The Ink Plus Business Credit Card from Chase is a popular small business credit card with a points-based earning system that pays up to 5 points per dollar for purchases in select categories. It’s basically the premium version of Chase Ink Cash, the main differences between the cards being Plus’s points-based system, larger sign-up bonus, and $95 annual fee. Ink Plus includes some of the elements of the now-discontinued Chase Ink Bold, an old business charge card. And it complements Chase’s popular consumer cash back rewards and travel credit cards, such as Chase Freedom and Chase Sapphire Preferred.
Chase Ink Plus is ideal for small business owners who want to earn points for everyday business purchases, such as office supplies, communications, gas, and overnight accommodations. Its points system is versatile and easy to understand, simplifying the redemption process. You can redeem for virtually anything, including cash, gift cards, merchandise, travel, and experiences. And, to get you started, Ink Plus has a great sign-up bonus worth up to $750 in travel purchases (which Chase discounts by 20% at redemption), or $600 when redeemed in a different rewards category.
Qualifying for Ink Plus may be easier than you think. It’s often assumed that only business owners with profitable, multi-employee enterprises qualify for business credit cards. This isn’t necessarily the case. Chase merely requires that Ink Plus’s primary cardholder be the owner or representative of an incorporated business, freelance business, or sole proprietorship, and swear that the card will only be used for business purchases.
That said, Chase does conduct a credit check and ask for financial documentation during the application process. If your credit isn’t very good to excellent, or if your business doesn’t have adequate cash flow, your application is likely to be denied.
- Sign-up Bonus. When you spend at least $5,000 within 3 months of opening your account, you earn 60,000 bonus points. That’s worth up to $750 when redeemed for travel purchases, and $600 when redeemed for cash back or general merchandise.
- Rewards. Ink Plus earns 5 points per $1 spent on office supply and telecommunications purchases (including Internet, landline phone, cell phone, and cable TV), up to an annual limit of $50,000; 2 points per $1 spent on gas station and hotel purchases, also up to a $50,000 annual limit; and an unlimited 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. Above the $50,000 annual limits, purchases in the 2% and 5% categories earn an unlimited 1 point per $1 spent. Hotel purchases must be made directly with the hotel, not a third-party travel site such as Expedia, to qualify. The annual limit resets on the anniversary date of your account opening.
- Rewards Redemption. You can redeem your accumulated points for pretty much anything: cash equivalents (statement credits and bank account deposits), general merchandise purchases through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal, merchandise purchases at Amazon, gift cards from several dozen online and offline merchants, special experiences (such as dinner cruises), and travel purchases made through Ultimate Rewards. Redemption minimums start at 2,000 points ($20) and points are almost always worth at least $0.01 apiece. The one exception to the $0.01-per-point value is travel purchases. When you purchase travel, including airfare and hotel stays, through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal, you get a 20% discount. That boosts the value of 60,000 points, normally worth $600 at redemption, to $750.
- Transfer to Frequent Traveler Programs. If you don’t want to redeem your accumulated points directly through the Ultimate Rewards portal, you can transfer them to approximately 10 frequent traveler programs, including Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards, United Airlines MileagePlus, and Marriott Rewards. These transfers typically require a minimum of 1,000 Ultimate Rewards points and occur on a 1:1 basis – for instance, 10,000 Ultimate Rewards points become 10,000 United MileagePlus miles. That’s a much better ratio than some other cards’ point transfer schemes, which sometimes require 5 to 10 original points to earn just 1 point or mile with the transfer partner.
- Ink App. Ink Plus cardholders get access to the free Ink app, which allows you to tag purchases for record-keeping, track the transaction patterns of authorized card users, change authorized card users’ spending limits remotely, analyze your overall spending over time, and receive real-time alerts every time a purchase is charged to your account.
- Chase Checkout. Ink Plus cardholders have the option to apply for Chase Checkout, a mobile point-of-sale system that lets you accept credit card payments wherever there’s an Internet connection (including 4G). The mobile version of Chase Checkout includes lightweight card swipers that you can attach to your phone or tablet for instantaneous payment processing. Chase Checkout does come with additional payment processing fees: 2.75% to 3.75% of the total transaction amount, with a $25 monthly minimum.
- Regular APR. The variable APR for purchases and balance transfers is 15.49% to 19.49%, depending on prevailing rates. The cash advance APR is 25.24%, and the penalty APR is 29.99%.
- Important Fees. There’s a $95 annual fee, including in the first year, but no foreign transaction fees. Cash advances cost the greater of $15 or 5%, balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 5%, late fees range in cost from $15 to $39 (depending on the size of the late balance), and returned payments cost $39. There is no fee for additional employee cards, which earn rewards at the same rate as the primary cardholder’s card.
- Trip Interruption/Cancellation Insurance. If your trip is cancelled or cut short due to certain situations beyond your control, including severe weather and illness, Chase reimburses up to $5,000 per trip for nonrefundable, prepaid expenses. Eligible expenses include hotel stays, airfare, trip packages, and tours.
- Return Protection Plan. If the merchant rejects your attempt to return an item within 90 days of purchase, Chase reimburses up to $500 per item. This benefit is capped at $1,000 per year.
- Purchase Protection Plan. Ink Plus cardholders enjoy complimentary purchase protection insurance that covers items purchased with the card against theft and damage, up to $10,000 per item and $50,000 total per account. The benefit is good toward repair and replacement costs, and expires 120 days after each item’s purchase.
- Extended Warranty Coverage. Ink Plus comes with complimentary 12-month warranty extensions on all items with warranties originally scheduled to expire within three years.
- Credit Required. Chase Ink Plus requires excellent credit.
- Huge Sign-up Bonus. Ink Plus has one of the best sign-up bonuses in the business. When you spend $5,000 within 3 months of opening your account, you get 60,000 points – good for $600 in cash equivalents and general merchandise or $750 in travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards. The American Express Business Platinum Card‘s sign-up bonus is worth just $400, while the Business Gold Rewards Card‘s sign-up bonus is worth just $250.
- Flexible Points Redemption. Ink Plus’s rewards system is extremely versatile. Even though it’s a points-based program, it’s functionally equivalent to a cash back system, as rewards points are almost always worth $0.01 apiece and it’s possible to redeem them for cash equivalents, such as statement credits and bank account deposits. If you prefer to redeem for merchandise, you can buy pretty much anything with Chase’s gift card redemption options, through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal, or through Amazon. Other business credit cards, such as Capital One Spark Miles and the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card, only let you redeem points or miles for travel-related purchases.
- 1:1 Points Transfer to Frequent Traveler Programs. You can transfer your accumulated Ultimate Rewards points on a 1:1 basis to approximately 10 participating frequent traveler programs, including popular options such as United Airlines MileagePlus and Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards. This is a huge deal for frequent business travelers. Although the selection of transfer partners isn’t as great as some competing cards’, the ratio is better than most. Ratios of 5:1 or even 10:1 are common elsewhere, severely cutting into the value of transferred points.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees. Ink Plus doesn’t have foreign transaction fees, which is great news for business owners who regularly travel outside the United States. The U.S. Bank BusinessEdge World Elite MasterCard’s foreign transaction fees range between 2% and 3%.
- 20% Discount on Travel Redemptions. Ink Plus points are worth 20% more when redeemed for direct travel purchases at Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal – turning 60,000 points, normally worth $600, into $750 in travel spending. Capital One Spark cards, including Spark Miles and Spark Cash, don’t offer any such category bonuses at redemption.
- No Fees for Employee Cards. Ink Plus doesn’t charge for additional employee cards, no matter how many you need. This is a big help for business owners with multiple employees. By contrast, the first three additional employee cards cost $175 with the American Express Business Platinum Card. Each additional user above that limit costs $175 each.
- High Annual Fee. Ink Plus comes with a $95 annual fee. That’s higher than popular competitor cards with similar benefits, such as Capital One Spark Cash ($59) and Spark Miles ($59). Plus, those Capital One cards waive their annual fees in the first year. Not so for Ink Plus.
- No Introductory APR. Ink Plus doesn’t come with an introductory APR promotion. Capital One Spark Cash and Spark Cash Select both charge no interest on balance transfers and purchases for a limited time.
- Limited Travel Benefits. Ink Plus provides trip cancellation and interruption coverage up to $5,000 per trip, but few other travel-related benefits. By comparison, American Express’s business charge cards (including Business Green Rewards) provide 24/7 access to Amex’s Global Assist Hotline, which connect cardholders with local service providers (including emergency service providers) when they’re traveling more than 100 miles from home. Amex’s business cards also provide lost or damaged luggage coverage worth more than $1,000 per trip, a perk Ink Plus lacks.
Whether you’ve been in business for years or are just setting out, business financing is likely a key concern. As long as you can commit to using your card responsibly and not allowing your balance to grow too large (or, better yet, paying it off in full each month), a rewards-earning card such as the Ink Plus Business Credit Card is a good asset to have in your wallet. Just be sure to analyze your spending patterns from time to time to determine whether Ink Plus’s benefits and rewards remain a good fit for your company. If your needs and spending habits change, a different business credit card might offer a better value.