Don’t Get this 75K Offer Ending Monday

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Monday March 18, 2019, marks the final day of Chase's limited-time up to 100,000-mile offer on the United℠ Explorer Business Card.

Now, we typically recommend jumping on limited-time offers while they are live, but, in this case, we’re taking the contrarian position of recommending folks don’t apply for this card. Why? Because there are at least two other Chase business cards, subject to the same eligibility criteria, that we think offer better value (and tens of thousands more points) over the long-term.

Which cards are we talking about? Two of the stars of Chase’s business card portfolio, the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card and Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card. Outside of cardholder benefits when you are flying United, these cards out-earn and outperform the United Business Card on almost every front.

That’s not to say the offer on the United Business Card doesn’t provide top value. The up to 100,000 mile offer is the highest bonus we’ve seen to date on this card, plus the $95 annual fee is waived for the first year. But, you’re leaving serious value on the table applying for the United Business Card unless you already hold one or both of the Ink cards listed above.

More Points & Better Perks with Chase Ink Rewards Cards

While the United Business Card is an excellent option for United fans, from a long-term perspective, you get a much better overall package with Chase’s lineup of Ink business rewards cards. Since March 2017, the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card has consistently offered the most valuable publicly available signup bonus of any card on the market, and when you factor in annual fees, the Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card is not far behind.

Here’s a quick recap of the welcome offers on the Chase Ink cards:

While the bonus on the Ink Business Unlimited is marketed as cash back, when it hits your account it's awarded as 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points which you can combine with points earned on other Ultimate Rewards earning cards.

The Ink Preferred has taken the top spot in our comparison of small business rewards cards since its release late in 2016. Why? Putting aside the impressive signup bonus, cardholders earn 3x points on the first $150,000 each account year in a broad range of expense categories that includes travel; shipping purchases; internet, cable and phone services; and advertising purchases made on social media sites and search engines, and you only wear a $95 annual fee.

Where the United Business Card earns 2x miles on United purchases and 1 point per dollar on other travel expenses, the Ink Preferred earns 3x points on ALL travel expenses, including United purchases, with points transferring to United at 1:1 ratio. You effectively get one more United mile per dollar when swiping the Ink Preferred for United purchases than you would get swiping United's co-brand card.

The Ink Preferred features a full suite of travel and purchase protection benefits including:

Keep in mind, to transfer points earned on the Ink Business Unlimited to airline and hotel partners, you need to hold an Ultimate Rewards earning card that charges an annual fee. This includes the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve®, and Ink Preferred cards.

Putting all three cards head to head, it’s relatively easy to see the additional value the Ink Preferred offers over the United Business Card. What’s not so obvious is the points earning potential of the Ink Business Unlimited. It punches well above its weight for a no annual fee card. We'll dig into a quick comparison to demonstrate the value of holding Chase’s Ink cards year on year.

We’re using very conservative numbers here, roughly $5,000 in business expenses per month, but if your expenses are greater, the difference only becomes more obvious. Particularly in year two as the annual fee kicks in on the United Business Card.

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

  • Signup bonus = 80,000 points
  • $5,000 x 12 = $60,000
  • $45,000 @ 1x points = 45,000 points
  • $15,000 @ 3x points = 45,000 points
  • 1st year = 164,412 points (170K minus the $95 annual fee – 5,588 miles @ 1.7¢ each)
  • 2nd year = 84,412 points (90K minus the $95 annual fee – 5,588 miles @ 1.7¢ each)
  • 2 year total points = 248,824 Ultimate Rewards points

Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card

  • Signup bonus = 50,000 points
  • $5,000 x 12 = $60,000
  • $60,000 @ 1.5x points = 90,000 points (no bonus categories)
  • 1st year = 140,000 points
  • 2nd year = 90,000 points (no annual fee to account for)
  • 2 year total points = 230,000 Ultimate Rewards points

United℠ Explorer Business Card

  • Signup bonus = up to 100,000 miles
  • $5,000 x 12 = $60,000
  • $52,000 @ 1x mile = 52,000 miles
  • $8,000 @ 2x miles = 16,000 miles
  • 1st year = 143,000 miles
  • 2nd year = 61,214 miles (68K minus the $95 annual fee – 6,786 miles @ 1.4¢ each)
  • 2 year total miles = 204,214 United miles

We’ve given the Ink Preferred an additional $7,000 in bonus spend as the 3x categories pick up a much wider range of expenses than the United card, plus most folks will already have a card earning better than 2x on dining which rules out a lot of bonus spend on the United Business Card.

This is a basic comparison making some pretty broad and conservative assumptions, that also doesn’t factor in the higher value we place on Ultimate Rewards. But, it demonstrates the importance of analyzing your spend and calculating the longterm return before you start applying for cards, as the results may surprise you.

United Business Card Signup Bonus and Card Benefits

Now, if you already hold one or more of the cards above, particularly the Ink Preferred which we see as the highest value business card available in the Chase roster of rewards cards. Or, you're a tried and true United loyalist who can get oversized value from the perks offered on the United Business Card, and you’re under 5/24, then this is a top offer worth pursuing.

The limited-time up to 100,000-mile bonus on the United℠ Explorer Business Card is the highest bonus we’ve ever seen offered on this card. If you value United miles at a conservative 1.3-1.4 cents each, those miles are worth roughly $975-$1,050 towards award flights on United or Star Alliance partners like ANA, Singapore Airlines, Asiana, Air New Zealand, Lufthansa, and Air Canada.

The card offers plenty of perks for United fans, including:

  • Free first checked bag for the primary cardholder and a companion on the same reservation if you purchase the ticket with your United card.
  • Two complimentary United Club Passes worth up to $100 per year in value.
  • Expanded award availability. One of the most overlooked and poorly understood benefits of holding United co-brand cards.

Where the United Business Card falls flat is the return on spend. You’ll earn 2x miles on United purchases and at restaurants, gas stations, and office supply stores, and just 1x mile per dollar spent on other purchases. Outside of the welcome bonus, this is a card you acquire for the United perks rather than the potential return on spend.

Qualifying For Chase Business Cards

Chase business cards are subject to many of the same application restrictions as their consumer counterparts, chief amongst them being Chase's 5/24 policy. Chase won’t approve you for new personal or business cards if you’ve opened 5 or more credit cards in the previous 24 months.

The primary difference between applying for business and consumer cards is that business cards from Chase won’t add to your 5/24 count. If you’re currently sitting under 5/24, you could potentially apply for the Ink Preferred or United Business Card, and 6 months down the track apply for the Ink Business Unlimited to maximize your points on non-bonus business expenses, without adding to your 5/24 total.

Another benefit of applying for Chase business cards is that unlike the restrictions placed on the Sapphire family of cards, there is currently no restriction on acquiring multiple cards within the Chase Ink lineup. You can collect all the Ink rewards cards over time and earn bonus points on a massive range of business expenses, plus a minimum 1.5x points on non-bonus purchases via the Ink Business Unlimited.

While you will need a legitimate business to qualify for these cards, they are all aimed squarely at small business owners, including those operating under sole proprietorships. Provided you have legitimate business spend and can produce documents outlining your expenses; you’re in a position to apply for a business card.

Final Thoughts

If your long-term goal is to collect as many United miles as possible, you’ll earn thousands more miles a year by applying for one or more Ink business rewards cards, particularly the Ink Preferred which we rate as the best small business card available today. The card delivers what we consider the highest value signup bonus currently available at 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points, a set of functional bonus categories on up to $150,000 per year in business expenses, and you can transfer points to 11 different hotel and airline partners—including United Mileage Plus.

Alternatively, the up to 100,000-mile offer on the United Business Card wraps up on March 18, 2019. If you already hold all the Ink cards you need and think you’ll maximize the benefits on offer, you might want to get an application in while the bonus is at an all-time high.

Don’t Get this 75K Offer Ending Monday
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  • Benjamin Tan says:

    I have never been a fan of United Credit Cards. This is a validation to my impressions.

  • Thomas Lee says:

    This is a very interesting comparison. One with airline benefit(free checked bag etc), and the other with better return on spend.

  • Thanks a lot for the detailed comparison. If one only has the Freedom credit card (I know it’s personal and the post here is about business cards), and earns UR points, can these be transferred to travel partners?

    • No. You need to hold an Ultimate Rewards earning card that charges an annual fee. Either the Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Preferred to transfer to travel partners.

  • As always you explain everything in detail. Thank you for guiding me in the right direction.

  • Great points. Thanks for clarifying and making my decision easier as to which card I will open.

  • I wasn’t aware of the Chase 5/24 policy. Thanks for explaining it.

  • Hubs got it…already has the other biz cards 😋

  • I already have 3 Ink cards. Planning to try for this one Monday; curious if they’ll approve me for a 4th business card. I did call to lower my credit limits.

  • I’d get them all, if not for 5/24 😀

  • sign, so many great cards but blocked by the 5/24 rules. Maybe when Chase is hurting enough they will get rid of this rule.

  • I got this I only afte applying and getting the business explorer card. Wish I’d known earlier. Already met spend requirements so maybe I’ll try another too.

  • Agree. Ink cards are better.

  • I wasn’t considering the business card, but I just cancelled my United Chase personal card yesterday.

  • I really need to buckle down and research this. My wife has a small hobby/business (or rather two: photography and clothing/vinyl stuff) and we are both at 1/24. I could be missing out on a lot here. Scratch that, I am missing out on a lot here.

  • The Southwest cards also only get 2x miles on Southwest flights while the Sapphire Reserve and Ink Preferred get 3x strictly more valuable points. I’m not sure why Southwest and United would allow their branded cards to get fewer points than the generic Chase cards.

  • If it’s a “this or that” question, then yes, the Ink options are likely better, but if one already has the Ink card(s), or is in the market specifically for UA miles at the moment, then the 75k LTO for the UA biz card is unquestionably a solid offer.

  • Sophie Breeze says:

    My Mom swears by your Blog and Award Wallet! She is educating me in the nuances of miles/points travel and agrees that the United Business Card is probably not a great card as we already have all the benefits it offers via her Million Miler status and other cards.

    I am quite enjoying reading all the blog entries, and learning a lot about how to maximize travel. I will be heading off to school next year and will be making good use of my knowledge. My Mom says the ‘travel bank of Mom and Dad’ will be shuttered once I am in college and so I have to earn my own miles..hahahaha! My Mom’s loves me though, so I know she will still let me use her miles. Hahahah!

  • Thanks for the heads up, interesting perspective as usual.

  • Don’t forget the other great United deal that ends soon: half price premium economy!

  • I hope to see an increased bonus on the United consumer card sometime soon.

  • This article is refreshing, and honest review of a proper investment. Thank you for considering the 5/24 in this situation.

  • Definitely an interesting perspective. I think there are cases where this offer is great but it’s not for everyone

  • Reminder posts such as this one are certainly one of the benefits of AW. Some of us are not on top of things as much as others are and very much need such reminders! 🙂

  • Perfect!! I’m going back to united this weekend. ! Thanks!

  • Very good analysis and comparison. There is one more important advantage for the Ink cards: Ultimate reward points are worth 50% more if redeemed on the Chase web site for travel. I don’t thing this was mentioned in the article.

  • Thanks for the comparisons. Shopping around for a new business card and decided not to jump on the United offer.

  • Very thorough review of all three cards. I have all three and would highly recommend getting all three if it makes sense for you.

  • Thanks a lot for detailed explanation. I also skipped on this one.

  • Spending 5K per month – that’s a lot!

  • Nancy Hiatt says:

    I went to apply for the Chase Ink Business Unlimited card. It won’t let me continue because I don’t have a tax ID number. I am a piano teacher out of my home and have obtained a business card from American Express without a tax ID number. Is there a way around this??

    • Hey Nancy, lots of folks don’t have a business tax ID, but if you are a sole proprietor, you can apply with your social security number as the tax ID. It is important that the name of the business matches the tax ID, so you don’t want to list the business as “Mary’s Piano Inc.” if you don’t have a business tax ID under that name. In other words, if you are a sole proprietor, the business name is your name. More details here:

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