More proof that the Ink Bold is the card to beat

A while ago I asserted that I was beginning to favor the Ink Bold over the Sapphire Preferred credit card. Yes, they’re both great cards, but the Ink Bold’s automatic 5 points per dollar for office supplies and other categories is hard to beat (and easy to take advantage of…). Now, it has come to my attention that the Ink Bold also has the best version of the Ultimate Rewards Mall!

Did you know that the Ultimate Rewards Mall gives different bonuses depending upon what card you use to log into the mall? FlyerTalker HikerT brought this to my attention a while ago and he has now created a great web page that shows the bonus rates for each merchant and card combination. You can find his web page here: www.lakebagger.com/ur/

Currently, the mall shows the following stores with different rates for different cards:

  

Ink Bold (New)

Sapphire Preferred

Freedom

Dell Home

5x

3x

3%

Macys.com

3x

5x

5%

OfficeMax.com

5x

4x

4%

Sears.com

5x

4x

5%

 
 

Of the 4 stores with different rates, 3 have better rates for the Ink Bold than for the Sapphire Preferred! Even more convincing is that there are many stores that are only available for the new Ink Bold and not for any other card. That’s right: the following stores are not available in the Ultimate Rewards Mall for the Sapphire Preferred, Freedom, or even for the old Ink Bold (note: it is possible that the Ink Classic and/or Ink Cash do have these merchants. If you have either of these cards, please let us know).

Merchants Exclusive to the new Ink Bold

1-800-GOT-JUNK?

3x

1st Wishes

8x

Adorama

2x

Adorn.com

7x

Affliction Clothing

3x

AllPosters.com

6x

Apothica

7x

Art.com

6x

AutoZone

4x

BabyAge.com

4x

Baymont Inn & Suites

2x

BeachCamera.com

2x

Beauty Encounter

4x

BeautyBar.com

5x

Belk.com

2x

Bergners

2x

Big Fish Games

5x

Bob and Ron’s World Wide Stereo

2x

Bobby Jones

6x

Bon-Ton

2x

BookIt.com

3x

BookRenter.com

4x

Boston Store

2x

Bradford Exchange Checks

15x

buybuy Baby

2x

BuyOnlineNow

4x

Carbonite

20x

Carol’s Daughter

4x

Carsons

2x

Celebrate Express

8x

CengageBrain.com

2x

Christopher Blue

6x

CircuitCity.com

3x

Coffees of Hawaii

5x

Conde Nast

30x

Costume Express

8x

Country Door

3x

Create Your Own Successories

8x

Darphin

5x

David’s Bridal

3x

Department of Goods

4x

Dick Blick Art Materials

5x

Dockers.com

2x

dyson

2x

Ed Hardy

5x

eDressMe.com

5x

Elder-Beerman

2x

Ella Moss

4x

Elyse Walker

3x

Especially Yours

6x

Exclusively Misook

2x

Executive Essentials

6x

Fashion Playtes

6x

FedEx Office

3x

Frames Direct

6x

French Connection

5x

Gemvara

4x

Ginny’s

3x

GuitarCenter.com

3x

Harbor Freight Tools

2x

Harmon Face Values

2x

Herberger’s

2x

Hotel Club

6x

Hush Puppies

5x

Intrepid Travel

3x

Jessica London

3x

Julianna Rae

8x

KaTom Restaurant Supply

3x

Kerastase

4x

Kipling

4x

Lee Jeans

5x

LightingCatalog.com

5x

LittleMissMatched

5x

LuckyVitamin.com

3x

Madewell

5x

Melissa and Doug

5x

Merrell

5x

Metrostyle

4x

MindWare

3x

MISSION

10x

Mountain Hardwear

5x

OfficeDesigns.com

2x

Organize.com

3x

P.S.

2x

Paula Young

1x

pcRUSH.com

3x

Pure Collection

5x

Rawlings Gear

5x

Red Roof Inn

2x

Reiss

3x

RenewLife.com

6x

Soap.com

3x

Sonos

5x

Sorel

4x

Sunny Sports

3x

The Great Courses

4x

The Shade Store

4x

Tommy Hilfiger

4x

Tsubo

5x

UFC Store

4x

Vitamin World

5x

Wig.com

6x

Wind & Weather

6x

Wolferman’s Gourmet

4x

Woodwind & Brasswind

3x

Younkers

2x

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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Comments

  1. The Ink Plus has these merchants as well. The Ink Plus is not listed on the chase website though. I got mine over a month ago. It may have been a targeted offer(50,000 points after the first purchase).

  2. Different cards have different advantages.

    If you do a lot of foreign traveling, then the lack of foreign currency conversion charges on the Saphire make the biggest difference.

    • m henner: Yes, there is no doubt that the Sapphire Preferred is better for some things (travel & dining 2X, 7% annual dividend bonus, etc.) so I definitely recommend that card as well. Also, the Freedom is really great for its rotating 5X categories and its bonus points if tied to a checking account. But, the new Ink Bold also has no foreign transaction fees.

      Dan: Thanks for that info. Can you give me any extra info about the Ink Plus? Bonus categories? Annual fee? Signup bonus?

  3. Ink 2 got me 50k Points right after the 1st Purchase!! Not a Targeted offer… Just called Chase for this Card 2 Months after I applied for the Regular Chase Ink, Thanks to our wonderful Mr. Frequent Miler!!

  4. Ink Plus is a Mastercard credit card not a charge card like the Bold so I get the savings you get with business mastercard. Annual fee($95 I think) was waived for first year and I got 50,000 points after my first purchase at close of first billing cycle. It has all the same bonus categories as the Bold(5x office, communications, etc). It has the airport lounge access. The only difference the agent and I(I called because I was suspicious that the card did not appear on the chase website) could tell was that the Bold has certain benefits that premium Visa cards have such as purchase protection which are determined by Visa not Chase. I’d have dig up the promo literature to get more details.

  5. I have not heard of the Ink 2?? Details? I was told on the phone that Chase has a bunch of flavors of Ink that do not appear on their site.

    • Dan: Thanks for that info about the Ink Plus. I think that Eli’s reference to the Ink 2 was just a way of differentiating the new Ink Bold from the old Ink Bold. (in Oct 2011 Chase came out with a new Ink Bold that replaced the old Ink Bold. The old Ink Bold did not have travel benefits or 5X categories, but did have some bonuses for hitting very big spend targets)

  6. Just FYI– lakebagger.com/ur auto redirects to m.lakebagger.com on Mobile devices, which is a dead-end with no way out.

  7. how are the Ink Bold consumer protections? Most business cards have little consumer protections (such as chargebacks etc.)

  8. I’ve come to the same conclusion – Ink Bold is the card to beat. 5x earnings at office supply stores is huge and transforms the Ink Bold into a 1.5x (minimum) earnings card since you can buy $200 visa gift cards in store at most office supply stores. As has been pointed out in other blog posts here, you can do even better buying ebay gift cards and other gift cards in store and/or online at Staples through the UR mall. For example, I can effectively get 9x on all my REI purchases buying gift cards at Staples via the UR mall.
     
    To get halfway to my $5K spend requirement I prepaid a year of my cable and cell phone and got 5x to boot! Even if I hadn’t prepaid, that’s roughly 10K extra UR EACH year vs. using a 1x card (YMMV depending on your cable / satellite and cell phone plan).
     
    As far as the additional merchants showing up at the UR mall for Ink Bold – I wouldn’t use most of them but it’s always nice to have options. For sure I’d use adorama and beach camera (same company as buydig). Would really love to see the UR mall offer other merchants like REI. It’s fairly limited where you can shop vs. other portals.
     
    @CodeAdam10 – thanks for the heads up on the mobile redirect (grrr, stupid web host). Should be fixed now.

  9. I currently own the Bold, the Sapphire and the Freedom. It’s quite a collection of point earners with all of the bonus categories taken into account. However I’m not really into paying annual fees for cards so Im wanting to cancel one of the Bold or Sapphire (or at least downgrade) one when the fee is due.

    This has led me to find the Ink Classic which still carries the 5X on Office Supply Stores, Cable, Internet, Satellite and 2X on Gas and Hotels. The advantage? No Annual Fee!

    I assume it’s just like the Freedom that it can’t transfer directly to FF accounts however I’ll just be holding onto the Sapphire which will allow me to transfer my Ink Classic/Freedom points to my Sapphire account and then onto any FF account I want while only paying one annual fee. This should also allow me to have the variation in merchants pointed out here as the Classic is still a Business card so would theoretically access the “business” version of the UR.

    The only drawback I can find is the cap for the 5X is $25K instead of $50K but I won’t get close to either of those numbers so not a worry.

    Also, signing up for the Classic will get me 25K points after $5K/3months. So instead of downgrading to the classic I’ll just cancel my Bold. One question, does having the Bold preclude me from getting a sign-up bonus on the Classic?

    Regardless, one less annual fee with all the 5X bonus categories still in play sure sounds good to me.

  10. The other potential benefit of keeping Sapphire Preferred is you may get the 7% annual bonus on points transferred in. I got a 7% bonus son my points transferred from Freedom last year. If that quirk continues, Sapphire Preferred would be the card to keep longer term for transfers. I’ve also considered transferring points to a friend with Sapphire Preferred and earn 7% interest until the next churn opportunity (which would be 1 year later assuming a 2 year statute of limitations).

    • Nguyen: I’m not sure I understand the question. Are you asking whether you would get points if you use a Sears gift card when going thru the Ultimate Rewards Mall? I know you will if logged in with a Sapphire Preferred account and so I’d be stunned if it doesn’t also work for the Freedom.

  11. Maya, if you click on the “Preparing for Miles” page at the top of this blog you can see the benefits by card with one quick glance. One thing I did not realize was Ink Bold and Classic come with 2 free lounge passes in addition to the 5X for office supply stores/cable/satellite/cellular/landline and 2X for gas and hotels.

  12. FWIW, if you have the Ink card a better option for Sears GCs may be to buy Lands End gift cards at Staples.com which would provide 9x (5x on Ink spend at Staples.com + 4x via UR Mall). If you only have Freedom you’d be better off buying GCs at Sears.com (1x on Freedom spend at Sears.com + 5x UR Mall)

  13. Sorry for not stating my question more clearly, but you already answer it 🙂 Yes, follow your earlier advice, I can get points using Sears gift card when going through the UR mall with Chase SP card. With Sears, it is 4x with SA, but 5x with Freedom. However, I just recently got Freedom.. That was why I asked the earlier question. Um, maybe I just stick with the Chase SA… Thanks.

  14. Not sure why you would give up 1x at the UR Mall? Use the card that gives you the most points shopping thru the UR mall. That’s the whole point. 😉

  15. @SB good analysis of the Ink Bold vs the Ink Classic. I have been considering the same.

    @HikerT regarding the quirk, have you considered transferring the points out of your pfd to your Ink Bold and back, then repeating? I don’t know if it is gross points transferred in, but it could be interesting.

  16. Bluto, the quirk is probably something I wouldn’t encourage FrequentMiler (or any blogger with a clue) to widely publicize or it would probably kill the goose. That said, I’m comfortable posting the following link to my analysis and leaving it to the reader to draw their own conclusions. 😉

    http://www.lakebagger.com/ur/2011SapphireBonus.pdf

    Good question about gross vs. net. Unfortunately I didn’t have any outflows in 2011 so I don’t know. Maybe someone who transferred points out or to an airline could do a similar analysis. Also, it looks like my Freedom transfer didn’t post until 2012 so I may be wrong about whether it counts. It showed up as a “courtesy adjustment” in January 2012. My 2500 “courtesy adjustment” in 2011 was for stamps.com and it did count toward my bonus.

  17. @HikerT, Thanks for advice. I was not sure if I could get the points in Chase Freedom UR when using Sears gift card. I was able to do that with Chase SP.

  18. This may be a silly question, because I know typically you can’t buy a gift card with another gift card… but if I buy a Staples GC throug UR, would I be able to buy say, McDonald’s GC at Staples with said GC??

  19. I have spent over $2000 at Fedex Kinko’s using my Chase Ink Bold and Chase claims that does not qualify as office supplies thus 1 point per dollar and not 5. Is there any hope of convincing them…I don’t understand their rationale.

  20. Linda: Each merchant has a merchant code for credit card processing — they self select what categories they fit into. Chase uses those codes to decide which merchants are office supplies. Kinko’s must not use an office supply code (which I agree is ridiculous). I don’t think you can get them to agree to change this, but if you call Chase a few times and/or private message them you are likely to get a nice rep to give you the points for your trouble.

    • Actually this is NOT the case if you have a business account with Fedex, whereby they charge you via invoice (which any reasonably sized account has). If you are invoiced and then auto paid via Amex, you get ZERO cash back. It is a BS really, they quietly changed the rules recently in 2015. If you pay each time you ship (which most do not), then you get cash back.

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