May 27th, 2014
Update: The Ink limited time offer will end on Sunday, 06/01. Grab the limited time offer while you can, the last time it was offered was a year ago so it probably won’t return for another year.
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 own a business, even if it’s not your primary source of income, 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.
For a limited time only the Ink Bold and Ink Plus offer an extremely generous 60,000 point signup bonus for spending $5,000 in 3 months. The $95 annual fee on those cards is waived for the first year.
If you are approved for an Ink card, you will get the signup bonus even if you have had an Ink card in the past, simple as that.
You can also have the same Ink card at the same time for different businesses, each with their own signup bonus.
If both spouses are involved in the same business, they can each apply for their own card and they will each get the signup bonus.
The Ink Cash card has no annual fee and for a limited time only has a 30,000 point signup bonus for spending $3,000 in 3 months. It says $300 cash back but that’s just because you can use the 30,000 points for $300 cash back. I sure hope you don’t.
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.
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 , Evolve Money, or just used anywhere you shop and you’ll still come out ahead.
You can buy the $200 Visa gift card from Staples here.
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 and Gifts.
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.
You can also gift a useful gift card as a gift. What Bar Mitzvah kid wouldn’t want an Amazon gift card to buy whatever they really want instead of what you might think they want? Plus you’ll get 5 points per dollar!
5. Cash back on top of points.
Ink cards used to be issued as Mastercards though now all Ink cards are issued as 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 earn 1% cash back at Chevron, and Texaco, 2% cash back at TigerDirect, 4% cash back at Alamo and National, 5% cash back at Lenovo, Sony, and several hotel brands, etc.
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 kosher food.
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:
-Singapore (Star Alliance) offers private walled-in first class suites that can only be booked with their miles. A suite one-way from JFK to Europe is 57,375 miles. Travel to the US48, Hawaii, Alaska, Europe, and Israel can all be had on the cheap. There are no close-in booking fees and changes and cancellations are very cheap. Fuel surcharges apply when flying on most airlines besides United. More info here.
-United (Star Alliance) is still an excellent currency, even after their devaluation a few months ago. They never charge fuel surcharges, have very flexible routing rules, they allow one-way awards for half the mileage, they have 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 USAirways or Air Berlin are just 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 USAirways, Air Berlin, Aer Lingus, Alaska, or LAN and you can transfer points to Iberia to limit fuel surcharges there as well.
You can read more in the BA knowledgebase. And you can see 102 places you can go to nonstop from NYC with Avios.
Don’t forget about these 22 things to keep in mind when using Avios!
-Korean (Skyteam) offers unbeatable first class availability (A380 First Class Trip Report here) and they also have true 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 a value of about 1.7 cents per point towards award travel. Plus you get 2 free checked bags, free flight changes or flight cancellations. 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 with 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.
The beauty of miles over points or cash-back:
The great thing about being able to transfer points into airlines or hotels are the incredible values you can attain.
-A first class ticket to Hawaii can cost $3,000 but you can use 60,000 miles for that same ticket, a value of 6.7 cents per mile. If you were using Capital One points you would need 300,000 points per ticket.
-A last minute ticket or a ticket where you don’t stay for 3 nights from New York to Detroit costs $1,500 in coach but just 9,000 miles. That’s a value of 16.7 cents per mile. If you were using Capital One points you would need 150,000 points per ticket.
-A first class ticket to Asia can cost $27,000 but you can use 135,000 miles for that same ticket, a value of 20 cents per mile. If you were using Capital One points you would need 2,700,000 points per ticket.
-A night at a Park Hyatt in Paris, Sydney, or the Maldives can run $1,500 with tax but you can use 25K-30K points for that room, a value of 5-6 cents per point. Or you can use less points and get even better values with cash and points. If you were using Capital One points you would need 150,000 points per night.
And that’s all besides for the fact that getting a Capital One card costs a minimum of 3 credit pulls whereas you can get several Chase cards with just 1 credit pull.