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Low APR credit cards: Chase vs. Simmons

By Jeffrey Steele

Low APR credit cards: Chase vs. Simmons

World Series of Credit Cards: Game 7

There are few sports events more thrilling or dramatic than the winner-takes-all seventh game of the Major League Baseball World Series. The same can be said for this Game 7 of the Money Blue Book World Series of Credit Cards. Winner takes all in this climactic locking of horns between two highly competitive low APR credit cards, the Chase Freedom and the Simmons First Visa Platinum.

As we've done throughout this series, let's go strength by strength through each of these competitors' lineups, to determine which has the edge. And we'll begin, of course, with the low interest rates offered by each of these standout credit cards.

Purchase APR. With the Chase Freedom, positioned as a worthy choice for those seeking a low interest rate credit card, you'll pay zero percent introductory APR on purchases for 15 months. After the introductory period, variable purchase APR applies, currently 13.99 percent to 22.99 percent.

The Simmons First Visa Platinum, designed for those who want the benefits of a traditional credit card with the lowest possible APR, offers a variable APR of 7.25 percent on approval with excellent credit.

Balance transfer APR. The Chase Freedom stands out among zero APR credit cards, with zero percent introductory APR for 15 months on transfers made within the first 30 days. With the Simmons First Visa Platinum, there's a variable APR of 7.25 percent on balance transfers, with no balance transfer minimum amount.

Balance transfer fees. With the Chase Freedom, you will incur a fee of either $5 or 3 percent of the amount of each balance transfer, whichever is greater. In the case of the Simmons First Visa Platinum, there are no balance transfer fees.

Cash advances. The Chase Freedom charges 23.99 percent variable APR on cash advances. There's a cash advance fee of 3 percent or $10 of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater. With the Simmons First Visa Platinum, an 11.25 percent variable APR is levied on all cash advances and convenience checks. You'll pay a 3 percent fee (but not more than $50 or less than $4).

Rewards. The Chase Freedom is also one of the best cash back rewards cards. You can earn $100 bonus cash back by spending $500 on purchases in the first three months of card ownership. You earn 1 percent cash back on all eligible purchases. You can earn an additional 4 percent cash back on up to $1,500 spent on rotating categories like gas stations, restaurants and more. Keep in mind you have to sign up each inning, er, quarter, to earn rewards in the rotating categories.

The Simmons First Visa Platinum's rewards program could not be simpler: the card doesn't offer one. But Simmons compensates for that by offering some of the lowest interest rates on the playing field to qualified applicants with excellent credit.

Annual membership fees. There are no annual membership fees with either the Chase Freedom or the Simmons First Visa Platinum.

Foreign transaction fees. 3 percent for the Chase Freedom or 2 percent of each purchase transaction in US dollars for the Simmons First Visa Platinum.

Penalty fees and rates. You'll pay up to $35 per incident and 29.99 percent penalty variable APR on the Chase Freedom, if you pay late, go over your credit limit, or bounce a check. Simmons penalty fees for late payments are a little easier, at an amount equal to past due payment or $25 whichever is less and for returned payment up to $25, and there's no penalty APR.

Other perks.

Chase Freedom also offers membership in Ultimate Rewards with such perks as the ability to book flights and hotels anywhere, anytime with no blackout dates and no restrictions.

The Simmons First Visa Platinum credit card can be used to obtain cash 24 hours a day from ATMs worldwide. In addition, all cardholders are covered with travel accident insurance. You can also benefit from car rental loss/damage waiver VISA auto rental insurance. Emergency cash and credit card replacement are additional benefits of this card.

Chase vs. Simmons - Final

Both cards have no annual fee. The Chase Freedom could be your top pick if you qualify for its lowest rate of 13.99 percent APR and want the rewards perks and promotional APRs.

However, if you can live without rewards and just want the lowest APR possible, the Simmons First Visa Platinum outruns Chase in many other respects including no balance transfer fee, lower cash advance APRs and lower foreign transaction fees.

Which low APR card (or baseball team, for that matter) would you pick to win the World Series? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments area below. And if your favorite doesn't win, remember what they say in Chicago: Wait until next year!

Jeffrey Steele is a Chicago-based writer who frequently writes on personal finance issues.


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