Posted on

Planning to Apply for a 0% APR balance transfer card? – Don’t do it before you read these facts

best balance transfer credit cards

Although it’s an excellent idea to use a 0% APR balance transfer credit card as a part of your debt repayment strategy, you must definitely pay heed to the fine print of the card before putting pen to paper.

balance-transfer-card

You may often hear people talking about 0% APR cards like some mythical creatures, capable of amazing powers! However, if you look closely you’ll find that these cards are quite like the regular credit cards, having the same rules. To think of them in any other way can be the perfect recipe for ruining your credit score and losing out on the 0% APR offer. Nothing denying that these cards provide you free credit for 12 to 21 months, one bad move and you could be back to square-one, with a hefty APR percentage and no end to your credit woes! Let’s take you through some facts that can help you avoid such a situation:

Fact no. 1 – You may have to cough up a balance transfer fee

Although a good number of balance transfer cards don’t feature any such fee if the transfer is processed within the first 60 days of account opening, the others may come with a 3% to 5% fee on the transferred card balance, as a part of the 0% APR deal. This means that if you transfer a $ 5000 balance to a 0% APR card that has a 3% balance transfer fee, your new outstanding balance would be $ 5150. While it may still be an excellent offer considering your overall interest savings, you must factor in this fee is while working on your long-term debt clearance plan.

Fact no. 2 – Skip a payment and you’re most likely to lose the balance transfer offer, or get forced into paying a hefty penalty APR

While it’s a good strategy to transfer your high interest credit card balance to a 0% APR balance transfer card, save plenty on interest payments, and get rid of your card debt in the quickest manner possible, you must ensure that you never miss any of your monthly payments. The 0% offer can be completely cancelled if you get considerably late in making your monthly payment (by 60 days or more). What’s even worse is that you may get charged a hefty penalty APR on the remaining balance if you’re more than 60 days late (as per Credit Card Act, 2009). This penalty APR can be in the vicinity of 30%, a burden which you can definitely do without!

Fact no. 3 – Majority of these cards apply the 0% APR offer to either balance transfers or purchases

You must carefully understand the workings of the 0% APR offer before getting too excited about a balance transfer card. In majority of cases, such cards offer the 0% APR rate only on the balance transfers and not on purchases. Then you may find other types that extend the 0% APR rate for longer time periods on balance transfers, but limit its applicability on purchases for only around 6 months.

If you’re someone who regularly uses your credit card to buy items of day-to-day needs while you are clearing your credit card debt, you may pile up more and more credit unknowingly.

Fact no. 4 – Buying a balance transfer card for clearing your debt can have a short-term negative impact on your credit score

Although continuing clearing your debt over the long term can boost your credit score overall, several required moves made during the balance transfer process can hurt your credit score in the short-term. As new credit constitutes 10% of your credit (FICO) score, opening a new credit account may lead to a temporary drop in your score by a few points. In addition, just doing a balance transfer won’t make your debt go away. Your credit score will inevitably drop if your credit utilization continues to be high, meaning that you continue piling up credit card debt.

However, it may all work to your advantage if you continue making monthly payments and mend your credit utilization rate. Please keep in mind that credit utilization or the amount you owe constitutes 30% of your credit or FICO score, making it a huge and unavoidable factor.

Fact no. 5 – A balance transfer alone won’t rid you of your card debt woes

A great multitude of people think that they can quick-fix their financial problems by transferring their high-interest card balances. They don’t understand that a balance transfer alone can never rid them of their credit card woes. Although it may save them a lot of money in terms of interest rate in the short-term, they’ll still owe the originally transferred balance to the new card issuer. And the interest component can return with full force once the introductory 0% APR offer gets over. You need to be a really disciplined in your financial habits in order to make the balance transfer work, implying that you need to diligently use the 0% APR offer period to clear away your debts for good.

Fact no. 6 – The regular interest rate becomes automatically applicable post the expiry of the introductory 0% APR offer period

When you get a balance transfer card, you actually engage yourself in a battle of patience and discipline with both the card issuer and yourself! Either you stay disciplined and clear off your entire outstanding balance or have to cough up a hefty interest rate post the expiry of the introductory 0% APR offer period. That’s precisely the reason why card issuers offer the 0% rate for no more than 12 to 21 months! The applicable interest rate post the expiry of introductory period can be anywhere from 5% to 24.9%.

Final Thoughts

Don’t get taken away by all the fairy tales surrounding the 0% APR balance transfer cards. Rather, equip yourself with facts and figures, and make moves which are in line with your long-term financial plan. A momentary lapse of reason and you may wind up exactly where you started from! So be careful and make the most of balance transfer facility.

 

Posted on

The Slate vs the Freedom Rewards Card

Finding the right credit card can be a daunting task, especially with the myriad of choices available from a slew of various issuers. Differences in rewards programs, promotional offers and card member fees play a major role in which card is best suited for specific borrowing needs. Some popular credit card issuers like Chase Bank have simplified the process by designing credit cards for those seeking out very specific card member perks. The Chase Slate credit card and the Chase Freedom credit card are two very different options that deserve a closer look.

credit card close up-600Chase Logo

A Dream for Balance Transfers

The Chase Slate credit card is designed for individual borrowers looking for a low-cost way to transfer balances from higher interest rate cards or those in need of a low introductory interest rate. The current balance transfer promotion for Chase Slate card members is attractive because it extends beyond most comparable balance transfer offers in terms of time to repay. New Chase Slate card members who transfer a balance to the credit card within 60 days of account opening receive 15 months of 0% interest on balance transfers, and the balance fee of the greater of $5 or 5% is waived for the first transaction. For individuals with a high-interest rate balance on a different card, the balance transfer offer through Chase Slate is second to none.

In addition to the balance transfer promotion, new Chase Slate card members have a 0% interest rate on any purchases made within the first 15 months after account opening. After the promotional period ends, the standard APR for well qualified card members is 13.24%; applicants with less than exemplary credit may qualify for a standard APR of 18.24 or 23.24%. Balance transfer rates revert back to the standard rate assigned at the time of account opening as soon as the promotional period ends. The Chase Slate card does not impose an annual fee for card members, making it an attractive choice for those with high spending needs or high interest rate balances elsewhere.

The Chase Slate card does not offer any rewards program at this time.

Rewards Aplenty

The Chase Freedom card is best suited for individual borrowers seeking out a strong rewards program. Card members earn 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories each quarter, including gas stations, certain retailers and restaurants, up to a maximum of $1,500 in purchases. All other purchases made with the Chase Freedom card earn card members a flat rate of 1% cash back with no cap on earnings. The bonus categories must be activated each quarter to ensure rewards are earned, but the 1% cash back is and automatic benefit.

The Chase Freedom credit card offers a similar promotion to new card members in terms of the purchase APR and the balance transfer APR. Qualifying applicants receive 0% interest on both purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months after account opening. Chase Freedom differs from Chase Slate in that the balance transfer fee of 5% still applies. After the promotional period ends, the standard purchase and balance transfer APRs can be as low as 14.24%. Card members may also qualify for a standard APR of 19.24% or 23.24% if credit history or score are not ideal.

Chase Freedom card members also have the potential to earn $150 in bonus cash back when $500 or more is spent within the first three months after account opening. Adding an authorized user to an account also boosts cash back earnings by $25, but only when the user is added and makes a purchase within the first three months. Cash back rewards earned with Chase Freedom do not expire as long as the account remains in good standing. Rewards can be redeemed for cash, check out at Amazon.com, gift cards from select retailers, or through Chase’s travel site. A minimum of $20 must accumulate prior to redeeming rewards. Chase Freedom does not carry an annual fee.

Chase Card Member Perks

All Chase credit card members have access to a variety of additional benefits, most focused on enhanced security. Both the Chase Slate and Chase Freedom credit cards are chip-enabled which offers a greater level of acceptance around the world. Purchases made with either card are also covered by zero liability protection. This means that unauthorized charges or fraudulent purchases are not the responsibility of the card holder, up to certain limits. Chase card members also have purchase protection and extended warranty protection for eligible purchases.

Chase Slate and Chase Freedom credit cards also provide auto rental collision damage waivers, roadside assistance and dispatch, and travel insurance for those on the go. The Chase Slate card also waives foreign transactions fees making it more attractive to travelers; the Chase Freedom card assesses a foreign transaction fee of 3% per purchase.

Chase offers a unique feature to card members in its BluePrint payment system. Card members can elect to customize payments based on the type of purchases made and the amounts spent over a single billing cycle. For borrowers who carry balances over from one month to the next, BlutPrint is a smart way to control spending and repayment that is truly unique to each card member.

Which Card is Right for You?

The Chase Slate card is a simple credit card that does not offer a rewards program in terms of cash back or travel points. Instead, Chase Slate card members can take advantage of the inexpensive balance transfer offer or the introductory 0% APR to save cash for other needs. Applicants need to have excellent credit in order to qualify for the Chase Slate card, setting it apart from the Chase Freedom option.

The Chase Freedom credit card is best suited for individuals with a penchant for points. The rotating cash back bonus categories offer a way to boost earnings for card members who spend consistently on certain purchases, and the flat rate cash back helps keep rewards accumulating outside the bonus categories. The introductory purchase rate and balance transfer offer for Chase Freedom is attractive for cost-conscious card members, but the balance transfer fee makes the card more expensive than Chase Slate. Both Chase credit card options can be used as standalone cards or in marriage with one another to enhance the experience.

Posted on

Citi Double Cash Rewards Card Review

For savvy spenders, finding the right rewards credit card can be a big task. There is a seemingly endless number of credit cards available to credit worthy borrowers these days, each with different perks, rewards programs and of course, costs. One of the most notable rewards cards to enter the market in the last two years is the Citi Double Cash Rewards credit card, as it is the first of its kind to reward card holders on both the front (spending) and back (repaying) ends. Here’s how it works.

 

Citi Doulbe Cash Rewards

 

Card Basics

The Citi Double Cash Rewards credit card is considered a flat rate rewards card in that it provides a steady 1% cash back on all purchases made. No maximums are placed on the amount of rewards that can be earned as long as the card remains in good standing with the issuer. What makes the rewards program different is that card holders also earn points when making timely payments. An additional 1% cash back is earned when at least the minimum payment is made, regardless of the size or the remaining balance held over from month to month. The Citi Double Cash Rewards credit card is truly the first of its kind.

Rewards points earned with purchases or payment through the Citi Double Cash Rewards credit card work similarly to other rewards programs, meaning that a single point equals $0.01. So, a card holder who accumulates a balance of 5,000 points has effectively earned $50 to use toward statement credits, cash back in the form of a check or a multitude of gift cards offered through Citi’s rewards program site. Rewards points do not expire, as long as the card remains open and active, and there is no cap on cash back earnings for either purchases or payments.

Additional Card Benefits

Currently, new applicants have the potential to consolidate higher interest rate credit card balance or other debts on the Citi Double Cash Rewards credit card through a promotional balance transfer offer. For well-qualified borrowers, the balance transfer offer allows for up to 18 months of zero interest repayment. It is important to understand that there are fees associated with a balance transfer, and that no rewards are earned on the transaction.

In addition to the attractive balance transfer promotion, the Citi Double Cash Rewards credit card offers additional perks to card members. First and foremost, the nature of the flat rate card means that there are no pesky categories to track and no need to complete activation each month or quarter. Instead, all purchases and payments earn cash back effortlessly. Card holders also have the benefit of waiving the late fee on the first payment that is made past the due date. That added peace of mind is a nice feature not offered by all rewards credit cards.

Card members of the Citi Double Cash Rewards credit card also enjoy a unique benefit known as the Citi Price Rewind. Under this program, card holders receive a refund on eligible purchases when a lower price is found. The Price Rewind feature must be used within 60 days of the initial purchase. On top of price matching, Citi Double Cash Rewards card holders have the peace of mind that comes with damage and theft protection, as well as extended warranty coverage on some eligible purchases. Card members also have protection for common travel mishaps, including worldwide car rental insurance and trip cancellation coverage. These additional perks do not cost card holders any extra, and can add up to substantial savings over the course of the card’s lifetime.

The Fees

One might expect that a rewards credit card that earns cash back on both purchases and repayment would charge a fee for this unique feature. Fortunately, no annual fee is assessed for carrying the Citi Double Cash Rewards credit card. There are, however, fees associated with certain transactions. First, card members are assessed a 3% fee for all purchases made outside the United States, making it a less than ideal choice for card users with heavy or consistently spending overseas.

In addition to the foreign transaction fee, card members who take advantage of the balance transfer offer currently available through Citi pay a greater of $5 or 3% of the total amount transferred, and no cash back is earned on these transactions to help offset the fee. Cash advances also tack on charges, at a rate of either $10 or 5%, whichever is greater. Card member utilizing the Citi Double Cash Rewards credit card should be aware of and fully understand how these additional charges may increase the cost of carrying the card over time.

For well qualified applicants, the Citi Double Cash Rewards credit card has a standard purchase APR starting at 13.24%. However, for less qualified applicants, the purchase APR may be as high as 23.24%. After the promotional period ends, balance transfers receive the same APR as purchases. Cash advances have a standard APR of 25.49%, and a penalty APR of 29.99% may apply if payments are consistently late or charges over the credit limit are placed. All interest rates with the Citi Double Cash Rewards credit card are variable and may fluctuate based on prevailing interest rates.

The Verdict

The Citi Double Cash Rewards credit card is truly a unique player in the rewards credit card market in that it offers cash back on purchases as well as payments. Card members may appreciate the simplicity of the card, as no categories need to be tracked for bonus cash back earnings, and no additional activation is necessary to earn rewards. The ability to earn unlimited rewards is also attractive, as is the balance transfer offer currently available to credit worthy borrowers.

While the Citi Double Cash Rewards credit card is by and far the best choice for some card holders, it may not be the most appropriate for those who travel outside the U.S. on a consistent basis. Also, card members who utilize cash advances regularly, or those who carry a high balance from month to month may find a better fit with other rewards cards that come with lower interest rates. All in all, the Citi Double Cash Rewards credit card is a smart choice for individuals who like earning on both sides of the credit card coin.

Posted on

Chase Slate Credit Card Review

Ok, let’s picture this…you’re in a stable profession/occupation, taking home a handsome 4/5 figure amount each month; your credit score is also well over 720, making you a darling of the lending companies. But, somehow you managed to dig a hole for yourself during the last holiday season. How? You bought $12k worth of gifts using your credit card. That’s a significant amount of credit card debt! What made matters worse is that the card you used to buy those $12k worth of gifts with, was a very high APR card.

Now if you don’t act fast enough, this debt may soon start eating big chunks from your monthly disposable income, and then quietly find its way into your savings. No-brainer that your credit score may take a hit too!

So, what do you do?

Keep paying your monthly dues in full and on time? Yes, that’d be great if you can afford that!

Dig into your savings/investments to pay back the amount in full? Yes, that’s an option too…but can prove to be an expensive one.

Look for a good balance transfer card and transfer your entire balance to it, buying yourself ample time to pay back the debt? This sounds like the most reasonable alternative. And this is where the Chase Slate Credit Card comes into the equation!

 

slate

The Basics

It’s alright to feel slightly skeptical about the Chase Slate at the first glance as it doesn’t earn you any reward points and comes with no sign-up bonus. However, its unique combination of features has everything to get even the seasoned debtors out of the red and back into the black over a period of time.

Chase Slate has one major USP: It helps its users in getting rid of their credit card debt in the easiest way possible. And it delivers on that promise very well. It comes with a 0% Intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months, giving you ample time to tide over your circumstances and take a good shot at your liabilities. What more, there’s no balance transfer fee if you get the transfer done within 60 days of opening the account! Let’s look at some pros which separate Chase Slate from the crowd.

 

The Benefits

0% Intro APR promotion – Chase Slate gives you a good 15 months’ time to shoot down your credit card debt. You’re not required to pay any APR on balance transfers and purchases during these first 15 months. You’ll be charged an ongoing variable APR of 13.24%, 18.24% or 23.24% thereafter, depending on the prevailing interest rates and your credit worthiness.

No balance transfer fee – The balance transfer option allows you to move expensive debt from any credit card to a newer, different one, at a lower interest rate. However, majority of credit cards charge a balance transfer fee of 3% to 5% for this facility. Not the Chase Slate! You don’t need to pay any balance transfer fee if you choose to move your high-interest debt from another credit card to Chase Slate within the first 60 days of account opening. However, please keep in mind that the other credit card should not be from Chase. If, for some reason, you’re late in availing this balance transfer option, and want it after the passage of initial 60 days fee-free period, you’ll need to pay a fee of $5 or 3% of the balance transferred, whichever is higher.

No Penalty APR – Chase understands that life can get busy sometimes! Unlike as in case of other credit cards, you’ll not be charged any penalty APR (raised APR) if you’re late in making your monthly payment for some reason. However, please note that other account related terms and conditions will still apply.

Chase’s Blueprint Program – When you buy a Chase Slate card, you get automatically enrolled into their Blueprint payment program. This is a unique program available at no additional cost, only to holders of different Chase credit cards. It allows you to effectively manage your account payments for accomplishment of different financial goals. Using this program, you can avoid interest on certain types of expenses, while continuing paying it on others, as per your convenience. For instance, the program’s Full Pay plan saves you from interest charges on day-to-day purchases like gas, groceries, prescriptions etc. You decide the categories you’d like to pay in full every month.

Free FICO scores – Your Chase Slate card gives you free-of-cost access to your FICO score derived from Experian data. You also get to use the Chase Slate online credit dashboard and get to know the reasons behind your credit score, view your credit report and learn different ways of managing your credit health.

No annual fee – Not only does the Chase Slate card saves you a lot of money on the balance transfer fees and interest payments, it drives the deal home by not charging you any annual fee at all!

 

Shortcomings

Fee on foreign transactions – There’s a 3% fee charged on all transactions processed outside of the US. This is a bummer for many frequent international travelers. Similar card products like Capitol One Quicksilver and Citi Simplicity don’t have any such foreign transaction fees.

No Rewards – The Chase Slate doesn’t offer any cashback, travel or other types of rewards. This is a huge drawback compared to other cards like Discover it chrome, Discover it and BBVA Compass Rewards, that have reasonable fees and APRs, yet offer excellent rewards.

Steep ATM fees – The ATM fees is also pretty steep in case of Chase Slate credit cards. You’re charged 5% of the amount withdrawn or $ 10, whichever is higher.

Need good credit score to qualify – You need to have a good credit score to qualify for the Chase Slate credit card. This is a big problem for people who’re already under credit card debt and are looking for effective ways of overcoming it.

No sign-up bonus – You don’t get any sign-up bonus when you buy the Chase Slate credit card.

 

To Conclude

It’s highly likely that you may find Chase Slate a little boring compared to other card products. Well, it actually is, in some ways! Nevertheless, you need to remember that it’s a no-frills and highly-useful credit card that comes with an excellent balance transfer promo, straightforward fee structure and attractive introductory offers. Simply put, it’s a no-nonsense WYSIWIG card that doesn’t bother with the rewards or value-added perks. What you see is what you get!