Comparing The No Annual Fee Chase Ink Cards

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Last week we saw the introduction of the new Ink Business UnlimitedSM Credit Card, which complements the existing Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card and Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card.

There are a lot of similarities between the Ink Business Unlimited and Ink Business Cash:

What’s the difference between the Ink Cash & Ink Unlimited?

What it boils down to is that there’s one major difference between the two cards. While they earn the same types of points, they have different rewards structures:

  • The Ink Business UnlimitedSM Credit Card offers a flat 1.5x points on all purchases
  • The Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card offers:
    • 5x points on the first $25,000 of combined purchases per cardmember year on office supply stores, internet, cable TV, mobile phones, and landlines
    • 2x points on the first $25,000 of combined purchases per cardmember year on restaurants and gas stations
    • 1x points on all other purchases

As you can see, which card is better depends heavily on which types of purchses you spend the most on. If you spend a lot in categories that don’t otherwise earn bonus points, then earning 1.5x points per dollar spent is an excellent return.

If you spend a lot in categories that would otherwise qualify for one of the 2x or 5x points categories, then the Ink Cash is a fantastic choice.

To crunch the numbers a bit further, I value Ultimate Rewards points at 1.7 cents each (which I’ll explain more about below), so that means the return on these cards is potentially as follows:

  • The Ink Business Unlimited offers ~2.55% of value on all spend
  • The Ink Business Cash offers ~8.5% of value in the 5x points categories, 3.4% of value in the 2x points categories, and 1.7% of value on all other spend

Based on how much you value these points and how much you spend on the card per year, you can hopefully decide which makes the most sense for your business.

Which card would I choose?

Keep in mind that you can apply for both cards, so they’re not mutually exclusive. Actually, I think getting both of them can be a great idea, not just because of the big welcome bonuses, but also because the cards are such good complements. Why earn just 2-5x points on bonus categories, or 1.5x points on everyday spend, when you can have both?

But if I could choose just one card, which would I choose? I’d probably lean towards the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card. That’s because the bonus points categories offered by the card are unique, and can’t be found on any other cards. Earning 5x points in select categories is potentially incredibly valuable.

Earning 1.5x points is also great, though there are other cards offering similarly good returns. For example, the Chase Freedom Unlimited, Amex EveryDay Preferred, and Amex Blue Business Plus, potentially offer similar bonus categories. Now, two of those are personal cards, but you can also put business expenses on personal cards and then reimburse yourself. It all depends what you prefer to do.

Maximizing no annual fee Ink Card points

With how these points are usually structured, you can redeem each point for a cent.

This is where there’s a trick that can greatly increase the value of your Ink Cash or Ink Unlimited points. If you have either card in conjunction with another card that earns “premium” Ultimate Rewards points, then you can do significantly better. These cards include the following:

If you have the Ink Cash or Ink Unlimited in conjunction with one of those cards, suddenly your points are much more valuable. At a minimum:

That increases the value of your points by 25-50% right there, and you can potentially get even more value out of your points by transferring them to one of the Ultimate Rewards airline or hotel partners (which is my preferred redemption, and where I get the valuation of 1.7 cents per point). This includes the following partners:

AirlinesHotels
Aer Lingus Aer ClubIHG Rewards Club
Air France KLM Flying BlueMarriott Rewards
British Airways Executive ClubRitz-Carlton Rewards
Iberia PlusWorld Of Hyatt
Korean Air SkyPass
Singapore KrisFlyer
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
United MileagePlus
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Transferring points between cards is easy and can be done online. You can learn more about that process in this post.

Bottom line

Personally I think there’s huge value in having all three Chase Ink Cards — the Ink Business UnlimitedSM Credit CardInk Business Cash℠ Credit Card, and Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card. You can get all of them, and they beautifully complement one another. however, if you only want to pick up one of the two no annual fee cards, I do think the Ink Cash offers bonus categories that are unique. I still think the Ink Unlimited is an excellent option for everyday spend, and I’d recommend getting it. However, there are a few cards out there that offer 1.5x points on all purchases, so this card isn’t alone.

Which of the Chase Ink Cards do you guys think is most valuable?

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Comments

  1. Just product changed my ink cash and my ink plus to unlimited. I still have another ink card for the 5X up to $50,000 for all of our cable/phone bills. We put pretty much $50,000/year on that one in bonus categories so that will work out and we spend about $70000/year on the other two cards that have been getting 1X (other than about $4000 that is getting 2X for gas), so 1.5X should net us a gain of 30,000 points/year and reduce fees by $95/year.

  2. Got Ink cash card a month or so ago. Have the Reserve card as well. Applied for the Unlimited card and got turned down since I had recently opened the cash card. Any others with this experience?

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