When you exclude their co-branded credit cards (like those from Marriott and United) there are only 3 main products from Chase: The Slate, Freedom, and Sapphire. The latter of which is high-end card for travel rewards and if you want to learn more about it, here’s my Sapphire review.
But if you don’t want a high-end travel card, that leaves you with either the Chase Freedom or the Slate. How do they compare? What are their strengths and weaknesses?
Annual Fee: None
Credit Requirements: Previously this card was marketed as being for “average credit” but now it’s labeled as being for “good to excellent credit.” Of course like all card issuers, they don’t specify precisely what that means. But based on forum feedback, I have heard from people with FICO credit scores in the high 600′s getting approved, so my guess would be that the minimum is somewhere around that range. It sounds to be easier to get approved for than Freedom (and probably the easiest amongst all the Chase cards).
Noteworthy Benefits: The reason it doesn’t have rewards is because the Slate card is geared towards people who carry balances. It comes with Blueprint, which is a very useful tool for managing your balance:
- You can use it to set up a payment plan for how fast you want to pay off your account balance.
- You have the ability to choose which categories of spending you want to pay in full each month. For example, maybe you want all of your groceries and gas paid in full every month, but at the same time you want to spread out payments for a big furniture purchase.
- There are also tools for analyzing your spending. You can use this to set goals for each category of spending.
Although your own interest rate can vary based on creditworthiness, it’s worth noting that the APR range for the Slate is lower than the Freedom.
Annual Fee: None
Rewards: 5% cash back on categories which rotate each quarter. 1% cash back on everything else. During any given quarter there are typically 2-3 different categories that earn 5%. Please note that you have to signup for the 5% each quarter in order to earn it (you can do that online or over the phone).
Credit Requirements: Versus the Slate the Chase Freedom will probably be a bit tougher, as it requires excellent credit. Although a FICO in the 700s should qualify you, I have heard from people with scores in that range getting denied. On the flip side, I have also heard from people with lower scores (mid to high 600s) getting approved, but with a low credit limit of $500. Though it’s worth noting that many of those people had lower scores because they had limited credit history, not because they had bad credit. Bear in mind that a low credit limit translates into low rewards earning potential as well, though. It might be best to build up your credit history for a year or so with a card like Slate if you might fall into this credit category.
Noteworthy Benefits: What makes this card stand out is the ability to earn 5% cash back (FYI there is a cap on the 5% that can be earned). It’s the best credit card deal out there if you want a $0 annual fee and 5% rewards.
Which is best for you in 2014?
If you have good credit and never carry a balance, then you definitely will want to go with the Freedom. You can view the current signup offer here.
If you only have average credit and/or carry a balance, then the Chase Slate will make the most sense. Here is the current 0% offer for it. Even though having no rewards may seem like a drawback, keep in mind that’s better than the alternative; having a rewards program and a higher APR along with it.
This article was written or last updated March 14, 2014