Revisiting the Chase Ink cards

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For those of you up to date on the Chase Ink cards, this post won’t contain a lot of new information. Sorry for wasting a few seconds of your time. I do get a lot of questions about the Chase Ink cards though, since there are several versions and there have also been quite a few changes to the cards recently, so I figured I’d summarize the current “situation.” Chase has four “Ink” business credit cards, as follows:

The Ink Classic and Ink Cash cards aren’t especially lucrative, so I’ll only mention them briefly and focus primarily on the Ink Plus and Ink Bold cards.

Here’s a quick rundown of the benefits:

Ink Bold® Business Charge Card

The Ink Bold® Business Charge Card offers a 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points sign-up bonus after spending $5,000 on the card within three months. The annual fee on the card is waived for the first year and $95 per year thereafter. It’s worth noting that this card is a charge card, meaning you don’t have a pre-set spending limit and have to pay off your balance in full each month.

Part of what makes this card awesome is that it offers 5x points on the first $50,000 spent annually at office supply stores, and on cellular phone, landline, internet, and cable TV services, and 2x points on the first $50,000 spent annually at gas stations and for hotel accommodations. Points add up really, really quickly that way, and I’ll cover that in a bit more detail below. The card also doesn’t have any foreign transaction fees.

Ink Plus® Business Credit Card

The Ink Plus® Business Credit Card has the same sign-up bonus and points earning structure as the Chase Ink Bold card. The only thing that makes it different is that it’s a credit card instead of a charge card. This simply means the card has a credit limit and the balance can (though shouldn’t) be financed over time. For the credit card aficionado this merely translates to another opportunity to earn a sign-up bonus.

Ink Classic® Business Card

The Chase Ink Classic is the no annual fee version of the above cards, and offers a 20,000 Ultimate Rewards points sign-up bonus after spending $3,000 on the card within three months. Why is there no annual fee? Probably because the sign-up bonus is smaller and you’re not earning the “premium” Ultimate Rewards points which can be transferred to partner loyalty programs. That being said, if you also have a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or other card that accrues “premium” Ultimate Rewards points, you can combine the two balances and transfer all the points to one of the partner loyalty programs.

The other major difference is that the bonus categories are capped at $25,000 of spend per calendar year — that’s probably not a big issue for most, though something to keep in mind. The card also has foreign transaction fees, unlike the Ink Bold and Ink Classic cards.

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

The Chase Ink Cash is similar to the Ink Classic, except offers 2x points at restaurants instead of hotels.

With that summary out of the way, I figured I’d answer some of the questions I get asked most frequently about the cards:

What are the best uses of Ultimate Rewards points?

While Ultimate Rewards has nearly a dozen transfer partners, there are three that are especially valuable — Hyatt, Korean Air, and United.

Having Hyatt as a transfer partner is awesome because their points are among the most valuable hotel currencies out there. 22,000 points gets you a free night at one of their top hotels, including the Park Hyatts in Paris, Sydney, Tokyo, etc., which frequently run $800+ per night. You can also redeem points for suites at only a 50% premium over base rooms, as discussed in this post.

Korean Air is a valuable transfer partner because they have reasonable redemption rates to Asia, and among the most first class transpacific award space for travel on their flights and their partner China Southern’s flights. See this post for more details on that.

United is a great transfer partner because MileagePlus miles are among the most valuable mileage currencies out there. United belongs to the Star Alliance, which is the largest airline alliance, and has among the lowest redemption rates and fees, best change policies, and most generous routing and stopover/open jaw rules.

Since the Ink Bold is a charge card and Ink Plus is a credit card, which is better for your credit score?

As I mentioned above, the Ink Bold is a charge card, which means it has no pre-set spending limit and you have to pay off your balance in full each month. Meanwhile the Ink Plus is a credit card, which means you have a credit line and can (though shouldn’t) finance charges over time.

Roughly 30% of your credit score is made up of your credit utilization, which, as the name suggests, is the percentage of your overall credit that you’re utilizing. A low credit utilization is a good thing, since it means you pose less of a risk to the banks. For example, if you utilize 95% of your credit and apply for a new credit card, the banks will be hesitant to approve you, since they would view you as a high risk customer. Meanwhile if you’re utilizing only 10% of your credit score you’d be seen as a much lower risk client and would be much more likely to be approved.

So if you plan on keeping your credit utilization on the Ink cards fairly low you’re probably best off applying for the Ink Plus, since it will contribute positively towards your overall credit utilization. Meanwhile if you plan on spending a lot on the card and not paying off the balance before the statement closes, you may be best off with the Ink Bold, as charge cards aren’t accounted for in your overall credit utilization.

Can I earn the bonus on multiple Ink cards? How about earn the bonus multiple times for the same card?

Yes, you can apply for each of the cards above and earn the corresponding bonus (though I wouldn’t apply for all at once). And since these are business credit cards, you can actually get one of each card per business, as opposed to per person. So if you have multiple businesses you can apply for the same card under different businesses.

I already have a few Chase cards — what are my chances of being approved for this one as well?

Chase is awesome for a few reasons. One of them is that they’re one of the few banks with reconsideration agents actually empowered to make a decision. If you don’t get instant approval on a card you can call the business reconsideration line at 800-453-9719 and have an agent manually review the application.

Chase doesn’t seem to have a limit to the number of cards anyone can have (at least as far as I know), as there are plenty of people out there with a dozen Chase cards. Instead they’re more concerned with your combined credit limits. I’ve never been denied a Chase card, thanks to the fact that they’re almost always willing to “work with you.” They’ll typically happily shift over some credit line from another card or close an existing account in favor of a new one. That’s why I’ve also never closed a Chase account without having applied for a new one, and swapped the two accounts out through the reconsideration line.

Chase is great about approving the first few cards, and beyond that it’s extremely easy to have them swap out cards in my experience. So are you thinking of canceling a Chase card because the annual fee is coming due or for another reason? Then consider applying for a new Chase card first.

How do I maximize the 5x points bonus on office supply stores, cellular phones, landline, internet, and cable TV?

I think the 5x points you can earn on cell phones, landlines, internet, and cable TV should just about justify the card in and of itself. These are expenses that almost all of us have every month, and they really add up. So being able to earn 5x points in those categories is one of the things that makes this card extremely attractive.

But the office supply stores category is potentially even more rewarding. I won’t get into it in too much detail, but they sell everything from restaurant gift cards to Starbucks gift cards to iTunes gift cards to pre-paid American Express cards. You can shop for more than office supplies there…

Conclusion

I’m a firm believer in a “simple wallet.” By that I mean that I don’t think the average consumer benefits from having a dozen credit cards that they’re paying annual fees on just to marginally maximize the points earning ability for various categories. I think the average consumer is much better off with a total of 3-4 cards at most, and can use them to maximize benefits while minimizing the annual fees.

This card is part of that wallet thanks to the reasonable annual fee, 5x points categories, double points on gas and hotels, and no foreign transaction fees.

Any questions?


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Comments

  1. Neither one impacts your credit score at all because they are business cards – they don’t appear on your personal credit report.

    (Other than the initial inquiry)

  2. Are you referring to the Ink PLUS which Chase Won’t be reporting to the Credit Bureau monthly? It has a CL unlike the Chase Bold.

    Another question- If I want to close an account, would Chase transfer the CL first to my existing Chase Account? Can I do online or do I call Reconsideration dept for this?

  3. I see that club carlson came out with a credit card…no post on sign up bonus/benefits? Seems like it could be quite compelling.

  4. IF you have a separate business and a taxpayer ID number, then yes, this will not effect your personal credit. But if (like many of us) you are applying for this “business” card as a sole proprietorship – and you’re using your SSN as your TIN – then it is indeed tied to your personal credit.

    There – you can both be right. Happy?

  5. @Peetyrd: The Carlson CC offers no affiliate link kickbacks, hence you will not see it mentioned near as often by the bloggers since they make no money off it. They need to save their pushes for cards that actually pay them back so they can buy $2k chairs. 😉

  6. @ Adam K. — If you apply using your SSN as a sole proprietorship I believe it does count towards your credit, no?

    @ traveler — I haven’t had much luck getting them to transfer credit lines to existing accounts, though if you open a new one they’ll usually gladly switch it over.

    @ Peetyrd — That’s coming shortly too, I promise.

    @ Scott — Sorry, what other inaccuracies?

  7. >The Chase Ink Cash is similar to the Ink Classic, except offers 2x points at restaurants instead of gas stations.

    I was excited to see this but I found out it’s incorrect before I applied. It’s 2x on restaurants instead of hotels. I was looking for a non-sapphire card that was 2x on hotels and restaurants. This would have been great since it is also 5x on office.

  8. Just a point of reference… I have two Chase business cards and one Amex business card. All were applied for using my SSN as my tax id for sole proprietorship, and none of those 3 show up on my personal Experian credit report. The credit inquiries have shown up on various credit reports, but as of now, the credit lines and history do not show on my report (nor does my Amex corporate card that my company requires I use on business trips).

  9. The Ink Bold/Office Depot/Vanilla Reloads 5X deal is dead. OD no longer carries VR.

    All the blogs went into great detail when it started but none have warned people it is now dead nor suggested work-arounds.

  10. Adam, Scott, and Matt B are right. Yes, it doesn’t show up on your report, even if you are using your SSN as your tax ID as a sole proprietor. Have you looked at your credit reports recently and noticed different?

    However, I’ll share one way they can affect your credit. I’m currently maxed out on my total credit lines(personal) Chase is willing to extend me. I recently applied for Ink Bold and had to call the reconsideration line. In order to open the Ink Bold (a *Business* Charge Card), they wanted to reduce a credit line on one of my personal cards with them. I did so. This reduces my reported total credit lines and increases my utilization. Both negatives.

  11. If your yearly fee hits you, how long after that can you cancel the card for a full or partial refund or the fee?

  12. Is there a limit to how many cards Chase will approve you for per year? Or a limit to how many they’ll let you have at one time? I’d like to get an Ink card and a Saphhire Preferred, but I also want to do the Southwest Personal & Business cards now to take advantage of the companion pass for 2013 & 2014. I’m not sure what to do first.

  13. Tracy- think it is based on CL not so much the number of cards…I have 6 personal and 2 Biz with Chase.

  14. @Lucky to answer your question, my one business card is as a sole proprietor, via Chase, using my SSN. The initial inquiry is on my credit report but the card is not. I understand from other blogs that this is normal.

  15. @LUCKY; off topic question:
    Any good offers for CHASE that gives me a sign on bonus for Priority Club points?
    I like my Hilton visa card but need to expand and have had too many bad experiences with Starwood Hotels.
    Thank you and I apologize for going off topic

  16. Informative post for planning an application I am going to make in about a week. Thanks! I’m specifically interested in “Two Free Lounge Passes With New Ink Plus/Ink Bold.” Are these 2 passes available with the new Chase Plus/Bold $5,000 minimum spend offers? Some of your links for the 2 free lounge passes from 5-6 months ago mention the passes as part of the signup bonus. However, I don’t see them in the terms on the new Chase application pages. I prefer the Plus card because it is a credit card; however, if the 2 passes aren’t included with the Plus, I would go with the Bold just to get the passes. Help, please.

  17. thank you Lucky;
    I had seen this offer before; it actually seems good with platinum level (for whatever it is worth) for $49 a year.

  18. Is there an activation code provided for LoungeClub with the Ink Bold?

    I don’t remember getting one when I applied.

  19. If I get an INK card, my referral bonus is going to Million Mile Secrets for showing people how valuable they could be!

  20. Thanks for all your information; however I am now officially Totally Confused: in two paragraphs above you say the following two things — which seem directly contradictory. How can you ‘have to pay off your balance in full each month’ AND ‘not pay off the balance before the statement closes’?

    “…the Ink Bold is a charge card, which means it has no pre-set spending limit and you have to pay off your balance in full each month.”

    “Meanwhile if you plan on spending a lot on the card and not paying off the balance before the statement closes, you may be best off with the Ink Bold, as charge cards aren’t accounted for in your overall credit utilization.”

    Is that just a mistake or am I missing something? Thanks!

  21. @ Elenor — The statement close date is different than the payment due date. Typically payments are only due several weeks after the statement closes.

  22. Thanks, Lucky. I’m now doing a happy dance, even though the due date for payment is the 25th April (today’s only the 5th); I just finally (FINALLY! — got my Ink Bold on 9 March) got my first points posted — SIXTY-EIGHT-THOUSAND!!! YIPPEE!!
    (I had saved up a couple of big biz expenses to put on the card; bought some gift cards (thank you Costco! No more tracking debit payments in my checkbook); and switched all my bills over to Ink Bold. Even without quite getting enough onto my new Bluebird in time to pay this month’s mortgage, I still hit minimum spend in the first month (whew!) and now DO have enough on BB for next month’s mortgage!

    I’m watching with a careful eye for some of the biz expenses through the UR Mall to show up with their bonus miles (never enough!) Total newbie, but totally HAPPY newbie!

  23. @ Elenor — Awesome, congrats! Now it’s time to get the Ink Plus for another 50,000 points! 😀

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