2017 Chase Slate Review – WalletHub Editors
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The Verdict: Chase Slate is hands down the best balance transfer credit card on the market, and perhaps even the best overall card as well. It is a life raft in a sea of debt with the potential to help you reach dry land faster than any competitor.
Many cards offer 0% on transferred debt, some for even longer than Slate’s 15 month intro term, but most sneak in a 2% - 4% transfer fee that makes it even harder to get your head above water. And, the worst thing is, consumers often don’t notice because balance transfer fees are among the least clearly disclosed account terms on issuer websites, according to WalletHub research.
With Slate, Chase has done indebted consumers everywhere a favor by taking the most important fees out of the equation entirely. When you further consider that Chase executives say people with fair credit can even get approved, it’s clear why we consider this to be a nearly once-in-a-lifetime get-out-of-debt-free card.
Rates & Fees
The specific rates and fees one must consider when evaluating a particular credit card depend on the type of card in question and its intended use. With a balance transfer offer such as Slate, there are 5-7 factors that you must account for. We’ll break them down below and tell you where Slate ranks in each regard.
Just For Balance Transfers:
- Intro Rate For Transferred Balances: Slate’s 0% introductory balance transfer APR distinguishes it from 99% of the offers available to qualified applicants.
- Balance Transfer Intro Term: Only eight cards offer a longer 0% balance transfer period than Slate’s 15 months: five at 18 months, two at 21 months and one at 24 months. Slate’s thus in the 99th percentile of balance transfer offers based on intro term length alone, and all of the cards with longer offers charge balance transfer fees of at least 3%.
- Regular APR: This is the interest rate that applies to any balance remaining at the end of a balance transfer card’s introductory period. Slate advertises an APR of 15.49% – 24.24%, with the low end of that range being reserved for people who have stellar credit and plenty of disposable income. This particular account term doesn’t do much to distinguish Slate either positively or negatively, considering that the average rate for someone with good credit is 18.14%, while credit cards for excellent credit average 13.16%, according to WalletHub research.
- Balance Transfer Fee: This is one of the most forgotten-about account terms among credit card applicants and one of the least heavily emphasized by credit card companies, but it’s extremely important. And while most cards charge a 3% transfer fee, Slate charges 0%! That’s right; there is no balance transfer fee. On a $7,000 balance – roughly the amount owed by the average indebted household – that fact would save you at least $210.
- Annual Fee: Annual fees are pretty obvious to most people, and many cards charge them. Slate, however, doesn’t. That means you won’t have to immediately add to your existing debt after transferring a balance.
Adding New Purchases To The Mix:
- Intro Rate For Purchases: If you’re planning to make new purchases with your Slate Card (in addition to transferring a balance), then you’ll be pleased to know that it offers 0% on these as well. Just be careful not to overspend to the point that you can no longer pay off the vast majority of what you owe before regular rates kick in.
- Purchase Intro Term: Slate’s 0% purchase APR is available for the same length of time as its balance transfer intro rate: 15 months. This is by no means the longest on the market, as 0% purchase APRs are available for as long as 24 months. As a result, there are better offers out there if you don’t have existing debt.
This section is very short for a reason: Slate doesn’t offer rewards, at least not in the traditional sense. That’s because it wasn’t designed for people who pay their balances in full each month, as is the case with rewards credit cards. Instead, its primary reward is saving people from finance charges.
After all, escaping fees and interest for 15 months would save the average indebted individual far more than 1%, or even 2%, cash back across all purchases.
|No Penalty APR||While missed payments could jeopardize your 0% rates during the intro period, paying late one month thereafter won’t cause the interest rate for new purchases to jump. Even more importantly, becoming 60 or more days delinquent won’t trigger a rate increase on your existing debt.||While most credit cards charge a penalty APR, making this feature relatively unique, we do not recommend applying for the Slate Card unless you can comfortably afford to repay your transferred balance roughly within the timeframe of the card’s intro term. As a result, this feature shouldn’t do much for you.|
|No Overlimit Fee||You won’t be charged extra if you spend beyond your credit limit.||This feature does not provide much benefit. Not only is Slate more useful for transferred balances than new purchases – for which overlimit fees would be the biggest concern – but you must already opt-in for the ability to outspend your limit with any credit card these days. Besides, this feature likely means that transactions which would ordinarily bring you over-limit will simply be rejected.|
|Credit Score Tracker||Chase recently overhauled the Slate Card program, with the biggest change being the introduction of website functionality that helps cardholders track their progress over time.||Relatively unique among credit cards, but free credit scores are commonly available.|
|Dedicated Customer Service Line||Cardholders can bypass automated phone lines and waiting on hold with their own private 24/7 customer service number.||Quite unique among non-rewards credit cards.|
Compared To The Competition
A credit card can only be deemed good or bad, let alone the right one for you, when considered relative to the competition. In other words, you need a baseline. If every card offered a free balance transfer, then Slate would be ordinary. But, as you already know, it’s certainly far from that.
Slate vs. Balance Transfer Cards: Slate couldn’t be the undisputed king of balance transfers if there were any real competition. Some cards have longer intro terms, but their expensive transfer fees price them out of contention. If Slate is available, it should be your go-to card for getting out of debt.
Unfortunately, not everyone will be able to qualify for the Slate Card. Statements from Chase indicate that it’s possible to get approved for the card if you have fair credit, but it’s reserved primarily for those with good or excellent credit scores. While balance transfer credit cards for people with fair credit may or may not be available when you apply, issuers don’t offer reduced introductory rates to people with bad credit.
If you don’t know what your credit score is, you can easily check it for free on WalletHub.
Slate vs. Everyday Cards: Consider Slate to be a life raft rescuing you from drowning in debt. It’s extremely effective at its intended purpose, but you don’t want to ride in it every day. When it comes to credit cards, plenty of rewards credit cards are available as alternatives.
You can find the cream of the crop – including initial bonuses worth up to $500 or 2% cash back across all purchases – on our Editor’s Best Credit Card page.
Slate vs. Cards for New Purchase Financing: Slate does also offer 0% on purchases, but its 15-month introductory term is bested easily by a number of competing offers. As a result, Slate can help you save on big-ticket purchases if you’re already planning to transfer existing debt, but anyone looking for a straightforward financing vehicle can do better.
Check out our Best Credit Card Rates page to compare the best purchase financing deals currently on the market.
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