Why You Need a Chase Ink Card

Photo (cc) by gagstreet

(Note: When this story was originally published, it incorrectly stated the bonus points from the Ink Classic card were worth $250 in travel, when they’re actually worth $200 in Ultimate Reward points. It also incorrectly stated that points on Ink Classic were redeemable for travel at 1.25 cents each.)

Writing about credit cards for Money Talks News, I come across all manner of great deals. I told you about the British Airways 100,000-point sign-up bonus, some little-known cards with low interest rates, and even the rare 0 percent APR balance transfer card with no fee.

But as I look through the best deals of the last few years, I keep coming back to Chase’s premium Ink line of cards. Here’s why you should seriously consider getting one.

What Ink means

There are four different Ink cards offered by Chase, but all are similar. Each features 5x and 2x bonuses year-round on various categories of spending. Each is designed for business users, but that definition is broad enough to include anyone who takes an occasional business trip for work or buys and sells stuff on eBay. When you apply, just use your Social Security number where it asks for an Employee Identification Number.

Here’s why I like it so much.

Ink Cash

  • The entry-level Ink card offers $200 in cash back after spending $3,000 in the three months after opening an account.
  • Earn 5 percent cash back rewards from the first $25,000 spent annually at office supply stores, and on cell phone, land-line, Internet, and cable TV services.
  • Earn 2 percent rewards from the first $25,000 spent annually at gas stations and restaurants.
  • 1 percent cash back on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee

Ink Classic

  • 20,000 Bonus Points worth $200 in Ultimate Rewards after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar from the first $25,000 spent annually at office supply stores, and on cell phone, land-line, Internet, and cable TV services.
  • Earn 2 points per dollar from the first $25,000 spent annually at gas stations and hotels.
  • 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee

Ink Plus

  • Earn 50,000 Ultimate Rewards bonus points, worth at least $625 in travel, after spending $5,000 in the three months after opening an account.
  • Earn 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar from the first $25,000 spent annually at office supply stores, and on cell phone, land-line, Internet, and cable TV services.
  • Earn 2 points per dollar from the first $25,000 spent annually at gas stations and hotels.
  • 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Transfer points to airline or hotel programs or redeem directly for travel at 1.25 cents each.
  • No annual fee the first year, $95 thereafter.

Ink Bold

  • Charge card – Your entire balance must be paid in full each month.
  • Earn 50,000 Ultimate Rewards bonus points, worth at least $625 in travel, after spending $5,000 in the three months after opening an account.
  • Earn 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar from the first $25,000 spent annually at office supply stores, and on cell phone, land-line, Internet, and cable TV services.
  • Earn 2 points per dollar from the first $25,000 spent annually at gas stations and hotels.
  • 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Transfer points to airline or hotel programs or redeem directly for travel at 1.25 cents each.
  • No annual fee the first year, $95 thereafter.

How to earn a crazy number of Ultimate Rewards points

The key to earning outstanding value from these cards is to maximize their bonus categories.

First, start by adding up your annual expenses for gas. Double that to estimate how many points you’ll earn in that category.

Next, calculate your monthly expenses for cell phone, land-line, Internet, and cable TV services and multiply that amount by 60. That’s how many points (or cents in the case of Ink Cash) you’ll earn each year from that category.

Then there’s the 5x bonus for purchases from office supply stores. While you might not spend much on office supplies, consider the vast array of other items available at your local Staples, Office Depot, or OfficeMax. Think school supplies, computers, furniture, even gift cards. A savvy credit card user can purchase gift cards at these stores for restaurants and home improvement stores as well as generic Visa and American Express gift cards that can be used anywhere.

In short, it’s easy to imagine achieving 5x rewards for a much larger portion of spending than just on office supplies.

What can you use Ultimate Rewards points for?

Chase’s Ultimate Rewards points are versatile and valuable. The Ink Classic, Plus, and Bold cards allow point transfers to travel partners or you can just book travel directly through Chase. I’ve transferred miles to Southwest, United, Korean, and British Airways, then used them with all their respective partners, which include US Airways, American, and Delta. Alternatively, I can transfer points to hotels programs such as Hyatt, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, and Priority Club. Points can be transferred to Amtrak Guest Rewards as well.

Beware Business Cards

As always, reward cards are only for those who pay their entire balance in full and on time. And that’s especially true of business credit cards, because many don’t come with the same level of consumer protection as consumer cards.

The CARD Act, in effect since 2010, provides important consumer protections for personal credit cards, but the law excludes business credit cards. For example, under the CARD Act, banks can only increase rates if cardholders are at least 60 days delinquent. Without that protection, they can increase rates on balances any time they like.

While some banks have voluntarily provided many of the same protections to business cards, it’s still wise to only use these cards if you’re confident you’ll never pay late or carry a balance.

Bottom line

If you get one of these cards, and use it wisely, you can earn an incredible number of Ultimate Rewards points. Remember, the only thing better than taking a great vacation is knowing you got there free.

(Note: While we attempt to be completely objective when reporting on credit cards, this site may be compensated by issuers when a reader applies for a credit card through the links within credit card stories or on our credit card comparison page.)

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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