with credit cards).
  • The “Vehicle purchases” category under “Transportation” can’t be paid with a credit card, but all other transportation expenses can.
  • 50% of the “Healthcare” category consists of premiums via payroll deductions and thus can’t be paid with a credit card.
  • All “Personal insurance and pensions” expenditures can’t be paid with a credit card.
  • All other expenses (including “Entertainment” and “Education”) can be paid with a credit card.

Again, your situation may differ substantially, so feel free to adjust these assumptions in order to calculate your own earning potential.

Here’s a quick table that shows how these spending patterns in the first year of card membership translate to Membership Rewards points:

Category Spending Earning Rate Points
Sign-up bonus N/A N/A 100,000
Food at home $4,363 1 point/$ 4,363
Food away from home $3,365 1 point/$ 3,365
Alcoholic Beverages $558 1 point/$ 558
Housing (other lodging such as homesharing) $782 1 point/$ 782
Phone services $1,431 (2016) 3 points/$ 4,293
Utilities, fuels and public services $3,836 1 point/$ 3,836
Household operations $1,412 1 point/$ 1,412
Housekeeping supplies $755 1 point/$ 755
Household furnishings and equipment $1,987 1 point/$ 1,987
Apparel and services $1,833 1 point/$ 1,833
Transportation (gasoline) $1,968 1 point/$ 1,968
Other vehicle expenses $2,842 1 point/$ 2,842
Public and other transportation $712 3 points/$ 2,136
Healthcare $4,928 1 point/$ 4,928
All other expenses $6,363 (2016) 1 point/$ 6,363
TOTALS $37,135 N/A 121,421

As you can see, the “average” American consumer would earn more than 121,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points in the first year of using the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card.

What does this get you?

Of course, earning points is one thing, but knowing how to redeem them for maximum value is a different story. Fortunately, the Ultimate Rewards program has a variety of valuable redemptions, most of which involve transferring to the program’s partners.

Here’s a sample of what you can get from one year of using the Ink Business Preferred:

1. Up to four round-trip economy tickets to Hawaii

Alaska operates exclusively Boeing aircraft, while Virgin America has a fleet or Airbus A320s.
Using British Airways Avios for Alaska flights to Hawaii is one great redemption option through the Ultimate Rewards program.

Planning a trip using points and miles to the Aloha State isn’t always easy. However, you have a couple of options with the Ultimate Rewards program. My personal favorite is for West Coast residents.

By transferring points to British Airways, you can take advantage of the carrier’s distance-based award chart to book tickets from several gateways to Hawaii for just 25,000 Avios per person, including Los Angeles (LAX) and Phoenix (PHX) on American Airlines or San Diego (SAN), Oakland (OAK), Portland (PDX) and Seattle (SEA) on Alaska Airlines. The year’s worth of points from the Ink Business Preferred would get you four round-trip tickets — and you’d still have more than 16,000 Ultimate Rewards points left over.

For readers on the East Coast, you also have options to redeem this haul of points for up to four tickets to Hawaii by transferring to Flying Blue, the loyalty program of Air France and KLM. Since both carriers are a part of SkyTeam, you can redeem their miles on Delta flights, assuming you can find availability. Flying Blue allows these awards to be booked online, though you’ll need to redeem 30,000 miles for the benefit.

Of course, you could also book just one or two tickets and have money left over to cover your hotel stay through the next option…

2. Up to 23 free nights in Hyatt properties

Park Hyatt Zurich tub
My daughter Evy loved our stay at the Park Hyatt Zurich, which we booked using points transferred from Ultimate Rewards.

Another terrific redemption involves transferring your points to World of Hyatt. The program has very reasonable redemption rates that start at just 5,000 points per night for a Category 1 property, although even top-tier locations like the Park Hyatt Zurich would set you back just 30,000 points for a free night. Here’s a breakdown of how many nights you could get across the program’s property spectrum:

  • Category 1 (5,000 points/night): 23 nights
  • Category 2 (8,000 points/night): 14 nights
  • Category 3 (12,000 points/night): 9 nights
  • Category 4 (15,000 points/night): 7 nights
  • Category 5 (20,000 points/night): 5 nights
  • Category 6 (25,000 points/night): 4 nights
  • Category 7 (30,000 points/night): 3 nights
  • Category 8 (40,000 points/night): 2 nights

I’m particularly intrigued by the option of booking a week-long stay at a Category 4 property like the Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort in Costa Rica with a year’s worth of points from the Ink Business Preferred. A quick search of dates for this spring shows some rates at more than $500 per night, giving you over $3,500 of value. Remember too that this doesn’t even consider the program’s Cash + Points option, so if you’re willing to spend some additional money out of pocket for your stays, you can extend the value of these earnings even further.

3. Round-trip premium-economy award ticket to Europe on United

If you’re looking to get to Europe in an economical fashion, consider redeeming your haul of Ultimate Rewards points for a round-trip premium-economy flight on United. The carrier charges fewer miles for transatlantic flights on its own flights in premium classes compared to those on Star Alliance partners, so you’d need just 92,000 miles for an itinerary like this:

Just note that you’ll be paying $286.83 in taxes and fees for this award flight.

4. Two or three nights in New York City plus airfare From multiple U.S. cities

A final redemption would be a trip that includes both flights and a hotel stay. If you’re looking for an “all-inclusive” trip like this, consider a weekend jaunt to the Big Apple. For flights, one of the most economical options would be for readers east of the Mississippi and would again utilize British Airways. Flights of 1,151 miles or less in distance require just 7,500 Avios each way, so if you can find availability on American, you and your spouse/significant other/friend could fly there and back from cities like Charlotte (CLT), Miami (MIA) and Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) for a total of 30,000 points.

You also could consider transferring to Southwest Rapid Rewards, as the carrier serves both New York-LaGuardia (LGA) and Newark (EWR) (but only until November 2019 at Newark). Even though Southwest follows a revenue-based redemption scheme, you can still get some great value on Wanna Get Away fares. At a very quick glance, I was able to find round-trip tickets from LaGuardia (LGA) to Atlanta (ATL) in the spring for just 9,228 points apiece.

For hotels, you could always look at spending a couple of nights at the Andaz Fifth Avenue or Andaz Wall Street, two of my favorite Hyatt properties. They require just 25,000 points for a free night (a couple of other Hyatt hotels in Manhattan are just 20,000 points per night). However, you also have the option of transferring points to Marriott Bonvoy, which can unlock additional redemptions. While I’d recommend going the Hyatt route, it’s always nice to have alternatives, depending on where you’d like to stay.

Bottom line

See how TPG scored a first-class trip on Korean Air thanks to the Sapphire Reserve's sign-up bonus.
The Ink Business Preferred is very lucrative for premium-cabin redemptions like Korean Air first class.

I’m a huge fan of the Ultimate Rewards program and have gotten a ton of value from my redemptions over the years. The Ink Business Preferred Credit Card is the newest option for earning these points, and by opening and using the card exclusively for just a single year, you’ll unlock a wide variety of valuable rewards.

Note that even though the card is clearly targeted for small-business owners, you may be able to get approved as a sole proprietorship by using your Social Security number. Remember, however, that the card is subject to Chase’s notorious 5/24 rule.

Keep in mind too that the above calculation may be even a bit too conservative:

  • The calculation assumes that you’re spending what an average consumer would. If you typically spend more in a year or have more purchases in different bonus categories, then your earnings will be even higher.
  • The calculation assumes that you don’t make any purchases through an online shopping portal. The Ultimate Rewards shopping portal allows you to earn bonus points at close to 300 online retailers, a nice way to boost your earnings even more.
  • The calculation assumes that you only open one card. There are many others that will earn you bonus Ultimate Rewards points in certain categories, including the two that make up TPG’s trifecta of cards: Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Freedom Unlimited. These cards (and others like them) can be used right alongside the Ink Business Preferred to boost your balances even higher.

Regardless of these last few details, I hope this post has demonstrated just how rewarding a single travel-rewards credit card can be, especially in the first year.

Additional reporting by Liz Hund

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