While there are lots of great business credit cards, Chase has what I’d consider to be the best portfolio of business credit cards, with the Ink Business lineup. These offer everything I look for in cards — great welcome bonuses, big spending category bonuses, and useful perks.
One of my favorite things about Chase Ink cards is how they can supercharge your ability to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points, so in this post I wanted to look more closely at how the bonus categories on these cards work.
Chase Ink Business cards have big bonuses
The three Chase Ink Business cards are offering huge, best-ever welcome bonuses that can earn you up to 280,000 Ultimate Rewards points:
- The Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card (review) has a $95 annual fee and offers 100,000 points after spending $15,000 within three months
- The Ink Business Cash® Credit Card (review) has no annual fee and offers 90,000 points after spending $6,000 within three months
- The Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card (review) has no annual fee and offers 90,000 points after spending $6,000 within three months
I consider the bonus on the Ink Preferred to be one of the best welcome bonuses out there right now (I value 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points at $1,700), while I consider the 90,000 point welcome bonuses on the Ink Cash and Ink Unlimited to be the best bonuses right now on no annual fee cards.
Best of all, you’re potentially eligible for all three of the cards. At this point I have all three of them, and that really helps me maximize my points on business spending.
Chase Ink Business card bonus categories
Long term the most value you’ll probably get out of Chase Ink Business cards involves the generous bonus categories they offer. If you have all three Chase Ink cards then you can mix and match the bonus categories to maximize your spending. How do the bonus categories on the three Chase Ink cards work?
Chase Ink Business Preferred bonus categories
The Ink Business Preferred offers up to 3x points on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable, phone services, and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines.
This 3x points bonus is available for up to $150,000 of combined purchases per cardmember year. That means that you earn 3x points on up to $150,000 worth of purchases in those categories, regardless of how that spending is split up.
In other words, you could earn 3x points for $75,000 of travel spending and $75,000 of internet spending, you could earn it based on just $150,000 of advertising with social media spending, etc.
The Ink Business Preferred doesn’t have foreign transaction fees, so the card is also ideal for earning bonus points while abroad.
To be thorough, let’s look at how Chase defines each of these bonus categories, for which you can earn 3x points. Here’s how the travel bonus category is defined:
Merchants in the travel category include airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, campgrounds and operators of passenger trains, buses, taxis, limousines, ferries, toll bridges and highways, and parking lots and garages. Please note that some merchants that provide transportation and travel-related services are not included in this category; for example, real estate agents, educational merchants arranging travel, in-flight goods and services, on-board cruise line goods and services, sightseeing activities, excursions, tourist attractions, merchants within hotels and airports, and merchants that rent vehicles for the purpose of hauling. In addition, the purchasing of gift cards, points or miles does not qualify in this category unless the merchant has set up such purchases to be classified in the travel category.
Here’s how the shipping bonus category is defined:
Merchants in the shipping category specialize in mailing packages, hauling freight, and transporting goods or documents. Shipping merchants include couriers, postal and freight shipping companies, express shipping services and mailbox stores. Please note that purchases at some merchants will not qualify. Examples include merchants who sell a wide variety of general goods but also ship items, including office supply stores that also mail packages. Also, purchases, or portions of purchases, that are not processed by the merchant as shipping purchases will not qualify. These include the additional cost to ship something you buy, or using a third party (such as Amazon) for bulk warehousing and shipping. Merchants that primarily sell boxes, packing tape, bubble wrap or other shipping supplies are also not included in this category.
Here’s how the internet, cable, and phone services bonus category is defined:
Only purchases for internet, cable, satellite television, radio, cellular, wireless data, and landline services will qualify. Please note that purchases of equipment are not included. In addition, if you purchase or pay for your internet, cable and satellite television, phone or related services in a merchant’s store that is not classified by the merchant in the applicable services category, the purchase or payment will not qualify; for example, phone bill payments in a merchant’s store that is classified as a telephone equipment store.
Here’s how the social media and search engine bonus category is defined:
Merchants in the social media and search engine advertising category include social media websites (such as Facebook and Twitter) and online search engines (such as Google AdWords and Microsoft Bing Ads) that advertise a business, brand, products or services. Please note, advertising purchases that are not made directly from a social media website or online search engine merchant may not qualify; for example, advertising purchases made through a third party such as an ad agency or web designer offering related services. Also, purchases from social media websites or online search engines that are not for advertising will not qualify; for example, subscription or app purchase.
Chase Ink Business Cash bonus categories
The Ink Business Cash offers up to 5x points on office supply stores, internet, cable, and phones services, and up to 2x points on restaurants and gas stations.
The 5x points bonus categories are capped at a total of $25,000 in combined purchases each cardmember year, and the 2x points bonus categories are capped at a total of $25,000 in combined purchases each cardmember year. The Ink Business Cash does have foreign transaction fees, so I wouldn’t recommend using this for purchases abroad.
The terms associated with the 5x points on internet, cable, and phone services, are the same as the restrictions on the Ink Business Preferred. Here’s how the office supply store bonus category is defined:
Merchants in the office supply stores category specialize in selling a variety of office supplies, from larger office supply stores to smaller stationary stores. Please note that some larger merchants that sell a wide variety of general goods which may include office supplies, for example, discount stores, department stores, or electronics stores, are not included in this category. Also, merchants and wholesale distributors that specialize in only a few large office supplies, such as computer software and hardware, office furniture, photocopiers, and office equipment, are not included even if they also sell some smaller office supplies.
Here’s how the gas station bonus category is defined:
Merchants in the gas stations category sell automotive gasoline that can be paid for either at the pump or inside the station, and may or may not sell other goods or services at their location. Please note that some merchants that do not specialize in selling automotive gasoline are not included in this category; for example, truck stops, boat marinas, oil and propane distributors, and home heating companies.
Here’s how the restaurant bonus category is defined:
Merchants in the restaurants category are merchants whose primary business is sit-down or eat-in dining, including fast food restaurants as well as fine dining establishments. Please note that some merchants that sell food and drinks located within larger merchants such as sports stadiums, hotels and casinos, theme parks, grocery and department stores will not be included in this category unless the merchant has set up such purchases to be classified in a restaurant category. In addition, gift card and delivery service merchants will not be included in this category unless the merchant has set up such purchases to be classified in the restaurant category.
Chase Ink Business Unlimited bonus category
The Ink Business Unlimited offers a flat 1.5x points on all purchases, with no caps. That makes this the best of the three cards for spending money in any category that otherwise wouldn’t be eligible for a bonus. For that matter, it’s one of the all around best cards for everyday spending.
Do note that the Ink Business Unlimited does have foreign transaction fees, so I wouldn’t recommend using this for purchases outside of the United States.
Crunching the numbers on Chase Ink bonus categories
- 5x points on office supply stores, internet, cable, and phones services
- 3x points on travel, shipping purchases, and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines
- 2x points on restaurants and gas stations
- 1.5x points on everything else
Those bonus categories have some caps, as I outlined above. I value Ultimate Rewards points at 1.7 cents each, based on the ability to transfer them to airline and hotel partners, which can be disproportionately valuable for premium redemptions. By my math, you’re earning:
- An 8.5% return on office supply stores, internet, cable, and phones services
- A 5.1% return on travel, shipping purchases, and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines
- A 3.4% return on restaurants and gas stations
- A 2.55% return on everything else
Why you might want to forgo 5x points in one category
You might notice that both the Ink Business Preferred and Ink Business Cash offer bonus points for internet, cable, and phone services (3x points and 5x points, respectively). While putting that spending on the Ink Cash might seem like the obvious choice, there’s one potentially valuable reason to instead use the Ink Preferred.
This reason is that the Ink Preferred offers an incredible cell phone protection plan that is only valid if you use that card to pay your cell phone bill. With this benefit, you can get up to $1,000 per claim in cell phone protection against covered theft or damage for you and your employees listed on your monthly cell phone bill. You’re limited to three claims in a 12 month period, with a $100 deductible per claim.
It could be worthwhile to forgo 2x points per dollar to get this great coverage.
Do Chase Ink Business cards earn cash back or points?
Above I refer to the currency earned on all of these cards as points, though if you’re looking at the application of the Ink Business Cash or Ink Business Unlimited, you may notice that the bonus categories and welcome bonuses refer to cash back. In other words, the welcome bonus that I refer to as 90,000 points is marketed as offering $900 cash back, and the 5x points that I refer to is marketed as 5% cash back.
That’s because if used independently, those two cards earn cash back rather than travel rewards.
This is where there’s a trick that can greatly increase the value of your Ink Cash and Ink Unlimited points. If you have these cards in conjunction with another card that earns 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 Card (review)
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, you can redeem at the following rates through the Chase Travel Portal:
- If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred, points can be redeemed for 1.25 cents each toward a travel purchase
- If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, points can be redeemed for 1.5 cents each toward 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 AerClub
IHG One Rewards
Air Canada Aeroplan
Air France-KLM Flying Blue
World of Hyatt
British Airways Executive Club
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
Southwest Rapid Rewards
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Transferring points between cards is easy and can be done online.
The Ink Business Preferred, Ink Business Cash, and Ink Business Unlimited, are an unbeatable business credit card trio. Not only do these cards have incredible welcome bonuses, but they’re extremely rewarding for everyday spending, and offer some useful perks as well.
Hopefully the above answers any questions you may have had about the bonus categories and the transferability of points for Chase’s Ink products.
If you use Chase Ink Business cards, which bonus categories do you value most?