Strategies for applying for the Chase Ink cards

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Reader Rich asked the following on the “Ask Lucky” page of the blog:

Does Chase handle business cards/reconsideration the same as they do with consumer cards? I currently have the Ink Bold and would like to get the Ink Plus.

Based on past experience with Chase non-business cards usually I have to call and move around some credit limits, should I expect to do the same with the business cards?

I only have 2 business cards (Ink bold and one Citi card) and do have a legitimate business.

I get a lot of questions similar to this, so I’ll address it in general terms here so I can refer people to it in the future.

The sign-up offer

In my opinion the Ink Bold and Ink Plus cards offer the single best consistent sign-up bonus in the industry at the moment, with 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $5,000 on the card within three months. While the annual fee on the card is $95, it’s waived for the first year. The cards are also extremely rewarding for everyday spend given that they offer 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 on hotels. That translates to some amazing bonuses on everyday spend, especially given how many purchases can be made at office supply stores with a bit of creativity. Best of all you can actually have both cards, and earn the sign-up bonus on both of them as well.

There are also no foreign transaction fees, and since the card accrues Ultimate Rewards points, they can be combined with those points earned through the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Freedom®. Given the sign-up bonuses and bonuses  on everyday spend offered by these cards, I find Ultimate Rewards points to be one of the easiest currencies to rack up, not to mention one of the most valuable.

The Chase “country club”

Chase reminds me a bit of a country club. I find they’re the issuer where it’s toughest to initially be approved for a card, as they have pretty high standards for issuing credit. However, once you have your first card (and are in the “country club” so to speak), it’s not tough to get additional approvals.

They’ll almost always let you swap out cards once you have your first card, or reallocate credit. Basically if you have four cards and apply for a fifth and don’t automatically get approved, the reconsideration line will usually be willing to either close an existing card in favor of the new card, or typically at worst reallocate some of your credit lines (meaning they might take $5,000 of credit line from another card and apply it to your new account). The fact that the reconsideration line is staffed by intelligent people in a position to make decisions really makes me love Chase.

But how does the business approval process work?

Business credit cards are a different beast… sort of. You can’t generally transfer a credit line from a personal card to a business card, since they’re different types of accounts. But that’s also good news because even if you have “maxed out” your personal credit with Chase, they may still be willing to issue some business credit.

Though there’s one more complication, at least in theory. Like most other cards the Ink Plus is a credit card, meaning you have a credit line and can (though shouldn’t) finance charges over time. The Ink Bold, on the other hand, is a charge card, meaning it doesn’t have a pre-set credit limit and the balance on the card has to be paid off in full each month. So even if it were a personal card where a credit line could be transferred, you couldn’t do that because there’s nothing to be transferred — the card doesn’t have a credit line!

Fortunately it’s not that tough

While there are some complications in theory, I’ve found they’re actually quite flexible. So while technically you can’t transfer credit lines between personal and business cards, I’ve actually found them to be more flexible than you’d think.

For example, I got easily approved for the Ink Plus card without having to switch around any credit.

However, when I applied for the Ink Bold card they didn’t automatically approve it, so I called the reconsideration line. But since it’s a charge card and not a credit card, how could they switch around credit lines when there’s not a credit line on the card?

In my case they were willing to approve the Ink Bold card if I was willing to lower the credit line on one of my personal cards by $5,000, which I was of course happy to do. The other option they gave me was to close one of my existing personal card accounts.

When my dad applied for the Ink Plus card, which is a standard credit card, he was also given the option to lower his credit line on an existing card in order for it to be opened, which he gladly did.

Bottom line

So if you don’t have both Ink cards you’re leaving 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points on the table. I wouldn’t suggest applying for both of them at the same time, but if you have one you really should consider getting the other, and if you have neither you should consider getting started by applying for one.

I’ve had a business credit card since long before I was officially incorporated as a way of separating my personal and business expenses, and had no problems being approved. You can apply for one as a sole proprietor and enter your social security number in the field that asks for your tax ID, your business name can be whatever you’d like it to be (including your name), the business address can be your home address, the number of employees can be just one, and your business revenue can be whatever it is. There’s no reason to lie. If you don’t get instantly approved I’d suggest calling the Chase business reconsideration line, as it can otherwise take a long time for Chase business applications to be processed.

Editorial Note: Neither this post, nor the comments, are provided by the Issuing bank, or any other advertiser. The comments below have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not the bank or advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Comments

  1. lucky says

    @ BOB — You sure can, as long as the tax IDs are different (so you could even get one for a sole proprietorship and one for a corporation).

  2. lucky says

    @ snic — Business revenue being zero or close to zero shouldn’t be a problem in and of itself.

  3. Elizabeth S. says

    The problem I have with these cards is that on the application you are asked to agree that this card will not be used for personal or household expenses…so if you do intend to use this card for these types of purchases you would indeed be lying.

  4. John says

    Ben- I just applied for the Chase Ink card using your link. Your blog is useful and you actually answer readers questions.

    Snic- I would not open an Amex Express Bus Gold Rewards card if you don’t have a legit bus. With Amex if applied using some business that you made up, you will probably at some pt get a financial review asking for your tax returns direct from the IRS. If you don’t provide it they will close all your Amex cards, including personal ones. (assuming you applied using your SS number)

  5. says

    I’m in a similar position as snic in that my “business” is marginal at best. I’ve already gotten the southwest premier business card. will I be able to get chase to give me an ink card as well without much of any business revenue?

  6. says

    If you had to choose between cards, which would you pick first: Chase Ink Plus, Chase Ink Bold, Chase Sapphire Preferred?

  7. VG says

    I was approved for the Ink Plus after putting $0 as the business income. It was a newly incorporated business (finally earning $ this quarter). I did have personal Chase cards and checking accounts. I would have explained that it was a startup if they asked, but they did not ask.

  8. lucky says

    @ Elizabeth S. — Right, and in my case I do use the card exclusively for business expenses. But I think it’s also important to understand why they make you agree to that. Business credit cards come with less consumer protection, so they’re covering their rears by having you agree to that. I can’t think of any reason they’d care otherwise.

  9. lucky says

    @ Mason — As VG reported below, I’d say you have a pretty good chance, even if reporting no business income yet.

  10. lucky says

    @ Mason — Well the Chase Ink Bold and Chase Ink Plus are basically the same, so which you apply for first really doesn’t matter.

    The sign-up bonus is better on that then the Chase Sapphire Preferred, so for the sign-up bonus I’d go for the Ink cards. That being said for everyday spend I still think the Sapphire Preferred is the best card out there.

    That being said, you can be approved easily for both a business and personal card at the same time, so why not pick up the Sapphire Preferred and an Ink, and you’ll be looking at nearly 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points?

  11. Tiffany says

    How did you justify getting the Bold after the Plus? I currently have the Plus (automatically approved so no problems) but am not sure what to tell reconsideration if I were to apply for the Bold now since it’s a charge card so there’s really no extra benefit (and I don’t have a second business).

  12. lucky says

    @ Tiffany — It’s definitely easier to justify the Plus after getting the Bold, by saying there are some charges you’d like to finance in the future (which is music to their ears and only possible on the Plus but not the Bold).

    That being said, a few reasons to get the Bold:
    — There are some large purchases you’d like to make on the card in the future, which would be easier with the Bold due to the lack of a credit line.
    — You plan on spending more than $50,000 in one of the “bonus” categories so would like a second card.
    — You need to split up your business expenses so need two cards for different types of expenses for easier accounting (maybe actual expenses vs. reimbursable expenses).

    But I find once you have your first business card they don’t ask that many questions about the business given you’ve already been approved for a card. So at that point it might just be about closing an existing account or reducing the credit line on another card.

    Hope that helps!

  13. Ripper3785 says

    Disagree that you can’t generally transfer credit to business credit with Chase. When I called the reconsideration line last year for my Ink Bold, the agent offered to open my business card if I moved/reduced some of my personal card credit lines. I did so. This scenario is worse(perhaps marginally) for the credit report/score as it reduces my reported credit lines. Business credit lines are not reported on your personal credit report.

  14. lucky says

    @ Ripper3785 — Agree, and that’s what I said in the subsequent section. I’m saying it *shouldn’t* be possible, but in practice it is.

  15. Hitesh says

    Great post Lucky!

    I have a (sort-of) related question. I got the CSP MasterCard just before it was impossible to apply for one. It’s a great card and I wanted a MasterCard. The question now is, I do want to apply for the CSP Visa maybe 6 months from now. What’s the best approach to do this? Do I cancel the MC and then apply for the Visa? Will I still get the sign-up bonus?
    Ideally, I’d like to have both cards.

    Thanks!

  16. lucky says

    @ Hitesh — Having both shouldn’t be a problem at all, and you can definitely still earn the sign-up bonus for the Visa.

    I’d say just go ahead and apply and if you have to talk the the reconsideration line tell them you love the card but need to keep expenses separate (for example, you put reimbursed expenses on one card and personal charges on the other). That should do the trick.

    Let me know if you have any other questions.

  17. bluecat says

    I want to apply for this card for my wife, but I seem to recall that when I applied they asked a whole lot of questions about my business. My wife would certainly not get on the phone for this card, and especially not to answer questions about our (mythical) business. Should I just pass or do you have advice to limit the questions? (She got approved for an Amex biz card with no need to get on the phone…)

  18. lucky says

    @ bluecat — A lot of times they do instant approvals so there’s a chance she may get an instant approval. Otherwise she can always call and be totally honest. They’re not just going to approve a million dollar business and nothing else.

    Though I can certainly understand the hesitation of applying for a spouse that doesn’t like talking to the folks at Chase.

    If she does apply let us know how it goes!

  19. bluecat says

    One thing I can add is that, if your business is “rental properties”, then you are asking for a LOT of questions.

    If someone can suggest a tactic to limit questions, (in addition to honesty, of course), Im all ears…

  20. Newbie Miler says

    Hi Lucky,
    not exactly about Inks, but decided to ask anyway as you know everything :)
    With regard to the recent hottest deal, what you’d think the safest way to meet amex business gold requirements?… I read many horrifying stories around of being an easy FR target…

  21. lucky says

    @ Newbie Miler — I think as long as you don’t overdo it you should have no problems. Usually financial reviews are going to people that do WAY more spending than their stated business revenue. If you have a $5,000 minimum spend to reach I’d be willing to bet that $2,000 of spend on the card a month (even if it’s “manufactured”) won’t raise any red flags.

  22. Claire says

    Thanks for an informative post as always. How soon do the 50k bonus points post once spend is met?

  23. Jeff says

    I think it’s easier to get instant approval with the ink plus since chase can set limit on the credit card. I wanted my wife to apply for ink card but I know she would never talk to recon if she does not get approve instantly. I did apply her for ink plus and she was approve the next day with 9K limit without calling chase. I think for people who wants to apply for business card and are afraid to call recon and answer there question should apply for ink plus.. Just my 2 cents!

  24. goals^n^dreams says

    For Ink bold (charge card), I know that I should pay full amount for each billing. what happens if I dont pay full amount?

  25. lucky says

    @ goals^n^dreams — I assume your credit score will be dinged and if you refuse to pay they’ll send a collections agency after you.

  26. goals^n^dreams says

    oh my gosh, If I owe 100$, and then I pay only 90$. My credit score will drop, and Chase sends to a collections agency. Are you serious? so it is so dangerous if I dont pay in full for a charge card.

  27. UAPhil says

    Lucky, SPG Amex handles “personal vs. business” differently than Chase. When I applied for the business card, they gave me a relatively low credit limit; said they couldn’t transfer credit line from personal to business. Later, after I had used the card for several months, I asked for a business credit line increase. This time a different department handled the request. They offered me two options: Transfer credit from personal to business, or send them two years of tax returns for review.

    I also had the same experience as Bluecat. I do own rental properties; the Chase business reconsideration line agent did ask me quite a few questions before approving my card.

  28. lucky says

    @ goals^n^dreams — They won’t after a month, but if you don’t pay the bill after a long time I’m sure that’s what they’ll do, just as any credit card company would if you don’t pay your bill.

    In a way they’re doing you a favor by not letting you finance charges over time, given the crazy interest rates.

  29. Matt says

    I got the ink bald in Nov. of 12. I’m planning the get the Ink Plus in Nov. 13. Realistically, when could I go for the chase United Explorer Business. May of 14 (6 months after)?

  30. lucky says

    @ Matt — I’d say that’s definitely a good strategy. I wouldn’t apply any closer than that.

  31. autum says

    I just applied as an independent contractor, i do mystery shopping, probably make a few hundred dollars a year. Did not get instant approval, so not sure I’ll be approved. I have excellent credit, just that I and my husband have large debt, like mortgage, and credit card balance on a 0 percent promo right now. We have high debt but we have excellent credit scores.

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