The Chase Ink Plus® Business Card vs The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

Brendan Harkness

Brendan Harkness | Versus

Feb 18, 2015 | Updated Apr 27, 2016

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This is a review and comparison of the Chase Ink Plus® Business Card and the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express. They are both popular credit cards for small businesses and LLCs, offering extra features to help you manage your finances and grow your business.

The Ink Plus provides points for frequent office purchases, while the Starwood Preferred card provides most of its points at hotels and resorts that are members of the Starwood Preferred Guest® program. Each card provides extra shopping and traveling benefits, though you may end up with a better rate on the Ink Plus card if your credit history is less than excellent.

Looking for information on building business credit? Start your search here!

Chase Ink Plus® Business Card

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $95 (waived the first year)
  • Interest Rate: 15.49% - 19.49% *Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 5X points per $1 on the first $50,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 2X points per $1 on the first $50,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and hotel accommodations when purchased directly with the hotel each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases-with no limit to the amount you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Global acceptance with Chip Technology
  • Free employee cards
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95

The information for Chase Ink Plus® Business Card has been collected independently by Credit Card Insider. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $95 (waived the first year)
  • Interest Rate: 15.49% to 19.49% *Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 30,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your Card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Offer expires 9/14/2015.
  • New: No Foreign Transaction Fees on international purchases.
  • New: Receive free in-room, premium internet access. Booking requirements apply.
  • New: Enjoy complimentary, unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi at more than 1,000,000 Boingo hotspots worldwide. Enrollment required.
  • Earn free nights at over 1,200 hotels and resorts in nearly 100 countries with no blackout dates.
  • Some hotels and resorts have mandatory service charges.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Terms and limitations apply.

The Rewards

Ink Plus

The Ink Plus card offers some valuable rewards for office-based businesses, providing a number of categories to earn points in:

Points per dollar Category
5 Office supply stores and cell phone, landline, internet, and cable TV services
2 Gas stations and hotel accommodations purchased directly through the hotel
1 All other purchases

The 5 and 2-point rewards apply to the first $50,000 spent in each category, respectively, after which 1 point is awarded per dollar.

50,000 bonus points are awarded after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after opening the account.

Points do not expire, can be transferred to and fro with other Chase cards, and can be also be transferred 1:1 to a number of frequent flyer programs:

IHG Rewards Club Southwest Rapid Rewards The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Amtrak Guest Rewards Hyatt Gold Passport
MileagePlus United Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Korean Air Skypass Marriott Rewards Singapore Airlines Krisflyer

Points can also be redeemed for statement credits or for purchases through the Chase Ultimate Rewards marketplace, where a 20% discount is available for hotels, car rentals, airfare, and cruises.

Starwood Preferred Guest

The Starwood Preferred rewards are designed for one purpose: to save you money on hotels by rewarding you with points and free stays.

While this card can be used anywhere to earn 1 point, you’ll earn the most by making purchases from hotels and resorts that participate in the Starwood Preferred Guest® program, where you’ll begin by earning 2 points per dollar. Earnings can be increased to 3 points per dollar by reaching Gold or Platinum status; this and the other upgrades are explained in the Benefits section below.

You’ll also earn 1 point for every 3 dollars spent on meetings and events at Starwood locations.

There are over 1,000 participating hotels in almost 100 countries around the world, so you’ll usually be able to find a place to stay.

Starwood-brand hotels include:

St. Regis® The Luxury Collection® W® Hotels Le Méridien® ElementSM Hotels
Westin® Sheraton® Four Points® by Sheraton Aloft®

You’ll earn 10,000 bonus points when you make the first purchase on the card, and an additional 15,000 points after making $5,000 in purchases in the first 6 months.

Points can be redeemed for free nights or transferred to the frequent-flyer programs of over 150 different airlines.

Points can be redeemed for free nights according to the following table:

Points Redemption Reward
2,000 – 3,000 1 free night at category 1 properties
3,000 – 4,000 1 free night at category 2 properties
7,000 1 free night at category 3 properties
10,000 1 free night at category 4 properties
12,000 – 16,000 1 free night at category 5 properties
20,000 – 25,000 1 free night at category 6 properties
30,000 – 35,000 1 free night at category 7 properties

The Verdict

As you can see, these cards are clearly designed for different purposes. The Ink Plus is mainly for business spending with a modicum of travel-related rewards, while the Starwood Preferred is designed solely for travelers who love hotels, and particularly those who tend to fly. While there is some overlap between them, each card has its own strong suite.

Instead of picking just one, business owners who travel often should consider the possibility of owning both cards. You’ll get all the benefits of the 5-point rewards for office-related purchases with the Ink Plus card as well as the hotel points and benefits of the Starwood Preferred. If you can’t stay at a Starwood location, you may be able to cash in on the 2-point hotel offer from the Ink Plus. If you’re on the road instead of in the air, you’ll be able to earn 2 points per dollar for gas purchases.

Having multiple credit cards isn’t a bad thing – learn about the benefits of owning several cards in our Q&A video

The Benefits

Ink Plus

The Ink Plus provides businesses with a number of tools and services to help them manage finances and protect themselves. This card is a Visa Signature, so it may also include additional benefits that are not typically disclosed before receiving the card.

The business-specific features include a mobile app called Jot, which can be used to snap photos of receipts which can then be tagged and categorized. Free employee cards can be issued which can be given individual spending limits, simplifying spending and providing more chances to earn points, and account alerts can be set up to notify you when purchases are made. These features are available online or through the mobile app.

There are a number of shopping benefits with this card, including the embedded Chip-and-Signature technology which provides greater security and acceptance around the world.

As an Ink cardholder you’ll also receive a Lounge Club Membership, giving you access to 350 luxury airport lounges around the world. You’ll get 2 free passes per year, and each visit after that will cost $27 per person.

Items you buy are covered by Purchase Protection for 120 days after the date of purchase, covering against damage and theft up to $10,000. If you need to return an item but the retailer won’t take it back, Return Protection will reimburse you for up to $500 per item, up to 90 days after the purchase.

The Extended Warranty service adds up to a year to the manufacturer’s original warranty, as long as it is 3 years or less.  One of the most potentially valuable but probably underused benefits is Price Protection, which will reimburse you for the difference in price if you find an item you bought being advertised for a lesser price.

On the road or in the air, when traveling by common carrier you’ll be covered against accidental death and dismemberment by Travel Accident Insurance up to $500,000. If you’re in an emergency, Travel and Emergency Assistance Services are a phone call away. The cardholder will be responsible for any third-party costs involved.

Then there are a few airline-specific benefits to make sure that you don’t end up paying for problems beyond your control. Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance will reimburse you if your trip is cancelled for eligible reasons, such as sickness or severe weather conditions. Non-refundable expenses like prepaid tours and hotel rooms can be compensated up to $5,000.

Trip Delay Reimbursement, similarly, will provide compensation when your trip is delayed for 12 or more hours, or when you require an overnight stay. Up to $500 per ticket is provided for expenses like lodging, food, and drink.

Protections are available for your luggage as well. When you travel by common carrier, you’ll be protected by Lost Luggage Reimbursement and Baggage Delay Insurance. The luggage reimbursement will compensate you up to $3,000 for damaged or lost checked or carry-on bags. The delay insurance kicks in when your bags are delayed for at least 6 hours, providing reimbursement for essential items that you need to buy because of this. Up to $100 is provided per day for up to 5 days.

While driving, you can call the Roadside Dispatch phone line for auto help like towing, tire changes, fuel deliveries and locksmith services. A minimum fee of $59.95 is charged per service call. An Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver is provided when renting eligible vehicles, which covers against damage and theft when the rental company’s own insurance is declined.

Starwood Preferred Guest

As a member of the Starwood Preferred Guest program, you’ll have the opportunity to earn more points-per-dollar and other benefits by upgrading your status to Gold or Platinum. To reach Gold status, complete 10 eligible stays or 25 eligible nights in a calendar year; to reach Platinum, complete 25 eligible stays or 50 eligible nights in a year. Each year, cardholders get credit for 2 stays and 5 nights, making it easier to reach these goals.

You can also earn SPG Gold status by spending at least $30,000 with the card in one year.

All cardholders get free Internet access in their rooms when booked through the website or app.

Gold status comes with the following upgrades:
3 points earned for every dollar spent welcome gift at check-in
4 p.m. late checkout enhanced room at check-in when available
Platinum status comes with Gold benefits along with the following upgrades:
room upgrade at check-in free high-speed Internet access
Complimentary Sheraton® Club and Executive privileges Additional SPG Nights Benefits after 50, 75, and 100 eligible nights in a year

Entrepreneurs and business owners can benefit from the business-specific services offered, like the mobile app that lets you monitor and manage your credit account. The ReceiptMatchSM with QuickBooks® tool lets you transfer account information into Intuit Quickbooks®, providing a simple way to manage expenses, and an employee can be designated as Account Manager to help.

Employee cards can be requested to increase your spending ability, and account alerts can be set up to notify you when unusual activity is found on your account or to monitor employee cards.

A Dispute Resolution service is available to assist with the investigation of any unauthorized charges, and users can access the Amex OPEN Forum, an online community for business owners to share ideas and experiences.

Cardholders can also access a variety of other shopping and traveling benefits.

Purchases are covered by both Purchase Protection and an Extended Warranty. The first covers purchases against accidental damage and theft, up to $1,000 per purchase and for up to 90 days. The Extended Warranty will add up to 1 extra year to an original U.S. manufacturer’s warranty of 5 years or less. Coverage is provided up to $10,000.

While traveling, you’re covered by Travel Accident Insurance when using Common Carriers. The Baggage Insurance Plan will cover your checked and carry-on baggage against theft, damage, or loss. Checked bags are covered for up to $500, and carry-on bags are covered up to $1,250.

Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance will cover your rented vehicles against against theft or damage, as long as the rental company’s own insurance is declined.

If you need help, you can call the Global Assist Hotline when traveling more than 100 miles from home, for medical and legal referrals, emergency cash advances, and passport replacement.

If you need vehicle-specific help while driving, you can call the Roadside Assistance Hotline for emergency services like battery boosting, towing, and flat-tire changes. Cardholders must pay for any third-party costs involved.

The Verdict

Each of these cards offer a wide variety of benefits for business owners. They both offer similar travel and purchase protections (purchase protections, travel insurances, etc.), but differ a bit more when it comes to the other benefits.

You’ll get a mobile app to manage your account with each card, and business-specific services as well. Here, however, the advantage of the American Express OPEN Business benefits and online community might offer the better value. If you’re considering these cards based on their business services, take the time to speak with business account representatives from each card issuer to learn exactly how they will help you.

If a better travel experience is your goal, you can see that the Starwood Preferred card will give you the best options to earn points at hotels and receive a lot of extra benefits, like free internet, late check-outs, welcome gifts, and room upgrades. The more you use the card and the more upgrades you earn, the more valuable it becomes.

The Costs

Card Annual Fee Regular APR Regular Balance Transfer APR Cash Advance APR Foreign Transaction Fee
Ink Plus Business $95 (waived the first year) 15.49% - 19.49% *Variable 15.49% - 19.49% *Variable 25.24% *Variable 0%
Starwood Preferred Guest Business $95 (waived the first year)

 

15.49% to 19.49% *Variable Not Available 25.49% *Variable None

The Fees

Card Penalty APR Late Fee Returned Payment Fee
Ink Plus Business Up to 29.99% *Variable Up to $39 $39
Starwood Preferred Guest Business 29.49% *Variable Up to $38 $38

The Verdict

The costs and fees of these cards have some similarities and some differences. You won’t pay an annual fee for either the first year, and after that the Ink Plus is only $30 per year more.

All cardholders of the Ink Plus will get a 15.24% APR, and if your credit is excellent you can get the same rate with the Starwood Preferred card. If your credit is not as good, you could end up with a higher rate, up to 19.24%.

Take note that you can’t use the Starwood Preferred for balance transfers, only the Ink Plus. Cash advances will be charged more interest with the Starwood Preferred, and foreign transactions will be charged 2.7% compared to the lack of a fee with the Ink Plus. When traveling abroad, the Ink Plus is definitely the card to use for typical purchases.

There are no significant differences in the penalty rates and fees.

The Bottom Line

These are both strong business credit cards, offering benefits and services for business owners and entrepreneurs. There is quite a bit of overlap between these two cards, but there is a lot to distinguish them as well.

If you want to get the most out of a credit card, take a look at your current financial situation and spending habits. Which card would fit best into your lifestyle, without changing a thing? Do you spend a lot on office expenses, or do you spend more time traveling and staying at hotels?

If you spend a lot on both, consider using both cards. Use the Ink Plus for business expenses and gas, and use the Starwood Preferred everywhere else. You’ll earn the most points possible for each purchase, and you can always put them towards a future reward or benefit. If using both cards, be sure to start out and stay financially organized so you don’t get your accounts and spending confused. As long as you stay responsible, having multiple credit cards can make you more financially agile.

Have you used these business credit cards to successfully fund your business? Who is your favorite credit card issuer? Let us know in the comments below!

Business credit cards are different than personal cards and can be complicated – learn all about business credit here
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