CNN Underscored reviews financial products such as credit cards and bank accounts based on their overall value. We may receive a commission through the LendingTree affiliate network if you apply and are approved for a card, but our reporting is always independent and objective.
Our quick take: Chase’s Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card is one of the best no-nonsense rewards credit cards for businesses. Card holders can earn 1.5% cash back on all their business expenses, and even get a 0% introductory interest rate on purchases for the first 12 months.
- Earn a generous sign-up bonus and a flat 1.5% cash back on all purchases
- Introductory 0% APR on purchases for 12 months, followed by a variable APR of 13.24% to 19.24%
- No annual fee and employee cards at no cost
- Primary auto rental coverage when you rent a car for business purposes
- Purchase protection against damage or theft and extended warranty coverage
- Can only transfer rewards to Chase’s airline and hotel partners when combined with another premium Chase card
- Some cash-back credit cards for business offer a higher flat rate of rewards
- 3% foreign transaction fee
Current sign-up bonus: Earn $750 in bonus cash back when you spend $7,500 on purchases within the first three months of opening the account.
Best for: Small business owners and entrepreneurs who want to earn easy cash back on all their business spending while gaining access to some consumer protections and travel benefits.
Business owners who prefer flat-rate cash back to other types of rewards should check out the Chase Ink Business Unlimited. This credit card comes with a very large sign-up bonus right off the bat, and then earns a flat 1.5% cash back for each dollar you spend on everything you buy with your card. There are no bonus categories to remember or quarterly categories to activate — it’s just 1.5% cash back on everything.
It’s also easy to redeem cash back from the Ink Business Unlimited. You can request a statement credit online in just a few seconds, or use your rewards for merchandise, gift cards or even travel booked through the Chase portal.
But the Ink Business Unlimited becomes an even more powerful small business credit card when it’s combined with one of Chase’s premium credit cards. That’s because you can then convert any cash back earned with the Business Unlimited into valuable travel points and get even more for your rewards than you would if you just redeemed them as cash back. More on that in a moment.
One of the biggest benefits of the Ink Business Unlimited is its first-year rewards potential. New card holders can earn $750 in bonus cash back when you spend $7,500 within the first three months of opening the account. That’s a high spending threshold to meet, but many small businesses easily have that much in regular monthly expenses, and the bonus is big enough that it’s worth the effort.
You’ll also earn 1.5% cash back for every dollar you spend on the Ink Business Unlimited, including on the purchases you make to meet the minimum spending requirement to earn the bonus. This means that you’ll net $862.50 in total cash back rewards after spending that $7,500 in the first three months. That’s a terrific haul for a credit card that doesn’t charge an annual fee.
But you can get even more value than that. Chase issues cash back in the form of Ultimate Rewards points, which you’d normally redeem at a rate of 1 cent per point for cash back. But if you also have a premium Chase card, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® or the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, you can pool all your Ultimate Rewards points together.
Once you’ve done that, you can then use all your points based on the rules of the most powerful Chase card you have. That means if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can redeem all your points for travel at a rate of 1.5 cents per point, or at a rate of 1.25 cents per point with either the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred. And all three premium Chase cards let you transfer your points to any of Chase’s 14 airline and hotel partners and potentially get even more value for them.
Another benefit of the Ink Business Unlimited is its introductory 0% APR offer on purchases for the first 12 months after you open the account, which can be useful if you need some time to finance a large business purchase or everyday business expenses. Just remember that the rate jumps to a variable APR of 13.24% to 19.24% after the intro period ends, so make sure you pay the balance in full before then.
Finally, while this isn’t a high-end travel card, there are some relatively decent perks on the Ink Business Unlimited. You’ll get primary auto rental coverage when you rent a car for business purposes, so you can save on the cost of paying for the rental company’s collision damage waiver. You typically just have to pay for the rental cost with your Ink Unlimited card for this protection to apply, but make sure you review all the terms and conditions before relying on this coverage.
Other Ink Business Unlimited card holder perks include roadside dispatch, purchase protection for 120 days against damage or theft for items you buy with the card, up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account, and an additional year of extended warranty on eligible purchases that already come with an eligible manufacturer’s warranty of three years or less.
The biggest downside of the Ink Business Unlimited is that you can find a handful of other small business credit cards that offer a higher rate of cash back. On the flip side, those other cards don’t offer the option to convert your cash back into more valuable travel points when combined with other Chase cards. So while this isn’t a deal breaker, it does make sense to know in advance whether you’re likely to use your rewards as cash back or travel points.
Also note that, unlike the Ink Business Preferred, the Ink Business Unlimited doesn’t let you transfer your rewards to airline or hotel partners if it’s the only Chase card you have. You must have one of the three premium Chase Ultimate Rewards cards — all of which charge an annual fee of at least $95 — in order to take advantage of that option.
The other downside to note is that the Ink Business Unlimited charges a 3% foreign transaction fee on overseas purchases. That’s not unusual for a credit card with no annual fee, but you won’t want to use it when you’re traveling internationally, as the fee will more than offset any value you get from the card’s rewards on those purchases.
CNN Underscored uses the Citi® Double Cash Card card as our current “benchmark” credit card. That doesn’t mean it’s the best credit card on the market — rather, we use it as a basic standard to compare other credit cards and see where they score better, and where they’re worse.
Here’s how the Ink Business Unlimited scores against our benchmark. The features of each card in the below chart are colored in green, red or white. Green indicates a card feature that is better than our benchmark, red indicates the feature is worse than our benchmark and white indicates the feature is either equivalent or cannot be directly compared to our benchmark.
While the Citi Double Cash is a personal credit card and not a business card, it’s easy to see why people like it. First, this card offers a flat 2% back for each dollar you spend — 1% when you make a purchase and another 1% when you pay it off. Not only that, but the Citi Double Cash has a lucrative balance transfer offer that helps people consolidate and pay down other high-interest debts, and also comes with no annual fee.
But the Ink Business Unlimited has several travel and purchase protections that are lacking on the Citi Double Cash and also comes with a significant sign-up bonus and an introductory interest offer on purchases. So if you’re looking for a business credit card that can really start out with a bang, the Business Unlimited matches up well.
If your main focus is a business card that earns simple cash back and you’re not interested in converting your rewards to travel points, you may want to consider the no-annual-fee American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card. Your small business will earn a flat 2% back on all purchases up to $50,000 each year with this card, then 1% thereafter. New card members can also earn a $250 statement credit after making $3,000 in purchases in the first three months after opening the account.
All information about the American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card has been collected independently by CNN. The American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card is not currently available through CNN.
Or, if you don’t mind paying a small annual fee and prefer to collect travel rewards right off the bat, the Ink Business Preferred could be a better fit. The Ink Business Preferred starts new card holders off with a whopping sign-up bonus of 100,000 points when you spend $15,000 within the first three months after opening the account.
The Ink Business Preferred also earns 3 points for every dollar you spend on shipping purchases, select social media and search engine advertising, internet, cable and phone services and travel, up to $150,000 in combined purchases each year (then 1x). While the Ink Business Preferred does charge a $95 annual fee, you’ll automatically be able to transfer your points to Chase’s partners like Southwest, United, and Hyatt at a 1-to-1 ratio.
Small business owners who are solely interested in earning cash back and who have less than $50,000 in credit card expenses each year may do slightly better with Amex’s Blue Business Cash offering, but if you have travel on your mind at all in 2022, we think it’s worth earning slightly less cash back in exchange for the ability to convert your rewards to travel points down the line when you get a second Chase card. Chase’s roster of transfer partners is one of the best, and it’s easy to redeem points for travel on Chase’s website as well.
So, if you’re a business owner looking for a credit card with no annual fee and the flexibility to swap your cash back for travel rewards, Chase’s Ink Business Unlimited should be at the top of your list. Not only does it come with a solid earning rate and access to an introductory interest rate offer on purchases, but the sign-up bonus is hard to beat.
Looking for a small business credit card? Find out which cards CNN Underscored chose as our best business credit cards of 2021.