Ink Cards Discontinuing Lounge Club Membership — So What?

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I received a letter in the mail yesterday regarding my Ink Plus® Business Credit Card, which in part read as follows:

Action Needed: You can enroll in the LOUNGE CLUB program until April 30, 2015.

We’re writing to let you know that we are ending our LOUNGE CLUB program for Ink from Chase customers. Since you’re not currently enrolled in this program, we’re offering you a one year non-renewable membership to LOUNGE CLUB, which provides access to airport lounges throughout the world.

Now I actually do have a Lounge Club membership through my Ink Plus Card, but that’s neither here nor there.

Lounge-Club

What was the Ink Card’s Lounge Club benefit?

The “premium” Ink Cards — the Ink Plus and now discontinued Ink Bold — offered a Lounge Club membership. Lounge Club is sort of like Priority Pass. The catch is that you only got two free lounge visits with your Ink enrollment, and then additional visits cost you $27.

Ultimately that’s better than nothing, though it’s hardly something that’s worth getting excited over, in my opinion.

Lounge-Club

Why I don’t really care about the benefit

As I’ve explained many times in the past, the Ink Plus is one of the best business credit cards out there. 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
  • 2x points on the first $50,000 spent annually at gas stations and on hotels

It has a great sign-up bonus, but even so, it’s not a card I plan on keeping long term.

Instead the next business credit card I’m going to get is the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card. This is basically the no annual fee version of the Ink Plus, and it offers similar bonus categories (except it offers double points at restaurants instead of hotels). The only catch is that it’s capped at half the bonus amounts, though chances are that’s no big deal for most of us:

  • 5x points on the first $25,000 spent annually at office supply stores, and on cellular phone, landline, internet, and cable TV services
  • 2x points on the first $25,000 spent annually at gas stations and restaurants

If you also have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, then the points earned with the Ink Cash are just as valuable as they’d be on the Ink Plus (they become Ultimate Rewards points which can be transferred to any airline partner).

My point is, assuming you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card there’s really no reason to pay a $95 annual fee on a business card rather than having a card with very similar benefits that doesn’t have an annual fee. Even if you otherwise got $54 worth of lounge access with the Ink Plus Card, that doesn’t justify the $95 annual fee, in my opinion.

The-Club-LAS-Airport-05
A Lounge Club membership gets you into The Club At Las Vegas Airport

Other cards that offer lounge access

If lounge access with a credit card is ultimately your goal, there are much more rewarding cards to consider:

Amex-Centurion-Lounge-Las-Vegas-23
The American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas

Bottom line

Ultimately I don’t like to see benefits taken away, but:

  • For a vast majority of consumers the Ink Cash is a better product to have long term than the Ink Plus, in which case it would be a moot point
  • If lounge access is the goal, there are plenty of more rewarding cards out there that are worth considering

Does the Lounge Club membership being discontinued change your feelings towards the Ink Plus?


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Comments

  1. We can’t afford Prestige or Platinum, but can afford the Ink. So we loved the benefit. Really disappointed it’s gone.

  2. Lucky,

    If a person were to use the ink cards for legitimate business spending, but only use the card on bonus categories AND reach the $50k limit on those categories, do you think Chase would take issue and eventually close the account? We do have other Chase products we use, including substantial spend on other Chase CC.

  3. Silly question, but does the Ink Cash earn UR or simply cash back? Seems like a good option if it earns UR, even if you have to combine with another account to redeem as miles (like the Freedom).

  4. If you’ve already registered for lounge club through Chase Ink, when does the benefit run out? I haven’t used my 2 annual passes and was hoping to use them in July at the KLM lounge in IAH prior to going SQ F to DME. Thanks to your post that’s how we are routing to Europe for summer trip 🙂

  5. I’ve never cancelled/closed a credit card but I think I’ll get the Cash card once my Ink Plus annual fee is due.

    What’s the best way to approach this? Should I call Chase & ask to be switched to the Cash card instead? Will I still get the sign up bonus for the Cash card that way? Does closing an account effect my credit score? Or do you suggest I do a brand new application?
    Thanks!

  6. Those who will miss this benefit should get the Amex Hilton Surpass, which has a similar benefit.

  7. Which would be the best card for lounge access if we mainly fly Southwest? I know you usually need a same day boarding pass for some of the airline lounges.

  8. Registered and received this benefit from the FREE ink card, never used it. I’m with Lucky – “so what.”

  9. @ Jana — All depends on the airport, but in general the American Express Platinum Card might be a good option, since it gets you Centurion Lounge access and a Priority Pass membership.

  10. @ John — Without a Chase Sapphire Preferred that’s correct. But in conjunction with a Chase Sapphire Preferred, each point can also be converted into an Ultimate Rewards point.

  11. @ Michelle — If you switch you won’t earn the sign-up bonus on the Ink Cash. I might cancel the Ink Plus and then apply for the Ink Cash, if I were in your shoes.

  12. @ PointsForLater — It earns cash back if you don’t have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, but in conjunction with that card you’d earn Ultimate Rewards points.

  13. @ Ron — That’s anyone’s guess. If you were just spending $50K per year on bonus categories and nothing else then I wouldn’t be surprised if they shut you down since the relationship doesn’t make sense for them… but I could be wrong.

  14. Ben,
    you might want to include the ritz calton card many of us got last year, as the lounge club membership it offers seems to be even better than the amex plat pp select.

  15. Hi Ben,

    Do you know how long it takes for the Lounge Club card to arrive in the mail once you register? I am leaving on a trip to Spain and Portugal in 12 days. Flying business on the long-haul sections, but could use the free passes for two short flights in economy (one leaving BCN, the other OPO).

    No good club options on my US domestic flights this year, so if I’m hoping I get this card within a week to use on this trip.

    Thanks!

    Matt

  16. Got it – thanks Ben!

    I’m assuming that, like all other Chase cards, the rewards points don’t expire. My strategy is to build up a large account balance over quite a few years before any redemptions happen, therefore I’m quite annual fee averse. In theory I could hoard the cash back long-term and get a premium Chase UR card to convert the points later, assuming Chase doesn’t change the rules. Make sense?

  17. Honestly you’re right Ben. Legit business with Ink Plus cards for myself and 3 employees and I never hit the $50K threshold for legit spend in the bonus categories. The Ink Cash would be fine for me as I keep the CSP for point transfers. I valued the Lounge Club access but it’s twice then not free so that perk has been used up. I think I will call and downgrade as it’s an active use business card and not worth it for me to apply again and take the HP for the points offered. My credit line is very nice on the Plus and I don’t want to deal with building it up again. I don’t mind keeping the spend I currently make with Chase.

  18. When the time comes, I’ll probably threaten to cancel my Ink Plus to see if they’ll give me a retention bonus. I’ve done it twice with the Ink Bold, and it worked. If not, I’ll ask to downgrade to Ink Plus. I’d rather save the hard pull and sacrifice the 25K UR. I do want to make sure the Plus can be downgraded to the Cash card, though.

  19. Ben, I assume that if one has both the Ink Plus as well as the Ink Bold, it should be possible to get this benefit on both cards. Any idea if we have to complete this enrollment twice then, leading to 2 separate Lounge Club enrollments and cards?

  20. Hi lucky,

    Just curious could you still apply any of the ink the card if you don’t have a business. Thanks!

  21. Ben, I don’t have status anywhere and am relatively new to the hobby. My Ink Bold has fueled my accumulation of many miles through category bonuses. Having Lounge access was a brand new thing for me, it was a lot of fun to experience lounge access, even if they were pathetic domestic lounges. But for it to be free benefit is exactly why I got into the hobby. Please don’t forget about us out here, the ones who pay to see you at FTU and who read your posts regularly…sometimes a free benefit is better than “so what”

  22. @ Wesley C — As before you do need a business, though a sole proprietorship would qualify as well.

  23. @ Jeff M – respectfully I don’t believe that Ben is saying anything disrespectful by saying “so what.” I do feel that he is giving the same free listen here that if you didn’t pay him off of here you might at some point pay someone else elsewhere. He’s running a business such as anyone else would like to. What you and I have to keep in mind is that he travels not only domestically but internationally frequently. That being said its different for you and I. But if you hang in there you will see the difference. Why use 2 FREE PASSES domestically for something pathetic and even worse-$27 afterward for a crappy buffet if that. Who pays $27 for that!
    I’m waiting for my 1st ever lounge passes for my BETTER 1/2’s surprise wedding anniv in Hawaii this Sep (need help w/ my itinerary Ben) or for AMS this Nov or somewhere in Africa next year (the much better free values. $27 wouldn’t be too bad int’l wise. But by that time next year,or even this year,something better and different may come through. This is why you must keep reading here and elsewhere for those flying deals to help match either the free passes (great) or offset the $27 for the better.
    Here he’s trying to explain that there is no need for the Ink Plus b/c it has the same benefits as the CSP except for CSP’s car rental primary benefit. With the passes going away its virtually obsolete (unless spending $50K) and makes no sense to pay $95 2X. I have the CSP (mainly for car rentals),Ink Plus and Freedom (5X category spend). The extra $95 is not needed for our business so I will be cancelling the Ink Plus and applying for the Ink Cash.
    Don’t forget that if you had all 3 Ink cc’s then you could have the passes for all 3 or add on other users and get it (correct Lucky?).
    Jeff M,please hang in there. If you feel that Lucky disrespected you as a newbie then post your response on Flyertalk and see what you get-LOL. A good amt of them – especially seasoned bus. travelers – are the worse. They expect you to be born w/ this knowledge such as they were. Hope to see you at a DO and everyone else.

  24. Hi Lucky,

    There is only one Lounge(Alaska Airlines Board Room (ANC1)) in Anchorage AK International (ANC). I am not departing but arriving at ANC flying US airways, Do I have access to the lounge? Thanks. Their Call Center is really not helpful at all.

  25. It might be late for this topic, but may be someone still can answer my question?
    I have Chase Ink Plus Business card and the fee of $95 due next month. I’m reading now that I could downgrade it to Ink Cash (no fee) and having Chase Sapphire Preferred card can combine points and transfer them to the airlines. I don’t have Chase Sapphire Preferred card yet and if I apply/get it now it will also cost $95 a year. Probably it was free last year but not now. So my question is how I can transfer the points from Ink Cash card to the airlines?

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