American Express seems to be on a bit of kick with product revamps and I think I’m okay with it. They just launched the new American Express® Business Gold Card and it looks like they noticed how much people like the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card.
Not only did they update the bonus categories, but they changed the bonus category earn rate and the spend cap on the bonus categories to compete with the Ink Preferred. Really, it’s become a battle of the heavyweights.
Amex vs. Chase
Amex Business Gold vs. Ink Preferred
Which is the card business owners reach for now?
A fight to the death.
Stay tuned for my new show: Credit Card Battle Royale.
Bonus Category Battle – Amex packs a big punch
If you ask me, the most exciting part of the new Amex Business Gold is the retooled bonus category structure. That’s really where Amex made up ground on Chase and probably surpassed Chase in some circumstances.
Previously, the Business Gold Rewards Card earned 3X on one of several categories and 2X on the remaining categories and the bonus earning per category was capped at $100,000 per calendar year. Nothing to sneeze at.
The revamped Amex Business Gold now offers 4X bonus categories with your options including:
- Airfare purchased directly from airlines
- U.S. purchases for advertising in select media
- U.S. purchases at gas stations
- U.S. purchases at restaurants
- U.S. purchases for shipping
- U.S. computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers
What I really like about the new setup is that you’ll earn 4X on the two categories you use the most during a billing cycle. Since where you spend can change month to month (or billing cycle to billing cycle), this gives you more opportunities to earn 4X.
The $100,000 cap has also been increased to $150,000 which gives you the opportunity to earn up to 600,000 Membership Rewards points per calendar year in the 4X points category.
Now, the Ink Preferred — which I’ll call the reigning champ — is no slouch. It earns 3X up to $150,000 per account anniversary year on the following categories:
- Cable, internet and phone services
- Advertising — social media and search engines
If you can take full advantage of these bonus categories, you can earn up to 450,000 Ultimate Rewards points per anniversary year.
Points for the Amex Business Gold
Right off the bat, the Amex Business Gold gets points for 4X earning, and the bonus category spend cap is the same as the Ink Preferred.
Additionally, you have more options to earn bonus points and some very useful categories at that. Dining and gas stand out to me but I know there are plenty of people who could get a ton of out of 4X on computer hardware, etc.
Points for the Chase Ink Preferred
The Ink Preferred scores big points for simplicity.
Unlike the Amex Business Gold, you aren’t restricted to earning 3X on a couple categories. Instead, you will always earn 3X on the bonus categories up to the $150,000 cap per anniversary year — don’t forget, it’s not per calendar year.
Additionally, the travel bonus category is broad. While the Amex Business Gold limits you to airfare purchased directly from airlines, the Ink Preferred will earn bonus points on hotels, Lyft, Uber, Airbnb, train tickets, cruises and more.
Membership Rewards vs Ultimate Rewards – The Mega Challenge
With two heavyweight cards that can help you earn plenty of points, you’ll want to consider what you can do with those points. Besides, using points is the whole point!
Amex Membership Rewards points can be transferred to 18 airline and 3 hotel partners while Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred to 9 airline partners and 4 hotel partners.
Of course, several airline programs partner with both including:
- Air France-KLM Flying Club
- Air Lingus AerClub
- British Airways Executive Club
- Iberia Plus
- JetBlue True Blue
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Chase has a slight edge in that transfers to JetBlue are 1:1 while Amex transfers at a 1.25:1 rate. However, Amex has recently added Avianca LifeMiles and runs transfer bonus promos with partners such as Virgin Atlantic and the Avios programs — Aer Lingus, British Airways and Iberia. Not to mention, Amex partners with Delta SkyMiles, ANA Mileage Club, Aeroplan, Asia Miles and more.
What had set Chase apart was the ability to transfer to Korean Air SkyPass, but that partnership ended earlier this year. Now, the only airlines that Chase has that Amex doesn’t are Southwest and United which are both useful, but it’s only two.
On the hotel side, Amex is more limited. While it can transfer points to Choice Privileges, Hilton Honors and Marriott Rewards, it’s rarely worth transferring Membership Rewards points to them. If anything, Choice can be useful in some parts of Europe.
The distinguishing factor for Chase is that you can transfer Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt. With a much more reasonable award chart than IHG, Marriott or Ritz-Carlton — Chase’s other partners, Hyatt can be very useful in many parts of the world.
Finally, both cards provide a 25% bonus when you use your points through their respective travel portals.
Annual Fee – what’s it worth to you?
A clear distinction between these cards is the annual fees.
The Ink Preferred comes with a $95 annual fee while the Amex Business Gold comes with a $295 annual fee.
If you’re just dipping a toe into the miles and points world, it’s totally understandable if you aren’t ready to commit to the higher annual fee even with more airline partner options.
Amex Business Gold or Chase Ink Preferred – which one wins?
If you’re looking to keep things simple, the Ink Preferred is the clear winner as you can count on 3X for all bonus categories at all times. The fact that Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred to Hyatt is a big selling point as it provides access to some great hotel options.
On the flip side, earning 4X with the Amex Business Gold on your most used bonus categories is hard to pass up. If you’re okay with putting in just a little more thought, this can earn you a ton of Membership Rewards points. American Express’ airline transfers partners only make this even more enticing.
One of the best parts about this battle is that it’s hard to go wrong. With Amex and Chase competing, you can reap the benefits. It just comes down to what benefits you want. Of course, you might be able to take full advantage of both cards and earn more points than you know what do with them.
Would you pick the Amex Business Gold or the Chase Ink Preferred?