If you’re struggling under the weight of a large credit card balance, you may be looking for a card that lets you transfer debt without charging interest, such as the Chase Slate or the Chase Freedom. Read on to find out which card we recommend.
If you’re struggling under the weight of a large credit card balance, you may be looking for a card that will let you transfer your debt without charging interest, such as the Chase Slate card or the Chase Freedom card. Both offer an introductory rate on balance transfers – so what makes one card a better choice than the other?
Ultimately, it comes down to what you’re looking for in a card and how much debt you plan to roll over. For example, the Chase Freedom card lets you earn rewards on every purchase, but charges a balance transfer fee. The Slate card, by contrast, does not charge a balance transfer fee for the first 60 days, but does not offer a rewards program.
Here’s what else we found when comparing the two cards:
Chase Slate vs. Chase Freedom
Chase Slate card
Chase Freedom card
|Estimated yearly rewards value (for someone who spends $15,900)||$0||$239|
|Who should get this card?|
Best for someone who wants to earn rewards: Chase Freedom cardIf you’re looking for a card that lets you transfer a balance interest-free and still earn rewards on new purchases, the Chase Freedom card is the clear winner. Unlike the Slate card, the Freedom card offers a solid rewards program for everyday purchases. The Freedom card offers 5 percent cash back on an alternating list of everyday spending categories, such as gas, restaurants, groceries and clothing and 1 percent back on everything else.
In addition, the Freedom card offers a $150 sign-up bonus that’s large enough to cover the balance transfer fee on up to $3,000 worth of debt. You just need to charge $500 in the card’s first three months to get it.
First year rewards value ($15,900 spend)
|Chase Slate card||Chase Freedom card|
|$0 (no rewards program)||$15,900 x 1.14% average rewards rate + $150 sign-up bonus = $331|
Best for someone with more than $3,500 worth of debt: Chase Slate card
If you owe more than $3,500, you’ll almost certainly be better off with the Slate card.
The Chase Freedom card charges a 5 percent fee to transfer a balance, which is one of the highest balance transfer fees in the industry. Most cards charge just 3 percent.
The Slate card, by contrast, waives the balance transfer fee altogether if you transfer your balance within 60 days of opening your account. That can make a huge difference if you owe several thousand dollars.
For example, you’d have to spend $175 to transfer $3,500 in debt to a Freedom card, wiping out your sign-up bonus and cutting into any additional rewards. If you owed $6,000, you would have to spend $300 to transfer your balance – well above what you’re likely to earn back in rewards.
The Slate card does charge a 5 percent balance transfer fee once you’ve owned the card for longer than 60 days, though, so you’ll want to transfer your balance right away.
Cost to transfer a $3,501 balance
|Chase Slate card||Chase Freedom card|
|$0 if you transfer your balance within 60 days of opening your account||$3,501 x 5% fee – $150 sign-up bonus – $25 authorized user bonus = $0.05|
Best for someone trying to strengthen credit: Chase Slate card
The Slate card boasts a key promotion for cardholders looking to improve their financial situation: free FICO credit scores.
The Slate card helps cardholders monitor dips and spikes in their credit by offering free access to their FICO scores, which are the most commonly used scores for credit decisions. The scores are updated every month and are accompanied by personally tailored reasons for why your score is where it is. That way, you’ll know what specific behaviors are helping improve your FICO score and what’s still holding it back.
The Freedom card also offers free credit information through Chase’s Credit Journey program. But it only offers access to your VantageScore, which isn’t as widely used as the FICO score – particularly amongst mortgage lenders.
Best for someone trying to lower card balances: Chase Slate card
Because the Freedom card doesn’t charge interest for the first 15 months (then a variable APR of 17.24 to 25.99 percent) and rewards you with cash back for every purchase you make, cardholders may be tempted to continue packing on debt that they can’t afford to pay off in full.
While the Slate card also offers a 0 percent introductory APR on purchases for the first 15 months (then a variable APR of 16.99 to 25.74 percent), it does not offer a rewards program – possibly making you less tempted to put the card to use and making the card more ideal if you’re having trouble reining in your purchases.
The bottom line
If you’ve got a manageable balance and are looking for a rewards card you can use for everyday purchases, the Chase Freedom card is a solid choice.
However, the Slate card’s 60-day promotion waiving the card’s balance transfer fee puts it over the top for most cardholders who need to transfer a large balance. The bigger your balance, the more money you’ll save if you opt for the Slate card and skip paying a balance transfer fee.
That said, 15 months isn’t an especially long time to knock out a balance if you owe several thousand dollars and can only afford to pay a few hundred dollars at a time. If you don’t think you can pay your whole balance within the Slate card’s 15-month promotional period, then you may want to consider a card with a longer balance transfer period.