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The Best Chase Credit Cards of 2013

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Chase has consistently high signup bonuses and rewards rates, but with so many choices, which is right for you? We’ll give you the skinny on the best Chase credit cards to suit your needs. They have no-annual-fee options; standout signup bonuses for travelers; and a great Ultimate Rewards Points program, with points that don’t expire and are redeemable at full value. Here are the best of the best for value and usability.

Best No-Fee Cash Back Credit Card: Chase Freedom

The Chase Freedom is an all-around winner with great rewards, no annual fee and a Earn a $100 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening signup bonus. You’ll get 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories, up to $1,500 spent per quarter. These categories are tailored to be seasonally relevant, e.g. gas and restaurants for summer road trips, and airfare and hotels for holiday travels. From October through December, you’ll get 5% back on airfare and hotels, Best Buy and Kohl’s. Non-bonus spending and bonus spending in excess of $1,500 a quarter earn 1% back. The Chase Freedom is the ideal go-to card, versatile and widely accepted. It’s a solid first card, next card, backup card – anytime card.

Chase Freedom®
Chase Freedom - $100 Cash Back Credit Card
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  • Earn a $100 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn a $25 Bonus after you add your first authorized user and make a purchase within this same 3-month period
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers. After the intro period, a variable APR of 13.99%-22.99%
  • 5% Cash Back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases between July 1 and September 30, 2014 at gas stations and Kohl's®
  • You'll enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months like gas stations, restaurants and Amazon.com. It's free and easy to activate your bonus each quarter!
  • Unlimited 1% Cash Back on all other purchases
  • No annual fee and rewards never expire
thumbsupPros
  • Bonus cash back categories
  • No annual fee
  • 0% for 15 mos on transfers
Annual Fee Signup Bonus APR , Variable* APR Promotions
$0 Earn a $100 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening 13.99% - 22.99% (Variable) 0% APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers

Best Card for Travel: Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is among the best travel credit cards, boasting a ginormous Chase Ultimate Rewards signup bonus – wait for it – Earn 40,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months., worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase’s booking tool. There’s also no foreign transaction fee – always a perk for world travelers. As far as rewards rates, you’ll get 2 points per dollar on travel and dining, and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. Airfare, hotels, cruises, taxis, rental cars and train tickets are all categorized as travel purchases. Consistent with all Chase rewards cards, you can earn unlimited points, and the points don’t expire. The $95 annual fee is waived the first year, and you can transfer points to other frequent traveler programs at no extra cost. With its killer signup bonus and waived first-year annual fee, the Chase Sapphire is the top contender for travel cards.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card
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  • Earn 40,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $500 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate RewardsSM.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees, plus Chip and Signature enabled for international travel.
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading frequent travel programs at full value — that means 1,000 Ultimate Rewards points equal 1,000 partner miles/points.
  • 24/7 direct access to dedicated customer service specialists
  • Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
thumbsupPros
  • No foreign transaction fee
thumbsdownCons
  • Has annual fee
Annual Fee Signup Bonus APR , Variable* APR Promotions
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95. Earn 40,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months. 15.99% (Variable) Purchase: None
Transfer: None

Best Balance Transfer Card: Chase Slate®

This is the only card we know of with a 0% interest rate for more than a year, AND no balance transfer fee. The 0% introductory period of 15 months on purchases and balance transfers is a few months short of the best cards out there, but nobody else lets you do the transfer without charging you an upfront fee in the range of 3-5% of your balance. That feature makes this the best balance transfer card, especially if you plan on cycling through 0% deals year after year.

Chase Slate®
Chase Slate Elite Credit Card
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  • Best 0% Offer in "Crowning 2013's Best Credit Card Offers" (January 14, 2013) -Forbes Online
  • Pay less interest. Save on balances and new purchases
  • $0 introductory balance transfer fee for transfers made during the first 60 days. After that, the fee for future balance transfers is 3% of the amount transferred with a minimum of $5.
  • 0% Introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers. After the introductory period ends, a variable APR of 12.99%, 17.99%, or 22.99%.
  • $0 Annual Fee
thumbsupPros
  • No annual fee
  • 0% for up to 15 months*
thumbsdownCons
  • No rewards
Annual Fee Signup Bonus APR , Variable* APR Promotions
$0 $0 balance transfer fee - introductory offer. 12.99%, 17.99%, or 22.99% (V) 0% Intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months

Best Hotel Card: Ritz-Carlton

If you’re a hotel-hopper, living out of suitcases and always on the go, the Ritz-Carlton card from Chase is for you. While the Ritz-Carlton has a $395 annual fee (the comparable American Express Platinum has a $495 annual fee), the perks are well worth the price:

  • A $100 hotel credit for dining and recreation for every hotel stay of 2+ nights
  • Complimentary airport lounge access
  • $200 airline incidentals credit to cover baggage fees, etc.

And there’s a killer signup bonus to seal the deal: 70,000 Ritz-Carlton Rewards Points Bonus after spending $2,000 - when you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months after your first purchase. On top of that, you’ll get:

  • 5% back for each $1 of net purchases charged to your guest room
  • 2% points for each $1 of net purchases from airlines, car rentals, and dining
  • 1% per $1 spent elsewhere.

The Ritz-Carlton’s 5% back beats out most hotel cards, typically offering 3% back on hotel spending. Regarding the sizable annual fee, you’ll easily out-earn what you dish out.

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  • Nate

    There’s also a version of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card that offers 50,000 Ultimate Reward points (instead of 40,000) after you spend $3K in the first three months of having the card. However, that version of the card has a $125 annual fee starting in the 2nd year, rather than the $95 annual fee starting in the 2nd year with the normal version of the card.

    That 50,000 bonus point version of the card is discussed here:
    http://frequentflier.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=5826

  • Richard Talyns

    I recently just got approved for a slate card and a freedom rewards by way of pre-screened offer sent to my mail, couldn’t be happier.:)