Small business owners face a lot of difficult decisions, not the least of which is choosing the right credit card. The Chase Ink Business Cash® Credit Card and the American Express® Business Gold Card cards are both strong contenders – but which one makes the most sense for your business?

Welcome Bonus

Chase Ink Business Cash

The Ink Cash comes with a welcome bonus of 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (marketed as $500 cash) with a minimum spending requirement of $3,000 in purchases within the first three months.

American Express Business Gold

The welcome bonus offered by the American Express Business Gold Card varies depending on when you apply and whether you are targeted for a special offer: we’ve seen it fluctuate between 35,000 and 50,000 Membership Rewards points. Expect the minimum spend requirement to be at least $5,000.

chase ink business preferred

Guide to Using Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal

Chase Travel Portal vs. Amex Travel Portal

Chase Ink Business Cash

The Chase Travel Portal allows cardholders to redeem points at a fixed value towards airfare, hotels, rental cars, cruises, and activities. You can also redeem your points for a statement credit. Regardless of which option you choose, each point will be worth 1 cent.

However, if you also have a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve®, or Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, you can redeem your points through the travel portal at a higher fixed rate or transfer your points to airline and hotel partners.

By pairing the Ink Cash with one of these premium cards, you can easily get more than $500 from the sign-up bonus alone.

Maui Hawaii resort hotel Pacific ocean beach

Amex Business Gold

When you redeem Membership Rewards points via the Amex Travel portal, you’ll get a different value for your points depending on what you’re booking.

Hotels that participate in the Fine Hotels & Resorts program will get you a value of 1 cent per point, as will most economy class flights. Prepaid hotels, cruises, and vacation packages will only get you a value of 0.7 cents per point.

If you book business class and first class tickets, you’ll get a value of 1 cent per point up front and then receive a 25% rebate on the points used a few weeks later. This increases each point’s net value to about 1.25 cents. (You can also earn this rebate for tickets in any class of service on a single airline of your choice – you can change this airline once per calendar year).

Using this valuation, 35,000 Membership Rewards points are worth about $437 – if you get a higher welcome bonus, adjust this calculation as needed.

Transfer Partners

While redeeming points via the Chase and Amex travel portals is perhaps the simplest way to use your points for travel, transferring them to airline and hotel loyalty programs has the potential to give you a lot more bang for your buck.

Chase Ink Business Cash

While the Ultimate Rewards program has some great transfer partners, you can’t access them with the Chase Ink Cash. Only three Chase cards have the ability to transfer points to airline and hotel partners: the Chase Ink Business Preferred, Chase Sapphire Preferred, and Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

Points earned with the Ink Cash or other no-fee Ultimate Rewards cards can be combined with points from one of those three cards and then transferred to partners, but if you don’t have one of those cards, you’re out of luck.

Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred to partners such as Hyatt, Southwest and United which all offer incredible redemption options, depending on what your goals are and the amount of effort you want to put in.

Amex Business Gold

Amex Business Gold cardholders have the ability to transfer points to 19 airline partners and 3 hotel loyalty programs.

While the hotel programs are not particularly attractive, there are some great opportunities among their airline partners. For example, Air Canada Aeroplan, ANA Mileage Club, and Avianca LifeMiles all have sweet spots for booking flights on Star Alliance airlines (including United and Lufthansa).

One of our favorites is Avianca’s business class awards from the United States to Europe for 63,000 LifeMiles and no fuel surcharges. You can also get very competitive prices for incredible round-the-world trips with ANA Mileage Club, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles and Singapore KrisFlyer.

American Express also periodically offers bonus points for transferring Membership Rewards to specific partners – you can sometimes get as much as a 40% bonus through these offers. If one of these bonuses lines up with your travel plans, it can offer an incredible value for those who have mastered the art of award bookings.

chase ink business cash earning structure

Bonus Categories

Credit cards aren’t just about their welcome bonuses – it’s also important to look at how many points you’ll earn for everyday spending, especially for small business cards.

Chase Ink Business Cash

With the Chase Ink Cash, you’ll earn 5X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent in these categories:

  • Office supply stores
  • Internet, cable and phone services

And 2X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on:

  • Gas stations
  • Restaurants

These bonuses are limited to your first $25,000 in purchases in 5X categories and $25,000 in purchases in 2X categories per account anniversary year. All other purchases earn 1 point per dollar spent.

cash back at gas stations using credit card

Amex Business Gold

The Business Gold Card offers 4X Membership Rewards points per dollar spent in categories personalized to your business. Each billing cycle, American Express will select the two categories where your business spent the most money and apply 4X points to those purchases automatically.

The categories you can earn 4X points on are:

  • Airfare purchased directly from airlines
  • U.S. purchases for media advertising (online, TV, radio)
  • U.S. gas stations
  • U.S. restaurants
  • U.S. shipping
  • U.S. purchases of computer hardware, software and cloud storage

The 4X bonus is limited to $150,000 in combined purchases annually (the card earns 1X thereafter). All other purchases will earn 1X per dollar spent.

advertising purchases using credit card

Chase Offers vs. Amex Offers

Chase Ink Business Cash

Chase cardholders have access to periodic limited-time offers at selected merchants, generally in the form of a statement credit if you spend a certain amount of money at that merchant. As I write this, I have three offers on my Ink Cash card, all offering $20-$25 back if I sign up for a new mobile phone service with different companies.

Amex Business Gold

Like Chase, Amex cardholders have access to targeted offers that give you opportunities to save money with specific merchants; in some cases, you can also earn bonus points, either in the form of a fixed number of points when you spend a certain dollar amount or by offering additional points for each dollar spent. Enrollment is required.

Sometimes you’ll even get generic bonus offers tied to a particular category of the merchant (like cell phone or insurance companies) or simply spending a certain amount of money on your card.

Amex Offers are much more plentiful than Chase Offers–it’s not unusual to have dozens of Amex Offers at the same time, for both nationwide and local merchants. If you’re lucky, you can save a significant chunk of money or earn a lot of bonus points with these offers.

Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver

Other Card Benefits

Chase Ink Business Cash

  • Auto rental collision damage waiver: The Ink Cash offers automatic coverage for car rentals of 31 days or less, as long as you decline the rental company’s collision insurance and use your card to pay for the rental. This coverage applies only to rentals for business purposes within the United States; when traveling abroad, personal rentals are also covered. You don’t have to file a claim with your personal auto insurance, and you’re covered for up to the actual value of the car.
  • Purchase protection: Purchases made with the Ink Cash are covered against damage or theft during the first 120 days since you paid for them, up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per card account.
baggage delay insurance

Amex Business Gold

  • Car rental protection: If you use your Business Gold Card to pay for a car rental of 30 days or less and get into an accident, American Express will cover the cost of the deductible on your personal auto insurance. You also have the option of paying for premium car rental protection at a flat rate of $19.95 to $24.95 per rental, which covers theft and damage up to $100,000 without having to file a claim with your personal insurance and extends the coverage period to 42 days.
  • Purchase protection: Purchases made with the Business Gold Card are protected against theft or damage for 90 days, up to $1,000 per purchase and $50,000 per year.
  • Extended Warranty: If an item you purchase has a manufacturer’s warranty of 5 years or less, Amex will cover repair or replacement under the same terms as the original warranty for up to one additional year after your warranty expires.
  • Trip delay protection: If you purchase a round trip ticket with your card and face a delay of 12 hours or more, American Express will reimburse you for up to $300 in related expenses.
  • Baggage Insurance Plan: When you book a ticket with your Business Gold Card, your checked and carry-on baggage will automatically be insured against loss, damage, or theft, up to $500 for checked bags and $1,250 for carry-ons.
  • American Express Presales: Get access to event ticket presales with your American Express card before the general public.
  • American Express Preferred Seating: When purchasing event tickets online, you’re eligible to select seats in a zone reserved for Amex cardmembers only.
  • No foreign transaction fees (rates and fees)
  • $295 annual fee

Annual Fee

The Amex Business Gold has a hefty $295 annual fee (see rates and fees), which is not waived for the first year. The Chase Ink Cash has no annual fee.

Which Card Is Right for You?

These cards are very different, and each offers advantages and disadvantages depending on the nature of your business.

The Chase Ink Cash is a good fit if you spend a lot on office supplies and internet, cable, and phone services, although if your goal is to use your points for travel, it will be difficult to get significant value from your points without opening a second Chase card. The Ink Cash is also subject to the Chase 5/24 rule (though since it’s a business card, it won’t add to your 5/24 count for future Chase applications).

The American Express Business Gold Card may be a better fit if travel, shipping, or advertising are a big part of your business expenses, or if you have significant business expenses (since the Business Gold has a much higher annual cap on bonus points). It also makes it much easier to get value out of your points when redeeming them for travel, either through Amex Travel or by transferring to airline and hotel partners. However, you’ll pay a hefty fee for this privilege.

Final Thoughts

You can make an argument for either the Chase Ink Business Cash card or the American Express Business Gold Card. The key is taking a look at your business expenses and figuring out which one is right for you based on your spending habits and redemption goals.

Because both Chase Ultimate Rewards points and Amex Membership Rewards points offer significant value, many people look for opportunities to earn both. So, don’t be surprised if you find yourself considering both cards for your business at some point.