The Two Best Business Credit Card Duos

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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 CardInk 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:

Welcome bonuses

  • 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.

Annual fees

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.

Perks

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.

Welcome bonuses

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.

Annual fees

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).

Perks

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.

I think the Chase combo (the Ink Business Preferred and Ink Business Unlimited) excels in the following areas:

  • 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

Meanwhile I think the Amex combo (the Business Gold Rewards Card and Blue Business Plus Credit Card) excels in the following areas:

  • 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?

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Comments

  1. Just my $0.02:

    I’d keep the Ink Preferred (3X on travel) & Ink Biz Cash (5X on office stores). The Ink Preferred will stay as the channel to transfer UR points to airlines.

    Well, we just lost KE….

  2. Amex Plat @ 100k isn’t a more generous sign up offer than 80k on Ink Preferred? Maybe you should say best publicly available welcome bonus.

  3. I must be missing something here. Other than the lucrative sign-up bonus, what do you get with the second card? Especially if the first card was giving you 3% on everything? Now, if the first card gave you 2% on dining and the second card gave you 3% then I could see the reasoning for having a second card from the same family of cards but in your example, there is no category of spending in the Unlimited that beats Preferred.

    But, why does the second card need to be from the same bank? Why not get the Ink Preferred and the Capital Saver for the 4% on dining. Isn’t that a better package?

    The bottom line is you are getting the second card solely for the sign-up bonus. Say so and stop confusing everyone!

  4. @John F. Caffrey
    The second card is for 1.5x points on non-bonused purchases since the Ink Preferred only gives 1x points on non-bonused purchases. Yes, the extra 0.5 points per dollar matters 😉

  5. Is the Ink Business Preferred Cell Phone protection plan still in effect. I though Chase got rid of all these types of features.

  6. I agree with John F. Caffrey; “why does the second card need to be from the same bank?” Use this duo from the cards in this article: CIP and BBP.

  7. Maybe consider renaming the blog into something like ‘ Three credit card pushing posts a day’ or something like that?
    Man o man I hardly see interesting trip reports anymore here. Without James this blog has become almost useless.
    Maybe James should consider going for his own blog instead if this one is all going for sponsored US credit card pushes. Its has become boring if not outright disgusting. Pure greed.

  8. Lucky, you should open your own credit card. You can then design your own rewards program and figure out what’s the best and you can push your own card here all the time.

    I can bet TPG is gonna do it. Beat him to the punch.

  9. I agree that the AMEX Blue Business Plus deserves to be in any duo, but so should the Chase Ink Business Cash Card. Aside from currently offering 50K UR points with no annual spend, it offers 5X points on up to 25K in spend at office supply stores where you can purchase a large variety of gift cards, including Delta, Shell gas stations, useful department stores and restaurants. Earning 5X points on phone, internet and cable services is also quite helpful. Of course, it helps to have other Chase cards as well. The Ink Cash Card really is the unsung hero in the Chase lineup.

  10. Say I have only the Chase Ink Unlimited or the Chase Ink Cash. Can I transfer those points over to my Chase Sapphire Reserve, or can they only be transferred to the Preferred?

  11. Hey Lucky, your post says the Chase Business Unlimited has a 50k point sign up bonus, but when I click on it it’s just $500 cash back.

  12. @ Michael M – You mention “Earning 5X points on phone, internet and cable services is also quite helpful”. But that’s with the Chase Ink Preferred, not the Ink Cash Card, and it’s only 3x at that. The Ink Cash doesn’t offer a bonus on phone, internet, or cable, does it?

    Just a bit confused since your whole post was about the Ink Cash, but that line doesn’t fit from what I know about the card.

  13. @ Colt- the Ink Cash card is the one that awards 5X UR while the Ink Preferred earns 3X. Please refer to the online terms for the card.

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