Chase’s portfolio of Ink business credit cards is among the best business cards you’ll find. In particular, there are two great no annual fee options which are incredibly lucrative — the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card (review) and Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card (review).
In this post I wanted to compare the two no annual fee cards in the portfolio, and discuss which is the better option, if you’re trying to decide between them. This is an especially good time to consider picking up one of these cards, given the best-ever bonuses.
Similarities between the Ink Cash & Ink Unlimited
- Both cards have no annual fee
- Both cards have a welcome bonus of 90,000 points after spending $6,000 within the first three months, which is the best welcome bonus on a no annual fee card
- Both cards offer excellent purchase protection and rental car coverage for business rentals
- Both cards have points that can be pooled with those earned on premium Chase cards, including the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card (review), Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (review), and Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card (review)
Differences between the Ink Cash & Ink Unlimited
Meanwhile the Ink Business Cash Card has some bonus categories, which certain cardmembers might find to be valuable, as the card 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 in more detail below), so that means the return on these cards is potentially as follows:
- The Ink Business Unlimited offers ~2.55% of value on all spending
- 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 spending
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.
The no annual fee Chase Ink card I’d choose
The beauty of Chase Ink cards is that you can apply for each of the Chase Ink cards, and even earn the bonuses on each card. So you don’t have to decide between them, because many people (including me) have three of them.
Personally I’d pick up both of the cards, so that you can earn the welcome bonuses and take advantage of their unique advantages when it comes to spending. These are great no annual fee complements. Why earn just 2-5x points on bonus categories, or 1.5x points on everyday spending, when you can have both?
But if I could choose just one card, which would I choose? I’d probably lean toward the Ink Business Cash Card. 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 among business cards that have a great return on everyday spending:
- The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express has no annual fee (Rates & Fees) and offers 2x Membership Rewards points on the first $50,000 spent every calendar year (after that 1x)
- The Capital One Venture X Business (review) (Rates & Fees) has a $395 annual fee and offers 2x Capital One miles per dollar spent
- The Capital One Spark Cash Plus (review) (Rates & Fees) has a $150 annual fee and offers a flat 2% cash back, with further bonuses for big spenders
- The Capital One Spark Miles for Business (review) (Rates & Fees) has a $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95 after, and offers 2x Capital One miles per dollar spent
As you can see, there are several great cards offering a solid return on spending.
Maximizing no annual fee Ink Card points
Up until this point, I’ve referred to the rewards earned on these cards just as “points,” and that’s because there’s a trick to maximizing their value. Chase Ink Cash and Chase Ink Unlimited points can typically be redeemed for one cent each.
This is where there’s a trick that can greatly increase the value of your Chase Ink Cash or Chase 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 Chase Ink Cash or Chase Ink Unlimited in conjunction with one of those cards, suddenly your points are much more valuable. At a minimum, you can redeem points at the following rates through the Chase Travel Portal:
- If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Ink Business Preferred Card, 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.
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.
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 spending, and I’d recommend getting it. However, there are a few other cards out there that offer a similar return on spending, so the card isn’t as unique.
Which of the Chase Ink cards do you 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).