A balance transfer credit card is what I would recommend if you are looking for an effective way to get out of credit card debt. A reader recently wrote to me, seeking advice on how he can get out of his card debts without borrowing any more money from his family. Dwayne, as I shall refer to him since he asked for anonymity, is struggling to pay his card bills every month because of the high interest fees charged on his credit card, and as a result, has been losing sleep. Here’s my advice to Dwayne and those of you who are looking to move your unpaid debt from a high interest rate card to a 0% interest card: Get a credit card that offers 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for a long period of time, and aim to be debt-free by the end of the 0% period.
We have combed through all the latest credit card offers direct from card issuers in the U.S. to compile the best credit cards with 0% APR on balance transfers for you below. All these cards have no annual fee.
1. Citi Simplicity MasterCard, issued by Citi (NYSE:C) gives you 18 months of 0% introductory APR on both balance transfers and purchases. After these 18 months you APR will be 12.99%-21.99% depending on your creditworthiness. Balance transfer fee is 3% or $5 minimum. You can read our Citi Simplicity review here.
2. Discover it Card – 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer, issued by Discover Financial, offers 18 months of 0% APR on balance transfers and 6 months of 0% APR on purchases for new sign-ups. As a rewards card, you can get up to 5% cash back on purchases. You can read our Discover it Card – 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer review here.
3. Citi Diamond Preferred card, is our top choice for balance transfer cards, it gives you 0% introductory APR for 18 months on balance transfers and purchases. After 18 months you APR will be 11.99%-21.99% depending on your creditworthiness. Balance transfer fee is 3% or $5 minimum. You can read our full Citi Diamond Preferred review here.
4. Slate from Chase. With this Chase card, you can transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, and as an introductory offer, you will pay no balance transfer fee. Most other cards charge a 3-5% balance transfer fee when you make a balance transfer. It also offers 0% introductory APR on both purchases and balance transfers for 15 months. After the intro period, you will have to pay a variable APR of 12.99%, 17.99%, or 22.99%, depending on your credit score. You can read our detailed Slate credit card review here.
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5. Discover it Card also offers 14 months of 0% APR on balance transfers and purchases. Balance transfer fee is 3%. You can read our Discover Card review here.
6. Chase Freedom – $200 Bonus Cash Back, issued by JPMorgan Chase, offers 0% APR on balance transfers and on purchases for 15 months (after the intro period there is a variable APR of 13.99% to 22.99% on both purchases and balance transfers) as well as a $200 bonus cash back after spending $500 in the first three months. Generous rewards system that allows you to earn up to 5% cash back. Balance transfer fee is 3% or $5 minimum. No annual fee.
Balance Transfer Credit Card Tips
1. You should look for a card that has 0% intro APR on both balance transfers and purchases. Some credit cards offer a low interest rate on balance transfers, but not 0%. If the new card doesn’t have 0% intro APR on balance transfers, it might defeat the purpose of doing a balance transfer in the first place. I also recommend that you don’t make any purchases with your new balance transfer card so that you don’t accumulate more debt, but just in case you do, a 0% intro APR on purchases will be a good safety net.
2. Always pay on time. Remember to make timely payments every month and not to skip any or pay them late. If your payments are late, you will probably lose the benefit of the 0% intro APR and will most likely be required to pay a high interest rate that would not benefit you at all.
3. Plan ahead and make sure you will be able to pay off your balance in full before the 0% intro APR on balance transfers expires. This is worth knowing especially when you have a large balance that would take a long time to be paid off in full.
4. Find out the fees you will have to pay. This includes the annual fee of the card (if any), as well as any other fees, such as the balance transfer fee, late payment fee, etc. Most card issuers charge a balance transfer fee of 3-5% each time you do a balance transfer. Let’s say you want to transfer a balance of $10,000 from another card to your new card, and the balance transfer fee is 5%. Your balance transfer fee in this case would be $500. If possible, get a balance transfer card that offers a very low balance transfer fee as that can save you a lot of money.
5. Unless you have an excellent credit score, don’t go for cards that offer an introductory rate of “up to” a certain number of months. If you don’t have excellent credit, you will most likely not be able to get the longer intro duration and will have to settle for a shorter duration that might not be what you planned for.
Bear these tips in mind. Choose the right 0% balance transfer card, and don’t add more to your card balance. Soon you’ll be on your way to shrinking credit card balances. I’ll be sure to keep you updated on the latest balance transfer card offers here.