Business credit cards can serve a very important role in managing a business operation. In fact, the National Small Business Association (NSBA) found that 31% of small business owners surveyed for their 2017 annual report used credit cards as a means of meeting ongoing capital needs.
While providing support for your business growth, credit cards can also help you manage your business by making it easier to track expenses and allowing key employees to make necessary business purchases.
Another prudent business move is to ensure all of your expenses are earning rewards. Whether it’s cash-back, miles, or flexible, transferable points, these currencies can provide value back into your business to offset expenses or even fund your personal travel goals.
Today we’re looking at 2 business credit cards that offer stellar rewards-earning possibilities, have flexible options at redemption time, and provide benefits that result in savings or help make your travel more comfortable.
The popular Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card and the American Express® Business Gold Card are both worthy considerations for becoming your go-to business card, but one will stand taller than the other as a better fit for your business.
Join us now as we dive into the attributes that make each of these cards a potential partner for rewarding your business cash flow.
The Value of a Welcome Bonus
Ink Business Preferred Card
Ultimate Rewards points earned as a welcome bonus on the Ink Business Preferred card can be redeemed for 1.25 cents per point for travel on the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. Although welcome bonuses can change, an 80,000 point welcome bonus could be worth $1,000 when redeemed towards travel.
Points can also be transferred to several airline and hotel partners and subsequently redeemed for tickets or hotel nights, resulting in the potential to receive even greater value.
Amex Business Gold Card
Membership Rewards points have a value of 1 cent per point when redeemed for qualifying travel. For this reason, a 35,000 point welcome bonus will be worth at least $350 towards qualifying travel.
The card also rebates 25% of the points used to purchase qualifying airline tickets, which can add value to the welcome bonus.
Membership Rewards points are also transferable to airline and hotel partners which could potentially provide more value.
Bottom Line: Currently (and typically), with its generous welcome bonus, you’ll find a better value with the Ink Business Preferred card versus the Amex Business Gold card. However, be sure to compare current offers when applying for either card as welcome bonus offers do change.
Ultimate Rewards Points vs. Membership Rewards Points
The Ink Business Preferred card and the Amex Gold Business card each earn their own valuable rewards currencies. Ultimate Rewards points are earned on the Ink Business Preferred card and Membership Rewards points are earned on the Amex Business Gold card.
Both types of rewards points are valuable because of the elevated, multiple earnings rates on bonus categories and their flexibility at redemption time.
Let’s compare the earning potential and redemption possibilities for each card.
Comparing Earning Potential
Both the Ink Business Preferred card and Amex Business Gold card make it easy to earn rewards quickly as they offer elevated earnings on common business expense category purchases.
Here’s how the 2 cards compare on earnings for business purchases.
|Ink Business Preferred Card|
- 3x points per dollar spent on travel, internet service/cable/phone, advertising on social media/search engines, and shipping
- 3x earnings have a limit of $150,000 in purchases per card anniversary year
- 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases
|Amex Business Gold Card|
- 4x points per dollar spent on the highest 2 business category expenses each statement period; categories include flights purchased directly from airlines, U.S. advertising, U.S. computer software/hardware/cloud computing, U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, and U.S. shipping
- 4x earnings have a limit of $150,000 per calendar year
- 2x points per dollar spent on eligible travel purchased on Amex Travel
- 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases
Earning the maximum rewards possible on your business purchases requires aligning the category of purchases you make with the card that generously rewards those categories.
The Ink Business Preferred card has a nice selection of common business expense categories. If your greatest expenses fall into those categories, the card could be a good fit, as long as you’re spending $150,000 or less in those categories per calendar year.
The Amex Business Gold card rewards your 2 highest expense categories automatically each statement period. This is a nice feature that ensures your largest expenses receive the highest 4x earnings. The card also imposes a $150,000 limit per calendar year on 4x earnings.
Bottom Line: The best business rewards earning card will be the one that aligns with your highest business expenses and ensures every major purchase receives multiple times earnings. To get started, check out our guide to points and miles for business owners for some guidance.
Comparing Redemption Options
At redemption time there will be several options to maximize the points you’ve earned on either card.
Whether you need to book a premium business flight to Europe or a transcontinental domestic flight for that last-minute meeting, redeeming your points for travel will result in the best value for your points.
It is also possible to use your points for personal travel.
Each reward currency offers several flexible redemption options — some yielding better value than others.
Let’s review the redemption options you’ll have with the Ink Business Preferred card and the Amex Business Gold card.
|Redemption Option||Best Redemption Options||Additional Redemption Options|
|Ink Business Preferred Card|
- Transfer points to travel partners
- Redeem for travel on Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal for 1.25 cents per point
- Statement credits, gift cards, Chase experiences, Amazon, and Apple purchases
|Amex Business Gold Card|
- Redeem for 1 cent per point for airfare on Amex Travel
- Receive a 25% rebate on points when used for flights booked with your pre-selected airline or first/business class flights booked through Amex Travel
- Transfer points to travel partners
- Travel booked with Amex Travel, airline upgrades, statement credits, gift cards, Amazon, Uber, Ticketmaster, and other shopping partners
Whether you prefer to redeem your points for a fixed travel value or transfer the points to hotel/airline partners, you’ll have both options with either card.
You’ll find that Ultimate Rewards points can be redeemed via their travel portal for 1.25 cents per point for travel, while Membership Rewards points must be redeemed for airfare to receive the 25% rebate.
One other noticeable difference between the cards is that Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be redeemed for 1 cent per point as a statement credit whereas Membership Rewards points receive just 0.6 cents per point when redeemed for charges.
Learn how to realize the best value for your rewards with travel partner transfer options on either card. Our guides will show you how to maximize your Membership Rewards transfers and Ultimate Rewards transfers.
Bottom Line: Redemption options vary in the amount of value received for each reward point. The highest potential value for points earned on either card may be realized when transferring points to airlines and possibly hotel partners.
Hotel and Rental Car Program Benefits
Hotel Program Benefits — Ink Business Preferred Card
Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection
With over 900 properties worldwide, you’re sure to find the perfect hotel with the Luxury Hotel Collection. Once you do, you’ll receive a nice selection of benefits during your stay. There is no minimum stay required to receive these benefits.
- Room upgrade, if available
- A best rate guarantee
- $25 food/beverage credit per stay
- Complimentary continental breakfast for 2 each day
- Free Wi-Fi
- 3 p.m. check out, on request
- VIP treatment
You’ll also find special discounted rates, stay credits, and third/fourth night free offers available for cardholders on the site.
Hotel Program Benefits — Amex Business Gold Card
Reserve a 2-night or longer stay through Amex Travel using your Amex Business Gold card and receive a room upgrade and a $100 credit at checkout towards purchases such as spa services, dining, and other qualifying on-site amenities.
The Travel Collection
Amex Business Gold card members also receive hotel benefits via The Travel Collection. Membership is normally $295 per year for this travel group but it comes complimentary with the Amex Business Gold card.
Hotel stays of 2 nights or more receive room upgrades, free Wi-Fi, complimentary breakfast, and an on-site property credit.
Members also qualify for special member discounts on flights, cruises, car rentals, vacation packages, and other travel. Additionally, you can pay for your bookings with your Membership Rewards points.
Register for your complimentary membership here.
Rental Car Program Benefits — Ink Business Preferred Card
You’ll qualify for benefits and discounts with several rental car companies when using your Ink Business Preferred card. Car rental companies offering discounts include National, Hertz, Silvercar, and more.
You’ll also qualify for upgrades, accelerated earnings, and discounts via the Avis Access Ink Insider after registering.
To use your discounts/benefits, log in to your card account and under “Card Benefits” click on “Special Car Rental Privileges.”
Rental Car Program Benefits — Amex Business Gold Card
Most major car rental companies offer discounts and benefits for Amex Business Gold card members. There are specially dedicated websites for Hertz, Avis, and Alamo, just to give a few examples.
You’ll also find benefits such as car upgrades and priority service for Amex members.
Access specific benefits and discounts by logging into your account online and selecting the “benefits” section.
Bottom Line: If you’re a frequent traveler, selecting a business credit card that offers hotel and rental car benefits could save you money but also make your travel more comfortable. The Ink Business Preferred card and Amex Business Gold card each offer similar levels of benefits in these categories.
Additional Benefits and Protections
While rewards earning and redemption options are key to your card selection, benefits, protections, discounts, and statement credits can deliver additional value.
Travel Benefits and Protections
If your business purchases a lot of travel, travel protections and benefits may be important to you.
Having rental car insurance can save you money, baggage and trip insurance can reimburse you for your losses, and not incurring foreign transaction fees can save you at least 3% on any such expenses.
Here’s how our featured cards stack up on key travel benefits and protections.
|Benefit||Ink Business Preferred Card||Amex Business Gold Card|
|Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance|
- Primary car rental insurance
- Secondary car rental insurance
- Up to $3,000 for damage, loss, or theft for carry-on or checked baggage
- If bags are delayed for more than 6 hours, there is a maximum benefit of $100 per day for up to 5 days for eligible reimbursement
- Coverage for damage, loss, or theft, up to $1,250 per person/per trip for carry-on baggage and up to $500 for checked baggage per person/per trip
|Trip Delay Insurance|
- When your trip is delayed more than 12 hours, you could receive up to $500 incidentals reimbursements per ticket
- Travel and Emergency Assistance Services provided 24/7
- Global Assist Hotline offers 24/7 assistance while traveling
- Flat fee per service call
|Foreign Transaction Fees|
One of the key benefits of the Ink Business Preferred card is primary car rental insurance versus secondary car rental insurance with the Amex Business Gold card. Secondary car rental insurance requires that you file a claim with your own insurance company first. You do, however, have an option with the Amex Business Gold card to purchase Premium Car Rental Protection for one flat low fee that provides coverage for the entire rental period.
Another key travel benefit is trip cancellation and interruption coverage that is offered on the Ink Business Preferred card but not on the Amex Business Gold card.
Shopping Benefits and Protections
Using your eligible business card for specific purchases allows you to receive benefits, protections, discounts, and even statement credits.
Here’s a sampling of the key purchase attributes of each card.
|Ink Business Preferred Card||Amex Business Gold Card|
|Cell Phone Protection|
- Extends the manufacturer’s warranty of 3 years or less for 1 additional year, up to $10,000 per claim/$50,000 per account
- Extends the manufacturer’s warranty of 5 years or less by 2 additional years, up to $10,000 per item
- Eligible items covered for damage, theft, or loss up to 120 days, up to $10,000/item and $50,000/year
- Eligible items covered for damage, theft, or loss up to 120 days (90 days for New York residents), up to $1,000/item and $50,000/year
|Special Purchase Offers|
- Chase Offers: add offers to your card to receive discounts and statement credits, good on purchases at specific merchants
- Amex Offers: offers you can add to your card that result in statement credits or multiple Membership Rewards earning for specific purchases
Business Management Tools
Both cards come with tools that assist you in managing your business such as annual summary statements, free employee cards, online/mobile account management, and account alerts.
Note that these summaries are not comprehensive lists of all benefits on each featured card — we’ve also abbreviated the benefit descriptions. You’ll want to learn more about the accompanying terms/conditions and complete descriptions of each benefit and protection by referencing the specific card’s Guide to Benefits.
Bottom Line: You might not consider selecting a specific business card for its benefits and protections alone, but these amenities do offer value if you need to use them. For example, 1 cell phone protection claim could make the Ink Business Preferred card worth having. A 2-year extension on a manufacturer’s warranty could cover an expensive piece of office equipment and make the Amex Business Gold card worthwhile.
Annual Fees and Adding Additional Users
Annual fees can change periodically but the Ink Business Preferred card has always provided value beyond its low annual fee. The Amex Business Gold card has a higher fee, currently about 3 times greater than the Ink Business Preferred card, so you’ll need to find extra value in earnings, redemption preferences, and benefits provided on the card to negate this higher expense.
Check out current pricing and fees for the Ink Business Preferred card here and the Amex Business Gold card here.
Adding Additional Users
There is no additional cost to add employees or other authorized users to the Ink Business Preferred card. Authorized users share in benefits such as cell phone protection and trip cancellation, interruption, and delay coverage.
The Amex Business Gold card charges a $50 fee to add up to 99 authorized users. If you have never added authorized users, the $50 fee is waived the first year. You can add authorized users who receive American Express® Green Cards instead of Amex Business Gold cards at no charge.
When we compare earnings on these 2 cards, we find that up to $150,000 in purchases on the Ink Business Preferred card earn 3x rewards in bonus category purchases. The Amex Business Gold card earns 4x rewards, also on purchases up to $150,000. This results in a difference that favors the Amex Business Gold card.
This scenario, of course, makes the assumption you would be maxing out bonus category purchases on either card. The actual mix of your purchase categories will determine which card provides better earning potential for your situation.
When it comes to redemptions, an edge goes to the Ink Business Preferred card for the ability to redeem for general travel (versus just airline tickets) at 1.25 cents per point. However, with the ability to transfer points to airline/hotel partners, there is a greater potential value for points earned on either card.
In the area of travel benefits, the Ink Business Preferred is the winner with key benefits such as cell phone protection and trip interruption/cancellation providing tremendous value.
In the end, the card that makes sense for your business rewards all of your major business purchases, allows you to redeem those rewards for value that makes a difference in your bottom line (business or personal), and delivers benefits that you or your business can use.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Business Gold Card, click here.