Rewards credit cards that provide airline miles and cash back should generally be used only if you intend to pay off the balance every month. If you carry a balance, you should instead focus on credit cards that have few fees and low interest rates in order to avoid racking up big interest charges and balances.
The Slate® from Chase credit card is one low-interest card popular among consumers who would prefer what is referred to as “plain vanilla” cards. These cards are generally free of frills and simply provide the basic necessities of a credit card: low interest rates and very few fees. These cards assist in building and maintaining a great credit score and are on-hand for credit purchases, without becoming a huge expense in the process. Is the Slate card the best basic, low-interest card for you?
- Fees. There is no annual fee with the Slate card, but there is a 3% foreign transaction fee. The balance transfer fee is usually $5 or 3%, whichever is greater, but currently there is no balance transfer fee if you transfer a balance within the first 60 days of opening an account.
- Low APR. The APR for the Chase Slate card can range from 11.99% to 21.99%, depending on your credit history. The rate may change according to the market based on the prime rate.
- Manage Balances With Chase Blueprint. Along with other Chase credit cards – such as Chase Freedom and Chase Sapphire - the Slate card includes Chase Blueprint. Blueprint is a set of free tools that allows you to choose which balances to pay off first. The “Track It” function of Blueprint also allows you to track spending and create budgets.
- 0% Introductory APR. You can receive a 0% introductory APR for the first 15 billing cycles that the account is open on both purchases and balance transfers. In comparison, the Capital One Classic Platinum credit card offers 0% APR on purchases until March 2014. BankAmericard, however, offers the same 0% APR for 15 months on both purchases and balance transfers, and Citi Simplicity offers the introductory rate on a slightly longer time period of 18 months. The BankAmericard and Citi Simplicity have similar fees except that both include a balance transfer fee, and the BankAmericard has a slightly lower APR of 10.99% to 20.99%, while Citi Simplicity has a slightly higher APR starting at 12.99%.
- No Balance Transfer Fee. You can transfer balances without paying a balance transfer fee, which is otherwise $5 or 3%, depending upon whichever is greater, for up to 60 days after opening an account. This, in connection with the 0% APR that is being offered for 15 billing cycles, is particularly beneficial and economical if you are paying high interest rates on balances on other credit cards.
- Chase Blueprint. Pay down balances, manage your account, and decide which purchases are paid off first in order to avoid paying interest on them. Chase Blueprint is an option that is not offered by any other credit card issuer. It is free, simple to use, and may possibly help save money on purchases made with the credit card. This is a handy budgeting tool, especially if you add authorized users to the account and track the expenses and spending of your entire household.
- Slate May Be Too Basic. Besides Blueprint, the Chase Slate really doesn’t offer any extra benefits or perks, except for the introductory APR to new cardholders. The BankAmericard Visa provided by Bank of America is almost the exact same card, sans Blueprint, offering the same introductory APR on balance transfers and purchases, with the possibility of a lower APR afterwards of 10.99% to 20.99%. Additionally, there are no rewards on Slate, and the features are somewhat standard of all credit cards.
- Foreign Transaction Fee. Although not uncommon, foreign transaction fees on credit cards are becoming less standard. This fee can range from 1% to 3%, and applies to most popular vanilla credit cards except for the Capital One Classic Platinum card, which has no foreign transaction fee but instead has an annual fee and slightly higher APR. Consumers who travel frequently outside of the United States and plan to use the Chase Slate card must pay the highest foreign transaction fee.
- Penalty APR. A penalty APR of 29.99% is applied if you make a late payment, if the credit limit is exceeded, if a payment is returned unpaid, or if any of these situations apply to any other account or loan that you have with Chase. This means that if you happen to pay your Chase loan late, the penalty APR may be applied to the credit card as well. Additionally, if you make a late payment on another Chase card, your APR will increase on other Chase cards. The penalty APR is also applied indefinitely, which means that one late payment may result in an extremely high APR for an indefinite amount of time, possibly for as long as you are a cardholder. According to the CARD Act of 2009, the card issuer must restore the lower APR after you have made 6 months of payments on time and as agreed, but this does not prevent application of the default APR on future purchases. They are simply required to send notice 45 days in advance, and can apply the default APR on purchases made 14 days after notice was sent. The penalty APR is also applied to other low-interest cards such as the BankAmericard Visa and the Capital One Classic Platinum, but is not applied on the Citi Simplicity card.
The Chase Slate credit card is the most basic of basic credit cards, which makes it a great option if you would rather not bother with rewards and are instead interested in a plain, basic credit card that carries the Blueprint option. The 0% APR for new cardholders, along with no balance transfer fees for 60 days, is beneficial if you are paying high interest rates on balances with other credit cards. However, there are similar, if not better, plain vanilla credit cards available, such as the Citi Simplicity card, especially for consumers who do not find Blueprint or balance transfer options to be particularly valuable. Additionally, if you change your mind in the future and decide you would prefer one of the rewards cards, such as Chase Freedom, the transfer is usually fairly simple.
The Slate® from Chase card is a great card if you seek a simple card with very few fees and a low interest rate. It can also benefit you if you are working to get out of debt and can utilize the 0% introductory APR for transferring balances from cards with higher interest rates. However, if you travel frequently outside of the United States, you will not benefit as much due to the foreign transaction fee.
4.0 stars out of 5: Simple and straight to the point. Great opportunities to save money in interest with the introductory rate and the Blueprint plan. But it could be a better card, especially when compared to the Citi Simplicity card.
Editorial Disclosure: This content is not provided or commissioned by any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, or airline. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.