Which No Annual Fee Chase Ink Card Is Best?

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This spring 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 Unlimited offers a flat 1.5x points on all purchases
  • The Ink Business Cash 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 purchases 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 and have no annual fees. 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. 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.

Furthermore, I’d say that while the Ink Business Unlimited offers an excellent return, it also has more substitutes:

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
JetBlue TrueBlue
Singapore KrisFlyer
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
United MileagePlus
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Transferring points between cards is easy and can be done online. Here’s a more exact explanation of how the “cash” earned on these cards can be converted into Ultimate Rewards points.

Bottom line

Personally I think there’s huge value in having all three Chase Ink Cards — the Ink Business UnlimitedInk Business Cash, and Ink Business Preferred. You can get all of them, and they beautifully complement one another. I already have two of them (the Ink Cash and Ink Preferred), and plan on getting the third (the Ink Unlimited) in a couple of weeks.

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 similar returns, to the card isn’t quite as special.

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

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Comments

  1. @Lucky – Can you get the welcome bonuses on all three or is it like the Sapphire family where you can’t get a bonus if you currently have one of the Ink cards, or received a bonus on an Ink card in the last 24/48 mos?

  2. @ Lyle — You can get the bonus on all three. They’re considered independent for those purposes, unlike the Sapphire Cards.

  3. Can I get ether one if I just got approved for the ink preferred 2 months ago. Do these cards could on my personal credit history?
    Thanks

  4. @ Jimmy — Yes, you sure can. An inquiry would show up on your personal credit score, but the cards themselves wouldn’t otherwise.

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