Chase consistently ranks on "top" lists all across the web, and for good reason. Between their various rewards cards, competitive APRs and signup bonuses, Chase offers benefits that match or beat many comparable credit card companies. But what's the point in having a powerful rewards card if it just results in overwhelming debt?

Many people don't fully understand the purpose of a rewards card or how to best utilize it without putting their financial health at risk. Choosing the right card is the first step. If you make smart decisions from the outset, you can remain debt free while earning more rewards than you know what to do with. Here are the main things you need to know about Chase credit cards:

Chase offers a good selection of credit cards, but the four main types you should keep in mind are travel rewards, cashback rewards, balance transfer cards and premium travel rewards. We'll take a look at the best pick from the Chase line up for each of these categories.

Best Chase Travel Perks

Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is not only one of the best travel rewards cards in Chase's lineup, but also one of the best travel rewards cards period. It comes with a host of benefits including automatic trip cancellation insurance, trip delay reimbursement, auto rental collision waivers, zero liability protection, airline credit, and even baggage delay insurance.

Points can be transferred to participating programs at a one to one basis, which means you won't lose any of your hard earned points if you decide to use them in a slightly different way.

With more than 43.3 million merchants that accept the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you'll find it difficult to go somewhere your card isn't accepted. If you can stomach the heftier annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Reserve offers even premium travel rewards to people who spend big bucks on travel.

For people that only go on their annual two week vacations, for instance, the Chase Sapphire Preferred isn't the best choice. However, if you travel for business, the rewards can more than make up for the $95 annual fee the card has.

Best Chase Business Travel Perks

Chase Sapphire Reserve

This is one of the most powerful business travel rewards cards out there. The $450 annual fee, plus the additional authorized user fee, means that you will need to spend a hefty annual minimum on travel in order to reap any benefits from this card—not exactly weekend warrior money. However, if you travel for business, this can be a powerful tool when utilized correctly.

Best Chase Cashback Rewards

Chase Freedom

The Chase Freedom is aptly named. The entire purpose of the card is to give you the freedom to use your rewards as you like. If you don't travel often, then a travel rewards card might not be the best option—but everyone spends money, and earning a little cash back on every dollar spent is always a good thing. On top of that, the Chase Freedom comes with a host of other benefits that include Zero Liability Protection, chip-enabled security, purchase and price protection, and even an auto damage collision waiver.

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The Chase Freedom is a great starter card for someone that has never owned a credit card before. The cashback rewards are automatic, which means you don't have to keep track of them. If you want to reap the benefits of the rotating categories, however, you'll need to keep an eye on them and activate the category you want each quarter.

Best Balance Transfer Card

Chase Slate

The Chase Slate is one of the best options for a balance transfer card due to its long introductory APR period. Chase also provides a free, personalized dashboard where you can view your FICO score and track how the payments you've made are affecting your credit score. For those seeking to improve their overall score, this is a powerful tool.

While the Chase Slate doesn't yield rewards, it is beneficial to own due to the long introductory APR period on balance transfers and purchases—0% for the first 15 months that your Account is open. When it comes to transferring existing balances and reducing your utilization ratio, the Slate is a powerful tool.

Chase Credit Card Eligibility

Credit card eligibility relies largely on your credit score.

Most commonly rewards cards require excellent credit (a score of 720 or higher) in order to qualify.

Mid tier rewards cards, like the Chase Freedom, only require "Good" credit (650 or higher) in order to qualify. If your credit score isn't high, either due to poor credit history or simply a lack of credit history, starting with one of these lower requirement cards and building your credit can be beneficial and help you qualify for better cards in the future.

Why Chase?

The ideal customer for a Chase credit card is someone with a stable income that wants to make the most of possible rewards. Chase credit cards require a score of "Good" to "Excellent" in order to qualify, depending on the card. The highest yield rewards cards are heavily dependent on high credit scores and high volumes of annual spending. The Chase Sapphire Reserve, for example, isn't the card for the average consumer. The annual fee is far too high for someone that just wants travel rewards points. A person with a 40 hour per week job wouldn't have time to make the most of the card—that is, unless they traveled frequently for business. And by frequently, we mean multiple times each month.

Risks and Benefits

The risks of a Chase credit card are no different than the risks that come with any credit card. If you fail to pay on time, the interest payments can trap you in a never ending cycle of minimum payments and interest penalties. One of the more outstanding risks is balancing your spending with the annual fee. For example, if your card has an annual fee of $95 with a point value of $0.01, you'll need to spend $950 per year with that card to break even. Less than this amount and the rewards don't balance out. The benefits are well worth it, though. Between the strong rewards programs and the advantages that come with owning a Chase card, the benefits far outweigh any potential risks.

Comparisons

Chase credit cards carry similar fees, interest rates, and penalties to other credit card companies. The difference is that Chase has existed for years and has a strong reputation, not only as an independent company, but also as a spinoff of JP Morgan & Chase. This reputation, combined with the rewards programs, places Chase among the top tier of credit card companies.

Fees

All Chase cards carry the fees you would expect: annual fee, balance transfer fees, etc. The Chase Sapphire Preferred has an annual fee, while the Chase Freedom and the Chase Slate have no annual fees. The Chase Sapphire Reserve has an annual fee, plus additional authorized user fees.

How to Apply

Once you decide what Chase card you would like to apply for, click on the "Card Details" or "Learn More" button. The form it takes you to will request the following information:

  • First and last name
  • Suffix
  • Mailing address
  • City, state, and ZIP code

The next screen will ask you whether you have a checking account or a savings account, what your type of residence is, your gross annual income, source of income, and employer. After this, the form will ask you several security questions to help set up your account before they review your decision and let you know whether or not you've been approved.

How long should it take to receive the credit card?

Once you've been approved for a credit card, it shouldn't take longer than five to seven business days for the card to arrive by mail. If you aren't given an immediate decision, your decision will then come via the mail along with an explanation of the reasons for denial if you are not approved.

Our Verdict

Looking for a credit card can be overwhelming, especially if you aren't sure what all the different terms and numbers actually mean in real world application. Chase has several credit cards with vastly different applications and target demographics. If you're thinking of choosing Chase as your credit card provider, take the time to evaluate your needs as a consumer. What exactly do you need a credit card for? How often do you travel? If you're looking to make a few balance transfers and pay off a bit of debt, then the Chase Slate is an excellent choice. On the other hand, if you want a day to day card that can yield rewards while you use it, the Chase Freedom is one of the best all around cards out there. Balance your needs against what Chase has to offer before you make your decision.

FAQ

  • What credit score do I need to apply for a Chase credit card?

    Chase cards are generally for "Good" to "Excellent" credit scores. To apply for a Chase card, your credit should be 700+.

  • Can I do balance transfer from one card to another card?

    Yes. Chase offers balance transfer cards.

  • Can I get a Chase card if I have no credit history?

    It is likely that you will be denied, seeing as though Chase credit cards are for people with "Good" to "Excellent" credit.

  • Will my APR increase if I fail to make a payment on time?

    Yes.

  • Where can I manage my credit card payments?

    You can manage your payments with online bill pay, or call on the phone.