Update: These offers for The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express and The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express have expired. Learn more about the current offers here.
A couple of days ago I wrote about what I consider to be the best personal credit card duo — the Chase Freedom Unlimited® and Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card. To me, those two cards offer a great balance of reasonable annual fees, big welcome bonuses, valuable perks, great travel coverage, and more.
In this post I wanted to share what I consider to be the two best business credit card duos you can have. I think both Chase and Amex have a two card combination that can make a lot of sense, so let me share why.
Chase: Ink Preferred & Ink Unlimited
Chase has three excellent Ink Business Cards — the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card, and Ink Business UnlimitedSM Credit Card. If I wanted to keep things relatively simple, I’d get the Ink Preferred and Ink Unlimited. What’s the value in having both of these cards? Let’s look at the various components:
- The Ink Business Preferred offers 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $5,000 within three months, which I consider to be the single best welcome bonus of any credit card out there
- The Ink Business Unlimited offers 50,000 points after spending $3,000 within three months, which I consider to be the best welcome bonuses of any no annual fee credit card
These are some incredible welcome bonuses, since you’re looking at 130,000 Ultimate Rewards bonus points between these two cards. The Ink Preferred has the best welcome bonus of any card, while the Ink Unlimited has the best welcome bonus of any no annual fee card, in my opinion.
With these two cards you can unlock lots of great perks while paying just one reasonable annual fee of under $100.
Return on spend
- The Ink Business Preferred offers 3x points on the first $150,000 of combined purchases per cardmember year on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable, phone services, and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines
- The Ink Business Unlimited offers 1.5x points on all purchases
As you can see, with this combination you’re earning 1.5-3x points per dollar spent.
If you just have the Ink Unlimited then points can only be redeemed for one cent each, but if you have the Ink Preferred then you can unlock all the value of Ultimate Rewards. You could redeem points for 1.25 cents each towards the cost of a travel purchase (1.5 cents if you also have the Chase Sapphire Reserve®), or you can transfer points to any of the Ultimate Rewards airline and hotel partners.
- Both the Ink Business Preferred and Ink Business Unlimited offer car rental coverage when renting for business purposes
- The Ink Business Preferred offers an excellent cell phone protection plan
What it boils down to
Here you can pick up two excellent cards with incredible welcome bonuses, while earning 1.5-3x points per dollar spent, and getting great car rental, travel, and cell phone coverage.
Amex: Blue Business Plus & Business Gold Rewards
While American Express has several excellent business credit cards, I’d say the two best for spend are The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN and The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express, thanks to the bonus points they offer.
- The Business Gold Rewards Card offers 50,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 within three months
- The Blue Business Plus Credit Card offers 10,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $3,000 within three months
These welcome bonuses aren’t quite as generous as their Chase alternatives, though these cards are generally also a bit easier to get approved for.
- The Business Gold Rewards Card has a $175 annual fee that’s waived for the first year
- The Blue Business Plus Credit Card has no annual fee
With this card combo you’re not paying any annual fees the first year, while you’d pay $175 in subsequent years. Though the truth is that many may just find it worthwhile to have the Blue Business Plus, in which case you wouldn’t be paying any annual fees long term.
Return on spend
- The Business Gold Rewards Card offers bonus points on airfare purchased directly from airlines, U.S. purchases for advertising in select media, U.S. purchases at gas stations, U.S. purchases for shipping, and U.S. computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers; you can choose one category in which you want to earn 3x points, and then you earn 2x points in the remaining four categories, and there’s a limit of earning bonus points on the first $100,000 spent in each of the five categories every calendar year
- The Blue Business Plus Credit Card offers 2x points on the first $50,000 spent every calendar year
American Express wins when it comes to offering 2x points on everyday spend, making the Blue Business Plus the single best card for non-bonused spend, in my opinion. The catch is that you’re limited to earning 2x points on the first $50,000 spent each calendar year. For some businesses that’s not a big deal at all, while for others it’s a huge deal.
Then when it comes to the “premium” cards, I’d say the Chase card has the slight edge over the Amex card, based on offering 3x points in all bonus categories, rather than a combination of 2-3x points.
You’d also have to consider which bonus categories are most valuable to you, and also how much the purchase limit impacts you (with the Ink Preferred you’re limited to earning 3x points on a combined $150K of spend, while with the Business Gold Rewards you’re limited to earning 2-3x points on the first $100K of spend in each individual category).
Amex cards are generally more limited when it comes to some perks, though both cards get you access to Amex Offers, and also to Amex’s “Do More Business” program.
What it boils down to
Amex has the advantage of offering a better return on the first $50,000 of spend per calendar year in non-bonused categories, you won’t pay an annual fee the first year, and the cards are going to be easier to get approved for.
Which card duo is better?
There’s never going to a “one size fits all” answer, though let me note a few areas where I think each of the card combinations excels.
- The welcome bonuses are significantly better, as you can earn 130,000 bonus points after completing minimum spend on cards
- The cards have better combined perks, including better car rental coverage, as well as a cell phone protection plan
- You can earn 1.5x points on all purchases with no limits, and you can also earn 3x points in more categories than with the Amex combination
- Long term you’ll pay lower annual fees, as the cards will cost you just $95 per year combined
- Generally Amex business cards are much easier to get approved for than Chase business cards
- For small businesses, being able to earn 2x points on the first $50,000 spent annually on a no annual fee card is pretty unbeatable
- The Amex Offers program can save you a lot of money, and in many cases will more than pay for the annual fees on cards (and on no annual fee cards can even make you money)
So if you don’t have any of these cards but think you could be approved for them, I’d probably go for the Chase combo. Heck, I might even throw in the Blue Business Plus, since you can’t beat the 2x points on the first $50,000 spent every calendar year, but I know at that point we’re talking about a three card combo. 😉
Which two card combo do you think is better, or are there other combinations you love?