There have been several big rumors floating around the blogosphere recently regarding changes to the business card offerings from Chase. These have included rumors of a new product, possible changes to bonus categories, and the possible elimination of one of Chases’ current offerings. We now have official confirmation from Chase of exactly what is in store.
New Card: Chase Ink Business Preferred Card
Chase has announced that later this year they will be offering a new Ultimate Rewards earning business credit card, called the Ink Business Preferred card. To be absolutely clear, this is a brand-new product and not a change to one Chase’s existing products, meaning the sign-up bonus will be available to all new applicants. The key benefits and cost of this new card are summarized below.
|Sign-up Bonus||80K Ultimate Rewards after spending $5K in 3 months|
|Annual Fee|| In Branch: $0 first year, $95 thereafter
Online: $95 including first year
|Bonus Categories||3x on travel, telecom, shipping, advertising on social media and search engines up to $150K in spending per year combined|
This new product appears to be a solid offering from Chase, although there are some negative attributes as well. The 80K point sign-up bonus is higher than the standard 60K point public offer that is typically available on the current Ink Plus card, and even higher than the 70K point offer that can be obtained in-branch. This is the second highest sign-up bonus on any UR card, only lower than the Sapphire Reserve card, which carries a much higher annual fee of $450.
From what we know at this point, the 80K point offer will apply to both online and in-branch applications which is good news for those who don’t live near a Chase branch. The bad news is that those applying online will have to pay the annual fee right away, while those applying in-branch will have it waived for the first year.
The bonus categories are good, but not spectacular. You get 3x on travel which is nice for those who don’t have the Sapphire Reserve card, which earns the same rate in this category. The 3x earning rate for telecom spending is good, but worse than the 5x which can be earned using the Ink Plus card. This is a good option for those who don’t have an Ink Plus card, but useless for those who do, unless you have a large business that spends more than the $50K annual 5x cap for the Ink Plus. The 3x for shipping and advertising are relatively unique, but also narrow categories that many travel hackers will not find useful.
The biggest difference between this card and the Ink Plus is the lack of an office supply store bonus category. Many people use their Ink Plus cards to buy gift cards at stores such as Staples to earn 5x on purchases that would typically earn points at much lower rate if purchased directly from the merchant. There are even some travel related gift cards typically sold at Staples such as Southwest and Marriott gift cards. Earning 5x Ultimate Rewards is much more valuable than earning Rapid Rewards or Marriott points if booking flights or stays out of pocket (especially since both programs are transfer partners of Ultimate Rewards). Buying Visa gift cards at Staples with an Ink Plus card is also a very popular strategy for people who engage in manufactured spending.
The one big advantage the Ink Business Preferred has over the Ink Plus is that the bonus categories are capped at $150K of spending per year, whereas the Ink Plus has $50K limits that apply to its 5x and 2x categories separately. So, for those who have businesses with high amounts of spending in these categories, you can earn a greater aggregate number of Ultimate Rewards. Maxing out the 3x categories on the Ink Business Preferred nets 450K UR (3 x 150K), while maxing the 5x categories on the Ink Plus nets 250K UR (5 x 50K).
The Ink Plus Card is Going Away
Chase also announced that the Ink Plus card will not be open to new applicants going forward. The exact date has not been announced, but they may time it to coincide with the release of the Ink Business Preferred card. This is sad news due to the loss of the lucrative 5x bonus categories described above. It has long been known that the 5x bonus categories on the Ink Plus card are a loss leader, and Chase apparently feels that it has acquired a large enough market share in the business credit card segment that dishing out 5x UR is no longer necessary to secure new cardholders.
The Ink Plus card is still open to new applicants for the time being, therefore if you want this card we strongly recommend applying as soon as possible. This card is subject to Chase’s restrictive 5/24 rule, so if you have opened five or more credit card accounts in the past 24 months you may want to stop in a branch and ask if you are pre-qualified, which will help your odds of approval. It is also sometimes possible to get a higher sign-up bonus in-branch. For those that already have the Ink Plus card when new applications are closed, you will be grandfathered in and therefore will still be able to take advantage of the 5x categories.
The Ink Cash Card is Here to Stay
While the loss of the Ink Plus card is sad news, Chase has confirmed that the Ink Cash card will continue to be available for new applicants. The Ink Cash card is essentially a watered-down version of the Ink Plus card and can be very useful for certain travel hackers. There is no annual fee, but just as with Chase’s no annual fee personal cards, this card doesn’t come with the ability to transfer points to Chases’ network of transfer partners. Therefore, to unlock maximum value for your points you will need to pair it with one of the premium cards. It has the same 5x categories as the Ink Plus card (office supply stores, phone, internet, and TV). However, the annual spending cap for the 5x categories is 25K instead of 50K.
We recommend getting the Ink Plus card while you still can, especially if you spend more than $25,950 per year in the 5x categories. The $950 above the $25K cap offsets the annual fee if you value UR at a conservative 2 cents/point. However if you are close to hitting the 5/24 limit or can’t make use of the 5x categories, wait for the new Ink Business Preferred card since it has a higher sign-up bonus.