Chase offers different cards for different purposes, but they all tend to be fairly solid entries in their respective categories. For instance, while the Chase Slate is a pretty decent balance transfer card, the Chase Freedom card allows you to benefit from robust cash back rewards and efficient means of redeeming them.
While they’re both Chase cards, comparing them is a bit like apples and oranges – they’re both clearly for different audiences, and have their own distinct attributes that make them the clear choice for one type of cardholder or another.
Quick Overview of the Chase Slate Card
Why It’s Good
The Chase Slate card works best as a balance transfer card – essentially, if you’ve built up a big balance on another card and are tired of accruing interest while you pay it off, you can use cards like the Chase Slate to transfer your balance somewhere you can take a break from those high interest rates.
With a long no-interest period and no balance transfer fees for the first two months, the Chase Slate is a decent option for those who need to move some debt around without breaking the bank.
Quick Rundown of the Chase Freedom Card
Why It’s Good
As rewards cards go, it’s a little tough to beat the Chase Freedom card – while the unlimited 1% cash back is a common feature among a lot of rewards cards, not many cards match the whopping 5% cash back you get on certain bonus categories every quarter. Eagle-eyed cardholders with an eye toward maximizing rewards can get a lot out of this card.
Chase Slate vs Freedom Showdown
As previously mentioned, the Chase Slate and Chase Freedom cards feel like two different cards serving two different masters. The Chase Slate card has no rewards program; the Chase Freedom has a great one. The Chase Freedom charges balance transfer fees, while the Chase Slate gives you a grace period of 60 days to move balances without having to pay anything.
Essentially, the audiences for these two cards don’t really overlap much; rewards fans won’t find anything to like about the Chase Slate, but the Slate serves a vital purpose for people who want to pay off debt more efficiently. That’s fine – after all, different credit cards specialize in different things for varying audiences. But it’s crucial you get the right card for the job.
Whether you want a decent balance transfer card, or a features-heavy rewards card, the Chase Slate and Freedom cards offer distinct advantages for each, respectively.
Chase Slate vs Freedom: Fees
The Chase Slate offers no annual fee, a common feature among Chase cards. Also, the card offers a 0% introductory APR for the first 15 months of ownership, which is a lot longer than most other cards’ intro periods (which typically go around twelve months). After that, you get a variable APR of 16.49-25.24%.
Since the Chase Slate focuses mostly on balance transfers, its biggest draw is a 60-day grace period for balance transfer fees; for the first two months of the card, you can transfer balances without paying a dime. After that period, though, you do have to pay a 5% balance transfer fee, which is a bit higher than some other cards.
If you plan on doing any traveling and using the Chase Slate card, you’ll be charged a 3% foreign transaction fee.
Like the Slate, the Chase Freedom offers no annual fee and a 15-month period of zero interest. Also, the Freedom sports the same variable APR of 16.49%-25.24%, which is slightly higher than some high-end cards tend to go (some go down to 13% or 14%).
The Freedom also offers a 5% balance transfer fee, but differs from the Slate in that it doesn’t give you that promotional 60-day period. So if you plan to use the Chase Freedom as a balance transfer card as well, you might want to think about whether the 5% fee is worth it. As with the other card, the Chase Freedom also charges you 3% for foreign transaction fees.
They’re both par for the course in terms of fee rates, but there are plenty of travel cards out there that would charge you no foreign transaction fees – it might be best to leave this one for your domestic spending.
Chase Slate vs Freedom: Rewards
I’ve got some bad news for you: the Chase Slate offers no rewards. It’s simply not a rewards-focused card; its purview is almost exclusively balance transfers. To that end, you won’t get points or cash back, nor can you really participate in Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program with this card.
The Chase Freedom, on the other hand, sports some of the best rewards earnings on the market. With all purchases, you get unlimited 1% cash back rewards; however, every quarter Chase offers a rotating set of bonus categories that offer you 5% cash back on qualifying purchases. For the first $1,500 in spending for that category each quarter, that bonus rewards tier applies.
It should also be noted that these rewards categories don’t tend to disappoint: depending on what shows up in the calendar each quarter, you could earn big rewards on gas, dining, restaurants, Amazon.com or Target shopping, and so on. For more committed cardholders who love studying their rewards possibilities with a fine-toothed comb, the Freedom has plenty of appeal.
Chase Slate vs Freedom: Signup Bonuses
Since there’s no rewards program, there’s no signup bonus for the Slate either. However, new cardholders do get to enjoy the perks of their 60-day period of no balance transfer fees, as well as the 15-month no-interest period that the Freedom also provides.
The Freedom’s signup bonus is pretty convenient, and more than approachable for a signup bonus of its type. Provided you spend $500 in the first three months of owning the card, you get a $150 bonus in the form of cash back rewards.
Most cards of this type go much higher with their signup bonuses, but you also have to spend more to reach them (up to three or four grand sometimes); the Freedom’s bonus is modest, but it’s that much more likely that you’ll be able to hit it without forcing yourself to overspend.
Chase Slate vs Freedom: Drawbacks & Considerations
The biggest caveat to getting the Chase Slate is that it’s really only good for one thing: balance transfers. As a result, there are no rewards programs, no signup bonuses – nothing to incentivize you to actually spend on the card. All it does is keep you from accruing interest on balances accumulated on other cards while you pay it off.
While the Chase Freedom is a nice, robust rewards card, there are a few things that hold it back from greatness. For one thing, the 5% cash back bonus rewards tier requires a bit more homework and finesse than most other rewards cards – you have to pay attention to when the categories switch, and change your spending accordingly.
For those who want their rewards card experience a bit more hands-off, you might want to grab something like the Chase Freedom Unlimited, which just gives you 1.5% unlimited cash back on every purchase without any bonus categories.
Who should get these cards?
For a card with such a niche appeal, the Slate does excel at what it does: offer cardholders with big balances on other cards a brief, interest-free respite with which to pay off their debts. With no balance transfer fees for 60 days and a nice, luxurious introductory APR period, the Chase Slate lets you plant your balances in a safe haven and pay off the premium faster.
If you’re not worried about paying off debt, and just want to get more out of your money in the form of rewards, it’s hard to do much better than the Chase Freedom. Provided you use the categories wisely, you can really mine a lot of rewards out of that 5% tier. Plus, it also enjoys the annual fee and introductory APR rate of the Chase Slate.
Chase Slate vs Freedom: Which card should you get?
The winner: Chase Freedom (barely)
It’s hard to say which one wins over the other, since the Chase Slate and Chase Freedom are essentially playing wholly different games. The Chase Slate is meant for people who want to pay down existing debts, and need a shelter from their existing interest rates. In fulfilling that role, the Chase Slate succeeds mightily, with a long no-interest period and FICO score tracking.
However, the Chase Freedom is the more flexible, robust and features-heavy card of the two, and for that reason it slightly edges out the Chase Slate. It’s just impossibly to pass up a rewards program (especially one this good), over a card that doesn’t have one to begin with. It’s got an approachable signup bonus, great rewards categories, and much more.
The decision might even be more difficult if the Chase Freedom didn’t also sport the same annual fee and introductory APR period as the Chase Slate. If you’re not worried about the balance transfer fee, the Freedom almost makes just as good a balance transfer card as the Slate – and you can earn rewards on it if you keep using it.