Marriott Bonvoy’s newest luxury property in North America has just opened, though details remain fairly limited…
Basics of the St. Regis Kanai Riviera Maya
The St. Regis Kanai Riviera Maya has opened as of March 2023. The resort is located inside the 680-acre gated community of Kanai, just 10 minutes from downtown Playa del Carmen, and next to the Sian Ka’an Reserve. The resort is located about 40 minutes from Cancun International Airport (CUN), making it an easily accessible destination for those coming from all across North America.
The St. Regis Kanai Riviera Maya features 143 accommodations (124 rooms and 19 suites), plus a variety of other amenities:
The St. Regis Kanai is suspended above a mangrove forest, with different elements of the hotel connected by elevated walkways
The St. Regis Kanai has access to two miles of unobstructed white sand beach
The St. Regis Kanai offers butler service to guests in all room categories (some St. Regis properties only offer this to guests in suites)
The St. Regis Kanai features eight different culinary venues, including TORO by Chef Richard Sandoval (featuring a Latin-inspired menu), Chaya (a Mexican restaurant, with food inspired by Eastern Mediterranean history), Riviera (which blends blends the South of France and Mayan Riviera), and much more
The St. Regis Kanai has a spa with eight treatment rooms, as well as a gym
The St. Regis Kanai has several pools and a beach club
One thing that I find quite frustrating — and which clearly reflects how hotels rush to open — is how the property is now open, yet there’s not a single real picture of the resort on the St. Regis’ website. So if you book a stay here, you really have no sense of whether reality will match the renderings.
Below are some renderings of the resort, and hopefully there are some real pictures soon.
St. Regis Kanai Riviera Maya rates & points requirements
What’s pricing like at the St. Regis Kanai Riviera Maya? Well, initially it’s really steep, though I imagine it will go down a bit over time. Currently rates start at over $800 per night in the off season, and are over $1,200 per night in peak season. Unfortunately that doesn’t include Mexico’s steep 29% tax & service charge, which increases cash rates significantly.
If you are going to book a cash stay at the St. Regis Kanai, I’d highly recommend doing so through the Marriott STARS program. This will score you perks like complimentary breakfast, a $100 food & beverage credit, a room upgrade subject to availability, and more.
If you’re looking to redeem points at the St. Regis Kanai, the hotel is generally retailing for 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night when there’s standard room availability. Marriott Bonvoy members receive a fifth night free on award stays, bringing down the average cost over five nights to 96,000 points per night.
Personally I value Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.7 cents each, so redeeming points here could be a good value compared to the cash cost, especially given the taxes and fees that would be due on a cash stay.
I’m excited about this, in the sense that Cancun is just a short flight from Florida, so this seems like a great getaway for redeeming points. I love visiting Mexico in general, from the friendly people, to the amazing food, to the beautiful scenery.
Unfortunately I don’t quite share the same enthusiasm the Cancun area, even though it’s so much more convenient to get to. Maybe part of the issue is that it’s too similar to Florida for me, in terms of the climate (the seasons are similar) and the landscape (you have ocean and you have lagoons with crocodiles/alligators).
Similarly, I haven’t found hotels in Cancun to be of the same caliber to those in Los Cabos. They’re typically luxury factories, with hundreds of rooms, while Los Cabos has lots of more intimate properties.
I enjoyed visiting the Andaz Mayakoba, but it’s not a place I have to return to anytime soon. Admittedly if you’re looking to just get away for a long weekend, often a nice resort can be enough reason to pick a destination.
When it comes to this St. Regis specifically, it’s also hard to know what to expect. The hotel is only sharing renderings of what the hotel allegedly looks like, even though it’s open, so it’s anyone’s guess what the property is actually like.
The St. Regis Kanai Riviera Maya has officially opened. The 143-room resort is close to Playa del Carmen and Cancun, so is easy to get to. It would appear that the property has several restaurants, pools, etc., though we’ll have to wait for firsthand reports before deciding just how good this property is.
Ahead of the upcoming start to the 2023 IATA summer season, Kuwaiti low-cost carrier Jazeera Airways has announced an exciting expansion on the network front. The airline plans to serve five European destinations this summer, with three being brand-new routes. The other two will see its flights resume on existing routes.
Where do the new routes go?
Jazeera Airways is a budget carrier that has been flying out of its hub at Kuwait International Airport (KWI) since October 2005. With an all-Airbus fleet at its disposal consisting of A320ceo and A320neo aircraft, it leverages its Middle Eastern location to serve a wide range of scheduled destinations in Asia and Europe.
SIMPLEFLYING VIDEO OF THE DAY
The latter of these continents will see interesting network growth this summer, with Jazeera opening up three brand-new European routes. These will see it link Kuwait with Albania, Germany, and Serbia, flying to Tirana Mother Teresa International Airport (TIA), Munich Airport (MUC) and Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport (BEG).
Tirana will be the most frequently served of these new routes, with Jazeera Airways operating three weekly rotations from Kuwait to the Albanian capital. Meanwhile, Belgrade and Munich will see two rotations a week. For all three destinations, the aircraft will have just a 45-minute turnaround before returning to Kuwait.
Two more routes are resuming
In addition to the three brand-new European routes, Jazeera Airways will also bolster its services to and from the continent with the resumption of another two services. This will see the airline restart its flights to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Sarajevo International Airport (SJJ) twice a week as of April 20th, 2023. Commenting on Jazeera’s European network, its CEO, Rohit Ramachandran, stated that:
“We always endeavor to expand our network, and offer passengers more affordable choices for direct flights from Kuwait. This summer, we have these great destinations in Europe on offer for the leisure market in Kuwait, as well as connecting passengers from around our network. We expect there will be a strong demand for all of them.”
Meanwhile, later in the summer season, Jazeera Airways also plans to resume its flights from Kuwait to Prague Václav Havel Airport (PRG) on June 8th. These will also operate on a twice-weekly basis (Thursdays and Sundays), meaning that, in total, Jazeera Airways will have up to 11 weekly European rotations this summer.
Exciting times for the airline
The announcement of its growth in terms of its European network is the latest in a string of exciting developments for Jazeera Airways. For instance, this month has already seen the carrier make history by operating Kuwait’s first flight with an all-female crew, which aptly occurred on International Women’s Day.
More recently, Jazeera Airways has also been in the news following the announcement of its plans to launch a low-cost carrier in Saudi Arabia. The new airline will reportedly be based in Dammam as part of the Vision 2030 program.
What do you make of Jazeera Airways’ planned European network expansion? Have you ever flown with the Kuwaiti low-cost carrier? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!
DALLAS – The CAPA – Centre for Aviation hosted its Airline Leader Summit 2023 where aviation leaders and airline delegates came together in Budapest to talk about the future of aviation in a post-pandemic world. Airways attended the event held on 16-17 March 2023.
Budapest Airport (BUD) CEO Chris Dinsdale opened the event with BUD’s milestones, his life in Budapest, and interesting stories from his different jobs in the airport. The CEO will step down from his position in the summer of 2023 to lead a Canadian airport in his home country.
The CAPA event saw airline heads share their thoughts on how to improve their carriers, what post-COVID statistics looked like, and how they recovered from the pandemic, among many more interesting topics. We’ll begin with the current state of the industry.
CAPA Outlook: State of the Industry
CAPA’s Chief Financial Analyst, Jonathan Wober talked about 15 numbers in 15 minutes.
The first one was aircraft in service. Compared to pre-COVID numbers, jets are flying again at 101%. There’s a 5% decrease for full-service carriers compared to February 2019, however, low-cost carriers are at 109% compared to pre-pandemic stats. Regional operations are at 89%, cargo, and charter services increased by 110%.
Regarding seating capacity, compared to 2019, seats are 97% allocated on commercial flights. In Africa and Latin America, capacity increased by four percent, and in the Middle East and North America, 2% less, however, in Europe and Asia Pacific, it decreased by 11%. This is an average of 97% seat capacity compared to pre-pandemic numbers.
Next up is traffic volume. Passenger flights are at 84%, and cargo operations are at 89% compared to four years ago. This means that, by the beginning of 2024, the aviation industry will fully recover.
It’s just really nice to see the recovery of commercial aviation. By these statistics, we can say, we’re almost fully recovered from the situation caused by the COVID pandemic.
Jonathan Wober, Chief Financial Analyst, CAPA
The fifth item was the European Union (EU) airfare inflation, which is at 18.4%. The numbers are pretty similar in the UK; however, the inflation there is a percentage up at 19.4%.
After the inflation, the analyst discussed Boeing and Airbus deliveries. According to the manufacturers’ statistics, they have lost 10 years, mostly due to the pandemic. This is a significant loss both in profit and in delivery numbers too.
What about fuel price? In 2022 and 2023, aviation fuel costs are at c30% of revenue. The last time revenue was over 30% was in Q4 of 2013-Q2 2014.
Mr. Wober also mentioned the profit wiped out by the pandemic. He stated that 81% of the global airlines’ profit was wiped out during 2020-2022, which means a loss of US$137bn. The industry is slowly recovering in 2023 at a rate of 0.4% (US$4.6bn).
Due to various aspects of the fallout of the pandemic, we’ll discuss the number of airlines operating globally. According to CAPA’s and OAG’s databases, in March 2010, 697 airlines operated globally. In May 2020, only 536 airlines operated, so more than 150 airlines went bankrupt due to the pandemic. It was a significant loss. However, as of March 2023, 712 airlines are operating globally.
This means the recovery of air travel, new airlines, and new possibilities post-pandemic for future airline leaders. They’ll know how full-service and low-cost carriers work, their successful business models, and how to keep up with inflation, higher ground handling, and fuel prices.
The 11th and 12th numbers were the Intra-Europe airline group seat share percentages from July 2023 vs July 2019. At 72% it is an increase of five percent when compared to 2019 when it was at 67%.
The 13th item on Mr. Wober’s talk was the Intra-North America seat shares, which ad little change at 94%.
Lastly, the speaker reminded the attendees that we had 27 years to achieve International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Long-Term Aspirational Goal (LTAG) to net zero CO2 emissions.
CAPA Think Tank: Aviation Leaders‘ Opportunities for the Future
The next presentation of day one was hosted by WestJet’s (WS) Board Member, Alex Cruz. He invited Abdelhamid Addou, Royal Air Maroc’s (AT) CEO, Angus Clarke, Air France-KLM Group’s CCO, and Samer Majali, Royal Jordanian’s (RJ) Board Chairman & Designate CEO. They were talking about the post-COVID challenges, what are the main problems they’re facing with.
So the purpose of the Think Tank is to highlight the successes from the past year, how did they recover from the pandemic situation, and how are they dealing with airfare inflation and higher fuel, and ground handling fees. The second most important purpose is to look into the future and identify opportunities to resolve issues faced by the entire aviation ecosystem.
Airlines in Transition: The Post-COVID Period and the Changes that Matter Most
Michael Bell, KornFerry’s Senior Client Partner had an hour-long chat with Sun Country Airlines (SY) President and CFO, Dave Davis, Air Serbia (JU) CEO, Jiri Marek, Lynx Air (Y8) CEO and President, Merren McArthur and Finnair (AY) SVP of Strategy and Fleet, Christine Rovelli.
COVID changed the operations of airlines and airports. This was the time the summit discussed the lessons the pandemic taught them. The flexibility of response, speed in adapting to rapidly changing situations, strong internal and external communication, and embracing new ways of doing business all emerged as key differentiators for airlines.
However, the new situation they’re facing now is the war between Russia and Ukraine.
Due to the war between Russia and Ukraine, we have to fly a longer, different route toward the East. However, our partnership with Qatar Airways is key to flying to further destinations. Moreover, by investing in the new Airbus A350-900s, we can fly longer routes with fewer CO2 emissions than we have with the Airbus A330s.
Christine Rovelli, SVP of Strategy and Fleet, Finnair
Sustainability Masterclass: A Guideline for Activities to Help Limit Industry Footprints
The 55 minutes long talk show was held by David Wills, Executive Director of Envest Global. He invited IAG’s Group Head of Sustainability, Jonathon Counsell, SAS Scandinavian Airlines (SK) Head of Sustainability, Ann-Sofie Hörlin, and W6’s Chief Corporate and ESG Officer, Yvonne Moynihan.
It’s clear that the industry faces significant challenges in its transition to more sustainable alternatives. Today, we have an excellent panel of industry leaders who will share their insights on how the industry can make short-term strides, support its environmental credibility, and communicate its sustainability efforts to the public.
David Wills, Executive Director of Envest Global
There were three main questions during the session. The first one was: Where does the aviation industry turn to to make short-term strides?
At IAG, we believe that improving operational efficiency is a key way to make short-term strides toward sustainability. We are focusing on measures such as reducing fuel consumption and optimizing flight paths. For example, we have introduced a program to taxi aircraft with one engine, which can significantly reduce fuel consumption and emissions. These measures not only reduce emissions in the short term but also provide cost savings for the airlines.
Jonathon Counsell, Group Head of Sustainability, IAG
Ann-Sofie Hörlin, SK’ Head of Sustainability agrees with Jonathon, adding that SAS is focusing on improving operational efficiency. This means reducing the weight of aircraft with lighter seats, optimizing flight plans, and investing in sustainable airplanes with fuel-efficient engines.
On the ground, they’re using ground power units instead of aircraft APUs to save operational costs and commit to sustainability. Ground power units at several airports are using renewable energy sources.
KLM (KL) keeps investing in the development of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). SAF has the potential to reduce carbon footprint by 80%. While they are currently costly and scarce, they believe that the production and use of SAFs will increase over time, making them a viable alternative to fossil fuels. This will lead to KLM’s improved operating efficiency project.
Yvonne Moynihan said that at W6, they’re investing in SAF just like KL.
The second question: how can the transition support the industry’s environmental credibility?
At SAS, we believe that transparency and communication are key to supporting the industry’s environmental credibility. We are committed to transparency and communication. We have set ambitious targets to reduce our carbon emissions, and we report regularly on our progress towards these targets. We also believe in engaging with our customers and stakeholders on sustainability issues, which helps to build trust and support for our efforts.
Ann-Sofie Hörlin, Head of Sustainability, SAS
KLM, W6, and IAG’s representatives agreed with Ann-Sofie, and they’re following the same commitments. W6 keeps investing in a sustainable aircraft fleet, while KL supports the development of sustainable fuel. As well as airport infrastructure, like building renewable energy sources for the GPUs.
The last question: What are the best strategies to make the public aware of the scale of the problem faced and the steps that the industry is making in its journey to sustainability?
At Wizz Air, we’re proud to have Europe’s youngest and most fuel-efficient fleet. Our commitment to the environment is an important step in European aviation. We are going to replace our old A320s and A321s with A321neos and later on, A321 XLRs to start longer flights. The new Airbus aircraft consumption is significantly less than the older ones in our fleet. We’re on the way to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.
Yvonne Moynihan, Chief Corporate and ESG Officer, Wizz Air
Wizz Air’s short-term project is to improve efficiency. The first step is fleet renewal. They are going to replace the old A320ceos and A321ceos with A321neos. At the moment, A320neos aren’t planned to be bought. SAF and carbon removal is the solution to emission reduction, which is their medium-term project. Lastly, the long-term project is zero-emission technologies and hydrogen, which means another fleet renewal with hydrogen-powered aircraft and air traffic management modernization.
SAS has a social and an environmental side to its sustainability strategy. The social side contains supporting society, creating sustainable innovation and they are supporting health and well-being services. On the environmental side, they’re going to decarbonize the company by 2050. The other driving force in sustainable aviation which is on the environmental side is resource efficiency.
KLM has three main aspects of sustainable flying. The first one is creating technological advancements, i.e. exploring the future of flying, innovating core airline processes, and strengthening their technological foundation. The second aspect is the transformation to a net-positive company, which means the reduction of negative impacts, driving the industry change, and ensuring responsible fundamentals.
The third is to run a great airline for KL’s customers and people. This means developing alternative revenue growth initiatives, managing their economics, increasing the viability of their business model, and engaging their people.
China Reopens – Prospects for the Recovery of the World’s Largest Outbound Market
After three years of being closed off to international travel due to its ‘zero COVID’ policy, China is set to fully open its borders to the world in 2023. This is great news for the international travel industry, as China was the world’s most valuable outbound tourism market in 2019, according to the World Tourism Organization.
Director of JLS Consulting, John Strickland invited Thai Airways (TG) Advisor to CEO, Otto Gergye, Versilia Group Holding’s Non-Executive Chairman, Tony Davis, Air China’s (CA) Vice President and General Manager in North America, Zhihang Chi, and Air Serbia’s (JU) General Manager Commercial and Strategy, Bosko Rupic to have a chat about the recovery of Chinese flights.
The big question was: how quickly can China’s domestic airlines and foreign carriers restore their networks and return capacity in the market?
The speakers coincided that it would likely take some time for airlines to ramp up their schedules and restore their routes, but the demand was there and they could expect a rapid recovery once all travel restrictions were lifted.
The return of major international travel to and from China will depend on several factors, including the speed of the vaccine rollout and the global COVID-19 situation. The Chinese government has been proactive in its vaccination efforts, with over 1 billion doses administered as of December 2022, but concerns remain over new variants and the effectiveness of current vaccines against them.
Thailand had been one of the most popular destinations for Chinese tourists prior to the pandemic, and the Thai government was actively working to restore travel links with China.
Otto Gergye, Advisor to CEO, Thai Airways
Zhihang Chi highlighted the importance of collaboration between airlines and government authorities in order to ensure a smooth and safe return to international travel.
In conclusion, the return of major international travel to and from China is set to be one of the biggest developments in the travel industry in 2023. While there are challenges and uncertainties ahead, the prospects for a rapid recovery are strong, and the travel industry is well-positioned to capitalize on this once-in-a-generation opportunity.
Airline Leader Interview: Robert Carey – Wizz Air
John Strickland invited Robert Carey, Wizz Air’s President for an interview on the second day of the CAPA Summit in Budapest.
Robert has spoken about W6’s ultra-low-cost carrier business model, how is it successful and why is it popular in the world. Robert said he came to Budapest on a regular Wizz Air flight between London Luton (LTN) and Budapest (BUD), to commit to the environment.
In his opinion, business jets and first-, business class seats are useless. W6 aircraft only have economy class seats with reduced weight Recaro seats. There are 239 seats in their A321neos, while they have 186 seats inside the carrier’s A320neos.
The average age of our fleet is 4.6 years, we’ll have more than 500 aircraft by 2030. We have point-to-point flights instead of a hub system. Our flights don’t have direct train alternatives below 4 hours and our seats are more than 90% occupied.
Robert Carey, President, Wizz Air
The carrier’s A321neo aircraft has 25% less fuel burn, 25% less CO2 emission, 16% improvement in route lengths, 43% lower noise, and 20% lower unit costs – compared to the A320ceo. In addition, since 2022, Wizz Air has been using a paperless flight deck to continue towards zero emission.
I asked Robert’s opinion about investing in widebody aircraft. He said they won’t go for heavies, just the narrowbody, A321neos. For a ULCC, A321XLR is the best way to fly longer flights while keeping environment friendly. However, W6 operates an A330-200 Freighter for the Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry of Hungary.
CAPA Think Tank: The re-ordering of aviation – LCCs to the fore
The last Think Tank of the event discussed low-cost carriers, where CAPA’s Chief Financial Analyst, Jonathan Wober invited Play Airlines (OG) CEO, Birgir Jónsson, Norse Atlantic Airways (N0) CEO, Bjorn Tore Larsen, and Lynx Air (Y9) CEO and President, Merren McArthur.
COVID-19 presented an unparalleled growth opportunity for low-cost carriers. Many of the markets where LCCs excel – such as short-haul and leisure-focused travel – were the first to recover, while traditionally strong markets for network airlines – including long-haul intercontinental and business travel – are still yet to recover fully.
In Europe, low-cost traffic has nearly fully recovered, while full-service carriers are still down by 20%. Ryanair is now Europe’s largest single airline brand by most metrics – seats or departures – and LCCs are now four of the 10 largest single airline brands within the EU.
With a recession in the EU looming and concerns around COVID-19 lingering, traveler preference for short-haul persists.
Airport Leaders Panel: Working Together for the Future of Aviation
Toward the end of the event, Tony Griffin, ASM’s SVP of Airport Strategy and Marketing invited Budapest Airport’s CCO, Kam Jandu, together with Amit Rikhy, Chief Revenue Officer at JFK New Terminal One, Vivian Cheung, CCO of Airport Authority Hong Kong, and Ahmet Orçun Songur, Director Operations and Revenues at YDA Dalaman Airport (DLM).
Air travel recovered rapidly during 2022, although a full return of air traffic and restoration of Europe’s network connectivity to pre-pandemic levels still isn’t expected until late 2023 or even early 2024.
While the rebuilding continues, airports face a range of pressing issues that will shape not only the recovery this year but the long-term prospects for Europe’s air travel sector.
The most important questions raised on this session were:
Shortfalls are prominent in areas such as skilled manpower and ATC/airspace capacity, while a future runway capacity shortage looms. As demand recovers, what are the priorities to avoid a repeat of 2022’s operational issues? Further, how does Europe address identified shortfalls to ensure there is capacity to support growth?
What is the role of airports in helping to build leadership in aviation sustainability? How are commitments such as Net Zero growth and the EU’s ‘Fit for 55’ proposals met without harming air connectivity or sector competitiveness?
With trends in Europe towards the use of rail in short-haul travel, the rise of e-commerce, and future mobility using new technologies, airports have an opportunity to transform into intermodal hubs offering seamless connectivity between forms of transport. What policy and infrastructure approaches need to be adopted to ensure European airports provide the best possible solution in terms of connectivity, and environmental and economic performance?
We’ll leave these questions open for our readers to comment on our social media channels. Stay tuned to upcoming interviews from the CAPA summit, including W6’s training manager on the airline’s Hungary pilot and cabin crew training center, and KLM’s Vice President on the airline’s business model.
It seems that Hilton club lounges are all over the map when it comes to the consumption of beverages within the premises or whether you are allowed to fill up your bag with them to take over to your room.
I was surprised that it appeared to be a common occurrence at the Hilton Copacabana that guests were carrying as much water and soda out of the club lounge as they could and overseen by the employees.
France is currently going through national strikes in protest over President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reforms to make the minimum retirement age 64 from 62. The strike activity will impact French aviation, and as such the French Civil Aviation Authority (DGAC) is asking airlines to reduce their flight schedules.
Statements on developments
Several statements have been made on developments. First Air France, the premier French airline air group and France’s flag carrier, has posted a statement on the latest developments;
National call for strike action from 20 to 23 March, 2023
The French Civil Aviation Authority (DGAC) has asked all airlines to reduce their flight schedules to and from Paris Orly and certain French airports from 20 to 23 March, 2023 as part of the national strike action in France.
In this context, Air France plans to operate on these days 95% of its flight schedule, including all its long-haul flights and its flights to and from Paris – Charles de Gaulle. Last-minute delays and cancellations cannot be ruled out. The flight schedule is updated and customers affected by cancelled flights are notified individually by SMS and e-mail.
The airline also is allowing customers to reschedule their flights without fees and compensate customers with canceled flights as Air France “Is doing its utmost to limit the impact on its customers.”
Photo: Air France
Furthermore, the other French airports impacted, according to the United States news outlet ABC News will be Paris – Orly operating at 70% capacity, and Marseille operating at 80% capacity during the strike activity. Public transit is also going to be impacted. Finally, the Paris airport operator tweeted this out:
This is not the first time the French Civil Aviation Authority has warned of strike activity and asked airlines to reduce demand. Warnings were issued earlier this month, according to thelocal.fr on March 8th, 2023 and Reuters on March 13th, 2023. Thelocal.fr, on March 8, 2023, noted that air traffic controllers are participating in striking over the aforementioned pension plans.
There was also strike action from the air traffic controller union that impacted French aviation in September 2022. It’s worth noting that French air traffic control does manage some of the largest and most dense airspace in Europe. The French air traffic controllers control more than three million flights, 60% of which are overflights, according to a report released by the French government in 2019.
Sadly, strike action is taking place all over European aviation, thereby causing flight disruption. From Scottish island airports to, at one point, most of Germany’s main airports, the issue of strikes disrupting flight operations has been a recurrent one throughout Europe. One can see the tweet below to see some of the most recent actions:
Also, according to The Telegraph, London’s Heathrow International Airport – the United Kingdom’s busiest airport – will also have strike activity from airport security to contend with from March 31 to April 9. The main issues are pay and work rules.
As one can see, labor unrest is increasingly gripping European aviation. One should check their flight before heading to the airport to see if their flight will be on time or not.
Are you going to be impacted by this strike activity? Please share with civility in the comments if so.
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In this post I wanted to compare the two no annual fee cards in the portfolio, and discuss which is the better option, if you’re trying to decide between them. If you don’t have either or both of them, this is an ideal time to pick them up.
Meanwhile the Ink Business Cash Card has some bonus categories, which certain cardmembers might find to be valuable, as the card offers:
5x points on the first $25,000 of combined purchases per cardmember year on office supply stores, internet, cable TV, mobile phones, and landlines
2x points on the first $25,000 of combined purchases per cardmember year on restaurants and gas stations
1x points on all other purchases
As you can see, which card is better depends heavily on which types of purchases you spend the most on. If you spend a lot in categories that don’t otherwise earn bonus points, then earning 1.5x points per dollar spent is an excellent return.
If you spend a lot in categories that would otherwise qualify for one of the 2x or 5x points categories, then the Ink Cash is a fantastic choice.
To crunch the numbers a bit further, I value Ultimate Rewards points at 1.7 cents each (which I’ll explain in more detail below), so that means the return on these cards is potentially as follows:
The Ink Business Unlimited offers ~2.55% of value on all spending
The Ink Business Cash offers ~8.5% of value in the 5x points categories, 3.4% of value in the 2x points categories, and 1.7% of value on all other spending
Based on how much you value these points and how much you spend on the card per year, you can hopefully decide which makes the most sense for your business.
The no annual fee Chase Ink card I’d choose
The beauty of Chase Ink cards is that you can apply for each of the Chase Ink cards, and even earn the bonuses on each card. So you don’t have to decide between them, because many people (including me) have three of them.
Personally I’d pick up both of the cards, so that you can earn the welcome bonuses and take advantage of their unique advantages when it comes to spending. These are great no annual fee complements. Why earn just 2-5x points on bonus categories, or 1.5x points on everyday spending, when you can have both?
But if I could choose just one card, which would I choose? I’d probably lean toward the Ink Business Cash Card. That’s because the bonus points categories offered by the card are unique, and can’t be found on any other cards. Earning 5x points in select categories is potentially incredibly valuable.
Furthermore, I’d say that while the Ink Business Unlimited offers an excellent return, it also has more substitutes among business cards that have a great return on everyday spending:
As you can see, there are several great cards offering a solid return on spending.
Maximizing no annual fee Ink Card points
Up until this point I’ve referred to the rewards earned on these cards just as “points,” and that’s because there’s a trick to maximizing their value. Chase Ink Cash and Chase Ink Unlimited points can typically be redeemed for one cent each.
This is where there’s a trick that can greatly increase the value of your Chase Ink Cash or Chase Ink Unlimited points. If you have either card in conjunction with another card that earns “premium” Ultimate Rewards points, then you can do significantly better. These cards include the following:
If you have the Chase Ink Cash or Chase Ink Unlimited in conjunction with one of those cards, suddenly your points are much more valuable. At a minimum, you can redeem points at the following rates through the Chase Travel Portal:
However, if you only want to pick up one of the two no annual fee cards, I do think the Ink Cash offers bonus categories that are unique. I still think the Ink Unlimited is an excellent option for everyday spending, and I’d recommend getting it. However, there are a few other cards out there that offer a similar return on spending, so the card isn’t as unique.
Regardless of which card you prefer, now is the time to apply, given the best-ever bonuses.
Which of the Chase Ink cards do you think is most valuable?
The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express (Rates & Fees).