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From now until June 22, Chase is increasing the sign up bonus on the Ink Bold and Ink Plus to 60,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 in three months.
These are two of my absolute favorite cards. I’ve gotten the Ink Bold for two of my businesses and the Ink Plus for one, earning about 200,000 Ultimate Rewards in the process that I’ve used to book Rookie Alli on her first flat bed business class experience, my United Global First flight to Australia to see the Aussie Open, and my upcoming trip in Thai First Class on an A380 with an hourlong massage on the ground.
What’s the full deal, how can you use 60k Ultimate Rewards, and what has my experience been with the Ink Bold and Plus?
For a limited time only the Ink Bold and Ink Plus are each offering 60k bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $5k in three months on the card. Everything else about the offers that have been around for months is the same.
- The cards earn 5 Ultimate Rewards per dollar at office supply stores and on cable TV, landline, cell phone, and internet bills up to $50k per year
- The cards earns 2 Ultimate Rewards per dollar at gas stations and on hotels booked directly through a hotel up to $50k per year
- The cards earns 1 Ultimate Reward per dollar on everything else
- There is no annual fee for the first 12 months of having the card, then $95 thereafter
The difference between the Ink Bold and Ink Plus is that the Ink Bold is a charge card and the Ink Plus is a credit card.
Charge cards like the Ink Bold have to be paid off in full each month and have a flexible spending limit that Chase explains this way in the Bold’s terms:
There is no pre-set limit on your account. Instead, we determine a flexible spending limit for your account, whereby each individual charge is evaluated based on the spending and payment patterns on the account, your other relationships with us, information from credit reports obtained from credit bureaus including you experience with other creditors, and our understanding of your resources.
Credit cards like the Ink Plus have a fixed spending limit that you can’t exceed, but they don’t have to be paid off in full each month. Of course I would never carry a balance–especially not on a rewards card–because the interest costs would far exceed any benefits of the card.
But the difference between a charge card and a credit card could be significant to you given your circumstances, so you can get either or both for the same business.
My experience with Inks started last year when I got an Ink Bold for one of my businesses. I really enjoyed the 5x category bonuses, since I do a lot of shopping at office supply stores, and I think everyone feels like they pay too much for cable, internet, and phone!
After about six months, I decided to get the Ink Plus for the same business because I valued the knowledge of a pre-set spending limit and the ability to pay over time if necessary for my business. My application was not immediately approved online, so I called Chase at 800-453-9719 to see if the application could be processed more quickly. The agent was cordial and worked with me to get the card approved, understanding why I wanted both cards for the same business.
The main questions I remember being asked related to my business’s revenues and expenses.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago, and I decided to get the Ink Bold for a new business. Of course, with more than one business I need to keep expenses separate, and the Ink Bold is my favorite business card for a new and growing business. Again I didn’t receive an instant approval online and again I got a friendly, helpful agent when I called Chase at 800-453-9719 who approved my new Ink Bold.
How Can You Use the Ultimate Rewards
First of all, don’t transfer the Ultimate Rewards as soon as you earn them. A big part of the value of Ultimate Rewards is that there are a ton of ways to redeem them. You want to keep your options open until you are ready to redeem the Ultimate Rewards, so keep them in your credit card account until you’re ready for one of these redemption options:
1. You can redeem the miles toward cash tickets at a rate of 1 Ultimate Reward = 1.25 cents.
I don’t like this redemption because I think Ultimate Rewards are worth way more than 1.25 cents. The strengths of this redemption are that you can redeem for any seat, any time, and you will earn miles on the flown ticket, since it is a paid ticket from the airline’s perspective even though you don’t have to spend money out of pocket.
Let’s call this the base line redemption. Never transfer Ultimate Rewards to a hotel or airline partner where you’ll get less than 1.25 cents of value per Ultimate Reward.
2. You can transfer Ultimate Rewards to United, British Airways, Southwest, Hyatt, Virgin Atlantic, Korean, Amtrak, Priority Club, Ritz-Carlton, and Marriott.
My most common transfer partner is United. The 65,000 Ultimate Rewards one would earn from meeting the minimum spending requirement would be enough miles for First Class from Asia to Europe like the Thai First Class I’ll be flying in a few months.
65k Ultimate Rewards is also enough miles for a roundtrip in economy from the US to all of:
- East Asia, basically everywhere in Asia except the Indian Subcontinent and a few ‘stans
- South America, 40k for Peru and north or 60k to the south
- Hawaii, Central America, Caribbean, and Mexico
Or add 2,500 more Ultimate Rewards to your account somehow and 67,500 United miles gets you a First Class flight on Lufthansa between the US and Europe or a business class flight from the US to Europe.
The main reasons why most of my Ultimate Rewards go to United are the ability to book one way awards, the competitive award chart, the lack of any fuel surcharges on any partners, and the fact that United and its partners release the most and best award space.
It’s bad to have a million British Airways Avios and zero other miles because there are a lot of awards for which Avios are a poor choice. But it’s equally bad to have zero Avios because Avios are an awesome complement to your other miles.
Avios are the best points from the west coast to Hawaii at only 25,000 Avios roundtrip on American and Alaska’s routes. Avios are the best on short, nonstop American Airlines flights in the US too. Any flight under 651 miles in distance costs only 4,500 Avios even if the retail price is $300.
The 65,000 Ultimate Rewards from spending $5k on the card in the first three months would be enough for five one way flights from the west coast to Hawaii or 14 between Chicago and Charlottesville, VA.
Your points will get about 1.69 cents of value if transferred to Southwest because all Southwest awards cost 60 times the base fare in points. That means a $100 base fare would cost only 6,000 points as an award.
Currently you can fly from the east coast to London for 13k Virgin Atlantic miles + $97 or San Francisco to London for 17.5k miles + $97. More here.
Hyatt has six categories. Bottom tier hotels cost 5,000 points, so 65,000 points is 13 free nights. Top tier hotels cost 22,000 points, so three nights in a $1,000-a-night hotel is 66,000 points.
If you know you want free nights at the most expensive Hyatts in the world, you may prefer the Hyatt Card, which earns two free nights at Hyatts worldwide after $1k in spending in three months. That card has a $75 annual fee that is not waived.
Rick and Howie used Ultimate Rewards to take an awesome train trip that looks like great value from a subjective and objective point of view.
The Value of the Transfers
I usually get at least two cents of value from my transfers, using my formula for value. I consider one Ultimate Reward more valuable than one mile or point in any of Ultimate Rewards’ transfer partner’s accounts. (ie 1 Ultimate Reward is worth more than 1 United mile.)
The reason is simple: Ultimate Rewards are transferable, so they can be used for very high value redemptions in frequent flyer programs across all three alliances. Also Ultimate Rewards can be transferred to an account when you’re just a few thousand miles short of an award when you might ordinarily have to buy the miles from the airline at an exorbitant rate like 3.5 cents per mile.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that the Ink Bold and Ink Plus were already my two favorite business cards because of their sign up bonuses, category bonuses, and transfer partners. That was with a 50,000 Ultimate Reward bonus. For the next week, they have a 60,000 Ultimate Reward bonus.
These cards are not for everyone. They aren’t for you if you spend more money when you pay with a credit card than when you pay with cash. They aren’t for you if you don’t pay your cards in full each month. They aren’t for you if you can’t meet the minimum spending requirement. They aren’t for you if you want to fly Singapore Suites Class.