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Author: Barry Bridges
What you need to know about Chase credit cards
Chase offers several credit card options for different needs. But the most important thing to consider is how your most ideal Chase card can best enhance your current financial situation. Just as Chase has strategically designed credit cards for maximum value, you need to approach your card selection process just as strategically. Here is a deeper dive into our favorite Chase cards, and some tips on how you can make them work most in your favor.
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Our criteria for Chase credit cards
Our experts at Bankrate extensively reviewed Chase’s credit card offerings for 2019. The team of credit card aficionados evaluated the available cards against Bankrate’s scoring method and awarded each Chase card a total score out of 100.
Chase is well known for having some of the most generous sign-up bonuses and travel rewards available, but it all depends on what you are looking for. Therefore, we have tried to identify the best cards of 2019 for a few different scenarios, as we know that the perfect credit card depends on what you need. We have put in the legwork so you don’t have to.
At Bankrate, our team of credit card experts evaluated Chase credit cards on various attributes like the travel rewards and perks, how easy rewards are to redeem, annual fees, sign-up bonuses, APR and much more.
Bankrate’s top picks for Chase credit cards
Chase Freedom Unlimited®: Best flat-rate cash back card
With the Chase Freedom Unlimited, you’ll earn 1.5% cash back on all eligible purchases, unlimited. The sign-up bonus is $150 after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months. Plus, the card offers a competitive balance transfer and intro APR offer. If you’re looking for a simple way to earn cash back rewards, look no further. The Freedom Unlimited also acts as a great supplemental card to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
- Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all eligible purchases.
- Take advantage of 0% APR for 15 months on new purchases and balance transfers (16.74% – 25.49% variable APR applies after the intro period ends).
- Quite a few cards offer higher rewards rates.
- The balance transfer fee of 3% ($5 minimum) on transfers completed within 60 days of account opening, 5% fee ($5 minimum) thereafter.
If you want to learn more, read our Chase Freedom Unlimited® Review.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Best travel credit card
This card’s generous rewards, stellar sign-up bonus and low annual fee are hard to beat. It’s a solid card for people scared off by the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s big annual fee but who still want decent travel rewards. If you’re looking for an everyday, low-fee travel card with great perks, this card is ideal. It’s especially useful if you’re comfortable using the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal to redeem rewards.
- Earn 2X points per dollar on travel and restaurants worldwide and one point per dollar on all other purchases.
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- No foreign transaction fees
- If you aren’t comfortable using the Chase Portal you miss out on maximizing your rewards points value.
If you want to learn more, read our Chase Sapphire Preferred review.
Chase Freedom®: Best for rotating cash back bonus categories
For anyone willing to put in a little bit of work, you can really maximize your returns from the Chase Freedom card. The card pays an unlimited 1% back on all purchases, with bonus cash-back categories that rotate quarterly. For instance, one quarter might be 5% back on restaurant spending. You do have to enroll and there is a $1,500 in combined purchases limit each quarter. For those who have more of a set-it-and-forget-it mentality and therefore don’t want to deal with rotating categories, choose a flat-rate cash back card. Anyone who likes to travel, or plans to in 2019, can boost the value of their rewards points if they pair this card with a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve to maximize their Ultimate Rewards points.
- Flexible redemption. You can redeem your points as statement credit, cash-back deposit to your bank account, or transfer them as Chase Ultimate Rewards points to an eligible Chase Ultimate Rewards points card.
- Earn $150 sign-up bonus when you spend at least $500 within the first three months of card ownership.
- You have to remember to enroll online to earn rewards from the cash-back bonus categories, although Chase will email you to remind you about this.
- There are flat-rate cash back cards offering as much as 2% if you want a more hands-off approach.
- You will incur a 3% foreign transaction fee on purchase made outside the U.S.
If you want to learn more, read our Chase Freedom review.
What is Chase?
JP Morgan Chase is a multinational financial services company headquartered in New York City. It is the largest bank and one of the oldest financial institutions in the United States. Its strategic growth isn’t showing signs of slowing down anytime soon. According to JP Morgan Chase’s 2018 Strategic Update, they hold 22% of the credit card sales market share. Specifically, the Chase Sapphire Reserve sits at a 90% retention rate and a $39,000 annual spend.
- Average income: $180,000
- Average FICO score: 785
- Average annual sales volume (card spend): $39,000
- Sales active rate (number of cards with greater than zero gross sales divided by total open accounts): 96%
- Renewals: 90%+
With 6 trillion estimated credit and debit card spend, Chase continues to grow as one of the largest issuers in the business.
Source: JP Morgan Chase Strategic Update 2018
The Chase brand is not only dedicated to banking services, including credit cards, personal and commercial lending, but also to community service. They employ multifaceted initiatives toward supporting economic growth by empowering the next generation’s financial leaders. See how they invest in customers and communities.
Why choose Chase as your credit card issuer?
Chase offers 26 different credit cards to meet business, student, cash back, travel and other consumer credit needs. With so many options, you are likely to find exactly what you want for 2019 among their featured cards. In addition, Chase Ultimate Rewards is one of the more lucrative rewards programs out there.
The two most effective ways to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points is to make purchases with your Chase card and to access Shop Through Chase. There, you’ll find retailers and special offers, such as “2x points/2% cash back at Office Depot.” You can select a special offer, go to that retailer’s website and make purchases to earn rewards.
Some of the other Chase and Chase affiliate cards have strengths in the following areas:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve®: travel rewards similar to the Sapphire Preferred
- Ink Business PreferredSM Credit Card: overall business rewards value
- British Airways Visa Signature® Card: best for Avios bonus
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card: rewards for Southwest travelers
Outside of rewards, a lot of benefits come with having a Chase card. Some Chase cards include the following:
- No foreign transaction fees
- Extended warranties
- Fraud protection
- Purchase protection
- Return protection
- Trip cancellation/interruption insurance
- Primary auto rental collision damage waiver
- Lost luggage reimbursement
- Trip delay reimbursement
- Emergency evacuation and transportation
According to their website, Chase “serves nearly half of U.S. households with a broad range of products.” As a massive international bank, Chase can connect cardholders with a host of financial services and products to which smaller issuers may not be privy. Cardholders can leverage their relationship with the bank for mortgages, auto loans, investment vehicles and more.
Chase Online allows members to handle all their financial transactions in one secure location. Chase Mobile offers mobile access, including mobile deposits and payments – which makes being a Chase cardholder a convenient way to go.
How to choose the best Chase card for you
It’s easier to find an ideal match for a credit card by keeping the focus where it needs to be — on you.
Before you compare cards in our Category, Credit Needed and Issuer sections, think about how you see yourself as a cardholder and a consumer.
- No-frills: Maybe you’re not interested in rewards programs, bonuses or perks, but just the convenience of using a credit card.
- Traveler: Some of the most valuable cards on the market help consumers travel more affordably (and even more luxuriously) by offering rewards for certain purchases. For example, earning 2x points for making travel purchases with the Chase Sapphire Preferred means higher luxury yield potential for you
- Family shopper: It’s pretty easy to find a rewards card geared toward supermarket, wholesale club and gas station purchases.
- Entrepreneur: Credit cards designed specifically for business use can do things that a personal credit card cannot. Cards such as the Ink Business Preferred provide great business rewards.
- Rewards tracker: Many rewards cards offer bonus categories for certain types of purchases at different times of the year. You’ll need to keep track of the categories and adjust your spending habits to take full advantage.
- Rewards purist: On the other hand, a lot of cards keep their rewards programs simple by maintaining the same purchase categories.
- Financier: A balance transfer-friendly card like the Chase Slate or the Chase Freedom can help you pay down debt from another card with less interest by offering an introductory APR period.
Remember, your choice of credit card should revolve around you — your financial situation, your priorities, even your interests. Whether you’re a frequent traveler, partial to flat-rate cash back, or experienced with rotating categories, Chase has options that can flow as you do.
How can I prepare to apply for my Chase credit card?
Part of the process of identifying the credit card for you is understanding how you can best prepare for your card to arrive.
Each of Chase’s credit cards come with a recommended good-excellent (670 – 850) credit score to be approved. This means that you need to be in at least good credit standing when you apply.
If you’re working toward improving your credit score, but feel that you have too many open credit card accounts, avoid closing them all at once. You might think closing them will improve your credit score, but it can hurt, not so much because you closed the account, but because it could lower your utilization ratio, which compares your available credit to your balances. The lower the ratio the better. (Keep in mind that if you do close an account, your good habits will stay on your credit accounts for 10 years.)
One way to improve your score is to maintain a manageable amount of active accounts in order to keep your credit utilization ratio low and to build credit with on-time payment history.
On the other hand, if you need to build credit history, be careful not to apply for too many accounts at once. Start with one or two and establish a consistent payment history.
The 5/24 Rule
In preparation for applying for your Chase card, it’s important to be aware of how many other cards are in your wallet. The 5/24 rule was applied to all Chase cards in June 2016. It states that to be approved, you can’t have opened five or more personal credit card accounts in the 24 months prior to your application.
Be aware that Chase doesn’t track which accounts are no longer open, only the ones you’ve opened within the 24-month window. Access your credit report and track your accounts according to the dates they were opened. This will help you plan ahead.
The 2/30 Rule
According to the 2/30 Rule, you can’t have more than two applications pending every 30 days. If you do, you’ll be automatically rejected. This mainly has to do with the amount of times your credit score is pulled during application.
If you apply for two cards at the same time with the same issuer, your credit score will only be pulled once, which should help you in the process.
The information about the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, the British Airways Visa Signature Card and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.
Senior Editor Barry Bridges has been writing about credit cards, personal loans, mortgages and other personal finance products since 2017. Before joining Bankrate, he was an award-winning newspaper journalist in his native North Carolina. Send your questions about credit cards (and fantasy baseball) to email@example.com.
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