Chase Balance Transfer Credit Cards - A Way to Reduce Your Debt?
Using a balance transfer credit card is one way to help reduce and manage your debt. How do Chase's offerings compare to others?
If you've ever run up a large credit card debt you might know the feeling. It's the way you feel when you can't see when you will ever have it paid off. It's the way you feel when a lot of the money you pay back is just the interest. And you can only afford to keep up with the minimum payments.
But there are options. You could consolidate your debt with a loan. Or with a line of credit. Another choice is to get a credit card with better terms. For example, with a lower APR interest rate. Then you transfer the balance of the first credit card debt onto the new card. Credit cards that are good for this are known as Balance Transfer Credit Cards. Besides lower interest, other terms can help when transferring a balance. These include no transaction fees for balance transfers and an introductory period with zero interest.
Chase Balance Transfer Cards are well designed for transferring a credit card debt. The best are Chase Slate, Chase Freedom, and/or Chase Freedom Unlimited. For business balance transfers the Chase Ink Business Cash card is a good pick. But for a personal credit card balance transfer, the best pick is the Chase Slate balance transfer credit card.
Comparing Chase Balance Transfer Cards
The Chase Slate credit card is the best option for balance transfers. First, it has an intro balance transfer offer for people getting new cards. For the first 60 days after opening your account, there is no balance transfer fee. You get 0% intro APR for the first 15 months. The Annual Fee is $0. You also get your monthly FICO credit score for free as a sign-up bonus.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card is also good for balance transfers. It also doesn't charge any interest on balance transfers for the first 15 months (0% APR). There is no annual fee. However, there is a Balance Transfer Transaction Fee of either $5 or 5% of each transfer. So if you were going to transfer $10,000 in debt from one credit card to the Chase Freedom Unlimited card you'd pay a balance transfer transaction fee of $500. You would not pay this with the Chase Slate credit card. But with the Chase Freedom Unlimited card, you get 1.5% cash back on all purchases. And as a sign-up bonus, you get $150 cash back after you spend $500 in purchases in the first 3 months.
The Chase Freedom credit card is the third balance transfer option offered by Chase. Like the Chase Slate credit card and the Chase Freedom Unlimited card, it has 0% APR for the first 15 months. It also has no annual fee. But you will pay 5% in balance transfer fees (or a minimum $5 balance transfer fee). You get a $150 sign-up bonus when you spend $500 in the first three months. If you activate it each quarter, you can get 5% cash back (on up to $1500 spent) when you purchase in bonus categories (e.g. with select merchants). And you get unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Compared to Other Chase Credit Cards
Other Chase credit cards are designed more for collecting reward points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Program than for balance transfers. The Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card doesn't have an introductory rate. So the Balance Transfer APR is going to be your full APR. It does have a $0 fee for the intro year as a sign-up bonus, but after that, it's a $95 annual fee. The interest rate for this card is also higher than for the Chase Slate card. But are you more interested in points than transferring a balance? You get a 50,000 reward point sign-up bonus with Chase Ultimate rewards if you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
The Chase United MileagePlus Explorer card is also better for points, in particular for collecting and spending travel points. But it would not be considered a good option for balance transfers for the same reasons as the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card.
Benefits of Chase Balance Transfer Credit Cards
The benefits of Chase Balance Transfer credit cards are that they give you a better deal when it comes to paying off a credit card debt. Instead of paying off an existing credit card debt that's racking up high interest, you get 15 months of no interest. With Chase Slate, there is no balance transfer fee for transferring up to $15,000 if you do it in the first 60 days. And there is no annual fee so you don't have to pay anything to get the card.
Compared to Other Balance Transfer Cards
The Chase Slate card is viewed as one of the best balance transfer cards out there. However, there are other good cards for balance transfers.
The Discover Card has the Discover it 18 Month Balance Transfer offer which has an intro rate of 0% APR for 18 months (3 months longer than the Chase Slate card). It also gives you the chance to earn cash back and have it matched in year one. You can use this as a credit to pay down the debt you transferred. But there is a 3% balance transfer fee. The interest rate for people with the best credit score is lower than the Chase Slate card.
The Barclay Ring MasterCard has no balance transfer fee so it is ideal for transferring large balances. However, you have to make your transfer in the first 45 days. That's 15 days less than Chase Slate. They offer 15 months at 0% APR as an intro offer just like Chase Slate. Their interest rates for those with the best credit rating are lower than Chase Slate.
The BankAmericard credit card gives a low (0%) intro APR for the first 12 months. So the zero APR period is less than Chase Slate. This applies to balance transfers within the first 60 days of opening the credit card account. However, there is a 3% balance transfer fee. It only appears to apply to transfers done in the first two months. And there is a balance transfer fee that is not charged by Chase Slate.
Rates, Fees and Stats
Chase Balance Transfer Card Transfer Rates
For the Chase Slate card, there is no balance transfer fee for the first 60 days. The maximum credit is $15,000 and you can transfer that full balance amount. After the first 60 days, the balance transfer fee is 5% with a $5 minimum.
For the Chase Freedom card and the Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card, the 5% balance transfer fee is charged from day one. There is no intro period with no balance transfer fees.
An excellent credit Fico score is 750 points or above. The average credit Fico score for a Chase Slate balance transfer card is 685. But it is important to note that the amount of credit you are offered is also associated with your credit score. So if you have a credit Fico score of 650 you might barely get approved, but your available credit might only start at $500. For those who want the $15,000 max credit your credit score better be excellent.
There is no annual fee for any of the Chase Balance Transfer cards (Chase Slate, Chase Freedom, Chase Freedom Unlimited). That is permanent, not just for the intro period.
Late payments for Chase Balance Transfer cards are charged a penalty fee of $15 if the balance is under $100. The late fee is $27 if the balance is $100-$249. The late charge is $37 for a balance of $250+.
Foreign Transaction Fees for the Chase Balance Transfer cards are 3% of the transaction amount in U.S. dollars. Fees for cash advances are either $10 or 5% of the value of each transaction (whichever is greater). These are from the moment you start your account, there is no introductory rate for a cash advance or foreign transfer fees.
APR on Balance Transfers with Chase
There is 0% APR on balance transfers for the first 15 months with all three Chase Balance Transfer cards. The length of time that 0% Intro Balance Transfer APR applies is always 15 months regardless of your credit score. After the 15 months is up, however, you will get a new APR. It will be between 15.99% and 24.74%. The APR you are offered after 15 months will be based on your credit score. This will apply to balance transfers as well as all purchases. Cash advances will have an APR of 25.99% regardless of credit score.
Card holders have generally positive reviews about Chase Balance Transfer cards. However, there are some issues you find when you check out the reviews. It doesn't seem like any reviewer got the $15,000 maximum credit during the 60 days "no balance transfer fees" or 15 months "0% APR" periods. Examples are more like $500 to $3,000. So if you have a credit card debt of $15,000 and you'd like to transfer the full balance with no fee and at 0% APR don't get your hopes up. Another complaint is that after the 15 months of 0% APR the APR jumps up to a high rate based on your credit score.
If you already have a great credit score, then the Chase Balance Transfer cards are a good option.
But the reality is that if you have a big unpaid credit card balance you probably won't have a great credit score. You probably won't get flat out denied if you apply. But you also probably won't get a credit limit that will let you move a $10,000 debt to a Chase Balance Transfer credit card account. Especially during the introductory offer periods (60 days for no transfer fee, and 15 months 0% APR).
But you can move some of your debt over and your credit limit will eventually rise. At that point, you can move the rest over, but it will cost you a balance transfer fee since you'll be past the 60 day intro period. But with a lower interest rate than your original card, you might actually see a light at the end of the tunnel.
So, within the available options, the Chase Slate balance transfer card is one of the top choices. It has a long period with zero percent APR. It has a long period to make the initial transfer from your original account with no fees charged. So if your credit score is in good shape then the choice to move your debt to a credit card with better terms is a no brainer.