There are a lot of similarities between the Ink Business Unlimited and Ink Business Cash:
- Both cards have no annual fee
- Both cards have a welcome bonus of 50,000 points after spending $3,000 within the first three months, which is huge for a no annual fee card
- Both cards offer excellent purchase protection and car rental coverage for business rentals
- Both cards have points that can be pooled with the Ink Business Preferred, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, and/or Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card
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:
- The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express (no annual fee (Rates & Fees)) offers 2x Membership Rewards points on the first $50,000 spent every calendar year
- The Chase Freedom Unlimited® (no annual fee) also offers 1.5x points per dollar spent; while it’s a personal card, many people with small businesses are in a position where they can use a personal credit card and then reimburse themselves for business expenses
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:
- 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 is my preferred redemption, and where I get the valuation of 1.7 cents per point). This includes the following partners:
|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. Here’s a more exact explanation of how the “cash” earned on these cards can be converted into Ultimate Rewards points.
Personally I think there’s huge value in having all three Chase Ink Cards — the Ink Business Unlimited, Ink 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?
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).