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We’re seeing a lot of compelling business card sign-up offers at the moment, so I’ve been comparing some of them in recent posts. A couple of days ago I wrote a post comparing two of Amex’s premium business cards, and today I’d like to compare Amex’s mid-range offering with Chase’s mid-range offering. Specifically, I’m talking about The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN and the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card.
Given that both cards have different strong points, I figured I’d compare the sign-up bonuses, annual fees, return on spend, benefits, and approval odds:
Comparing sign-up bonuses & annual fees
The Amex Business Gold Rewards Card is offering a sign-up bonus of 50,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 within three months. The $175 annual fee is waived for the first year.
The Ink Business Preferred Card is offering a sign-up bonus of 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $5,000 within three months. The card has a $95 annual fee.
I value Membership Rewards and Ultimate Rewards points roughly equally (~1.7 cents each), so I’d say the sign-up bonus on the Chase card is significantly better. That being said, it’s also much more difficult to be approved for, as I’ll discuss below. The Amex bonus is worth ~$850 to me, while the Chase bonus is worth ~$1,265 (after subtracting the $95 annual fee).
Long term the Amex business card annual fee is almost twice as high, as it’s $175 per year (with the fee waived the first year), rather than $95.
Comparing return on spend
Both of these cards are extremely compelling when it comes to their return on spend. Arguably these are two of the business cards with the best overall rewards structures.
The Amex Business Gold Rewards Card offers bonus points in the following five categories:
- Airfare purchased directly from airlines
- U.S. purchases for advertising in select media
- U.S. purchases at gas stations
- U.S. purchases for shipping
- U.S. computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers
You can pick in which category you want to earn 3x points, and then in the other four categories you earn 2x points. For each individual category you can earn 2x or 3x points for at most $100,000 in purchases per year.
Meanwhile the Ink Business Preferred Card offers 3x points on up to $150,000 of combined spend in the following categories:
- Shipping purchases
- Internet, cable and phone services
- Advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines
Every business is so different, so it’s tough to say which of those cards offers a better return. There are a few things I’d note, though:
- If you’re a business that spends a lot, you’ll reach the $150,000 limit on combined bonuses on the Ink Preferred faster than you’ll probably reach the $100,000 limit on each bonus category on the Amex Business Gold
- Both cards offer bonus points on shipping and some forms of advertising purchases; the Chase “travel” category is broader than the Amex “airfare” category; furthermore, Amex has the advantage of a gas station category, while Chase has the advantage of an internet, cable, and phone services category
So overall it really depends on the circumstances of your business, though I’d say that generally the Ink Preferred has a better rewards structure than the Amex Business Gold, given that it offers 3x points across all categories.
Comparing card benefits
While both cards offer pretty standard purchase protection and travel cancelation coverage, the Ink Business Preferred Card really shines when it comes to the long term perks. It offers:
- Primary collision damage waiver coverage on car rentals
- Trip cancellation & interruption coverage on travel
- Cell phone protection, where you can get up to $600 per claim in cell phone protection against covered theft or damage for you and your employees listed on your monthly cell phone bill when you pay it with your Chase Ink Business Preferred credit card (maximum three claims in a 12 month period, and there’s a $100 deductible per claim)
Those are some top notch perks you don’t otherwise see on many business cards. See my previous post on the Ink Preferred for more details on the protection offered by this card.
Comparing approval odds
If you have an established business and haven’t applied for many cards lately, you shouldn’t have much trouble getting approved for either card. However, if that doesn’t describe you, your approval odds are very different with these two cards.
The Ink Business Preferred Card is subjected to Chase’s 5/24 rule, meaning you’re unlikely to be approved if you’ve opened more than five new card accounts in the past 24 months. Furthermore, I find that Chase generally is a bit stricter about approving people, so don’t necessarily plan on being approved with very little business income, if you haven’t been in business for a while, etc. At least that’s my experience.
Meanwhile the Amex Business Gold Rewards Card should be quite easy to be approved for, even if you still have a fairly new business. I find Amex business cards to be among the easiest out there to get approved for, even if your business is still new, or business income is limited. Furthermore, keep in mind that anecdotally applying for Amex small business cards doesn’t count towards the Chase 5/24 limit.
In terms of all around return they offer on spend, the Amex Business Gold Rewards Card and Ink Business Preferred Card are probably the most lucrative business cards offered by Amex and Chase, respectively.
I think the Ink Preferred has an edge in terms of the sign-up bonus, return on spend, and perks, though the card is also significantly more difficult to be approved for. Meanwhile the Amex Business Gold has a good sign-up bonus and should be quite easy to be approved for, and still offers an excellent return on spend, one that may even prove to be more rewarding for many businesses.