I recently returned from a whirlwind trip back home for the holidays that was both fun and exhausting. About half-way through the trip I received an awesome email from Chase stating I was approved for the Chase Ink Plus credit card! I’ve applied for and failed to get this card twice in the past, as I detailed here, but this time my application was approved and I didn’t even have to talk to anyone on the phone. This card has been on my radar from the beginning for a couple different reasons including Ultimate Reward transfer potential and some amazing 5x earning opportunities. In addition to the long awaited Ink+ approval, I also was pleasantly surprised by my first visit to the Centurion Studio and stumbled upon a mini-MS opportunity at the local bowling alley! I’ll cover all the details about my Ink+ experience and the other fun stuff below.
Free Lounge Gifts and Credit Card to Cash MS
First, if you hate waiting for days between my posts and want quicker real-time updates, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@Money_Metagame). I posted about the free gift, Ink+ approval, and mini-MS there first and also tend to post smaller deals there that don’t necessary justify an entire post. Or don’t, Twitter definitely isn’t for everybody.
Free Power Brick on Christmas at the Amex Centurion Lounge
The first fun thing that happened on our trip home for the holidays was a free gift when we visited the Centurion Studio in Seatac on Christmas day. We signed up for the Amex Platinum card back in November to take advantage of the Global Entry credit and other benefits, but this was the first time we actually got to use the Centurion Lounge access. After handing over my Platinum card at the entrance, we were each handed a small box as a welcome gift! Inside was one of those rechargeable power bricks that you can charge up and then use to power/charge your phone/usb device when there are no outlets available.
Certainly wasn’t expecting the free gift, but I’ll definitely keep it in my travel backpack and probably put it to good use at some point.
Swipe Your Credit Card, Receive Cash*
The other thing I tweeted about later on during our trip was a peculiar transaction that took place at the local bowling alley back home. I approached the bar window thing to order a soda for our two-hour bowling marathon, which came out to a cost of $2.50. Upon presenting my credit card to pay, the lady helping me responded “I’ll have to charge $10 to the card and give you the $7.50 back in cash, is that okay?”. After a moment’s pause, I responded that would be fine and was able to walk away with $7.50 in free manufactured spending.
It’s hard to imagine a credit card processing contract in which the bowling alley would actually benefit from doing this and it honestly seems like this would mess up their record-keeping considerably, but I’m not one inquire about weird business practices when there’s timed bowling going on.
Can we scale it? Most likely not. I almost wish I would have thought quickly enough to respond “Can you charge $100 instead?”, but I’m sure that would have just confused everyone involved. Anyway, you probably won’t be able to use this information and I just though I’d share a quirky experience that earned me a free 7 credit card points (unless it codes as a restaurant, then I’ll get 14!).
My Chase Ink+ Application Experience
As I mentioned above, this is my third time applying for the Ink+ card, but each time has been a little different. The first time I applied online without much of a business for the amazing 70,000 point opportunity. The application went to pending, was eventually declined, and the recon call didn’t go well as I tried to explain my ticket reselling “business” with $1,000 in revenue…
Attempt number 2 was a little more planned out and I applied in person with my fairly new, but legitimate business of reselling retail gift cards. I had actual business revenue and applied in branch, but decided to call recon after the pending decision which led to an eventual denial for “Business Too New” and “No Business Credit Report Available”. I don’t know if the mistake was applying with my SSN instead of an EIN, not having a registered business, or instantly calling recon (most data points discourage this for Chase business cards), but regardless I was denied.
At that point I decided to lay off Chase for a while, created an LLC for my business (for non-credit card purposes), and ended up getting instant approval for BoA and Amex business cards over the course of 6 months or so. Once again, an increased signup bonus appeared for the Ink+ (60k this time) and I decided it was time to try again.
I contacted my local Chase banker and arranged a time to meet up in branch for a new Ink+ application. The primary difference this time was a little bit higher revenue for the business (based on actual YTD sales), an actual LLC for the business, and an EIN instead of my SSN for the business part of the application. The decision once again went to pending, but I decided to wait it out this time and see what would happen.
Luckily the holidays and work kept me busy throughout December, because I didn’t hear anything back about the application for 26 days! I practically forgot that I even applied while away from home for the holidays, but received an awesome email towards the end of December stating I was approved for the Ink+!
Here’s some more data about my credit profile and application details:
- 15 New credit accounts in the past 12 months, 22 total in the past 24 months (not counting AU accounts)
- 2 New Chase accounts in the past 12 months (Sapphire & Hyatt), and an additional one 13 months prior (IHG)
- Applied with a registered LLC and EIN
- Business Category: Wholesale Trade->Misc Nondurable Goods Merchant Whlsrs->Other Misc Nondurable Goods Wholesalers
- 1 Years in Business, 1 employee, 65k in business revenue
Not sure if any of that information above made the difference in getting approved, but might help dis-spell any concerns about hard denial rules such as the ones that appear to exist for the CSP and Freedom cards right now. Best of luck if you decide to try yourself!
The Chase Ink+ Benefits
If I’ve applied for the same card numerous times despite denials, there must be something special about it right? Of course! Not only does it have a very valuable signup bonus of 60k UR after spending $5k, but there are also some great 5x bonus categories! The signup bonus + spending requirement alone can be cashed out for $650, used directly for travel worth $812, or transferred to partners such as Hyatt, United, and Southwest for even more value! The signup bonus isn’t why I was chasing this card (although it makes for a really nice bonus) as the 5x spending categories could prove extremely beneficial to my gift card reselling business.
The officially advertised 5x earning category is on the first $50,000 spent “at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services” per year. In addition to what first comes to mind for those categories, the Ink+ has also been paying out 5x for certain online purchases such as Gyft and Paypal Digital Gifts on ebay. Both of which sell gift cards. In fact, I estimate I’ve purchased over $10k worth of gift cards from them at a standard 1-2x earnings rate last year that now has the potential to be at 5x UR which you could argue is much more valuable than 5% cash back. That would equate to an extra $300+ for making the exact same purchases if I had an Ink+ at the time!
Another benefit that might be easy to overlook is the ability to transfer UR to travel partners, even if the UR wasn’t earned on the card itself. For example, UR earned on the Chase Freedom can’t normally be transferred to Hyatt, but if I transfer from the Freedom to the Ink+ first, then the UR can make their way to Hyatt without any problem and the same applies for Chase’s many other transfer partners.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred, which I also have, includes this feature as well, but also requires payment of the $95 annual fee to maintain which is approaching for me soon. The seldom use my CSP gets at restaurants when I’m between minimum spends doesn’t justify the $95 on it’s own, but the ability to transfer all the UR earned on our Freedom card most likely would. As I discussed above, the Ink+ will probably get a lot of use beyond the signup bonus AND has the ability to transfer UR to partners for the same $95 annual fee (that was waived for the first year), so I really don’t have any reason to keep the CSP around anymore.
Overall, the Chase Ink+ should be a great addition to my constantly changing portfolio of cards and one of the few I can justify paying the annual fee for in the future (at least until something better comes along!).