The Chase Slate provided solid balance transfer perks, but it was recently replaced with the Chase Slate Edge. Here’s what the new card offers, and what you should keep in mind when using any balance transfer card.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chase Slate card was one of my favorite balance transfer credit cards. In early 2020, it offered 15 months with 0% interest on balance transfers and new purchases. The card didn’t charge a balance transfer fee when new cardholders transferred balances within 60 days of opening their accounts.
In March 2020, the Chase Slate disappeared from Chase’s website in line with an industry-wide trend away from balance transfers. As unemployment spiked in the spring of 2020, banks were worried enough that their existing customers wouldn’t pay them back. The pandemic brought so much uncertainty that card issuers had very little motivation to give 0% promotions to customers with existing debt.
Interest-free balance transfer deals have made a comeback in 2021 as the unemployment situation has improved and delinquencies and defaults have remained very low. The newly introduced Chase Slate Edge℠* is now Chase’s primary balance transfer card, having replaced the original Slate card (at least for new applicants; existing Slate cardholders are still able to use those cards and were not automatically migrated over to the Slate Edge).
How it works
New Slate Edge cardholders get 12 months without paying interest on balance transfers and purchases. The transfer fee is $5 or 3% (whichever is greater) within the first 60 days of opening the account, and then it rises to $5 or 5% (again, whichever is greater) after that. The regular APR is a variable 14.99% to 23.74%. In other words, the Slate Edge’s balance transfer offer is three months shorter than what the original Slate offered in early 2020, and you can no longer avoid the transfer fee.
Let’s say you have $6,300 in credit card debt (the average among households with credit card debt, according to the Federal Reserve’s most recent Survey of Consumer Finances). The Slate Edge’s transfer fee will tack $189 on top of that if you transfer your balance within 60 days of opening the account – and $315 if you wait longer.
We’ll assume you do it quickly and roll the $189 fee into your existing balance. In order to pay off the full amount ($6,489) within 12 months, you’d need to pay about $541 per month. That’s significantly more than the $420 monthly payments it would have taken to pay off a $6,300 balance with 15 interest-free (and transfer fee-free) months on the old Slate card.
The current competition
Alas, there’s no use crying over spilled milk. What’s most relevant is the current competition. The longest 0% balance transfer offer that’s on the market today is 20 billing cycles on the U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card (that also applies to new purchases, and its regular APR is a variable 14.74% to 24.74%). The transfer fee is $5 or 3%, whichever is greater.
Sticking with our $6,489 example (after the transfer fee), you’d have to pay about $324 per month to knock out the full amount before interest starts accruing in the 21st month. That’s a huge monthly saving ($217) compared with the Slate Edge, thanks to the eight additional interest-free months.
By the way, I believe the best way to use a 0% balance transfer card is to avoid putting additional purchases on the card. This makes it easier to stay disciplined about how much you owe – and hopefully you can knock out that entire balance within the allotted time.
Other Slate Edge benefits
The Slate Edge’s main advantage over the original Slate card is a $100 welcome bonus after you spend $500 in your first six months. The original Slate didn’t have an introductory bonus.
While I certainly wouldn’t turn down a free $100, I’d note that sign-up bonuses (and rewards, for that matter) should not be your top priorities when you have credit card debt. The average credit card charges 16.22% as of this writing, so a lengthy 0% promo is worth a lot more than a one-time $100 bonus.
Speaking of interest rates
If you made only minimum payments toward a $6,300 balance at 16.22%, you’d be in debt for more than 17 years and you’d pay a total of more than $13,500 (which includes more than $7,200 in interest). That illustrates the benefits of a 0% balance transfer card and the importance of paying way more than the minimum.
Of course, the Slate Edge can still be useful, even if it doesn’t have the longest 0% term. Just note that 12 months is on the shorter end of 0% promotions – many last 15 to 20 months. It’s a bummer that you can no longer avoid the transfer fee.
The Slate Edge promises to lower your APR by two percentage points each year as long as you make all of your payments on time and spend at least $1,000 with your card. That rate reduction sounds way better than it really is, however.
The lowest it can go is 9.74% plus the prime rate (which is currently 3.25%). Paying 12.99% isn’t much better than paying 16.22%. Making minimum payments against a $6,300 balance at 12.99% would still keep you in debt for more than 16 years and rack up more than $5,700 in interest charges.
Your goal should be to pay off your credit card balance as quickly and cheaply as possible. I know that’s easier said than done, but discipline combined with a 0% balance transfer could save you a ton of time and money.
Additional tailwinds could include earning more money via a side hustle, selling unneeded possessions, cutting expenses and more. Nonprofit credit counseling agencies such as Money Management International and GreenPath can provide helpful assistance as well.
Credit card interest rates are so high that paying off your card debt should be a major priority. It might take a couple of years, but when you’re done, it will be a huge weight off your shoulders. And balance transfer cards can save you money on interest in the interim. Once you’re able to pay your credit card bills in full each month, then you can move on to fun stuff like earning free trips and cash back. Until then, seek the lowest, longest-lasting interest rate that you can get.
*All information about the Chase Slate Edge has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer.
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