Chase Ink is an excellent line of business credit cards for small businesses. It has two card offerings, Chase Ink Business Preferred and Chase Ink Business Cash. Chase Ink Preferred, our recommended business credit card for small businesses, provides maximum rewards for businesses that charge a significant amount of purchases on their card each month. Chase Ink Cash is more suitable for small businesses that are getting a business credit card for the first time or that don’t plan on making too many purchases with their card.
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Chase Ink Preferred vs. Chase Ink Cash
|Chase Ink Preferred||Chase Ink Cash|
|Who’s It Right For?||Most small businesses that spend more than $10,000 per year on their credit card.||Small businesses that don’t spend much on their credit card and want to avoid an annual fee.|
|Introductory Points/Cash Back Bonus*||80,000 points if you spend $5000 in first 3 months||$300 cash back if you spend $3000 in first 3 months|
|Ongoing Rewards Points/Cash Back||3 Points per $1 on the first $150k spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable, and phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year.|
1 Point per $1 on all other purchases, with no limit to the amount you can earn.
|5 % back on office supplies, Internet, cable, and phone bills (up to $25K in|
2 % on gas and restaurant purchases (up to $25K in spending)
1 % on other purchases.
|Introductory APR||Same as regular APR||0 % for first 12 months|
|Regular APR||17.24 % variable||14.49 % variable|
|Annual Fee||$95, waived for first year||None|
|Foreign Transaction Fee||None||3 %|
|Can points be redeemed for travel?||Yes + 25 % increase in rewards points value for travel redemptions through Chase Ultimate Rewards.||Yes|
|Free employee cards?||Yes||Yes|
|Expense management tools?||Yes||Yes|
|Credit score required to qualify||Excellent||Excellent|
|Card type||Visa Business Card||Visa Business Card|
|Chase Ink Preferred||Chase Ink Cash|
*These points offerings change pretty frequently. Shortly after publishing this article, the bonus for Chase Ink Preferred changed to 80,000 bonus points when you spend $5000 in the first 3 months, and the bonus for Chase Ink Cash changed to $300 cash back when you spend $3000 in the first 3 months.
When to Use Chase Ink Business Preferred: High Spending and Travel Benefits
Chase Ink Preferred is the best overall business credit card that’s currently available on the market. If you plan to purchase a lot of things for your business with this card, you will accrue a lot of rewards points that can be redeemed for travel, cash back, or gift cards. The travel benefits on Chase Ink Preferred are especially good.
To start with, you’ll earn a 80,000 points bonus when you spend $5000 or more on your card within the first 3 months of opening your account. The opportunity to earn rewards points doesn’t end there. You can keep earning points in business-specific areas:
- Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150k spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year.
- Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases–with no limit to the amount you can earn.
You get some great travel perks with Chase Ink Preferred. Whenever you redeem points for travel booked through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal, the points are worth 25 % more. For example, your 80,000 introductory points bonus is worth $800 if redeemed for gift cards or a statement credit, but it is worth $1,000 if redeemed for travel booked through the portal. In addition, there are no foreign transaction fees on this card, which make it attractive for small business owners who travel abroad.
This card does carry an annual fee of $95, but it’s waived for the first year. With all these benefits, it’s no wonder that NerdWallet.com and TheSimpleDollar.com also rank Chase Ink Preferred as one of the best business credit cards.
When to Use Chase Ink Business Cash: Lower Spending, 0 % Intro APR and Lower Interest Rate
If you’re not going to charge enough on your credit card (around $9,000-10,000/year) to offset the annual fee on the Ink Preferred, then Chase Ink Cash might be more suitable for your business. In addition, it’s a better option for those who need to keep a balance on their card.
You will earn fewer rewards points with Chase Ink Cash, but there are still good points-earning opportunities. The introductory bonus is $300 cash back when you spend $3000 in the first 3 months. This is just under 1/2 of what the Ink Preferred offers (the 80,000 points bonus on the Ink Preferred is worth $625 when redeemed for travel). On a continuing basis, you can earn the same amount of rewards points for special category purchases as you can with the Preferred, but only until your spending hits $25,000 (the limit is $50,000 with Ink Preferred), with the exception of the general 1% cash back purchases being unlimited.
The travel rewards are less attractive for Ink Cash too. This card isn’t eligible for the 25 % increase in point value when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards. There is a 3 % foreign transaction fee. You earn 2x for restaurants, not for hotels, with Ink Cash. This makes Ink Cash attractive for small business owners who entertain clients, but it’s less useful for small business owners who travel a lot.
On the plus side, the 0 % intro APR and the fact that there’s no annual fee make Chase Ink Cash the better choice if you intend to keep a balance on your credit card or want to take advantage of a balance transfer. Even after one year, the interest rate is 2 percent lower for Ink Cash compared to the Ink Preferred.
Introductory Points Bonus
Most business credit cards, including Chase Ink, offer sign-on points bonuses to business owners for opening an account. Taking full advantage of these bonuses can give you some extra dollars to spend on travel or other business expenses.
Chase Ink Preferred offers the best introductory points bonus. Although Chase changes the offer pretty frequently, you can currently earn 80,000 rewards points when you spend $5000 on your card in the first 3 months after opening an account. These points are typically worth $800 if you redeem them for a gift card or a statement credit, but they are worth $1,000 (25 % more) if you use them to book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Chase Ultimate Rewards is a priceline-like portal that can be used to book flights, hotel stays, and rental cars.
Chase Ink Cash offers a significantly smaller points bonus of $300 cash back when you spend $3000 or more on your card in the first 3 months after opening an account. This is a nice offer for small business owners who don’t charge too many purchases to their business card.
Ongoing Rewards Points/Cash Back
In addition to an introductory bonus, most business credit cards give you the opportunity to earn rewards points on a continuing basis. Chase Ink Preferred has a better rewards program for travel spending while Chase Ink Cash is better for office expenses.
Points are structured as a % cash back or as rewards points. In general, 2x rewards or 2 % cash back means that you earn the equivalent of $2 for every $100 spent on the card. However, the value of points increases when you book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
With the Chas Ink Preferred, you’ll earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150k spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable, and phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines, each account anniversary year.
You’ll also earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases, with no limit to the amount you can earn.
With the Chase Ink Cash, you can earn 5 % cash back on purchases at office supply stores and on phone (cell and landline), Internet, and cable TV services. These are good categories for 5x rewards. Many office supply stores sell more than just office supplies, so you can stock up on paper goods, furniture, and more the next time you’re at Staples or OfficeMax. Internet, cable TV, and phone bills are often the biggest expenses for online businesses, and you reap the rewards with either Chase Ink card.
You can also earn 2 % on gas station purchases. Chase Ink Preferred also offers 2 % back on hotel purchases, while Chase Ink Cash offers 2 % back on restaurants.
Lastly, you’ll receive 1 % cash back on all other eligible purchases that don’t fall into the above-mentioned special categories. There’s no spending limit on 1 % cash back (other than whatever your credit line is) and points don’t expire as long as you keep your Chase Ink account open.
Since many small business owners or employees travel for business purposes, we’ve dedicated one section to explaining the travel benefits of the Chase Ink credit cards. Chase Ink Preferred clearly has better travel perks than Ink Cash. On the Ink Preferred card, your points value jumps up 25 % when you book travel on Chase Ultimate Rewards, and you can also transfer points to frequent flier miles/loyalty programs on Chase partners.
Chase Ultimate Rewards is a priceline-like portal that can be used to book flights, hotel stays, and rental cars. Anytime you use your Chase Ink Preferred rewards points to book travel through this portal, you get a 25 % increase in points value. For example, a flight which costs $500 will only require 40,000 points. There are no blackout dates or restrictions on travel that’s booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards. This travel benefit could yield a lot of savings every year, but it’s exclusive to Chase Ink Preferred. Here is a screenshot of what the Ultimate Rewards portal looks like:
Likewise, if you want to transfer your rewards points to a frequent flyer or loyalty program, you can only do so if you have Chase Ink Preferred. You can transfer your points on a 1:1 basis to Chase’s travel partners. However, Chase currently has only 11 travel partners for points transfers. Amex has more travel partners and additional travel benefits.
Both the Chase Ink Preferred and Chase Ink Cash cards come with travel accident and emergency insurance, baggage insurance, and auto rental collision damage waiver. On top of that, the Ink Preferred also has trip cancellation and delay insurance. Chase cards are chip-enabled, providing increased security when you make purchases in foreign countries.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is the cost of borrowing money on your credit card. We recommend paying off the balance on your card in full each month, so you’re not wasting precious business funds on interest. If you won’t be able to pay off the balance in full, then APR is an important consideration. Chase Ink Cash is the better card from an APR standpoint.
Chase Ink Cash offers 0 % APR for the first 12 months. This means that you don’t have to pay interest on outstanding balances for one year. After that, the regular APR is a variable 14.49 %. The APR for Chase Ink Preferred is a variable 17.24 %. The Ink Preferred doesn’t have an intro APR.
A variable APR means that it can change based on market conditions. Credit card interest rates have fallen over the last few decades, but there’s usually not too much variation from year to year.
Remember that your regular APR can change under other circumstances too. For example, if you’re late with a payment, you are subject to a higher penalty APR. In addition, if you withdraw cash using your credit card (cash advance) or withdraw more than your credit limit allows (overdraft), you are subject to a higher APR and possibly to other fees. Always review your cardholder agreement carefully, so you understand your APR.
Annual Fees and Foreign Transaction Fees
While APR is relevant only for those who keep a balance on their credit card, annual fees and foreign transaction fees affect all cardholders. Chase Ink Preferred and Chase Ink Cash are pretty evenly matched up in this category.
While Chase Ink Preferred doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, it does charge an annual fee of $95. For most small businesses, the annual fee isn’t a bad deal because it is more than made up for with the rewards points that you accrue over the course of one year.
If you don’t think you’ll spend enough to offset the annual fee, then Chase Ink might be a better choice for you because it has no annual fee. It does, however, carry foreign transaction fees of 3% per transaction. This isn’t ideal for small business owners or employees who frequently travel abroad.
A balance transfer is when you consolidate the outstanding balances on your credit cards and transfer them to a low or no interest credit card to lower your monthly payments. As mentioned above, we recommend always paying off your balance in full, but a balance transfer can provide some welcome relief if you’re struggling from credit card debt. If you choose to do a balance transfer, beware of balance transfer fees that could offset the savings in interest that you get by transferring your balances.
Chase Ink Cash is a better choice of card for balance transfers because it offers 0 % APR for 12 months. This can help you save money on interest. There is a balance transfer fee of $5 or 5 % of the transfer amount, whichever is greater. After 12 months, the APR for balance transfers is the same as the APR for purchases – 14.49 % variable APR.
Chase Ink Preferred charges 17.24 % variable APR for balance transfers. There is a balance transfer fee of $5 or 5 % of the transfer amount, whichever is greater.
Here’s an example to show you how you can save money with a balance transfer. For example, let’s say you owe $2,000 on a credit card that charges 12 % APR. You would have to pay $187 per month to pay off the balance over 12 months. If you transfer your balance over to your Ink Cash card during the 0 % APR intro period, you could pay off the balance in 12 months by paying $167 per month. That saves you $240 in interest over the course of one year. The balance transfer fee is 5 % of the transfer amount, which is $60. So you will ultimately save $240 – 60, which is $180.
The best business credit for balance transfer fees is Capital One Spark Cash Select or Spark Miles Select. These cards have 0 % APR and no transfer fees.
Employee Cards and Expense Tracking
If you have employees, you may want to issue a credit card to them to use for business purposes. Both Chase Ink cards offer free employee cards and expense management tools to keep track of charges that are made on the card.
The Chase Ink cards come with an iTunes and Android app called Jot. Using this app, you can set employee spending limits and create alerts to be notified whenever an employee uses the card. You can also take photos of receipts, tag the receipts as belonging to particular categories, and export the receipts to Quickbooks or other expense tracking software. Unfortunately, the app doesn’t get great user reviews because it seems to crash frequently, but here are some screenshots:
If you manage your business finances on the go, Amex has an app called ReceiptMatch that gets better reviews than Jot.
An excellent personal credit score is needed to qualify for either Chase Ink Card. If you have only average personal credit, we suggest applying for Capital One’s Spark Classic Business Card. This is one of the very few business credit cards that’s available for those with average credit.
Once you have a Chase Ink Card, it will show up on your business credit report as a business credit card. It sits separately from your personal financial accounts and normally shouldn’t affect your personal credit score. However, in the cardholder agreement, you personally guarantee that you will pay outstanding balances. So, if you regularly miss payments, your personal credit score could be harmed. Remember that this is a business card, and your cardholder agreement limits its use to business purposes.
If you have very poor credit (under 550), your best option is a secured business credit card, such as Wells Fargo’s Business Secured Credit Card. You must provide a security deposit, but this card is designed to help you repair your credit.
Both Chase Ink Preferred and Chase Ink Cash are excellent business credit cards, but we think the Ink Preferred has a leg up over Ink Cash, at least for businesses that spend at least $10,000 a year on their card.
Chase Ink Preferred offers the highest introductory points bonus of all the business credit cards we’re reviewing when you spend $5000 in the first 3 months. Beyond that, you can earn 5x and 2x rewards in specific categories such as office supply stores and Internet/phone bills.
Chase Ink Preferred has an annual fee of $95, but it’s waived for the first year, and this card carries no foreign transaction fees.
Chase Ink Cash is also a great card, but for different reasons. You can’t earn as many points, but there’s no annual fee, and you get 0 % APR for the first 12 months. If you’re thinking of doing a balance transfer or can’t fully pay off your balance each month, then Chase Ink Cash is the better choice.
Need some money for your business? Click here to get our FREE Guide:
How to Get a Small Business Loan.