There are lots of businesses that leave a lot of rewards on the table by not using the right credit card. In this post I wanted to take an in-depth look at the Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card.
This card was only introduced last year, and in my opinion is the single most compelling business credit card for everyday, non-bonused spending, without any caps on how many rewards you can earn. But there’s a trick to maximizing the rewards.
Chase Ink Business Unlimited Card Basics for January 2020
The Chase Ink Business Unlimited Card is the third card in Chase’s excellent “Ink” business card lineup. There are so many things that make this card great, from the purchase protection to the rewards it offers. But unlike some other cards, you’ll need to know what you’re doing to get the most value out of this card.
Ink Unlimited 50K Sign-Up Bonus Offer
With the Ink Business Unlimited earn a sign-up bonus of $500 bonus cash back after spending $3,000 within three months of account opening.
$500 cash back is an excellent bonus, though as I’ll explain below, you can potentially turn that $500 cash back into 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points, which I value at $850. Now that’s a massive bonus.
Chase Ink Business Card Eligibility
Chase has three business credit cards in their “Ink” lineup — the Ink Preferred, Ink Cash, and Ink Unlimited — and you’re eligible to have all three cards, and even are eligible to earn the bonus on all of them. For example, I have all three of the cards.
Chase 5/24 Rule
Chase has something that’s known as the 5/24 rule. With this, you typically won’t be approved for the card if you’ve opened five or more new card accounts in the past 24 months. So if you do apply for this card, make sure you’re under that limit.
Ink Unlimited Has No Annual Fee
The Ink Business Unlimited has no annual fee, which is fantastic. So this is a card that you can keep long term and it won’t cost you anything.
Ink Unlimited Offers 1.5% Cash Back On All Purchases
The Ink Business Unlimited is marketed as offering unlimited 1.5% cash back. The catch is that this isn’t actually that good, since there are other cards that earn 2% cash back.
But there’s a trick that allows you to convert the 1.5% cash back into 1.5x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent. I value Ultimate Rewards points at 1.7 cents each, so suddenly you’re going from a return of 1.5% to a return of 2.55%, by my valuation.
3% Foreign Transaction Fees
While this is a fantastic card for purchases within the US, the card does have 3% foreign transaction fees, so I don’t recommend using this card outside the US. If you’re looking for a similar card with no foreign transaction fees, consider the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card.
Ink Unlimited 0% Intro APR
The Ink Business Unlimited offers 0% intro APR on purchases for the first 12 months. You’ll want to try to pay that off within that time period, though, because after that the variable APR is 14.74% - 20.74%.
While this isn’t something I personally value, I know that it’s something a lot of businesses do appreciate, especially while growing.
The Secret To Maximizing The Ink Unlimited
Up until now I’ve been pretty vague about the points earning on the Ink Business Unlimited Card. As mentioned above, the card earns 1.5% cash back, which isn’t exceptional. But there is a trick to earning much bigger rewards with this card.
Turning Cash Back Into Ultimate Rewards Points
While the Ink Business Unlimited is a cash back card, in reality the card earns points. You earn 1.5x points per dollar spent, and then ordinarily each point can be redeemed for one cent cash back. That’s how they arrive at the valuation of 1.5% cash back with the card.
This is where there’s a trick that can hugely increase the value of your Ink Unlimited points. If you have the Ink Business Unlimited in conjunction with another card that earns “premium” Ultimate Rewards points, then you can do significantly better. These cards include the following:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (review)
- Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card (review)
- Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card (review)
If you have the Ink Unlimited in conjunction with one of those cards, suddenly your points are much more valuable. At a minimum:
- If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred, points can be redeemed for 1.25 cents each towards a travel purchase
- If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, points can be redeemed for 1.5 cents each towards a travel purchase
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 includes the following:
|Aer Lingus Aer Club||IHG Rewards Club|
|Air France/KLM Flying Blue||Marriott Bonvoy|
|British Airways Executive Club||World Of Hyatt|
|Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards|
|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.
Ink Business Unlimited Card Benefits
For a no annual fee card, the Ink Business Unlimited offers an incredible sign-up bonus and generous rewards structure, though there are also some perks that are potentially quite valuable.
Ink Business Car Rental Coverage
The Ink Business Unlimited offers an excellent primary auto rental CDW (collision damage waiver) benefit:
- This is valid when renting globally for business reasons, and is valid outside the US when renting for business reasons
- Decline the rental company’s collision insurance and charge the entire rental cost to your card
Ink Business Extended Warranty Protection
With this, you can extend the time period of U.S. manufacturer’s warranty by an additional year, on eligible warranties of three years or less.
Is The Ink Business Unlimited Right For You?
I’d say the Ink Business Unlimited can be a fantastic business credit card to use for your everyday spending, but only in conjunction with Ultimate Rewards.
I wanted to look a bit more closely at the best overall strategy to take with the Ink Unlimited — what are the best complements, what are the best substitutes, etc.
Complement The Ink Unlimited With Other Ink Cards
In many ways the best complements to the Ink Business Unlimited is the two other Chase Ink cards — the Ink Business Preferred and Ink Business Cash:
- You can earn the bonuses on all three cards
- The Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card (review) also has no annual fee, and 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, and 2x points on the first $25,000 of combined purchases per cardmember year on restaurants and gas stations
- The Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card (review) has a $95 annual fee, and offers 3x points on the first $150,000 spent each cardmember year on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable, phone services, and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines
Quick Comparison: Amex Blue Business Plus Vs. Ink Business Unlimited
Perhaps the best alternative to the Ink Unlimited is The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express, which has no annual fee (Rates & Fees) and offers 2x Membership Rewards points on the first $50,000 spent annually.
I’d say that’s the best card out there for everyday, non-bonused business spending, though the catch is that you’re capped on earning 2x points on the first $50,000 spent every calendar year. That’s very restrictive for many companies.
Best Cash Back Card Alternative To Ink Unlimited
If your goal is to earn cash back with your business spending, then there’s a better option than the Ink Unlimited. Consider the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business, which earns 2% cash back on all purchases and has a $95 annual fee that’s waived the first year.
Ink Business Unlimited Summary
The Ink Business Unlimited is the single best rewards credit card for everyday, non-bonused spending, without any sort of caps. While the Blue Business Plus offers 2x points, that’s capped at $50,000 per year.
So the Ink Unlimited is a phenomenal card to consider for the 1.5x points, especially in conjunction with a card earning Ultimate Rewards points.
The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express (Rates & Fees).