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Disclaimer: Take this advice with a grain of salt – I don’t work for Chase nor do I have an “inside” connection to the credit card application process for business cards. I can only tell you what worked for me and what my own personal research suggests.
The Chase Ink is a great business card that can really enhance your travel points stash, especially if you value United, British Airways, or any of the other travel partners from the Ultimate Rewards transfer portfolio that all offer 1:1 transfer ratios. The Ink+ is great because it usually comes with a hefty sign-up bonus of 50K to 60K (and even sometimes 70K in branch) points and also has great bonus earning categories of 5X up to $50,000 per year for internet, cable, phones, and office supply stores. With those categories, plus 2X on hotels and gas, your points can quickly start to add up.
However, the Ink+ is notoriously unpredictable when it comes to getting approved. Do some research on data points for Ink+ approvals and you’ll see legitimate business owners with $50K in annual revenue and a 10-year business history getting denied while others with an imaginary or “pseudo-imaginary” business with a reported $1 in profit and one year history being approved. It all seems so random and at times unfair but you know that at the end of the day Chase isn’t going to randomly issue credit to credit-seekers and has to have a method to its apparent madness.
So here are some pointers if you are planning on going for the Ink+ in the near-future. Note: these tips assume you’re applying with good to excellent credit (credit score at least above 700). If you’re credit score is average or below average, you may want to focus on building up your score with other cards first.
Consider opening a Chase business checking account
When I applied for my Chase Ink+, I had a business checking account for a few months before putting in my application. This was done primarily to aid in segregating funds between my personal checking and what I use for my side-business but it was also done after taking the advice of a banker at Chase. A close friend of mine had gone for the Ink+ and after being denied, he had been told that one of the factors the bank considers is whether you have a business checking account. Presumably, this helps the bank see that you 1) actually have a business and 2) perhaps get an idea of the kind of revenue running through your books.
With that in mind, I opened up the most basic business checking account available. It has a $10 monthly fee but it’s waived if your daily balance averages to at least $1,500 per month. To open up an account you’ll need to have some documentation with you and set up an appointment with a business banker in-branch. I had already filed a d/b/a in my local county for about $12 so all I had to do was bring in the certificate and filing receipt from that and I was good to go.
A lot of people ask if an EIN is needed to apply for the Chase Ink+. There is a field for an EIN on the application and a lot of people think that Chase will consider your business more legitimate if you provide one rather than your personal social security number. I know of several others who were approved for the Ink+ after providing just a social security number, but I would honestly rather just use an EIN. For one, applying for an EIN is free and only takes a few seconds but you would think that obtaining one could do nothing but help your cause so why not try it? For my application that I was approved for, I used the EIN I had obtained a few months earlier. (Of course, the actual credit score that Chase will use will be linked to your personal social security so there’s no room for getting around a poor credit report with EIN.)
Timing is Huge
I think timing is a very important factor when applying for the Ink+. Timing relates to a few things but the common theme is to show Chase you will be a responsible credit card holder who uses their cards frequently and is not over-pursuing credit too aggressively. In other words, don’t apply for the Ink+ if it’s going to be your first Chase card and you’ve just opened up 8 new credit cards in the past 60 days.
Previous history with Chase
One common reason for denial seems to come from those who don’t have any history with Chase Bank. This could be a lack of banking history or credit card history. Either way, Chase is one of those banks that seems to really value pre-existing credit history even when applying for their “easier” cards to obtain like the Freedom. So the first thing you want to do it make sure you have a decent credit history with any bank and then work on establishing history specifically with Chase Bank.
What this means in practical terms is that you probably don’t want your first credit card application with Chase to be the Ink+. It’s probably better to go with an application for the Freedom or if you have great credit then just go straight for the CSP. From there, you can use the card for at least three months to show Chase your spending habits and payment habits as well. This is yet another tip that came directly from a Chase banker who recommended that my friend show spending habits on a co-branded airline card for a while before applying for the Ink+.
The 5/24 Rule
Another thing to consider is the 5/24 rule. This rule is a new rule that Chase usually enforces and what it means is that if you have more than 5 new credit card accounts from any banks in the past 24 months you will be denied for a Chase card
(this doesn’t usually apply to co-branded Chase cards like the Southwest, Marriott, etc. yet). There is some debate about whether or not this rule is enforced for business cards like the Ink+. It’s clear that it sometimes is and sometimes is not, however. In cases where it’s not applied, it often involved someone going in-branch to apply so if you’ve opened up a lot of cards in the past two years then consider going in-branch to apply.
Update: It’s now apparent that Chase 5/24 rule does apply to Chase Ink cards, although the Chase Ink card may not count towards 5/24 for purposes of calculating the number of cards you’ve opened.
Tip: If you’ve already opened up a business checking account and have built up a relationship with your personal business banker over the past couple of months you might have someone there who can help advocate on your behalf.
The next thing to try to do is time your application for the Ink+ with a decent gap from the time of your last credit card, especially if your last card is from Chase. I generally recommend 60 days but 30 days can be sufficient time as well. Whatever you do, don’t try more than two cards within 30 days as that almost always results in automatic denials from Chase.
Should you call Chase for the Ink?
Once you actually do apply, most applications receive a message that their application is getting processed and they will receive notification with 7-10 days/30 days, or they receive a message to call immediately and are provided a reference number. (If you happen to get instantly approved for the Ink then consider yourself very lucky!) If you get the message with a reference number and a request to call, you are probably on the right track to acceptance, though a denial may still be in your future. The general consensus is that if you get the below message you should not call if told to do so. This is reallllllly hard not to do but the logic makes sense.
Basically, people think that if you don’t call, your application is processed through the automatic computer decision making route but if you call, your application goes under manual review. Now, sometimes, Chase will tell you to call and all they want to do is happily verify your identity and several people have called in only to be asked verification questions. However, other times Chase wants to grill you on your business. If you don’t do well under such pressure then it’s probably a no-brainer for you just to sit back and await the outcome of your application.
However, if you do respond well under pressure and know the ins-and-outs of your business then you might be tempted to call because you know (or think you know) that you will perform well, but consider this: even if you do perform well, the banker may still decide that your business is too young, has too little revenue, etc. and deny you. In other words, you’ve just potentially circumvented an auto-approval by a computer and put your decision into the hands of a human!
Thus, my advice is to NOT call but to wait it out. In the event you are denied, then you can call and plead your case but my point is that if you can avoid a manual review — where discretion could result in a rejection — then do it and rely on the computers to grant you your approval.
After you get the message to call, you’ll probably hear something via email in a few days one way or the other (some people have to wait a couple of weeks). There’s a status line (1-800-436-7927) you can call where you can receive an automatic message on the status of your application. In my experience, this is updated before any emails go out but not always.
Now, what if you don’t get the message to call Chase after you apply for the Ink? In my experience, the “you’ll be notified within 30 days” message means you will usually be rejected but not always. There are several accounts of some people not being told to call immediately, getting the 7-10 message, or even the 30 day message, and then getting approved in a few days or weeks later. You see, the Ink+, is a real black box and at the end of the day, I don’t think anybody really can figure out how this process works.
Chase Ink+ Reconsideration call
If you are denied for the Ink+ your best bet is to call the reconsideration line (you should always try this line if you’re denied for any credit card) at 1-800-453-9719. Typically, this will involve some questions about your business, such as your history of ownership, revenues, profits, and expenses from the past three years, expected profits for the next year, an explanation of what your business does, number of employees, etc. It’s very important that you are prepared to answer these questions confidently.
People have had very mixed success with recon but if the reason you are being denied is too little revenue, business is too young, etc., you are probably out of luck based on my own experiences and research but it’s still worth it to give it a shot. If they tell you you have reached your credit limit then plead with them to transfer a balance from another Chase card if you have one. Some bankers may tell you that they can’t transfer credit from personal to business but they are either dodging you or don’t know it’s possible, because I know 100% for a fact that this can be done.
If you’re not successful then hang up and try back again the next hour, day, night, etc. Try at least a few times because you never know whether a different representative may come to a different decision. Know that they do track your conversations and notate the substance of your prior conversations so when they pick up they’ll likely know that you’ve called several times before. If you are ultimately denied, try to be friendly to the banker and just take the “L” and maybe try again in 6 months or so.
That’s it for the Ink+. It’s a great card but definitely one of the least predictable ones out there in terms of approval odds so proceed with patience and cross your fingers for a little bit of luck and you might find yourself a new owner of the Chase Ink!
H-Town based Attorney turned credit card rewards expert. Founder of UponArriving.com.