I do not use affiliate links so you can be sure I will always shoot-it-to-you straight.
Ink by Chase is a business credit card and is one of the most lucrative cards currently available. Ink offers 60,000 Chase Ultimate Reward points after spending $5,000 in three months. (sometimes they will offer more in-branch) Read my post about how you can still sign up for a business card even if you don’t own a real business. I just got this card last week without owning a real business, I guess you could count my reselling on eBay as a business. This card earns 5x points on purchases at office supply stores as well as cell phone, cable, landline and internet providers.
If your combined monthly bills in these 5x bonus categories total $300, you would earn 1,500 extra points each month, just for paying your bills! Those 1,500 points transferred to Southwest- which is one of many transfer partners -are worth about $30 in airfare. Keep that up for six months and you will have earned $180 in Southwest airfare just for paying four bills. This has a lot of earning potential in addition to the hefty sign up bonus of 60,000 points.
Let me start by bringing you up to speed regarding Chase’s new rule for us folks who open credit card accounts often. Chase’s 5/24 rule says that if you have more than 5 new credit card accounts opened in the last 24 months you will not be approved. If a credit card account shows on your credit report, Chase will be able to see it and it will count towards the 5 cards. Chase also takes in account authorized users. If you are an authorized user on a Chase card, that will count towards your limit of 5 accounts in 24 months.
At the time of writing, this rule only applies to Chase branded cards like the Sapphire, Slate, Freedom, and Chase Ink. It is rumored that this 5/24 rule is going to be applied to all other Chase cards in the very near future. (***Update: IHG, Hyatt, and British Airways are now the only Chase cards that are exempt from the 5/24 rule)
My application was initially denied- my first time ever, actually -but I can report that I was eventually approved for the Chase Ink card last week after a number of calls into Chase. I have opened well over 5 cards in the last 24 months (probably closer to 25). The first person I spoke to in the reconsideration department let me know in a round-about way that I have too many new credit accounts and too much open credit. The second person I spoke to let me know that Chase is not approving applicants with a lot of recent accounts, pretty much making Chase the bad guy, not him. The third person was a bit more personable.
I let the third Chase representative know that I recently closed my Southwest card because I planned on applying for the Chase Ink shortly after. “So now you are telling me I won’t have a business card?” I also may have closed the Southwest card because I didn’t want to pay the annual fee.. After a lengthy hold the rep came back on the line and said, ‘You are approved for the Chase Ink, you should expect the card in the next two weeks”. Talk about a sigh of relief!
**Update: A month after signing up, Chase began offering 70,000 points on the Ink card in their local branches. I wrote Chase via secure message and asked if they would match me. Four hours later I got a response stating they would be happy to match me and the points had already posted. Ten thousand points are worth $125 in the Ultimate Rewards portal and worth much more if transferred out.
Chase Ultimate Reward points are definitely one of the most valuable reward programs available, perhaps only second to the Starwood SPG program. You can transfer your UR points to a number of travel partners like Southwest, United, Marriott, Hyatt, IHG Hotels, and British Airways, to name a few. Points transfer at a 1:1 ratio and in the case of Southwest and British Airways, points transfer instantly based on my experience. Some of the other partners, like Marriott, take about 24 hours to post. Keep in mind, transfers from Chase Ultimate Rewards DO NOT count towards your Southwest Companion Pass. They can however be a great option if you already have Companion Pass since they will effectively be worth double!
If you are not interested in transferring your points to travel partners, another option is to redeem your points for travel purchases at 1.25 cents per point. If you have 60,000 UR points that will net you $750 in travel. This is a no frills way of getting “free travel”. You don’t have to know everything about points or miles, you just need to find a flight, hotel, or rental car through the UR travel portal and use your points to cover the cost. If you found a round-trip for $250, you’ll only have to burn 20,000 UR points to cover it.
If international travel is on your radar, you’ll be glad to know that United Airlines and British Airways offer many smart redemption options. Since you can transfer UR points at 1:1 to United or British Airways, a European vacation may be within reach. Sixty thousand United points will cover a round-trip in economy from the United States to Europe. You don’t have to necessarily fly on United to use your United points either! Lufthansa and Aer Lingus are United partners so you can also fly to Europe using United points when award space is available on Star Alliance Partners.
Aer Lingus is based in Ireland and Lufthansa in Germany, that opens up your options big time since they connect to so many other countries from their hubs! You will still pay the customs and duty fees when redeeming points on international travel. Countries like The Netherlands, Spain, and Portugal only charge about $60 in fees whereas the UK charges $200 if you return to the US from London. (holy moly!)
As you can see, you would have enough points for a round-trip to Europe using United points transferred from UR! If you want even more flexibility, British Airways is a great transfer partner for your UR points. You can use British Airways Avios points for distance based award flights on American Airlines or Alaska Airlines. If a flight is fewer than 1,151 nautical miles on AA or AS, it will only cost you 7,500 British Airways Avios one-way in economy. That is a great redemption choice if you are based in a city that flies American or Alaska. A few example routes that are less than 1,151 miles would be New York to Miami or Phoenix to Seattle. You can find award space by checking American’s or Alaska’s site for ‘Saaver’ flights that are marketed at 12,500 miles or less. Once you spot your American Airlines Saaver flight, head over to British Airways to book. *Redeeming your Avios on Alaska Airlines requires that you call BA to book.
Maybe you aren’t into travel at all.. [Gasp] You can take your points and cash them out. You’ll net one cent per point, so 60,000 points will earn you $600. Not bad for signing up for a credit card and spending $5,000 in 3 months. Keep in mind, you will also earn points as you are working on your minimum spend, so tack on another 5,000 points at minimum once you earn your bonus of 60,000.
Speaking of minimum spend, that $5,000 is sure a big chunk of change. I certainly would not want you to bite off more than you can chew causing you to not receive the sign up bonus. Here are some simple ways that make meeting your minimum spend really easy. (getting you on your way to $600 cash, $750 towards travel booked in UR, or $1,000+ if transferred to travel partners)
First thing, sign up for a Plastiq.com account. Plastiq allows you to pay almost any bill with your credit card. Do you have a mortgage, pay rent to a landlord, how about a car payment, student loans, income taxes? Plastiq will mail a check or send an electronic payment on your behalf while charging your credit card as if it was a normal purchase. They do charge fees anywhere from 1.75%-2.5% of the total transaction. By signing up through my link, you will get your first $200 in payments fee free!
Second thing, offer to pay bills or large expenses for your friends or family members. This may seem silly but it never hurts to ask. If your brother is going to be buying an $800 TV with a debit card (you should have a talk with him later about not earning points with debit, if you care about him as a person) offer to pay with your credit card and he could just cut you a check or hand you cash. Your Chase Ink credit card, being a Visa Signature card, will offer added post-sale protections on a large electronics purchase. (far more than a debit card would). Even better, offer to pay a utility bill like cell phone or internet for a friend and have them pay you back. Not only will you be working towards your minimum spend but you will also be earning 5x time points per dollar spent. If you pay their $200 cell phone bill, that will earn you at least $12.50 in travel, hey hey!
To recap, the Chase Ink card is very lucrative with a 60k point sign up bonus (or 70k if they match you to the local branch offer), 5x points in select categories, and ultra-flexibility with your points. You can take cash back, cover travel expenses, or transfer to a number of airline and hotel partners to travel the world.
Pro Tip: Chase cannot track most business credit cards that are opened with other banks since they are not reported to the credit bureaus. If you open an American Express business credit card- like the Delta Gold card offering 50k + $50 statement credit -it will NOT count towards the 5/24 limit. Think of it as flying under the Chase-dar. [lame, I know]