Key Links:

Word started trickling out on Friday that Chase was lowering the spending requirement on their Ink Plus and Ink Bold cards. They’d still offer 50,000 points as a signup bonus but instead of requiring $10,000 in spend within 3 months to get the full bonus, it would only require $5000 in spending.

For the first couple of days after links were available with the lower spend requirement there were reports of problems submitting the applications, but those seem to have been resolved.

And the Chase Ink cards now do offer the best overall signup bonuses in the market.

Previously I had argued that the Chase Sapphire PreferredSM card at 40,000 points was probably the best signup bonus. And I think it remains the best current signup bonus for a personal credit card.

There were 50,000 point offers with meaningfully higher spend requirements out there, and 50,000 point offers where the points themselves are less valuable than Chase points.

But now that the spending requirement has been lowered for the Chase Ink Bold and Chase Ink Plus cards, they are absolutely hard to resist: 50,000 points after $5000 spending within 3 months.

I don’t know how long the lower spending threshold will last. When the spending requirement was reduced on the Sapphire Preferred card from $3000 to $2000, that lasted only a few days.

I haven’t been told just how limited time an offer this is, but I understand that Chase is making a big push for the end of the calendar year. I suspect they’re below new customer acquisition targets, so they’re trying to get aggressive now that the end of 2012 is fast upon us.

Chase points are among the most valuable

While you can redeem these points at 1.25 cents apiece towards paid travel, that’s not their best use. You want to hold onto them and transfer them to frequent flyer programs most of the time.

I value ‘flexible’ points the most, points where you can choose where to point them at the time you’re ready to redeem for an award.

If you accumulate miles in an airline program, then you need that program to have the award you want at the time you want to fly.

But with points that transfer to your choice of programs, you increase the odds substantially of getting the award you want — if one program doesn’t have the award, another one likely will.

The transfer options with this card are:

  • Airlines: United, Hyatt, Korean Airlines, Southwest Airlines, British Airways
  • Hotels: Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton, Marriott, Priority Club
  • Train: Amtrak

The best hotel transfer value is Hyatt in most cases, but it’s really valuable to be able to top off an account towards an award no matter which account of yours that winds up being.

Usually I think of United as the best value for points transfers, since the award chart is reasonable and available on Star Alliance partners is really pretty good in business class to Europe and Asia.

But transferring to British Airways Avios can be a good use of points, especially for short-distance non-stop flights (think as low as 9000 points roundtrip for a coach award). I’m not a fan of the Avios program, but it has good strategic uses.

Meanwhile, not only do you get Star Alliance awards via United and oneworld awards via British Airways, you have coverage of the third alliance — Skyteam — as well through Korean Airlines Skypass… which even offers the ability to redeem for international first class and not just business class, something Delta doesn’t allow. I actually value these points the most, probably for transfers to Korean since I just booked an award in Korean first class. Availability was outstanding.

Some Key Benefits of the Ink Bold and Ink Plus:

Earn Quintuple Points on Your Monthly Internet, Cell Phone, and TV Bills. That adds up incredibly quickly. I spend about $400 a month in this category. These bills alone can earn 24,000 points a year for me, instead of just 4800 at one point per dollar.

Double points on hotels. Now, I do like Sapphire Preferred better here because it’s double points on all travel and not just hotels. But coupled with no foreign currency transaction fees it’s still a card you’ll want to use at hotels when traveling abroad even in place of most hotel programs’ own co-branded card. For instance, I’ve long loved the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express and it offer double points on Starwood spend but the Ink cards are better to use at a Sheraton or Westin outside the United States because you earn double points and avoid the foreign currency conversion fees.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall: Lucrative Points Through Online Shopping. The Chase online shopping portal is often the most rewarding place to start when making online purchases, the rewards are in a valuable currency and frequently they give the greatest number of points. Interestingly, the Ink business cards often provide different top-level promotions in the rewards mall than the Sapphire Preferred card does, so having both gives access to even more offers.

Universal Acceptance as a Mastercard. I like having all of the different -flavors of courses, frequent flyer promotions sometimes partner with credit cards like Amex, Visa, or Mastercard and require paying with that type of card. The best cards in many cases are Amex products or Visas (usually from Chase), having an outstanding Mastercard is great preparation for hotel bonuses especially although also airline bonuses where a Mastercard may be required to be eligible. Hyatt’s famous ‘faster free nights’ (free night anywhere in the world with one paid stay) used to require Mastercard and the recent US Airways double miles promotion did as well.

Bottom line is that while for most people the Chase Sapphire PreferredSM is the best all-around card choice, the Ink Bold and Ink Plus cards are great complements.

Are the Ink products the best for every type of spending? No. But I often argue that there are three types of value in credit cards — the signup bonus, actual spending on the card, and benefits for having the card. The signup bonus is tops in the market now, the spending value is strong with excellent flexible points and quintuple point bonuses. The benefits are primarily some lounge access, these are not American Express Platinum cards. But they’re among the best cards out there. And as small business cards, they’re on a separate track from personal cards so an untapped market. The new lower spending requirement makes this the best time to sign up.

(Note that the Ink and Sapphire cards will provide referral credit to me if you choose to use my links when you get approved, which is something I greatly appreciate.)

  1. Glenn said,

    Thanks Gary. I was planning a churn around the end of this month, guess I need to decide whether I feel like taking the chance that the reduced spend Inks will be around that long.

    Can you talk about whether these cards are churnable or not? Obviously with four cards you could cycle through them over time without having to pay a fee? Or are there limits on this.

    Would it make more sense to apply for the Ink Plus first so that when you later apply for the Ink Bold you have the excuse of wanting to be able to pay over time to justify why you might want the 2nd card?

    Any suggestions appreciated.

  2. Tommy said,

    Can you also use UR points to transfer to Amtrak then over to Hilton honors for double Hilton points?

  3. Glenn said,

    Tommy,

    Looks like the answer is NO:

    http://boardingarea.com/onemileatatime/2012/07/10/transferring-chase-ultimate-rewards-points-to-hilton-hhonors-so-close-to-being-a-great-opportunity/

    (assuming boardingarea.com is up when you click on this link…)

  4. Gary said,

    @Glenn – I think end of the month you’ll be good. You can certainly cycle through the cards with no fee but do not expect them to be otherwise churnable (unless perhaps if you get multiple tax ID numbers, eg grab an LLC) I think you could do Bold or Plus first, I just got Plus and told them I wanted the flexibility to pay over time.

  5. Ann said,

    That whole huge write-up, and no mention of the $100 annual fee!

    If I apply for this card, I’ll go to Million Mile Secrets because he was one of the first bloggers to share with his readers the Bluebird idea.

  6. Gary said,

    Hi Ann. I believe Frequent Miler was first to share Bluebird. As for the $95 fee it is waived the first year. I have written on fhe strategy here. Get Bold or Plus now. In a year apply for the other. Be willing to cancel the first to get the second. Two bonuses and two years with no fee.

  7. Ryan said,

    Anne, Have to give credit to MMS on this, too, he was the first to post about it and include links even though they weren’t his. Most waited until.they had affiliate links topost about it.

  8. Gary said,

    @Ryan I actually wrote about it over the weekend as well. The post was eaten when boardingarea servers crashed.

  9. John L said,

    Hi Gary,

    On a completely unrelated topic, I heard about this Delta frequent flyer on NPR this morning and knowing how much you dislike how Delta operates from a customer service perspective, I thought you would be interested in this blog entry from a Delta frequent flyer. (Or now… former Delta ff).

    http://www.lynnharrell.com/no-miles-for-you/

    Also, given your wide readership and influence with the majors, maybe shedding some light on this will help Mr Harrell get his miles back.

    Anyway, thought you would be interested.

    Thanks for the great blog!

  10. Gary said,

    @John L – I don’t think I know everything on the story, it seems like what they did was against the rules Delta told them it was against the rules, they continued to do it anyway. And got banned. Did they know it was against the rules, eg did they pay attention to what Delta sent them? I don’t know. And why did it take Delta so long to act when they continued to do this? I don’t know. But I don’t think it’s an obvious slam-dunk anti-Delta thing here.

  11. John L said,

    @Gary – You’re right. It’s not a slam-dunk anti-Delta thing but I do think they could have handled it better. Here you have a customer that pays for 2 seats every time he flies this airline. And now after 10 years have passed since Delta’s first warning their reaction is to 1) terminate his membership in the program and 2) rescind all his miles. Seems a bit extreme to me. Especially given the passenger’s response that there are other airlines that do offer mileage for the additional paid seat. I can’t speak from first-hand experience on this, but it makes sense to me that airlines would offer ff miles to someone who pays for 2 seats.

    In any case, I would think airlines would do more to try and retain their loyal passengers. Maybe Delta thought the passenger in this case was being fraudulent in some way, but the truth is, there are lots of musicians out there who pay extra to have their instruments brought into the main cabin of a plane rather than have them checked-in and risk being damaged. And if airlines are being paid for an extra seat, why don’t they give out the extra miles, even if the passenger in this case is a cello?

    Anyway… just thought I’d change up the topic a little bit away from VR’s, Ink’s, OD’s, and BB’s which seem to predominate a lot of the travel blogs these days. :)

  12. Ram said,

    Clicked on the link above for a Chase Biz card this morning, did not get instant approval, called around mid-day, let some of the credit on an existing card be used for this new one and was approved after a short review. Thanks Gary for another 50K points in 2012.

  13. Chase Ink Cards Now Have Lower Spending Requirements said,

    [...] Details are here on View from the Wing. [...]

  14. What Credit Card Should You Use to Pay for a Hyatt Stay? It’s Not the One You Think - View from the Wing said,

    [...] as one of the most rewarding options outside the U.S. as well. Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Chase Ink Cards. These earn 2 ‘Ultimate Rewards’ points per dollar, which transfer to Hyatt (2 Hyatt [...]

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