Which is the best Chase credit card to keep in your wallet. That depends on your age, income, and travel habits, but there’s an excellent card for just about anyone who can be diligent about always paying the balance in full. If you cannot do that, read no further.
If you are responsible with credit (I always set up autopay on any new card, which helps a ton), Kevin from Just Start Investing has picked out a card for you based on your profile. You don’t have to settle on just one; I happen to have several Chase cards that I use for different reasons.
While there are great cards from other issuers, Chase has the top travel perks and is the only issuer that offers primary rental car insurance by default on many of its cards.
Let’s see what cards Kevin prefers.
Chase credit cards are some of the most popular credit cards that you can get your hands on – and for a good reason. Chase cards generally offer sizable sign-up bonuses, top-notch rewards programs, and above-average customer service.
In fact, in 2017, Chase had over 80 million cardholders with an active account, making them one of the world’s biggest credit card companies.
What enables Chase to appeal to such a large number of consumers is the variety of credit cards they offer. Chase has a credit card offering for just about everyone, from student to avid travel to high earners.
Plus, Chase recently revamped some of their credit cards in 2020, so even if you think you are familiar with what Chase has to offer, you might find some new and relevant info in the recap of the best Chase credit cards below.
The 5 Best Chase Credit Cards (Depending on Your Stage in Life)
1. Chase Freedom Student Credit Card: Best for The Med School Student
- Annual Fee: $0
- Rewards Offered: 1% cash back on all purchases
- Sign-Up Bonus: $50 after you make a purchase in the first three months from account opening
As you might have guessed, the student credit card from Chase is a good option for those still in school.
That’s because this student credit card has two key features. For one, it has no annual fee. When you’re in school, you typically don’t have much money or income. In fact, most students probably have a negative amount of money thanks to student loans! Not having to worry about an annual fee with a credit card is a must-have.
Second, it is easier to get approved for this card than some other cashback credit cards. You may need a cosigner when applying, but in general, the card is designed for students with no or limited credit history.
On top of that, Chase throws on a few bonuses like a welcome bonus and generous rewards program. These are great perks for a free student credit card, and it makes sense why Chase would offer them – they want to hook you early so you become a Chase credit card customer for life!
Plus, the card offers a credit limit increase program to those using the card responsibly and gives you access to monitor your credit score. Both are great perks for someone using their first credit card and in the process of building their credit.
And while personal finance “experts” like Dave Ramsey might argue that you should never use a credit card, I think it’s an excellent way to build credit and a great way to earn awesome rewards. You just need to show some self-control and make your payments on time so you don’t have to deal with making regular APR payments (paying interest on your credit card debt)!
2. Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card: Best for The New Resident
- Annual Fee: $0
- Rewards Offered: 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% on dining, 3% on drugstore purchases, 1.5% on all other purchases
- Sign-Up Bonus: $200 after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening
Let’s pretend you just graduated from school.
You have a job and an income, but you’re not making a ton of money, and you still have pesky student loans to pay off. You’re probably not ready for a premium credit card, but you want something a little better than your student card.
If you used your student card responsibly for building up a good credit score, you can probably get approved for the Chase Freedom Unlimited Card.
The card offers 1.5% cash back on all purchases, a slight step up from the student card. Plus, in 2020, it updated the credit card rewards program to be even more generous. It now offers higher cash back percentages on travel, dining, and drugstore purchases, including the ability to earn 5% cash back on travel (through Chase). For a no annual fee card, that is very hard to beat!
All of the perks above are on top of the sign-up bonus points, which is essentially free money if you can hit the spending limit in the three months allotted.
You’ll be hard pressed to find a better rewards program for a free credit card.
Bonus: The Chase Freedom Flex Credit Card is another no annual fee option to check out.
The Blue Cash Preferred card offers 6% back on up to $6,000 a year in US supermarket purchases and 6% back on select U.S. streaming services. 3% back on US gas station & transit purchases, 1% back on other purchases. $95 annual fee waived your first year.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited offers 3% back on dining and drugstores and a flat 1.5% cash back on all other purchases. 5% back on up to $12,000 in grocery store purchases your first year. No annual fee.
3. Chase United Explorer Credit Card: Best for The Locums Doc or Traveling Nurse
- Annual Fee: $95 (free for the first year)
- Rewards Offered: 2x miles on dining, 2x miles on hotel accommodations when purchased directly with the hotel, 2x miles on purchases from United, 1x miles on all other purchases.
- Sign-Up Bonus: 60,000 miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months plus an additional 10,000 miles after spending another 3,000 in the next 3 months your account is open.
Chase offers several top-notch credit card options for anyone who loves to travel and has the flexibility to do so frequently.
For example, the Chase United Explorer Card is a great option for a traveling nurse who likes to fly to new cities every couple of months for a new job at a new hospital.
The card offers a good miles program, is free for the first year ($95 annual fee after that), has no foreign transaction fees, and provides two one-time passes to the United Club lounge. Even if you just use the card for one year to collect the sign-up bonus, it’s probably worth it.
However, if you don’t use United for airfare or want more flexibility in your travel options, there are other cards you can explore from Chase. Includes the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card, Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card, or credit card #4 found below…
2 miles per dollar spent on dining, hotels, and United, $100 Global Entry / TSA Pre✓ credit, a free checked bag, priority boarding & 2 United Club visits annually. One year complimentary DashPass. $95 annual fee waived in year one.
4. Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card: Best for The Established Doc
- Annual Fee: $550
- Rewards Offered: 3x points on dining, 3x points on travel (after spending your $300 annual travel credit), 1x points on all other purchases
- Sign-Up Bonus: 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening (worth $1,200 toward travel)
The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card is one of the best general rewards credit cards on the market and is a superb card for high earners, like an established doctor without student loans bringing in a high six-figure salary.
The annual fee is steep with this card, but it’s offset by its awesome perks such as its $300 annual travel credit (making the annual fee effectively $250), extra 50% redemption value on points when redeemed for travel through the Chase portal, and its other premium travel benefits.
Plus, through April 2021, the card has pivoted to offer users 3x points on grocery store purchases. Although this was a temporary change, it showed that Chase cares about its cardholders (and about retaining them).
To showcase how well this card works for a high earner, let’s run through a simple example. Let’s say a high-earning doctor who earns $250,000 per year also spends $100,000 per year. Half of that spending is on a mortgage and non-credit card expenses, but the other half goes onto the card:
- $5,000 – Groceries
- $15,000 – Travel
- $5,000 – Dining and eating out
- $25,000 – All other expenses (gas, clothing, etc.)
In the past year, assuming the higher grocery payout, this cardholder would have racked up 100,000 points in rewards. And that’s not including a sign-up bonus.
If those rewards are redeemed for travel, they would be worth 150,000 points, roughly equivalent to $1,500. This rewards value offsets the annual fee and then some to make this rewards credit card worth it.
[PoF: The Sapphire Preferred card also has a higher welcome bonus and much lower annual fee. It’s a great all around travel rewards card.]
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is an excellent first (or only) rewards card. $50 annual hotel credit for bookings via the Chase UR tavel portal & 5x points for all travel via the portal. 3x points on dining, 2x on other travel. Flexible rewards good for cash, travel, or transfer to travel partners, great travel protection & new Peloton, Lyft & DoorDash perks! $95 Annual Fee
The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers great travel perks including Priority Pass lounge access, a credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓ and a $300 annual travel credit. When using Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, get 10x points on hotels and car rental & 5x points on flights. 3x points on other travel & dining. Elevated Peloton, Lyft and DoorDash benefits. $550 Annual Fee
5. Chase Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card: Best for The Doctor with a Side Hustle
- Annual Fee: $0
- Rewards Offered: 1.5% cash back
- Sign-Up Bonus: $750 after you spend $7,500 on combined purchases in the first three months after account opening
I use it for my business, Just Start Investing, and enjoy not worrying about the annual fee while still accumulating points. I also have a Chase business checking account, and keeping all my accounts in the same location keeps things easy.
And as any doctor with a side hustle I’m sure can attest to, time is valuable. Keeping things easy and minimizing the amount of time you need to spend worrying about admin tasks, like maintaining business accounts, is essential.
The Chase Ink Business Cash offers 5% back on up to $25,000 spent on cell and landline service, internet, cable TV, and at office supply stores. 2% back at gas stations & 1% back on all else. No annual fee.
The Chase Ink Business Unlimited offers a flat 1.5% cash back on all purchases. 0% introductory APR for 12 months. No annual fee.
How to Combine Chase Credit Cards to Maximize Points
The key to maximizing your Chase Ultimate Rewards Points is to combine and use the right credit cards.
When you are starting to use your first credit card you should not worry about this extra step. Just use a student card or another credit building card to start to establish a good credit score.
Though, if you match the criteria for card and life stage #3 or higher from above, you should start to consider how to make the most of your points. And the short answer is to transfer all Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to the Chase Sapphire Reserve card.
This is because the Chase Sapphire Reserve card lets you redeem points for 1.5x their value in the Chase travel portal. So if you are earning 1.5% back on your Chase Ink Business Unlimited card, you can actually transfer those points to Chase Sapphire Reserve card and realize a real rewards rate of 2.25%, as long as the points are redeemed for travel.
The same goes for the Chase Freedom Unlimited card or any other card in the Chase family that lets you transfer Chase Ultimate Reward Points.
Now, technically, you could also scour the web for better uses of your points (for example, transferring them to another travel partner offering a great deal), but that will require a little more time and effort on your part to find the best deals.
Summary: Best Chase Credit Card
Chase offers some of the best credit cards out there, not limited to the ones reviewed today:
- Chase Freedom Student Credit Card: Best for The Med School Student
- Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card: Best for The New Resident
- Chase United Explorer Credit Card: Best for The Traveling Nurse
- Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card: Best for The Established Doc
- Chase Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card: Best for The Doctor with a Side Hustle
And as you can see, Chase has a wide range of offerings too. While they are certainly not the only good credit card issuer worth exploring (American Express, Capital One, and Citi all come to mind as good alternatives), they are one of the most popular because of their generous rewards programs, sizable sign-up bonuses, and large banking footprint.
Just remember, when dealing with any type of credit card, you need to pay your credit card bill on time and in full every month to avoid dealing with unwanted debt and high interest rates!
Do you have a Chase credit card? If so, what kind? What is your favorite credit card? Comment below!