Some of the best credit card signup offers around also happen to be some of the best point earning cards around: the Chase Ink Business cards. These include the Ink Business Preferred, Ink Business Cash, and the Ink Business Unlimited. You do have to have a business to apply, but you might be surprised how many of the things you already do legitimately count as businesses. This post explains why points earned from these cards are valuable, how to know if you have a business, how to fill out a business card application, and tips on getting approved.
Multiple Ink Cards
Chase offers four different Chase Ink cards: Ink Business Preferred, Ink Business Cash, Ink Business Unlimited, and Ink Business Premier. Here’s a very brief intro to each card:
Ink Business Cash: No annual fee; offers 5x categories on up to $25K spend per year; points are worth only a penny each, but can be moved to a premium card to make points more valuable. This is THE card for points enthusiasts thanks to its generous 5x categories.
Ink Business Unlimited: No annual fee; offers 1.5 points per dollar for all spend; points are worth only a penny each, but can be moved to a premium card to make points more valuable.
Ink Business Preferred: $95 annual fee; offers 3x categories (including travel) on up to $150K spend per year; points are worth 1.25 cents each towards travel booked through Chase; points can be transferred to airline and hotel programs for even more value.
Ink Business Premier: $195 annual fee; offers 2% back on all spend or 2.5% back on purchases of $5,000 or more. This one is really a straight cash back card: points cannot be moved to any other Chase card nor can points be transferred to airline or hotel programs.
Even though the Ink Business Cash and Ink Business Unlimited cards are advertised as cash back cards, they actually earn Ultimate Rewards points. $900 in “cash back” is really 90,000 Ultimate Rewards points that can be redeemed for $900 in cash back.
The Ink Business Preferred Card is great for its 3X categories. The Ink Business Cash is awesome for its 5X categories. And the Ink Business Unlimited is great to use as your “everywhere else” card thanks to earning 1.5X everywhere.
The Ink Business Premier is unfortunately different from the rest. This one doesn’t allow moving points to transfer partners or to other Chase cards. As a result, it is only good as a cash back card. Details here: Ink Business Premier Review.
You must have a business (and you probably do)
Chase Ink cards are small business credit cards. You must have a business to apply. That said, almost everyone does something that can be legitimately considered a business. Legitimate businesses include selling things on eBay or at yard sales, being an aspiring musician or author, posting to TikTok or Instagram, owning rental property, driving for Uber or Lyft, etc. The list is endless.
More:You must have a business (but you probably do): In order to sign up for a business credit card, you must have a business. That said, it's common for people to have businesses without realizing it. If you sell items at a yard sale or on eBay, for example, then you have a business. Similar examples include: consulting, writing (e.g. blog authorship, planning your first novel, etc.), handyman services, owning rental property, renting on airbnb, driving for Uber or Lyft, etc. In any of these cases, your business is considered a Sole Proprietorship unless you form a corporation of some sort.
When you apply for a business credit card as a sole proprietor, you can use your own name as your business name, use your own address and phone as the business' address and phone, and your social security number as the business' Tax ID / EIN. Alternatively, you can get a proper Tax ID / EIN from the IRS for free, in about a minute, through this website.
Is it OK to use business cards for personal expenses? Anecdotally, almost everyone I know uses business cards for personal expenses. That said, the terms in most business card applications state that you should use the card only for business use. Also, some consumer credit card protections do not apply to business cards. My advice: don't use the card for personal expenses if you're not comfortable doing so.
Get the same card again
Similarly, if you have more than one business, it’s possible to get the same Chase Ink card and signup bonus for each business you own. This is true even though the application terms state otherwise: “I understand that any new cardmember bonus offers for this product are not available to either current or previous cardmembers of this product who received a new cardmember bonus for this product in the last 24 months.” Despite those terms, it's very common for people to successfully sign up up for more than one of the same Ink card across multiple businesses.
Even better, experience has proven that it is possible to successfully sign up for the same Ink card for a single business multiple times even if you still have the older Ink card open. As long as your application is approved, you should qualify for the welcome bonus.
Watch out for 5/24
To determine your 5/24 status, see: Easy Ways to Count Your 5/24 Status. The easiest option is to track all of your cards for free with Travel Freely.
All of the Ink cards are subject to 5/24. This means that you probably won’t be approved if you’ve opened 5 or more cards across all banks within the past 24 months. Fortunately, the Ink cards do not add to your 5/24 count. That is, if you are approved, they will not hurt your chances of future approvals due to 5/24.
How to Apply
Application links can be found by following the “click here” links within these pages:
- Ink Business Preferred
- Ink Business Cash
- Ink Business Unlimited
- Ink Business Premier (this is the oddball who’s points can’t be moved or transferred)
How to improve your chances of success
The following tips can help with approval, but none are guaranteed:
- Sign up for a Chase business checking account
- Use an EIN instead of your SSN when entering your Business Tax ID on the application
- Do not call if your application goes to pending
- Call if your application is denied
Below you’ll find more info about each of the above suggestions:
Sign up for a Chase business checking account
Business checking accounts must be opened in-branch. At the end of the process, you are likely to receive pre-approved offers for business cards. Go for it. While pre-approval doesn’t ensure final approval, I believe that in this case it does make it very likely.
Make sure to be prepared with necessary documentation and identification. Chase has a checklist here for sole proprietorships. Specifically pay attention to the section titled “Business Documentation”. You’ll see that in many cases you’ll need an Assumed Name Certificate, often referred to as a DBA (Doing Business As). Usually, you can get the certificate by registering your business name with either your local or state government for a small fee.
Use an EIN instead of your SSN as the business Tax Identification Number
To apply for a business credit card, you’ll need a business Tax Identification Number. Sole Proprietors can use their own social security number as the business Tax ID or they can use their company’s EIN. While either will work, it can’t hurt to have an EIN and may help give your business more credibility. You can sign up for an EIN, for free, from the IRS: Apply-for-an-Employer-Identification-Number-(EIN)-Online.
Do not call if your application goes to pending
When applications go to pending, people frequently find that they get approved without calling. When people do call, they may get tough analysts who deny the application.
The approval process goes through up to 3 “gates”:
- Instant Approval (this is rare with Ink cards)
- Automatic Approval, sent by mail (may take several weeks)
- Analyst Phone Approval
If you’re not instantly approved, then calling bypasses gate 2 and may reduce your overall chance of approval. Instead, I recommend waiting to get a letter in the mail. Hopefully it will say “congratulations”.
Of course, if Chase contacts you asking for more information then you absolutely should talk to them on the phone. In some cases they may simply need more information about you or your business before your application can go through the next review stage.
Call if you are denied (and call again)
If your application is outright denied (either instantly or by mail), then call Chase’s business reconsideration number, which is open Monday through Friday during business hours. There are many cases where analysts have overturned denials over the phone. Up-to-date reconsideration phone numbers can be found here.
The analyst will likely ask a lot of questions. Make sure your answers match your application. Also, if you have multiple Chase business cards, make sure to let the analyst know that you don’t need Chase to extend you more credit. Tell them that you are willing to move available credit from another card or to cancel another card if necessary. Be prepared to answer financial questions about your business. Be prepared to answer questions about why you want the card and how you expect to use it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with saying that you were attracted by the welcome bonus and by the 5X spend categories (for example).
If the analyst doesn’t approve your application, call again. Many people have had luck simply calling a few times until the reached an analyst willing to take a chance on their business.