Do you have a large amount of credit card debt and can’t keep up with your monthly payments due to a high APR? You can get out of this challenging situation using transfer cards with 0% APR.
Just imagine you can spend a whole year without paying any interest on your card debt and gradually pay it off, improving your credit score. To make this a reality, you must choose a fair offer from a bank that offers not only 0% APR but also a low balance transfer fee.
This article gathers information about balance transfer features and how to choose the best credit card. Read it to make the right choice and save time searching for the best deals.
Balance Transfer Credit Cards: Best Offers
A balance transfer can be both a wise financial decision and a move that will ruin your credit history and lead to even more debt. To make sure you get the most out of it, we’ve put together the best deals on the market with 0% APR and other benefits.
Read through each offer description below and choose the option that fully meets your needs and will help you pay off your debts faster.
U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card
U.S. Bank Visa has created one of the best deals on the market that we highly recommend for anyone with a credit score above 690. In addition, this is one of the few banks offering 0% intro APR for a full 18 months and has a $0 annual fee.
Of course, after the first 18 months of card use, its terms become less attractive as the APR rises to 18.24% – 28.24%. In addition, its balance transfer fee is 3%, which is average compared to competitors. Finally, some users point out as a disadvantage that this card has no cashback, rewards, or sign-up bonuses, but none of this overshadows the 18 months of intro APR.
If you need more than a year to pay off your credit card debt, a platinum card from U. S. Bank Visa is the best option to save thousands of dollars in interest.
Citi Simplicity® Credit Card
If you thought 18 months of 0% Intro APR was the maximum possible, you were wrong. With the Citi Simplicity® Card, you can pay no interest on balance transfers for 21 months from the moment you open your account! However, it’s worth noting that 0% Intro APR is only valid for 12 months on all other purchases.
You must have a minimum 690 credit score to qualify for this offer. In addition, you will have to pay 3% of the transfer amount for old credit card debt; after the trial period, the APR will increase to 17.74% – 28.49% (variable). Also, the Citi Simplicity® Card has no rewards or cashback but no annual fees or late fees.
As a result, we can say that if you need a credit card solely to transfer debt from your old one to it and pay it off at 0% APR, this is the top option for you. You’ll need to make the transfer within the first four months of opening your account, and you’ll be able to save on interest for a full 21 months and pay off all your debt before that period ends. If you do a debt rollover after four months, you will have to pay a 5% fee.
Discover it® Balance Transfer Card
Discover is a popular option among those who want to transfer debt from their old credit cards and get a lucrative sign-up bonus. In addition to having 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months and 0% intro APR on purchases for six months, this option allows you to double your entire earned cashback at the end of the first year of use!
Here are a few quick facts about this proposal:
- Its regular APR is 15.74% – 26.74%, which is lower than many of its competitors.
- You need a credit score above 690 to take advantage of this offer.
- You’ll get 5% cash back on specific categories of purchases (you’ll need to choose and activate them once a quarter) and 1% on all other expenses.
- This card has no annual fee.
The only disadvantage of this card is that it is not accepted in all countries of the world, unlike the alternatives of Visa or Mastercard. In addition, you will need to pay a 3% balance transfer fee during the first months of card use and 5% for all other debt transfers from old cards.
Discover it® Balance Transfer is the best option for those who want 0% APR for 18 months to pay off debts sooner and an additional cashback for expenses in all categories.
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card
Another great offer from Citi – 0% intro APR for the first 21 months on balance transfers and 0% intro APR for 12 months on purchases. You will not have to pay an annual fee for card maintenance; to qualify for the offer, you only need to have a FICO score of 690 points.
When the trial period passes, you will need to pay 16.74% – 27.49% APR, based on your creditworthiness. In addition, users note that you can only transfer your balance within four months of opening the card, and you will need to pay as much as 5% of the amount.
Highlights and features of the card include a significant sign-up bonus of $150, available to those who spend $500 on purchases in the first three months, and free access to your FICO® Score online. This is an excellent option for those who want a 0% intro APR on balance transfers and a sign-up bonus.
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Chase Freedom Unlimited has a 0% intro APR on balance transfers and a lucrative sign-up bonus of an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy in the first year (up to $300). Plus, the bank offers 6.5% cash back on certain travel, 4.5% cash back on purchases at pharmacies and restaurants, and 3% cash back on all other purchases.
This card’s annual fee is $0, and 0% intro APR is valid for the first 15 months from account opening. This option is usually only available to borrowers with good to excellent credit.
From the 16th month of card use, its APR rises to 18.74% – 27.49%. In addition, you will have to pay 3% to 5% for balance transfers and 3% for each foreign transaction.
Chase Freedom Unlimited is a great option combining favorable repayment terms and rewards opportunities.
Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card
If you want to get rid of debt and earn up to $500 in sign-up bonuses and cash back in the process, you can take advantage of this offer. It has a 0% intro APR for the first 15 months of account opening, a $0 annual fee, a $200 bonus after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first three months, and 2% cash back for all categories.
Despite all the advantages this credit card has, it is also essential to note its few drawbacks. For instance, it has a high APR of 18.74% to 28.74% from the 16th month of use, a 3% balance transfers fee, and the foreign transaction fee of 3%. Besides, only users with a FICO score of at least 690 points can get this card.
Overall, it’s a great option with stable cashback for all categories. Wells Fargo Active Cash may be the best choice if you’re looking for a credit card that you can use not only for balance transfers but also for everyday use.
Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card
Bank of America has launched a credit card that allows you to pay 0% APR for 18 months on all balance transfers made within the first 60 days of account opening. In addition, it has no annual fee and allows you to get
A $200 bonus is available to those who spend more than $1,000 on purchases within the first three months of using the card.
You must have a FICO score above 690 points to get this card. In addition, after the trial period of 18 months, the APR increases to 17.74% – 27.74%
The advantage of this option is that it allows you to earn an additional 3% cash back on the categories you choose, 2% on supermarket purchases, and 1% on all other expenses. The balance transfers fee of this card is 3%.
Even though this card has a small window of the balance transfers, it is still an attractive option for anyone who can pay off their debt during the first 18 months and thus get a maximum of 0% APR period.
What Is a Balance Transfer?
A balance transfer is a debt transfer from one credit card to another. It is usually used to transfer a balance from a card with a high APR to one with a lower APR to pay off debts more quickly.
Of course, this service is rarely free. Even if you find a credit card with 0% APR for the first 6-21 months of use, you will still have to pay a balance transfers fee of 3% or 5% of the amount. For example, from $5,000, this would be a $150 transfer fee.
In addition, it is essential to remember that many banks limit the period when you can transfer debts from your old card to a new one. Often this transfer window is only open for 1-3 months.
What is a 0% balance transfer?
You can pay off your debt much faster if you take advantage of offers from banks with 0% APR. In addition, they often make a low introductory APR to attract new clients, so that a balance transfer may be an excellent financial decision.
However, it is essential to note that a complete 0% balance transfer can only be considered one for which you do not have to pay APR (at least some period) or any fees. This is difficult, as many banks earn precisely on the balance transfers fee, which usually equals 3% or 5%.
How does a balance transfer work?
Of course, the exact process may vary, depending on your bank and how you will transfer the balance. However, we can still highlight a few basic steps:
- First, you apply for a new credit card, preferably with a 0% APR offer on balance transfers. You can also use the one you already have if it has a lower APR.
- Next, you need to request a balance transfer. This can be done online or by phone, providing information about the debt you’re looking to move and your details.
- Once the bank accepts your application, the transfer process begins. This usually takes a couple of weeks or more. As a result, the bank pays your old account directly, and the amount of your debt and the balance transfers fee appears in the new account.
That’s where the rollover process ends, and the next stage begins – paying off your debt. Remember, it is as important as possible to pay the total amount before the end of the introductory 0% APR period to benefit from this offer.
How to Choose a Balance Transfer Credit Card?
It’s not always a good idea to transfer debt from one credit card to another. Whether you get the most out of it or end up in even more debt depends on your chosen bank offer.
There are six main factors to consider when choosing balance transfer cards. Read more about them below and make the right choice that will help you improve your financial situation.
Length Of The Interest-Free Period
The primary indicator to look at is the length of the 0% APR period. The longer it lasts, the longer you will be able to pay off your debt without additional payments.
For example, imagine you need to pay off a balance of $5,000. If the 0% APR period is only six months, you would need to pay $833 monthly to save on interest. This is a considerable amount that could hit your budget.
However, if you choose an option where the 0% APR period lasts 21 months, you can gradually repay the debt by paying only $238 monthly. This way, the repayment process will be much easier and smoother, so we recommend choosing credit cards with at least a 12-month intro APR period.
APR After Interest-Free Period
If you will use the card after the trial period with a 0% interest rate, or if you doubt you will have time to pay off all the debt during this period, you should pay attention to the regular APR of all the offers you receive. This is usually another thing that banks make money on, so even the best balance transfer cards have a high regular APR of up to 29%.
You may not want to open a new credit card to roll over debt if you’re not sure you can pay off the entire trial period and the regular APR is very high. Faced with this situation, you could find yourself in even more debt.
Balance Transfer Window
Not all banks allow you to make balance transfers whenever you want. Usually, if a credit card was created for this purpose, it has a transfer window of 30 to 120 days, during which you can make the transfer.
Sometimes this period is more extended, but also more expensive. For example, some banks offer a 3% balance transfer fee in the first three months of card use and 5% the rest of the time.
Balance Transfer Fee
This is another crucial metric you should pay attention to if you want to transfer your balance from one credit card to another. The balance transfers fee is the transaction fee you pay to the bank to pay off your old debt and transfer the entire amount to your new account.
When you look up the balance on your new credit card, you’ll see your senior debt plus a balance transfer fee, which is usually between 3% and 5% of the amount transferred.
Try to choose options that do not have this fee or where it does not exceed 1% – 3%.
While many banks offer you 0% APR, they set a $95 annual fee to earn at least the maintenance of the card. It’s important to understand that this is a yearly fee and is far from being recouped with cashback or sign-up bonuses.
Financial experts estimate that you should only accept the bank’s offer if all the bonuses accumulated during the first year of credit card use are five times its annual fee. But it’s better to choose options that don’t have a yearly fee.
As usual, the best terms are only available to those with a high FICO score. For example, the cards with the best interest rates listed in this article are only suitable for users with at least 690 FICO points.
Of course, if you have a lower FICO score, you can still find options that work for you; they will just have a shorter period of 0% APR and higher fees.
How to Transfer a Credit Card Balance
Once you have chosen the right credit card, you must take the first step and request a balance transfer. This can be done in several ways:
You can log into your account on the bank’s website, provide information about yourself and the debt you’re looking to move, and request the transfer.
- By the phone
If your bank allows you to do so, you can dial customer service, give them all the information they need, and make the request in a few minutes.
Once your issuer receives an application, the review and balance transfer process will begin, which takes about two weeks. When the bank approves your decision, it will pay off the debt on your old card and transfer it along with the balance transfer fee to the new card.
The last step is to pay off your debt under the new terms. Try to pay off the entire amount before the 0% APR period ends. Then, you can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars in interest.
How to Make The Most of a Balance Transfer
As we’ve said before, it can be a wise financial decision if you take it seriously. To get the most out of this offer, we suggest you follow this plan:
- Select the conditions for the best balance transfer
Note that almost all the cards we’ve described today are available to people with good credit. You can take advantage of these offers, but you must determine which features are most important to you.
For example, if you’re sure you’ll pay off all your debt faster than 15 months, you can choose credit cards with a sign-up bonus and cashback in addition to 0% APR. Or vice versa, if you understand that you need as much time as possible to pay off the balance, use the offer that allows you to pay no interest or annual fees for 21 months.
- Take a good look at all of them
There is a big difference between a 3% and 5% balance transfer fee, and your main task is to spend as little as possible. But, of course, sometimes extra bonuses and cashback allow you to earn more than you will spend on paying all the fees.
- Pay your balance before the intro period ends
This is the primary and most obvious advice for anyone who wants to save on interest. If you don’t pay off all your debt in that period, you could lose more than if you didn’t do a balance transfer, as such credit cards have a very high APR.
Do Balance Transfers Hurt My Credit?
Your FICO score is formed from several factors, one of which is new inquiries. That is why the moment you apply for a new credit card, you will see a slight drop in your score, and you will also notice that a hard inquiry mark will appear on your credit report (it will remain there for two years).
However, balance transfers will positively affect your credit if you do the right thing and pay off your debt. Of course, just shifting your balance won’t do much, but when you reduce your debt, you will automatically reduce your credit utilization which is a critical factor for the FICO score.
In addition, paying off old debts is always a positive sign to lenders that you are an even more reliable borrower, so balance transfers can positively impact your FICO score.
Alternatives to a 0% Balance Transfer Credit Card
You may not have a high credit score or just don’t want to open a new balance transfer card. What should you do to pay off your debts? Use one of the alternatives:
- Debt consolidation loan
Yes, such loans don’t have 0% APR even for the first 12 months, but they have a few drawbacks, such as the ability to borrow a large amount and a fixed low interest rate.
Another reason to take out a loan to pay off debts is to limit spending. After all, a new balance transfer card is another opportunity to get into debt that is hard to resist. If you realize that you cannot hold back and continue spending credit funds, you are better off using a debt consolidation loan. This option is available even for borrowers with a bad credit score.
- Talk to your creditors
You can contact the bank directly, explain your situation and find out what terms you could change your interest rate. No lender wants to lose their money, so they are often willing to do what it takes to get you to pay them back.
- Secured loans
Regarding low interest rates, the leader among such offers is loans secured by the property. If you provide the lender with collateral, they will be willing to lend you money at a low APR, even if you have a bad credit score, so consider taking advantage of this option.