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The Chase Ink Cash: A No-Fee Winner for Small Business

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The Chase Ink Cash is a pretty awesome business credit card, offering 5% cash back on typical office purchases as well as no annual fee. Its simplicity and high rewards rate make it one of the most popular small business cards we have – but it may not be ideal for bigger spenders. Read on for a breakdown of the pros and cons of the Chase Ink Cash.

At a glance
Annual fee None
Foreign transaction fee 3%
Rewards program Cash back
Signup bonus Earn $200 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months from account opening, best among no-fee business credit cards
Verdict: Ideal for businesses who spend on office supplies
Good for:
  • Businesses that spend a lot of money on office supplies and cable/telecom
  • Earning rewards on gas and dining
  • Businesses that prefer the simplicity of a no-fee cash back card
Bad for:
  • Companies that don’t spend much on the 5% bonus category
  • Businesses that spend more than $25,000 annually (about $2,000 a month) on office supplies and cable/telecom services
  • Business travel

In this article:

The Chase Ink Cash basics
Ink Cash vs. Ink Plus and Ink Bold
Where the Ink Cash shines
Where it falls short
Will the Chase Ink require a personal guarantee?

The Chase Ink Cash Basics

The Chase Ink is, as we’ve noted, a cash back credit card that offers pretty good ongoing rewards:

  • 5% on office supplies and cable/telecom services, up to $25,000 spent annually
  • 2% on gas and restaurants, also up to $25,000 spent annually
  • Unlimited 1% elsewhere

Ink Cash® Business Card
Chase  Ink Cash Business Credit Card
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on Chase 's
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starstarstarstarstar
  • Named "Best for Cash Back for Small Business" MONEY® Magazine, October 2013
  • Earn $200 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 1% cash back on all other card purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn.
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers.
  • No annual fee.
thumbsupPros
  • Bonus cash back categories
  • No annual fee
  • 0% for 12 mos on transfers
Annual Fee Signup Bonus APR , Variable* APR Promotions
No Annual Fee Earn $200 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months from account opening 13.24% (Variable) 0% on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months

It starts off with a bang: Earn $200 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months from account opening Moreover, the Cash offers 12 months of 0% interest on purchases, so the card’s perfect for a company that needs to set up a new office. You can earn substantial rewards from Office Depot or your office supply store of choice, and take some time to pay off the big purchases interest-free. This makes it one of the most lucrative cards out there for any business that spends the bulk of its money on office supplies or cable/telecom.

There are two other cards in the Ink family: the Ink Bold and the Ink Plus. In the next section, we’ll talk about how to choose between the three.

Ink Cash vs. Ink Plus and Ink Bold

Unlike the Ink Cash, both the Ink Plus and Ink Bold have a $95 annual fee, waived the first year. But they make up for the fee in a much better signup bonus, a higher rewards cap, and business travel perks.

Ink Cash Ink Bold Ink Plus
Chase  Ink Cash Business Credit Card
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on Chase 's
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Chase Ink Bold with Ultimate Rewards Credit Card
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on Chase's
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Chase Ink Plus with Ultimate Rewards Credit Card
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on Chase's
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Type of card Credit card Charge card Credit card
Annual fee $0 $95, waived the first year $95, waived the first year
Foreign transaction fee 3% 0% 0%
Signup bonus Earn $200 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months from account opening Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Bonus rewards 5% on office supplies and cable/telecom
2% on gas and restaurants
5% on office supplies and cable/telecom
2% on gas and lodging
Rewards cap on each category $25,000 $50,000
Value of points 1 cent 1.25 cents when redeemed for travel booked through Chase
Extra perks N/A 2 complimentary Lounge Club passes per year
Best for Non-travelers; smaller spenders Business that pay off their bills every month Business travel

Typically, we think that the Ink Plus is the best of the lot, because its signup bonus (worth $625 of travel booked through Chase) well outweighs the annual fee for the first five and a half years, not to mention the ongoing bonus of your points being worth 25% more if used for travel. The card has a higher limit on bonus rewards earning, and the two free lounge passes are nothing to scoff at.

Super-big spenders might prefer the Chase Ink Bold. Since it’s a charge card, you pay your bill in full every month, and has no official credit limit (though they can always cut you off if they think you’re a credit risk). As a business that’s struggled with the Capital One Spark’s unwillingness to raise our credit limit, we find the prospect of more spending flexibility appealing.

Where the Ink Cash shines

The card’s main appeal is its simplicity and strong rewards program. If you don’t want to commit to an annual fee, the Ink Cash will still provide you with a solid 5% cash back on business-friendly spending categories. Plus, its signup bonus well exceeds most other no annual fee business cards’ – in fact, few no annual fee business card on the market give any signup bonus at all. Finally, I’ve had pretty positive interactions with Chase’s customer service (for personal credit cards) and our users generally say that they’ve had similar experiences. If you’re looking for top-tier rewards with no fee, the Ink is your card.

Where it falls short

There are three cases where the Ink Cash is perhaps not the best card for your company.

1. Companies that don’t spend much on the 5% bonus category

Capital One Spark Cash Select Business Credit Card
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on Capital One's
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Obviously, if you’re not going to be spending much on office supplies or cable/telecom, the Chase Ink is probably not ideal. In that case, you might prefer the Capital One Spark Cash Select. It gives a flat 1.5% cash back on all purchases with no rewards caps or annual fee, and waives the foreign transaction fee to boot. The Cash Select also comes with a one-time $100 bonus once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months.

2. Businesses that spend more than $25,000 annually on office supplies and cable/telecom services

Chase Ink Plus with Ultimate Rewards Credit Card
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on Chase's
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If you find yourself brushing up against the Chase Ink’s $25,000 rewards cap, you should probably check out the Chase Ink Plus. For the reasons outlined above, it’s a pretty great deal, and the annual fee is more than made up for with the higher signup bonus, better rewards rate, and travel perks. Bigger spenders will probably get more value out of the Ink Plus than the no-fee Cash.

3. Business travelers

If you find yourself on a plane or in a hotel for most of your corporate life, look for card that’s specifically targeted towards travel. We already mentioned the Chase Ink Plus and Bold; another popular offer is the Starwood Business from American Express. The card earns up to 5 Starpoints per $1 spent at SPG hotels and 1 point per $1 elsewhere, but the kicker is that we value Starpoints at 2.3 cents each. This means you’re effectively getting 2.3% rewards anywhere you go, when you redeem for SPG hotel stays. Just be wary of the 2.7% foreign transaction fee.

Will the Chase Ink require a personal guarantee?

Unfortunately, almost everything on the market nowadays require that you personally guarantee the credit card debt. Businesses often fail, so lenders are going to require that you backstop the debt. The Chase Ink and all other business credit cards will end up on your credit score to some extent, but issuers’ reporting policies differ. Check out our Q&A section to learn more about personal guarantees and how business cards affect your credit history.

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