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Ink Business Unlimited credit card vs. Ink Business Preferred credit card

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Whether you lead a world-renowned company or a side hustle you started last weekend, chances are there’s a Chase business credit card that can benefit you. Here, we’ll compare the perks of two of those cards: the Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card, which could be more suitable for businesses that are getting off the ground or that have smaller budgets, and the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, which requires heavier spending to snag its more valuable welcome bonus and offers higher rewards in some key categories.

Main details

Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Welcome bonus Earn $750 in bonus cash after spending $7,500 in the first three months Earn 100,000 bonus points after spending $15,000 in the first three months
Rewards rate Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on business spending
  • Earn 3X points on travel; shipping purchases; internet, cable and phone services; and social media and search engine advertising, on up to $150,000 in spending a year
  • Unlimited 1X points on all other spending
Intro APR 0% APR on purchases for the first 12 months, then a variable APR of 15.49% to 21.49% N/A
Annual fee $0 $95

Ink Business Unlimited vs. Ink Business Preferred highlights

Welcome bonus winner: Ink Business Preferred

The Ink Business Preferred offers 100,000 bonus points after you make $15,000 worth of purchases in the first three months. Each point is worth 1.25 cents if you redeem them through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, so that gives you a $1,250 value.

On the other hand, the Ink Business Unlimited awards $750 in bonus cash if you spend $7,500 within the first three months. That’s more easily achievable, but this bonus offer is worth $500 less than the Ink Business Preferred’s welcome bonus. Thus, you should pick the Ink Business Preferred if you want the chance to earn a more valuable welcome bonus.

Rewards rate winner: Ink Business Preferred

The Ink Business Preferred gives 3X points on some major business spending categories. You’ll earn this higher rate on travel, shipping, ads on social media sites and search engines, and utility services like internet, cable and phone. That applies on up to $150,000 in spending every year, counting from the date you open the account. Other spending earns 1X points.

In comparison, the Ink Business Unlimited gives 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases. That may be attractive if you want a simple rewards structure or if your spending doesn’t align with the Ink Business Preferred’s bonus categories. But if you often hit the road to see customers or if you reach your target audience through online ads, you may get a better return with the Ink Business Preferred.

Intro APR winner: Ink Business Unlimited

The Ink Business Unlimited offers a 0 percent introductory APR for spending on purchases in the first 12 months after account opening, followed by a variable purchase APR of 15.49 percent to 21.49 percent. With the Ink Business Preferred, you’re charged a variable APR of 18.24 percent to 23.24 percent immediately—no 0 percent intro APR period. So if you’d like to put a big expense on your card early on and have some extra time to pay it off, you’ll want to choose the Ink Business Unlimited.

Annual Fee winner: Ink Business Unlimited

The Ink Business Unlimited has no annual fee, but the Ink Business Preferred membership fee will set you back $95 each year.

Which card earns the most?

Despite having an annual fee, the Ink Business Preferred offers a higher welcome bonus and more lucrative rewards on bonus categories. If you plan to use the card intensively and if you can take advantage of a few of those 3X points categories, you can probably garner higher rewards with the Ink Business Preferred.

Ink Business Preferred vs. Ink Business Unlimited spending example

To see how the math works out, let’s look at an example. Suppose a business owner charges a total of $5,000 in expenses to the card each month split between the following categories:

  • $1,000 on travel
  • $1,000 on search engine advertising
  • $700 on shipping
  • $300 on phone and internet services
  • $2,000 on miscellaneous spending

If this person uses the Ink Business Preferred, their $5,000 of monthly spending adds up to $15,000 after three months, and they earn the welcome bonus of 100,000 points.

Next, $3,000 of their monthly spending is in the card’s bonus categories (travel, search engine advertising, shipping, phone service and internet service). That’s $36,000 in bonus category spending for the year, which is below the $150,000 limit and thus eligible for 3X rewards earnings. That results in 108,000 points for the year (36,000 x 3 = 108,000). They also spend $24,000 in other categories for the year, which earns the 1X rate and translates into 24,000 points.

In total, the cardholder scores 232,000 points in their first year. If they redeem those points through Chase Ultimate Rewards, that’s a $2,900 value. Of course, they have to account for the $95 annual fee. But after subtracting that cost, they’re still left with $2,805 in rewards.

The numbers look pretty different if the person uses the Ink Business Unlimited. With this card, the $15,000 in spending in the first three months earns a $750 cash bonus. And the $60,000 in annual spending earns 1.5 percent back, or $900. There’s no annual fee to take care of, so they get to keep all of that cash back and earn $1,650 from the card in their first year, well below what they would earn with the Ink Business Preferred.

The scales tip in favor of the Ink Business Preferred in this example because the cardholder is charging several thousand dollars each month, hitting the threshold for the 100,000-point welcome bonus, and because a large chunk of their spending is in the card’s high-paying bonus categories. If a business owner isn’t going to spend $15,000 within three months of account opening or if they don’t make many purchases in those categories, the Ink Business Unlimited would probably be more beneficial.

Why should you get the Ink Business Unlimited?

The Ink Business Unlimited could be a great choice if you’re a small-business owner who isn’t going to spend $15,000 within the first three months to qualify for the Ink Business Preferred’s welcome bonus. Just be sure you can still spend $7,500 within that time frame.

Happy cardholders love the Ink Business Unlimited for its simplicity and flat-rate rewards structure. And its 0 percent introductory APR on purchases for the first 12 months (followed by a variable APR of 15.49 percent to 21.49 percent) could benefit you if you need to invest in new equipment or supplies and want some extra time to pay for them.

The Ink Business Unlimited doesn’t charge an annual fee, which may be important if it’s difficult to predict if your spending will earn enough rewards to justify paying for membership. This could also be a plus if you already use other business cards with annual fees and you don’t want your next card to add any more to your upfront expenses.

And the Ink Business Unlimited offers several other benefits that can be helpful as you grow your business.

Additional benefits

The Ink Business Unlimited provides purchase protection in case of damage or theft for up to 120 days after buying a product. Coverage goes up to $10,000 for each claim and $50,000 for the account.

The card also grants a one-year extended warranty when you buy items with eligible manufacturer’s warranties of up to three years.

The card offers several travel benefits, too. If you pay for a rental car with your card and turn down the rental company’s collision insurance, you get a collision damage waiver that covers up to the vehicle’s cash value. You also have access to travel and emergency assistance services that can connect you with legal help or medical providers when you’re on the go. And you can call the roadside dispatch service if you’re ever stranded with a flat tire or other car problems.

On the business management front, two features stand out. First, additional cards for employees are free, which might be convenient if you want to add multiple team members to the account. Second, Chase offers record-keeping tools and the option to link your account to bookkeeping software to help you stay organized.

Redemption options

The Ink Business Unlimited’s rewards come in the form of points worth 1 cent apiece. You can turn your points into cash by requesting a statement credit or direct deposit, or you can exchange them for gift cards. You can also redeem points for travel through the online portal or by calling the Chase Travel Center. No matter which of these options you choose, you get a 1:1 redemption rate.

Alternatively, you can use points to pay for purchases with some retailers, but your points may be worth less than their face value if you go this route.

And you can move points to another Chase card that offers Ultimate Rewards, provided that card belongs to you, someone in your household or the owner of your company. Your earnings could be more valuable if you transfer them to a card with a better redemption rate for travel.

Your points never expire as long as your account is open and in good standing.

Recommended credit score

You’ll likely need a good to excellent credit score to be approved for this card, which typically means a FICO score of 670 or higher.

Why should you get the Ink Business Preferred?

A major reason to love the Ink Business Preferred is that it boasts a generous welcome offer worth $1,250 if you redeem your points through the travel portal. That could be a significant boost for a small business.

The opportunity to earn 3X points in the bonus categories means this card has strong earning potential, particularly if your business has a big online presence or if you regularly travel to meet clients or participate in trade shows. And the fact that your points are worth 25 percent more when you redeem them for travel makes the rewards especially valuable for any company that requires employees to travel.

The Ink Business Preferred also provides some other perks.

Additional benefits

The Ink Business Preferred offers a bevy of travel benefits. First, there are no foreign transaction fees, so this card could be a good choice for international business trips.

You and all employees listed on your cell phone bill get protection against cell phone theft or damage if you use this card to pay your bill. That coverage is good for up to $600 per claim (with a $100 deductible), and you’re capped at three claims per year.

Trip cancellation insurance and trip interruption insurance will pay as much as $5,000 per person or $10,000 for non-refundable expenses you’ve paid in advance if you’re grounded by illness, severe weather or another qualifying reason.

If you rent a car and pay with your card, declining the rental company’s collision insurance lets you take advantage of the card’s collision damage waiver. This protects against theft and crashes and will cover you up to the cash value of the vehicle. When you’re away from home, you can also call for help from travel and emergency assistance services or contact roadside dispatch if you need a tow or run out of gas.

You get 120 days of purchase protection that will reimburse you for damage or theft by up to $10,000 per claim or $50,000 per account. And when you buy an item with an eligible warranty of up to three years, you’re granted an extended warranty for an additional year.

Also, you can get additional cards for employees without being charged an extra fee.

Redemption options

You can redeem points for cash through a statement credit or direct deposit, or you can turn them into gift cards. With either of these options, points are worth one cent apiece.

Your points will go further if you redeem them for travel through Chase’s portal. You can use points to purchase airfare, hotel stays, car rentals and more, and you’ll get $1.25 in value for every 100 points you redeem this way.

You can pay with points when you shop at participating retailers, but you may face a lower redemption rate.

You also pool points with another Chase card that offers Ultimate Rewards (if it belongs to you, a member of your household or the owner of your company). And you can transfer points to travel partners, where they might be worth even more.

You can hold onto points as long as you like, provided your account is open and in good standing.

Recommended credit score

To qualify for this card, you’ll need good to excellent credit. That generally corresponds to a FICO score of 670 to 850.

The bottom line

Both the Ink Business Unlimited and the Ink Business Preferred are great cards for small-business owners. The Ink Business Preferred’s earning potential is greater, thanks to its higher welcome bonus, 3X bonus categories and the option to redeem points for travel or transfer them to partners. The $95 annual fee is reasonable given how much this card can earn.

On the other hand, the Ink Business Unlimited’s advantage is its flexibility. There’s no annual fee, and its introductory APR gives new cardholders some wiggle room to pay off purchases. It also offers a more accessible welcome bonus and flat-rate cash back, which may appeal to those who don’t want to feel constrained by a tiered rewards system.

The two cards’ strengths could complement each other well, and for some people, it might make sense to get both. Alternatively, you could pair either of them with a business credit card from a different issuer to enjoy a wider range of bonus categories or additional perks.

Written by
Sarah Brodsky
Personal Finance Expert Contributor
Sarah Brodsky is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance and economics. She has more than 12 years of experience writing about credit, consumer banking and investing. Sarah writes for Credit Karma and Impactivate, and her clients have included Glassdoor and the Institute for Humane Studies. Her articles have been published by Haven Life, KeyBank, Investopedia, First Citizens Bank of Raleigh, North Carolina and the Coosa Valley Credit Union.
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Part of  Introduction to the Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card