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 Ink Business Unlimited.
Even though the Ink Business Cash and Ink Business Unlimited cards are advertised as cash back cards, they really earn Ultimate Rewards points. $500 in “cash back” is really 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points that can be redeemed for $500 in cash back.
|Chase Ultimate Rewards points are super valuable and super flexible. At the most basic level, points can be redeemed for cash or merchandise, but you'll only get one cent per point value that way. A better option is to use points for travel. When points are used to book travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal, points are worth 1.25 cents each with premium cards (Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred, for example) or 1.5 cents each with the ultra-premium Sapphire Reserve card. Another great option is to transfer points from a premium or ultra-premium card to an airline or hotel program when high value awards are available (see this post for details). If your points are tied to a no-fee "cash back" Ultimate Rewards card, then first move those points to a premium or ultra-premium card before redeeming them in order to get better value.|
The Ink Business Preferred 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.
Do you have a business?
Chase Ink cards are small business credit cards. You must have a business to apply.
|Applying for Business Credit Cards
Yes, you have a business: 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? Legally, it's fine. And, 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.
It’s OK if you’ve had the same card before (or currently)
Most Chase signup offers have the following terms:
This product is not available to either (i) current cardmembers of this credit card, or (ii) previous cardmembers of this credit card who received a new cardmember bonus for this credit card within the last 24 months.
But the Ink cards do not have this language. It is possible to sign up for the same card again. In fact, it is possible to get the same card again (including the signup bonus) while you still have the old card, especially if you apply under a second business.
Watch out for 5/24
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.
|Chase's 5/24 Rule: With most Chase credit cards, Chase will not approve your application if you have opened 5 or more cards with any bank in the past 24 months. Some exceptions that are NOT subject to the 5/24 rule include: British Airways, Hyatt, IHG, Iberia, Aer Lingus, and Marriott Business.
To determine your 5/24 status, see: 3 Easy Ways to Count Your 5/24 Status.
With Ink Business cards there are two ways to get approved even if you are over 5/24:
- Go in-branch to see if you are pre-approved for an Ink card (this works with all Chase cards subject to 5/24, not just business cards)
- Apply for business cards via a Chase Business Relationship Manager (BRM). Make sure that they submit the application via paper rather than electronically. This is important. If the application is submitted electronically and you are over 5/24, you won’t get approved.
Neither of the above options ensures that you’ll get approved since many other factors go into the approval decision besides the hard and fast 5/24 rule.
How to Apply
Application links can be found by following the “click here” links within these pages:
If you have a business banking account with Chase, you may be able to get even better signup offers by talking with a Business Relationship Manager at your Chase branch.
Tell Chase about your business
The first part of the application is about your business. If you already have a well established business, then the answers should be straightforward. If you are just getting started with your business, below are examples of how to fill this out. These answers assume that you do not have any employees and you operate as a sole proprietorship (which is the most basic form of a business). Use your judgment to answer differently if the examples given don’t match your circumstances:
- Legal Name of Business: If you don’t already have a business name, I recommend using your own name as the business name.
- Business Name on Card: Again, this can be your own name if you don’t have a business name to use.
- Business Mailing Address: This can be your home address if you don’t have a separate business address.
- Type of business: Sole Proprietor
- Tax Identification Number: This can be your SSN, but I recommend creating an EIN for your business (found here)
- Business category/type/subtype: Pick whichever categories are closest to your business
- Number of Employees: 1 (you)
- Annual Business Revenue: 0 (or project an amount based on monthly revenue to-date)
- Years in Business: (number of years you’ve been operating the business with or without revenue)
This part of the application is about you, personally:
- Authorizing Officer: Owner
- Gross annual income: Include all of your income, not just business income
- The rest should be self explanatory
How to improve your chances of success
The following tips can help with approval, but none are guaranteed:
- Check in-branch for pre-approval
- 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
- Try a Special Consideration Form if you are denied (and if calling doesn’t help)
Below you’ll find more info about each of the above suggestions:
Check in-branch for pre-approval
This is one of the only work-arounds for those over 5/24. If you go in-branch and ask if you are pre-approved for an Ink card, you may get approved despite being over 5/24.
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 often 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 signup 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.
Try a Special Consideration Form if you are denied (and if calling doesn’t help)
Another option is to ask your Chase banker in-branch to submit a special reconsideration form for you. Details about this form can be found here: Chase Special Consideration [Now for business cards only].
General Tips for Chase Applications
Chase Application Tips
Call (888) 338-2586 to check your application status