Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card review: The “preferred” Chase business card?
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Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card Overview
Chase throws its weight behind small businesses with the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card. Businesses that have regular, high-dollar purchases are the prime market for this card thanks to its 100,000-point welcome bonus (earned after spending $15,000 on qualifying purchases within three months).
According to Chase, the welcome offer is valued at $1,250 in travel purchases when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Even if you don’t use it for travel, it’s still worth around $1,000. If you’re a fresh business startup looking for a solid business credit card, this is money that can go right back into your bottom line. It also makes the $95 annual fee and lack of an intro APR offer a little easier to justify, although it doesn’t take too much spending to recoup.
Outside of its valuable sign-up bonus, the Ink Business Preferred delivers plenty of value as the top-tier business Chase credit card for frequent travelers thanks to its bonus redemption value toward travel and comprehensive travel protections. Although its rewards potential may not be the most appealing for lower-expense businesses that can’t spend sufficiently in its bonus categories, it can certainly swing above its weight class for those that can take advantage of its category rates.
What are the advantages and disadvantages?
- High spending requirement in a short timeframe to qualify for the welcome bonus, compared to other business cards
- Bonus category rewards rate is capped at $150,000 in combined purchases per year, which is relatively standard
A deeper look into the current card offer
- Rewards rate: 3X points on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year (then 1X points), plus 1X points on all other purchases
- Welcome offer: 100,000 bonus points after spending $15,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening
- Annual fee: $95
- Purchase intro APR: N/A
- Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
- Regular APR: 15.99 percent to 20.99 percent variable
Current welcome offer
Cardholders who can manage the $15,000 spend requirement on qualifying purchases within the first three months of opening the card will get a whopping 100,000-point sign-up bonus. This massive bonus is worth $1,000 in cash back or $1,250 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
That’s a staggering value as far as no-annual-fee business credit cards go, but the spending requirement is relatively steep for such a short time frame. It may not be attainable if you have a small side gig, and it isn’t particularly worth it if you’re going to spend it on cash back. Other cash back business cards with no annual fee offer bonuses valued at around $750 for half the spending requirement. However, it also tops many other sign-up bonuses you’d find even among some more expensive businesses cards. In fact, it’s potentially one of the best business card sign-up bonuses available, especially for the annual fee. Fortunately, qualifying for the sign-up bonus may be a bit more manageable if you use the Business Preferred as your primary card, factor in employee card spending and use it for any startup costs you have.
Chase has a 1:1 point transfer system for the Ultimate Rewards points it earns, meaning 1 point equals 1 transfer partner mile or 1 cent of cash back. For business travelers, this can translate into great savings, especially if you may need to redeem for cash back on occasion since few issuers provide a 1:1 value on such a wide variety of redemption options.
How you earn
You’ll earn 3X points on up to $150,000 worth of combined purchases within each account anniversary year on qualifying purchases (then 1X points). These bonus categories are:
- Shipping purchases
- Internet, cable and phone services
- Advertising purchases made with social media and search engines
Cardholders also earn unlimited 1X points on all other purchases.
How to redeem
Ultimate Rewards points are known for being some of the most valuable credit card rewards available on account of how flexible your options are. Hands-down, the best redemption option is to book travel through Chase’s portal in order to earn an extra 25 percent value (unless you can transfer your points to a Chase transfer partner for potentially more value). That means your points are worth 1.25 cents apiece toward travel while these other options may only offer up a 1:1 value (which is a rare ratio for most redemption options):
- Cash back, in the form of a statement credit or a direct deposit (eligible for most U.S. checking and savings accounts)
- Gift cards and vouchers to over 150 participating merchants
- Merchandise via Shop Through Chase and the Apple Ultimate Rewards Store
- Shopping with points at eligible websites’ checkout screens, including Amazon and PayPal
How much are the points worth?
Redemption options with a 1:1 value, such as cash back, make your points worth 1 cent each. They’re only worth 0.8 cents apiece toward Amazon.com purchases using the “Shop with Points” option, but there are two major ways to increase your point value beyond 1 cent.
The easiest way is to redeem points for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal, making them worth 1.25 cents. It might take a little bit more elbow grease, but The Points Guy’s latest valuation estimates that finding the right transfer partner for your business will make your points worth a fantastic 2 cents each—putting it in the upper echelon of reward values.
Other cardholder perks
While healthy rewards earning rates are the most obvious Ink Business Preferred benefits, you’ll also be able to secure your business travel and purchases with a great suite of travel and purchase protections.
Although these travel insurances and shopping protections are some of the best you’ll find on a card of this caliber (trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance is perhaps the most sought-after travel protection, usually only found on top-tier travel cards), there aren’t any yearly bonuses or other features with a monetary value that will help you offset your annual fee each year.
Employee cards at no additional cost
Gone are the days where staff members had to carry around petty cash. Businesses can issue cards to individual cardholders who will automatically share in the main card limit. These cards can also have individualized limits, which helps you track your business spending coupled with the card’s other expenditure reporting service perks.
Travel and purchase insurance
Whether your business calls for purchasing supplies or hopping a flight, there are several travel and purchase coverage benefits outside standards like 24/7 roadside dispatch, such as:
- Trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance: Pre-paid, non-refundable travel expenses, including passenger fares and hotels, can be reimbursed up to $5,000 per person and $10,000 per trip in the event of covered situations like sickness and weather.
- Auto rental collision damage waiver: By paying for your auto rental vehicle with your card and declining the agency’s insurance, you’ll get primary coverage up to the cost of the vehicle in the event of theft or collision.
- Extended warranty protection: Eligible purchases with U.S. manufacturer’s warranties of three years or less will be protected for an additional year.
- Purchase protection: New purchases are covered for 120 days against damage or theft for up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account.
- Cell phone protection: Cardholders or the employees listed on the monthly cell phone bill paid by your card can enjoy up to $600 per claim (three claims per 12 months with a $100 deductible) in cell phone protection against covered theft or damage. The Business Preferred provides one of the best cellphone protection plans you’ll find on a credit card thanks to its high $1,800 coverage cap per year.
Rates and Fees
While the biggest fee is the $95 annual fee, there are also other fees to be aware of, such as the late or returned payment fee of $39. You luckily won’t have to worry about incurring extra charges while you travel, however, since the Ink Business Preferred doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.
In case your business faces any unexpected expenses, there isn’t a zero-interest offer for either purchases or balance transfers, so you’ll have to take on the variable 15.99 percent to 20.99 percent APR, which can be below the current average credit card interest rate**. Transferring your balance to this Chase card will pose a relatively high $5 or 5 percent fee for each transfer (whichever is greater).
First-year value vs. ongoing value
Besides the stellar flexibility and values of the Ultimate Rewards program, the Ink Business Preferred card’s distinguishing feature is its top-shelf sign-up bonus. Very few business cards carry a welcome offer this rewarding, despite the intimidating spending requirement. This makes your first year with the card stupendously valuable compared to the following years and compared to other cards with a similar annual fee, as well. In fact, the 100,000-point bonus more than triples the average yearly value for the second year and beyond, covering the annual fee more than thirteen times over.
The downside is that the Ink Preferred doesn’t carry any annual credit-style perks, meaning that you’ll only be able to offset the annual fee through rewards spending alone. Still, this shouldn’t be too difficult for most cardholders since the 3X bonus categories reward a variety of everyday business expenses. The Ink Business Preferred is certainly worth it, though, since the annual fee is easily recouped by spending at least $212 per month in those boosted categories if you redeem for travel through Chase (or just $132 if transferring points at the 2-cent TPG value).
In fact, we’ve calculated that the average business cardholder* should earn $698 in rewards value per year. This is a solid but weak payout considering that the no annual fee Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card earns about $720 in cash back on the same budget with its 1.5 percent flat-rate. However, if you plan on maximizing the Business Preferred’s 3X categories’ $150,000 yearly spending limit, you could rake in an astounding $5,625 of points toward Ultimate Rewards travel. That suggests the Business Preferred may be a better choice if you plan on pairing it with other Chase business cards to redeem the pooled rewards at a higher value toward travel—or if you plan on spending around $26,667 per year (about $2,223 per month) in its 3X categories to surpass competing cards’ average rewards potential for $1,000 in rewards toward Chase travel.
If you’re only planning to hold one business card for travel rewards at this price point—and you aren’t as interested in the Business Preferred for its flexible redemption options or travel and shopping protections and aren’t going to maximize its bonus categories—then one of the no annual fee Chase business cards or a premium flat-rate card like the Capital One Spark Miles for Business will probably provide more long-term value.
|Benefits and Costs||First-year value||Ongoing value (no welcome offers)|
|Welcome offers||+$1,250 (100,000 points after spending $15,000 in the first three months, redeemed toward Travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards for a 1.25-cent value)||—|
|Perks (of monetary value)||
|Compared ongoing variable APR value**||
*Based on our formula used to calculate each card’s average rewards rates and average ongoing rewards value, using Bureau of Labor Statistics spending data and an assumed $48,000 yearly spend over three years ($1,325 per month).
**Based on the average credit card interest rate at the time of writing.
Bankrate staff experience
My husband and I have been self-employed in the digital media space for a decade, and this has left us managing every aspect of our finances on our own. While we also have other business credit cards, we are at the point where we use our favorite—the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card—for around 90 percent of our business spending and bills. If you’re intrigued by the Ink Business Preferred, here are a few reasons why I love it:
- The first reason we use this card so heavily is its bonus categories, which happen to apply for the bulk of our business spending.
- Chase also makes it easy to pool your points in a single account so you can use them how you want. I use a combination of cards known as the Chase trifecta for our personal and business spending. This combination of cards also includes the Chase Freedom Unlimited, which I use to earn 1.5X points on our personal spending that doesn’t qualify for bonus rewards. I also use the Chase Sapphire Reserve to earn 3X points on personal travel and dining as well as 10X points on Lyft rides (through March 2022).
- We travel quite a bit for business, and we love the travel insurance benefits this card offers. Specifically, we benefit from having primary auto rental insurance when we rent a car for business purposes as well as trip cancellation and interruption insurance worth up to $5,000 per person and up to $10,000 per covered trip. Another benefit of the Ink Business Preferred that I use is cell phone protection, which is applicable when you pay your cell phone bill with your credit card. I pay my phone bill with my business credit card since it’s a business expense.
— Holly D. Johnson,Bankrate writer
How the Ink Business Preferred compares to other business credit cards
Ink Business Preferred vs. American Express® Business Gold Card
The Ink Business Preferred card’s most similar rival, the American Express Business Gold Card, weighs in at a much more striking $295 annual fee but can be more rewarding based on your day-to-day expenses. Rather than 3X rewards, the Business Gold earns 4X points on purchases from two of the six categories you spent the most in by the end of each billing cycle: airfare purchased directly from an airline, U.S. advertising (either online, TV or radio-based), U.S. gas stations, U.S. restaurants, U.S. shipping and select U.S. tech purchases (computer software, hardware and cloud data purchased directly from select providers). The combined purchases also pose the same $150,000 annual spending cap as the Ink Business Preferred, which is a shame considering the Amex Business Gold doesn’t have a defined credit limit.
If you pit the categories against each other, Chase’s general travel category certainly trumps Amex’s airfare category, the two advertising categories cover largely different channels and the U.S. shipping purchase categories are a relative draw. The Business Gold rewards a wider variety of categories—especially more travel-related expenses like dining and gas—but the Business Preferred allows you to dip into all three categories without planning your month’s biggest expenses ahead of time.
That makes the Business Gold a better fit for businesses with more specific expenses that are targeted by its categories, but the Business Preferred may be better for smaller businesses that need a better category spread to maximize their rewards potential. But despite both Ultimate Rewards points and Amex’s Membership Rewards points carrying the same 2-cent TPG market value, the potentially higher-value bonus categories and rewards rate give the Business Gold an edge for the average yearly rewards value*: $973 compared to the Business Preferred’s $698.
The Amex Business Gold also doesn’t come with much in the way of credit-like bonus features, but frequent hotel guests may be able to offset most of the annual fee with up to $250 each year in combined credits for qualifying bookings with properties in Amex’s The Hotel Collection. However, the Ink Business Preferred beats the Business Gold in terms of travel and shopping protections, and it offers much more flexibility for 1:1 redemption if you don’t always want to spend your points on travel. If you’re looking to eventually pair either with other business cards from the issuer, the Ink Business Preferred is incredibly effective, and Chase’s portfolio is much more cost-effective than the Amex business suite.
Ink Business Preferred vs. Ink Business Cash® Credit Card
Choosing between the Ink Business Preferred and the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card, one of its no annual fee siblings, mainly boils down to the annual fee, slightly different bonus categories and how you plan to redeem your points.
The Ink Business Cash earns 5 percent cash back on the first $25,000 you spend across office supply stores and internet services, cable services and phone services each account anniversary year. The Business Cash also borrows from the Amex Business Gold a bit by offering 2 percent back at gas stations and restaurants each year, but it’s also limited by a $25,000 annual spending cap.
There is some overlap with the communication services bonus category, but if you’re a light spender and your small business leans more on road-related employee travel and office supplies, then the Business Cash may be more lucrative. However, if you have larger expenses that rely on advertising and mainline travel, then the Business Preferred is likely a stronger option—especially with its boosted travel and transfer partner redemption options (which aren’t accessible with the Business Cash). The Ink Business Preferred card’s beefier travel and shopping protections are nothing to sneeze at either.
Best card to pair with the Ink Business Preferred
Other Chase Ultimate Rewards cards pair well with the Business Preferred, but its best partner is definitely the Ink Business Unlimited credit card. Like its name suggests, it earns unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases, which can be pooled with the Business Preferred for a better value toward travel. Considering the Business Unlimited doesn’t pose an annual fee, it’s an easy way to rake in virtually 1.75X points on all purchases that fall outside the Business Preferred’s bonus categories and spending limits.
The Ink Unlimited Cash is also a solid partner to consider on account of its additional gas and dining rewards, plus the excellent rewards rate on office supplies. Although there is some bonus category overlap with the Ink Business Preferred, it isn’t much of a problem since the Unlimited Cash doesn’t pose an annual fee. Plus, earning essentially 5.25X rewards to keep your office stocked and 2.25X rewards to fuel up and eat while on the road is a pretty significant opportunity.
Bankrate’s Take: Is the Ink Business Preferred worth it?
If you’re looking for a card that has a great welcome offer and a fairly low annual fee, the Ink Business Preferred is it. The rewards rate compares well with other business credit cards in the market since your rewards don’t have to be used to settle an exorbitant annual fee, and the redemption options are incredibly valuable and versatile—especially if you travel for business. It also happens to have a decent APR all around, and you won’t have to pay extra to outfit your employees with their own cards.