Because of its flexibility in the application process for individuals, the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card from Chase is worth a close look by freelancers or folks who have a side hustle. It’s one of the many offerings by Chase, which leads all competitors in terms of outstanding balances and percent of market share. The card wields a cash-back program with a hefty reward percentage on some specific business spending categories, but there is a cap to what you can earn at those bonus levels. Rates compare favorably against competing issuers, but businesses looking for higher unlimited rewards across all spending categories should find some better options elsewhere.
The Essentials of the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card
- APR: 14.74% – 20.74% variable
- Annual fee: $0
- Primary feature: 5% cash back on supply stores, Internet, phone and cable services with 2% back on gas and restaurants, and 1% on all other spending.
- Introductory bonus offer: $500 bonus cash back after spending $3,000 in the first three months of account ownership.
What’s interesting about the Ink Business Cash℠
While the name suggests “business,” you don’t need to be a sole proprietorship, incorporate or form an LLC to apply for the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card. An individual dabbling with a side gig can obtain the card without an EIN, but they will need to use a Social Security number to complete the process. Chase will pull your individual personal credit, and the utilization from the card won’t count toward your personal FICO scores. The issuer will report to a business credit bureau, so you can also build a business score as an individual, which will help your financing efforts as you grow.
If you or your employees travel for business, points earned can be applied toward defraying the cost of those ventures. Although the card isn’t exclusively viewed as a travel rewards card, points can be redeemed for trips booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. Unlike some cards that limit rewards to specific airlines or places of lodging, Chase allows you to use points with multiple carriers and hotels. Alternately, accumulated points can also be redeemed for gift cards at many recognizable big-box stores and e-commerce retailers.
Things to consider
The biggest bang for your buck with the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card results from purchases at office supply stores and through internet, cable, and phone service providers. These expenditures qualify for a whopping 5% cash-back bonus, and dollars shelled out to gas stations and restaurants get you 2% back. The big sticking point here is that businesses spending heavily in these categories will be capped at $25,000 per year. The cashback earn rate will go to 1% once this limit is reached. Thus, if you spend beyond those limits, it would be smart to check out cards that offer higher caps in these categories or one that doesn’t differentiate between them.
If you do use the card for business travel, one other drawback arises from crossing international borders. A 3% foreign transaction fee applies to all purchases made abroad, and many other cards don’t tack on that charge.
How to Get the Most from this Card
The best way to get the most value out of the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card is to spend the maximum in the categories that earn the highest cash-back rewards. After you reach the spending limits in the 5% and 2% segments, all additional purchases then earn only 1% back. A plan you should implement from the beginning of the card’s anniversary date is using the Ink Business Cash℠ in conjunction with another card — perhaps the Chase Ink Business Unlimited℠card. This companion card from Chase gives you unlimited 1.5% cash back without regard to caps or categories. As you reach the $25,000 limits in the select categories with the Ink Business Cash℠ card, you can then switch over to the Ink Business Unlimited℠card and receive a 1.5% cash back for other spending on all expenses that fall outside office supplies, gas, etc.
You’ll also want to be sure to qualify for the welcome bonus. That shouldn’t pose much of a problem if you’re on track to maximize your highest-bonus categories. With the Ink Business Cash℠ card, you’ll get $500 in bonus cash back after you spend only $3,000 in the first three months of ownership. Furthermore, you can plan for a significant purchase from day one, spread payments out over the next 12 months, and enjoy an introductory rate of 0%. After that, the APR is 14.74% – 20.74% variable.
Other Card Options that Might Interest You
The Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business is a worthy competitor to the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card due to the 2% cash-back rewards that apply to all purchases, regardless of category and without limits on spending. If you were a business spending $200,000 annually on the card, your total cash-back reward with the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business card would be $4,000. Plug that same amount into the Ink Business Cash℠ equation, and your reward would be $3,250, with maximum awards being earned in the 5% and 2% categories. There is a $95 annual fee for the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business card, waived in the first year, but that’s easily absorbed with significant spending.
You could also stay right within the Chase family by selecting the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card. This card offers a welcome bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months after opening the account. Points redeemed within the Chase Ultimate Rewards system are worth 25% more than if you were to apply them outside of the program. Select categories earn 3 points per $1 spent up to $150,000, and points never expire. There’s also an annual fee of $95, which could be recovered once you spend $3,170 on travel or phone services, for example.
The Final Word
With its hefty cash-back rewards program, the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card is a great deal for individuals or small businesses that won’t spend big on the card each year. By not exceeding the $25,000 cap in the select categories, you’ll receive some of the highest bonuses in the industry. However, for large businesses that spend beyond the cap on office supplies, phone, Internet and cable services, a smarter strategy might involve using two cards for higher cash-back rewards on all other purchases.