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The Chase Ink Business Credit Card lineup now has three different options to give you the most purchase rewards. Two of their credit cards are the Ink Preferred which offers tiered purchase rewards and the Ink Unlimited which earns an unlimited 1.5% back on every purchase. The Ink Preferred vs. Ink Unlimited debate isn’t as clear-cut as you might imagine.
Ink Preferred vs Ink Unlimited Comparison
Both the Ink Preferred and Ink Unlimited earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points that can be redeemed for cash or travel rewards. However, there are several differences in how you can earn and redeem rewards points. There’s also a difference in additional card benefits too. These differences stem largely from the fact that the Ink Preferred has an annual fee and the Ink Unlimited doesn’t.
Ink Preferred: $95 ($0 during the first year)
Ink Unlimited: $0
As you expect, the Ink Preferred is going to be more benefit-rich than the Ink Ultimate because of it charges a $95 annual fee beginning your second year of ownership.
The Ink Preferred is the only Chase Ink business credit card that charges an annual fee. After this comparison, you will be able to decide if the additional card benefits are worth the $95 annual fee.
Welcome Bonus: Ink Preferred vs Ink Unlimited
Ink Preferred: 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points ($1,000 value) after spending $5,000 in the first three months
Ink Unlimited: 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points ($500 value) after spending $3,000 in the first three months
Without a doubt, the Ink Preferred welcome bonus is the better value. In fact, it’s the most valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards welcome bonus!
Because Chase gives you a 25% redemption bonus when you redeem your rewards points for award travel, your 80,000 point bonus is worth $1,000 for award travel and only $800 for cash rewards.
You can also transfer them on a 1:1 basis to 13 different airline and hotel travel programs.
The Ink Unlimited sign-up bonus is a tidy sum compared to other no-fee cash back credit cards like the Capital One Spark Cash which only offers $200 back after spending $3,000.
You can spend the same amount ($3,000) and get an extra $300 and still earn the same amount on every purchase.
Chase deposits your $500 bonus as 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points. Regardless of how you redeem your points, the point balance is only worth $500. This is because the Ink Unlimited doesn’t offer a 25% point redemption bonus for award travel.
Purchase Rewards: Ink Preferred vs Ink Unlimited
Ink Preferred: Up to 3 points per $1 on select purchases and 1 point per $1 on all non-bonus spending
Ink Unlimited: Unlimited 1.5 points per $1 on every purchase
On the first $150,000 in combined annual spending, you will earn 3 points per $1 on the following purchases:
- Social Media and Search Engine Advertising
- Internet, Cable, and Phone Services
Once you exceed the $150,000 in annual spending, all remaining purchases earn one point per dollar. All non-bonus purchase categories always earn an unlimited one point per dollar spent.
Related Article: Read our Ink Preferred vs. Ink Cash comparison if you prefer tiered purchase rewards, but don’t want to pay an annual fee.
The Ink Unlimited earns an unlimited 1.5x points on every purchase.
If the majority of your spending is in one of the Ink Preferred’s bonus categories, you can earn double the points. There are three reasons when the Ink Unlimited’s purchase rewards are more valuable:
- You only make small purchases in the Ink Preferred’s bonus categories
- Crave simplicity to tiered rewards
- Want a secondary card to earn 50% more on the Ink Preferred’s non-bonus categories
Regarding the third reason, you might benefit more from the Ink Preferred’s 3x purchase categories, but owning a second business card to earn 1.5% instead of 1% is the better option if you still have frequent non-bonus purchases as you can combine your Ultimate Rewards balances.
Redeeming Ultimate Rewards Points
When it comes to redeeming points, the Ink Preferred vs Ink Unlimited have similarities. Both Ink products offer these four redemption options:
- Travel Rewards
- Cash Back
- Gift Cards
- Amazon.com Purchases
With the Ink Unlimited, your points are worth one cent each for all four redemption options. Only the Ink Preferred offers travel redemption bonuses, which can be well worth the $95 annual fee if you regularly travel for business.
You might be eyeing the Ink Preferred because of these two travel redemption bonuses:
- 25% redemption bonus if redeemed through Chase
- 1:1 point transfers to 13 airline and hotel loyalty programs
All non-travel point redemptions are only worth 1 cent each.
The 1:1 point transfers are more valuable than most people realize as you can transfer them to programs like Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, and World of Hyatt where they can easily be worth significantly more than the 25% redemption bonus. Because many airlines and hotels keep the best award redemption deals for themselves, it’s not uncommon to transfer your points and have them worth at least 2 cents each!
Additional Card Benefits
Both of these cards offer similar travel and purchase protection benefits, but the Ink Preferred offers two additional extras:
- Trip Cancellation/Trip Reimbursement Insurance up to $5,000 per trip
- Cell Phone Protection up to $600 per claim
Additional benefits that both cards share include:
- Primary Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver Protection
- Roadside Dispatch
- Purchase Protection
- Extended Warranty Protection
When the Ink Preferred Wins
Having an annual fee makes the Ink Preferred vs. Ink Unlimited an “apples to oranges” comparison. Regardless, here are a few reasons why the Chase Ink Preferred wins the duel:
- 3x tiered bonus points are better than unlimited 1.5% back
- 1:1 point transfers
- 25% award travel redemption bonus through Chase
- $1,000 sign-up bonus
If you prefer travel rewards to cash rewards, strongly consider the Ink Preferred. The 1:1 points transfers and 25% point redemption bonus can easily pay the $95 annual fee and save you money.
When the Ink Unlimited is Better
Although the Ink Preferred is a top-notch business rewards credit card, it’s not the best option for every business. The Ink Unlimited is the better option in these instances:
- Don’t earn enough rewards to justify the $95 annual fee
- Rarely spend in Ink Preferred bonus categories
- Prefer cash rewards to travel rewards
But not every business can benefit from the 3x Ink Preferred bonus categories. If you don’t travel or don’t have an online-based business, you can earn more with the 1.5x Ink Unlimited purchase rewards. Since you don’t pay an annual fee, the first $95 you earn in rewards each year go directly into your pocket instead of recouping the annual fee.
Summary of the Ink Preferred vs Ink Unlimited
So, who wins in the Ink Preferred vs Ink Unlimited? If your business can benefit from the 3x purchase rewards and travel redemption bonuses, the Ink Preferred is the clear winner. But, you can still benefit greatly from the Ink Unlimited if you only make a few monthly purchases or only want a secondary credit card to boost your non-bonus spending a little further.
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.