Chase Ink Plus Vs. Ink Cash: What Are the Differences?

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I haven’t written about the Chase Ink cards very much, but I’ve been thinking about picking up a Chase Ink Cash lately. I already have a Chase Ink Plus. It’s possible to get both because they’re technically different card products.

They have a lot in common. But there are a few differences that make or break the value you’ll get from them.

Biggest similarities

Both of these cards earn 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on:

  • Purchases at office supply stores
  • Phone bills
  • Cable bills
  • Internet service

And both of them earn 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points at gas stations.

The 5X categories are a very beautiful thing.

I

I earn ~3,000 Ultimate Rewards points a month on average… and September ain’t over yet!

I charge:

And, more recently, I’ve been buying basic cleaning supplies from Staples.com.

TP at Staples.com

TP at Staples.com

Not everything, because not all of it’s a good deal. But take this toilet paper, for example.

Simple math says $16 for 30 rolls is ~53 cents a roll. That’s a pretty good price!

TP at Amazon.com

TP at Amazon.com

A comparable offering from Amazon is $25 for 36 rolls, or ~69 cents a roll. Not bad either, but it all adds up, as they say.

If you find something that is cheaper at Amazon, you can always buy Amazon gift cards at Staples (which you’ll earn 5X Ultimate Rewards points per $1 on), and then buy what you need from Amazon. That way, you still earn as many points, and save money in the process.

Yes, it’s an added step, but it can be worth it to save money and earn points. 5X is one of the most generous category bonuses around, and Ultimate Rewards points can still be very valuable (especially on British Airways and Hyatt hotel stays).

Don’t forget to earn 5% cash back on Amazon purchases at Giving Assistant!

So yes. It’s easy to rack up a ton of points in these categories. For me, 3,000 points a month is nearly 40,000 points a year, give or take. That’s a few free flights, or a few free nights, depending on how I play it. Well worth the $95 annual fee on the Chase Ink Plus.

Which brings us to the differences.

Fee situation

  • Chase Ink Plus is $95 a year.
  • Chase Ink Cash is free to have.

And…

  • Chase Ink Plus has no foreign transaction fees.
  • Chase Ink Cash has a 2.7% foreign transaction fee.

I’ve written about why you need at least one no annual fee credit card in your arsenal. But the no annual fee card (Chase Ink Cash) isn’t very good to travel overseas with.

That said, it’s worth paying the $95 fee on the Chase Ink Plus because it…

Transfers to airline and hotel partners

Chase Ink Plus transfers to these programs at a 1:1 ratio:

Chase Ultimate Rewards airline transfer partners

Chase Ultimate Rewards airline transfer partners

Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel transfer partners

Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel transfer partners

(Aside: I could throw out Virgin Atlantic and Marriott, and be just fine, but some peeps might find a use for their points.)

Anyway, you can NOT transfer points if all you have is the Chase Ink Cash.

To transfer points, you need one of these:

  • Chase Ink Plus
  • Chase Ink Bold (not offered any more)
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred

They all have a $95 annual fee.

These cards don’t have an annual fee, but you can transfer their points when you have one of the cards above:

  • Chase Ink Cash
  • Chase Freedom

That other 2X category

  • Chase Ink Plus also earns 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on hotel stays booked directly with the hotel
  • Chase Ink Cash also earns 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on restaurants

Here’s where it gets good. Because you can earn 2X on dining with the Chase Ink Cash, just like the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

I don’t need two Chase cards with this capability, so I could either:

  • Get the Chase Ink Cash, and toss the Chase Ink Plus
  • Get the Chase Ink Cash, and toss the Chase Sapphire Preferred

That way, I’m only paying a $95 annual fee one time instead of two.

Wild card is the other 2X category with the Chase Sapphire Preferred: travel.

Which is where the Citi ThankYou Premier comes in, with its 3X earning in this category. I’ve been curious about ThankYou points for a while, so I’m thinking of dumping the Chase Sapphire Preferred, and supplementing travel purchases with a Citi ThankYou card.

There are lots of cards to choose from and each of them will fit into your groove and spending patterns in different ways.

And, like me, your situation could change in a couple of years, and you might want different cards.

Limits

  • Chase Ink Plus lets you earn 5X on $50,000 spent on purchases in all the combined 5X categories.
  • Chase Ink Plus lets you earn 2X on $50,000 spent on purchases at gas stations and hotels combined.

And…

  • Chase Ink Cash lets you earn 5X on $25,000 spent on purchases in all the combined 5X categories.
  • Chase Ink Cash  lets you earn 2X on $25,000 spent on purchases on gas stations and dining combined.

If you plan on spending more than $2,000 per month on office supplies, phone service, and cable, get the Chase Ink Plus because it has a higher limit.

Or, get both. Max one out, then the other. If you pay $95 for the Chase Ink Plus, you can add the Chase Ink Cash to your wallet for free, and keep earning 5X in those categories.

Sign-up bonus

Right now, you’ll earn:

  • 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points with the Chase Ink Plus after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the 1st 3 months of account opening.
  • 20,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points with the Chase Ink Cash after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the 1st 3 months of account opening.

Both are very respectable sign-up bonuses! And both are 10,000 points more than normal. Which is why I’ve been thinking about picking up another one.

But beware, Chase is cracking down on churners. So if you get either (or both) of these cards, keep them for at least a year!

They’re both available via my links with the higher sign-up bonus. Under “Card Type” just look for the name of the bank, and they’re near the top. And thank you!

Bottom line

I got the Chase Ink Plus for Out and Out back in 2013. I had no revenue, and no employees (apart from me, obvi). I applied with my SSN. Chase didn’t approve me right away.

I called and answered a few questions, and was approved over the phone. I’ve had the card since (and it’s still a World Elite MasterCard!).

So you don’t need huge revenue or an EIN. Just be truthful on your application.

You can apply using your credit profile, but after that, it won’t show up on your personal credit report.

And if you get the Chase Ink Cash, which is free to have, keep it forever to build your relationship with Chase!

Hope this was helpful – let me know if you have any questions about either card or how they work!

And thanks again for using my links if you decide to pick one up!

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About Harlan

Just a dude living in Dallas.

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Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post. The opinions of the commenters are not necessarily the opinions of this site.

Pingbacks

  1. […] Your appliances are free! And, you even come out ahead by ~$70 to ~$125. That’s a pretty great deal no matter how you slice it. And of course, if you go the Chase Freedom route, the 3,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be worth more if you have another card that lets you transfer to travel partners: Sapphire Reserve, Sapphire Preferred, or Ink Plus. […]

Comments

  1. Harlan –since you live in Brooklyn, you may not have a car, but if you ever plan on moving out and getting a car, you might wish to have a card that offers Primary Rental insurance — right now, it would be immaterial if you don’t have a car.

    In the Chase arsenal, both the UA Explorer and the CSP offer that when used for car rentals and it ia very valuable, for if you have an accident, they do not hit your personal car rental insurance for the loss == your rates will go up.

    Consequently, since Chase is cracking down on churners, I would be quite hesitant to give up the CSP vs the Ink plus, especially when you have the Ink Cash to fill the void for your MS — if you can even do same in the heart of NYC = limited opportunities from what I have heard.

    Therefore, the $25,000 cap on the Ink Cash vs. the $50,000 cap should suit most fine.

    • Great analysis!

      Actually, I’m thinking of leaving NYC soon, so this is an excellent point.

      I think most people would be fine with Ink Cash instead of Ink Plus, too. It really comes down to how much you spend, and if you like the 2X bonus categories.

      Thank you so much for your reply. Really made me think.

      And thank you for reading! I truly appreciate it!

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