March 23rd, 2014
The Chase Ink cards are some of the most powerful tools in any mileage junkie’s arsenal. They are truly a must-have.
Many people don’t even realize that they can get a business card. If you or your spouse have any business, side business, or even if you are just in the planning stages of a business you can get a business card. For example if Joe Smith sells items or wants to start selling items online and wants a credit card to better keep track of business expenditures he can open a business credit card for “Joe Smith Sole Proprietorship” as the business name. You don’t need to file any messy government paperwork to be allowed to do that.
Just be sure to select “Sole Proprietorship” as the business type and just use your social security number in the Tax Identification Number field as well as in the social security number field.
Here are some of the reason that Ink Is Beautiful:
1. The signup bonus.
Both the Ink Bold and Ink Plus offer a very generous 50,000 point signup bonus for spending $5,000 in 3 months. The $95 annual fee on those cards is waived for the first year.
Not only that, but you can have the same card at the same time for different businesses, each with their own signup bonus.
The Ink Plus and Ink Cash cards are credit cards that can be paid off over time if needed. The Ink Bold is a charge card that must be paid off in full monthly.
The Ink Cash card has no annual fee and a 20,000 point signup bonus for spending $3,000 in 3 months. It says $200 cash back but that’s just because you can use the 20,000 points for $200 cash back. I sure hope you don’t.
2. 5x points on telecom.
You’ll earn 5 points per dollar on internet/cable service and landline/cellular purchases. That’s a nice rebate when you purchase a new cell phone and off your telecom/internet bills.
3. 5x points on office supplies.
You’ll earn 5 points per dollar at office supply stores.
Office supply stores like Office Max, Staples, and Office Depot sell gift cards to hundreds of other stores. You can click here to view a list I compiled last year.
By buying gift cards you can get 5 points per dollar at hundreds of places you shop at anyway, including Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond/Buy Buy Baby, Marriott (You can even use these to cater a wedding!), Nordstrom, Southwest Airlines, Starbucks, Whole Foods, and hundreds of others.
Plus Office Max and Staples accepts credit cards for Visa prepaid gift cards. Even when there isn’t a sale the 5 points per dollar easily is worth more than the $6.95 fee on a $200 gift card. But they often go on sale where they sell them for less than the $200 face value AND you get the 5 points per dollar. They can be loaded onto Bluebird or just used anywhere you shop and you’ll still come out ahead.
On the Ink Plus or Bold card you can earn 5 points per dollar on up to $50,000 of spending per cardmember year per card.
On the Ink Cash card you can earn 5 points per dollar on up to $25,000 of spending per cardmember year per card.
4. Earn 5x points on Charity?
Your local school or other charity will be more than happy to accept donations of Amazon gift cards for supplies or any other useful gift cards for chinese auctions, raffles, fundraisers, etc.
They will give you a tax deductible receipt for the full face value-the price you paid for the gift cards. And at the same time you’ll earn 5 points per dollar. So while doing good you can still get a nice chunk of points and you’ll save on your taxes. Sounds like a win-win-win to me.
5. Cash back on top of points.
Ink cards used to be issued as Mastercards though now they are all Visa cards.
For example with an Ink Visa you’ll get an additional 1% cash back on top of 5 points per dollar every time you spend $200 or more at a Staples store or online. That makes gift cards even more lucrative!
With Visa you’ll also get cash back on top of 2 points per dollar at several gas stations and hotels. You’ll even get a 4% cash rebate at Alamo and National rent a car.
With Mastercard you’ll 5% cash back at Avis or Budget and cash back at 19,000 participating gas stations nationwide on top of 2 points per dollar.
6. Double point categories.
The Bold and Plus cards offer 2 points per dollar for spending on gas and hotels.
The Cash card offers 2 points per per dollar for spending on gas and dining.
7. Free lounge visits.
The primary cardholder and additional cardholders (which are free!) can each get a free Lounge Club membership that allows access 2 free lounge visits per year.
A recent addition to Lounge Club is the new Art & Lounge in Newark. That lounge is intended for use by El Al business and first class passengers and offers exclusively kosher food. With a Platinum card you can get unlimited free access to this lounge.
8. No foreign exchange fees.
The Ink Plus and Ink Bold cards have no fees for using their cards when abroad. Just opt to pay in the local currency and you’ll always get the best exchange rate with no fees.
9. Spending won’t hurt your credit score.
The really great thing with these business cards is that they don’t report your spending on your personal credit report.
On personal cards if you spend money on your card, your credit score will be hurt even if you pay your bill on time. A whopping 30% of your credit score is based on credit utilization. You can pay off your card before your statement is generated to avoid that, but that takes a lot of effort and laying out money well before you have to. Additionally it’s good to have the statement close with a few dollars to show the card is active and being paid every month.
On an Ink business card it’s just not reported, so you can wait until the money is due without it having a negative effect on your score. That makes life a lot simpler.
Plus if you close a business card it won’t ever have an effect on your score.
10. A year of 0% APR
The Ink Cash card offers a full year of 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers. So do many other cards. The difference is that because spending on the Ink cards won’t show up on your credit report (unless you’re delinquent), carrying a balance on an Ink card won’t hurt your credit score like it will on other cards. The 0% APR is just icing on the cake.
Note that there is a one-time 3% balance transfer fee. If you want a card with 0% APR and no fees for balance transfers you’ll want to look into Chase Slate which gives 15 months of 0% APR. However that is a consumer card, so carrying a balance there will hurt your score.
11. The Chase Trifecta.
Years ago I coined the term “Chase Trifecta.”
The reason is that the Chase Freedom is a very generous no annual fee card thanks to its rotating 5 point categories (such as gas stations, restaurants, etc). Plus if you have a checking account you’ll even get an annual 10% bonus making those 5.5 point categories and making all purchases earn 1.1 points per dollar.
The problem is that Chase Freedom points can’t be transferred into much more valuable airline miles and hotel points. To rectify that either you or your spouse has to have either a Chase Sapphire Preferred card, a Chase Ink Plus card, or a Chase Ink Bold card. That way you can transfer the Freedom points to one of those cards and from there into airline miles or hotel points.
12. Chase UR points are still awesome.
Chase Ultimate Rewards offer instant and fee-free transfers to top-notch mileage and points programs at a 1:1 ratio.
Transfer partners include:
-United (Star Alliance) is still an excellent currency, even after their devaluation last month. They never charge fuel surcharges, have very flexible routing rules, they allow one-way awards for half the mileage, they have a short-haul awards for 10,000 miles, they allow for a stopover and an open-jaw so that you can really maximize a single award ticket into several free trips, and they have dozens of partners to fly on, most of which can be booked on their website.
-British Airways (OneWorld) is awesome for short-haul awards. Just 9,000 miles for a round-trip zone 1 or 15,000 miles for zone 2 short-haul award. The zone 3 award for 25,000 miles round-trip can also be a bargain, for example for flights between the west coast and any of the Hawaiian islands or between Boston and Ireland with no fuel surcharges. Flights to Israel on Air Berlin are 60,000 miles with no fuel surcharges. They allow one-way awards for half the mileage. There are no close-in or expedite fees. You can cancel an award for as little as $2.50. Infants are only charged 10% of the miles on international trips instead of 10% of the full fare like US carriers charge. Plus they don’t collect fuel surcharges on AA within the western hemisphere, on Qantas within Australia, on Air Berlin, Aer Lingus, Alaska, or LAN and you can transfer points to Iberia to limit fuel surcharges there as well. Read more in the BA knowledgebase. Next week you’ll have access to book USAirways flights with Avios. See 102 places you can go to nonstop from NYC with Avios.
-Korean (Skyteam) offers the best first class availability of any airline in the world (777+A380 First Class Trip Report here), it’s truly incredible. Did you know that they fly to 13 US cities as well as Tel Aviv and the Maldives? They also have amazing bargains on partner travel, just 30,000 miles to fly round-trip on Hawaiian or Alaska to Hawaii in coach or 60,000 miles in first. And it’s just 20,000 miles to fly to Alaska in coach or 40,000 miles in first. You can even get a free stopover on the way to or in Alaska!
-Southwest offers award travel without capacity controls, though the value per point will dip effective 03/31. It will still offer a great value for award flights and they don’t charge for changes or cancellations. Plus you get 2 free checked bags and you can even get a point refund if the price of your flight goes down. You can also transfer points to Airtran for flat-rate awards like business class upgrades or free tickets at a flat rate instead of a rate that corresponds to the ticket price. From Airtran they can even be converted back into the old Southwest program that also offers flat rate awards.
-Virgin Atlantic has some niche uses like discounted awards on Delta and Cyprus Air. For example a round-trip from Tel Aviv to Cyprus is just 5,000 miles!
-Hyatt is a powerful hotel currency. They have added a new cash and points option that offers some excellent values and more importantly those stays earn points, elite stay credits, promo credits, and you can use suite upgrades on cash and point stays as well. It remains far less expensive for high-end hotel stays than any other hotel program, a $1,500/night villa at the Park Hyatt Maldives would run just 25,000 points or 12,500 points+$150.
You can also funnel points through Hyatt to Southwest to qualify for a free Southwest Companion Pass which gives you a free companion every time you pay for or redeem for a free ticket.
-You can also transfer points to Marriott, Ritz Carlton, Priority Club, and Amtrak. I’ve never been on an Amtrak in my life, but some people have reported getting some really nice bargains on Amtrak travel via their program.
When you use your points for travel you can get far more value out of them than when you sell them or cash them out. It’s easy to get an insane value from your points when flying in business or first class or staying in 5 star resorts. But even when you are in a pinch and need a last-minute ticket, a one-way ticket, or a ticket with stopovers in several cities, you can do far better using real miles than booking with cash or proprietary bank points that directly correlate with the cash price of the travel. That $1,200 last-minute coach ticket would cost 120,000 Capital One points versus 9,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points.