The American Express Blue Business Plus and the Chase Ink Business Unlimited are two of the best no annual fee business credit cards on the market. They are great options for entrepreneurs and business owners with varied expenses and unsteady cash flow. Plus, both of them can be combined with other cards within their respective “ecosystems” to maximize your rewards. Deciding between them will depend on which points currency you want to earn and how much you plan to spend within a calendar year.
The Chase Ink Business Unlimited wins handily in this category as it’s the only card of the two to have a sign-up bonus. It offers 50,000 Ultimate Rewards (UR) points after spending $3,000 in the first three months. That is the same amount of points offered by the Chase Sapphire Reserve but for $1,000 less minimum spend.
Conversely, the Amex Blue Business Plus does offer a public sign-up bonus. But there have been targeted sign-up bonuses as high as 20,000 Membership Rewards (MR) points in the past.
The Blue Business Plus earns 2x MR points on all purchases. However, this elevated flat rate only counts for the first $50,000 in annual expenses. This threshold resets each new calendar year. All other expenses will earn only one MR point if you spend more than $50,000 within a calendar year.
The Ink Business Unlimited earns 1.5x UR points (or 1.5% cash back) on all purchases. But this card earns without any spend limitations, hence its name.
You must consider how much you value each currency before selecting a card. Some people value both currencies equally, which is understandable since both Chase and Amex have some common partners.
Gary Leff from View From The Wing (H/T) said that he has the Ink Unlimited, but wants to get the Blue Business Plus. He also said this about using the Chase Freedom Unlimited (which has the same earning structure as the Ink Business Unlimited):
“I’m giving up 2 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on up to $50,000 in purchases. As a result, I’m 25,000 points poorer than I could be each year.”
Gary’s argument assumes that both currencies have equal value. And it puts forth the notion that you can earn more points faster if you use the Blue Business Plus for the first $50,000 of non-bonus spend. His argument is valid if you spend less than $50,000 per year and value MR points the same as or greater than UR points. However, the Chase Ink Unlimited wins if you value UR points more than MR points.
Both of these no annual fee business credit cards earn different points currencies, meaning that they have access to different transfer partners.
The Blue Business Plus is one of two Amex cards that have no annual fee and direct access to Amex’s transfer partners. It’s also the only no annual fee business card with such access. This is huge for small business owners and entrepreneurs who want to redeem points for flights.
However, cash back and gift cards are your only two redemption options if you have the Chase Ink Unlimited by itself. Points are worth 1 cent each when redeemed for either option. Sometimes, Chase discounts some of their gift card options, enabling cardholders to redeem for more than 1 CPP. You need to also have either Sapphire card or the Chase Ink Business Preferred to transfer UR points to partners. This is the best way to redeem points earned using the Ink Unlimited. A potential Chase combo could be very valuable if you don’t mind having multiple cards and optimizing.
The Amex Blue Business Plus wins this category because of its direct access to transfer partners. In other words, its the better standalone card.
Neither of these cards are known for their perks. This is especially true because they have no annual fee and can be used as supplementary cards for travel. The only noteworthy perk is the QuickBooks access that comes with the Blue Business Plus, a standard perk among most American Express business cards.
Small business owners and entrepreneurs rejoice! The American Express Blue Business Plus and Chase Ink Business Unlimited are fantastic options if you want to travel.
The Amex Blue Business Plus is the clear winner as a standalone card. It earns more points faster if you spend less than $50,000 per year. And it has direct access to American Express’ transfer partners, meaning that you don’t need any additional MR-earning cards.
The Chase Ink Business Unlimited wins if you value the Chase UR “ecosystem” highly or if you want a nice sign-up bonus. Furthermore, you will derive more value from the Chase combo if you have either Sapphire card or the Ink Business Preferred as well. And if you want a similar personal alternative to the Ink Unlimited, try the Freedom Unlimited card.
Think about your annual expenses and how you want to redeem you points. Consider whether you like one “ecosystem” more than another and which transfer partners you want to use. Both cards can be great “workhorses” for your business’ wallet when used properly.