Getting First Small Business Credit Card for Big Rewards

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I’ve had both the Ink Plus® Business Card and Ink Bold® Business Card since shortly after they came out.  I need to probably cancel one as I don’t need both indefinitely, but they were both fantastic to get and to keep due to their great earning potential.  They both offer 50,000 Ultimate Reward points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months, and then award 5x Ultimate Reward points on bonus categories such as office supply stores, cell phone expenses, landline, internet, and cable TV services.  Do the math, and I bet that means thousands of bonus points per month for most.  As many of you likely know, Ultimate Reward points can be transferred to valuable hotel and airline partners on a 1:1 basis.  Some of these hotel and airline transfer options include United, Hyatt, British Airways, Southwest, Marriott, IHG Rewards, and more. 

As I mentioned, I already have both cards, but my husband has had neither thus far.  He has lots of small businesses, and/or small businesses he wants to get going, so at least one of these cards sounds perfect for his American entrepreneur spirit and endeavors so he can keep those expenses separate from our personal expenses.

I got my first small business card using this blog as my small business years ago, and that was way back when it truly was a very, very small business.  I did have to chat on the phone with Chase for a bit before my application was approved, but in the end it was all worth it.  The type of small businesses that many have that might warrant needing a small business credit card to organize expenses including selling various products, having a small photography service, dog walking gigs, being a fishing guide, or running a for-profit website (like a blog).  You don’t need to be running a small restaurant or similar brick and mortar business to need a small business credit card, but of course you do need to be running a small business of some sort.  You also don’t need a tax ID number – you can just use your SSN.

All that being said, my husband is about to pull the trigger on the Ink Plus for his sole proprietor small business needs and I’m excited for his first step into the world of small business credit cards.  There are so many small business cards that provide great mileage and point earning opportunities, and it would be s shame to miss out on all of them!  Everyone’s needs and goals are different, but I can’t think of a better card for him to start with.  Fingers crossed for him and the 50k Ultimate Reward sign-up bonus that comes with the Ink Plus!  I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

Have you ventured into the world of small business reward credit cards?  If so, what has your experience been like?


Disclosure: I do receive a commission if you are approved for a credit card using one of my affiliate links.  As always, thanks for your support. 

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. I tried this card last Oct and was declined, the analyst wanted to see more history of my other chase cards even though I charged my CSP and BA cards heavily and paid off every time on time. And she wants to see more income of the new business I was going to pursue. Really? I think I am going to stick with Amex, even though I do want to get this chase card, just no sure how.

  2. Most of your blog readers do not have a business and Chase has been cracking down on people opening business cards for “selling stuff on ebay” or “separating expenses” but of course you conveniently omit this. The reconsideration analysts are grilling people very hard about their “businesses” and some may even go out of their way to look at your risk profile and may take adverse actions.

    This sounds like an excuse to push more Chase cards that pay a nice kickback.

  3. Actual brick and mortar small business person here with three Ink cards (1 closed to avoid AF) and several other small business cards. The Ink products were by far the toughest for me to get even with a EIN and 1MM sales. Wowzers they were thorough on the application calls except the last one and it was eventually approved with no interaction. That being said it’s a great product and worthwhile using every month. I am partial to Chase thru banking relationships – not sure if having business banking helps the process or not.

    Club Carlson for business wasn’t tough, just long and drawn out. Actually received a decline letter, called to find out I was not declined and would be receiving the card eventually. The web interface is a bit “old school”. It’s a keeper for sure but I had to finally set up auto pay to avoid the web interface. The US Bank mobil app is superior to web and actually shows pending charges unlike web site.

    Amex is Amex and Citi is just like the regular consumer Citi card process for me.

  4. If I’ve learned one thing in this credit card applying/churning pastime it’s that you can almost never paint any particular bank or card or whatever with a broad brushstroke based only on your personal experience with it. I just applied for the Chase Ink Bold this last week. Initially got the annoying “decision pending” message which is my signal to immediately call and ask what’s going on with my app. CR asked me to wait a couple minutes and then came back on and simply said the card had been approved. Done. No questions about my business or anything else. Sole proprietorship with a massive $3,000/year revenue and they gave me $22,000 CL without a blink. No idea why the large (for me) limit. But anyway, no ‘grilling’ or interrogation of any kind, just the easiest call for decision on a card I’ve ever made.
    But as you can see from the other comments, YMMV is a very accurate description of most all phases of this game. Just never assume one person’s experience will be yours. And as far as I’m concerned, when it comes to this game, I usually adhere to the old adage “Nothing ventured, Nothing gained.” Worked for me nicely thus far…

  5. I’ve gotten three Ink cards (Bold, Plus, Classic) for a side consulting business I do. Each time I called reconsideration immediately, and each time I was grilled about the details of my business. In order to get my first one they required m me to close one of personal cards and transfer the credit. Since that one the others have been easier.
    But I haven’t been able to get my wife approved at all. She has a small business with about $6k/year in revenue, but Chase always seems to have a reason for denying her. First she didn’t have enough personal credit history of her own. We fixed that. Then the business was too young. We waited another year. Then last month they said she didn’t have enough revenue (that was for the Southwest business card).
    Sounds like Chase is really cracking down… And I definitely got the impression from the reconsideration rep that the number of previous applications for other cards was a big factor in the decision.

  6. I got approved no problemo. It was for the Ink card that has no fee (20,000 UR). I have a small consulting business and I have had a web presence for many years, so maybe that helped. I LOVE THE 5X at office supplies, that is so awesome!

  7. I will chime in as well that it is no longer a sure thing getting one of the Chase business cards with just a small side business. I’m sure if your primary income is from your business you won’t have trouble. But they want to know how much your business makes, how old it is and how long you’ve been filing taxes on the business. They will also look at your personal credit history and may say something like, “Why do you have too many credit cards?” I think that was a Freudian slip and she meant, “so many credit cards”, but it was clear that her thinking I had too many contributed to me being denied. I’d really like those 5x at office stores and for our monthly iPhone bill, but it is not “in the cards” for now.

  8. I agree very much that making broad generalizations is of limited help as in this hobby there are always plenty of stories on both sides. I do think there is truth to it perhaps not being as easy to get a biz card as a couple years ago in some cases, but the post does indicate that you actually need a small business to apply for a small business card, and I think that most who have problems don’t have a small business…though of course some do and just are hung up due to bad luck or not enough history/income/etc. There isn’t much to lose by trying in my view.

    We’ll see how my husband does in getting a card, but whether he gets approved or not wouldn’t stop me from telling others it is worth a shot. These cards can be quite rewarding and well worth it for those who have a small business!

  9. Chase can be tough but we have always gotten approved. My husband and I both have several personal cards through them and a few business cards between the two of us. There has been a few times that we have had to call the reconsideration line and move credit line or explain our business, etc. Recently, my son applied for a chase sapphire preferred and was denied. He is 24 years old, a college graduate, and is self employed with a fairly good income for his age. He has been an additional cardholder on mine or my husbands accounts for a couple of years but never had his own credit cards. Chase wouldn’t approve him because he didnt have credit. He didn’t have anything negative on his account, he just didn’t have any credit. He ended up going to our bank and my husband co signed for a bank visa to establish some credit. Was bummed that he couldn’t take advantage of the awesome benefits of Ultimate Rewards when I know he will be responsible and pay the card off every month.

  10. @mommypoints – I don’t fault you for sharing the information, and it’s certainly worth a try for most people because of how great these cards are. But I think we have enough data points now to know when someone will *probably* be rejected, and it might not be worth the hard pull on their credit. Citi and Amex business cards have been very easy to get for me, which might provide better options for some with very new businesses or low revenue. That’s where I’m going to focus my wife’s applications for the foreseeable future.

    @ABC – I “like” your post… wish I had thought of it first. 🙂

  11. Every time I read about stories of getting tougher to be approved, I tell myself it may not be a bad thing to limit the amount of point currency out there.

  12. I was fascinated when I registered a second small business. Within weeks I got offers for Ink cards with 50K bonuses from Chase. I had never told them of the business so they must watch for new registrations.

    But I have enough Chase credit and enough UR points for the moment. And I almost have the minimum spend done on the Citi Executive card 🙂

  13. It is very simple, really – to prove that one has a small business. Small businesses have to pay what is known as SELF-EMPLOYMENT TAX. For me, it really isn’t a problem. I just use turbotax home and business version. If you have paid the self-employment tax each year (even if it was a small amount or you have a business loss) then one can always fire back at Chase with that info. if needed. Chase cannot tell you that you “don’t” have a business if your tax records state that you do.

  14. This is such a useful conversation, and I’d appreciate if you allowed us to use your husband as a case study. I think a lot of bloggers got their Inks when things were considerably easier to get these cards. Their own successes and case studies have made them more popular and harder to obtain.

    Is there a sense of what cards are most manageable to obtain from a business card standpoint? I have no desire to game the system, but I’d like a card for my own for profit launching on Father’s Day. I figure I will hold off on the Ink cards until my business is more established, but in the meantime I am wondering if there is a “Best Business Cards for a Sole Proprietor Launch.” I’d love a card at launch, with the idea o getting other once the business is more mature.

  15. Nick, thanks- the point being: You are filing taxes for your business. I think that’s the missing piece. Many bloggers seem to be encouraging people to stretch the truth in order to get a business card, and suggest it’s no big whoop. It should be pointed out that if you have a business card, then you have a business. And if you have a business then you need to do your accounting and taxes accordingly, which includes paying self-employment tax, filing a Schedule-C, and being very very diligent about recording _all_ income coming into your bank accounts. If not, and if you are unlucky enough to get audited, it’s gonna be some trouble.

    If you really run a business, even a very small one, this is a no-brainer. You do it, you understand the tax implications, it really is no big whoop. But if you run a “business” just for points, and don’t bother with the taxes and accounting- you might be asking for some grief.

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