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Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards

What are balance transfer credit cards and how they save you money?

balance-transfer-cards

Simply put, a balance transfer card is a credit card that allows you to transfer an existing balance from a high-APR credit card onto itself, and in most cases offers an introductory 0% APR for a limited period of time, thus giving you a breather from the hefty interest payments, allowing you to become debt-free over a period of time. Such a card may or may not feature a balance transfer fee (usually 3%-5% or $5, whichever is higher).

Let’s say you carry a credit card balance of $ 10,000 and are presently paying an interest of 15.99% on it. With this type of debt, your monthly minimum due would work out to $ 232 (please note, the actual figure may vary from card to card since different credit card issuers may use different calculation methods). Even if you pay twice that amount each month, it would take you a minimum of 26 months to clear your debt. And when you’re done doing that, you’d have paid a total of $ 1867 in interest.

However, you don’t follow the path that a large majority of credit card holders take!

Instead, you transfer that $ 10,000 balance to a balance transfer credit card, offering an introductory 0% APR for a period of 15 months. What more, you continue paying two times the minimum due each month. This way, you’ll pay off your entire credit card balance in 22 months and would end up paying only $ 162 in total as interest. That’s a massive saving of around $ 1700! Even if you were to pay a 3% balance transfer fee, your savings would still be considerable to opt for the balance transfer facility.

how-balance-transfer-works

But things are slightly more complicated in the real world as consumers make fresh purchases with their balance transfer cards and hence marginally/excessively increase their credit card balances. Regardless, the math works out the same, and you can still take advantage of the introductory APR period and spend more money on reducing your debt, rather than paying interest charges with it.

Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards

The best balance transfer credit cards normally provide long 0% APR periods, have low fees and are lenient about late payments. Many even offer attractive rewards on purchases to the card holders.

We’ve carried out thorough research and shortlisted the five best balance transfer cards of this year. Let’s go over each one of them in good detail as follows:

Chase Slate Credit Card

Chase Slate credit card was one of our first few picks for the best balance transfer credit cards! It comes with an attractive introductory 0% APR period of 15 months, meaning that you don’t pay any interest on your transferred balance for that much time.

However, what sets this card truly apart from its competition is that it doesn’t charge any balance transfer fee if you opt for the balance transfer facility within the first 60 days of account opening. Not having to pay any balance transfer fee can be a great money saver for people, especially when they need to transfer large amounts of money.

chase-slate-credit-card

Standout features of the Chase Slate credit card

  • Zero balance transfer fee on balance transfers done within the first 60 days
  • Extra perk in the form of purchase and price protection for card holders looking to save more money

Where it falls short

  • Introductory 0% APR period of 15 months isn’t the best in the industry

What makes it an overall good balance transfer credit card?

Chase Slate credit card is by far the best balance transfer credit card for people wanting to transfer large card balances. There isn’t a better card in the market when it comes to transferring sizeable chunks of money. Why this is so is because even though other balance transfer cards, for instance Citi Diamond Preferred or Citi Simplicity, provide longer introductory 0% APR periods (18/21 months), they also charge a fee for moving card balances. Card holders are normally charged anywhere from 3% to 4% of the transferred amount as a balance transfer fee. Since this fee is in terms of percentage of the transferred amount, moving over large balances can turn out to be pretty expensive.

By doing away with such fee for transfers done within the first 60 days of account opening, Chase Slate provides great value and plenty of savings to its customers.

Obviously, there are cons too. Although you won’t pay any transfer fee if you move any balance during the first two months, you’d not get a very long time to enjoy the 0% APR offer. The Citi Simplicity credit card on the other hand offers its introductory 0% APR period for 21 months, which is 6 months longer than the Chase Slate card. If you think you won’t be able to pay off your balance in full within the 15 months’ time, it’d be better for you to buy a card like Citi Simplicity instead. If you do so, you’d need to weigh the benefit of 6 extra 0% APR months against the zero balance transfer fee.

Another area where the Chase Slate credit card scores handsomely over its competition is that its utility goes much beyond the balance transfer facility. One of the main reasons why a large number of balance transfer cards don’t do very well is because their utility ends with the expiry of their introductory 0% APR period. However, in case of the Chase Slate credit card, customers continue using the card long after the expiry of introductory period, because of its purchase protection benefits. There are several other perks of this card, making it the most favorite balance transfer card of a large majority of customers.

Chase Slate balance transfer card – Other features and benefits

Annual Fee – $0

APR on purchases after the introductory 0% APR period – 13.24% to 23.24% Variable depending on credit worthiness

Main features

  • No balance transfer fee charged if transfer made within the first 60 days. Thereafter, a fee of 5% or $ 5 (whichever is higher) is charged on all balance transfers.
  • Introductory 0% APR for the first 15 months on both balance transfers and purchases
  • Zero annual fee
  • No provision for penalty APR. Making late payments won’t spike up your APR. The pertinent account related terms and pricing apply.
  • Free of cost credit dashboard and monthly FICO score
  • Sophisticated real-time fraud monitoring that keeps a close watch on all purchases and constantly looks for signs of possible fraudulent activity. Instant fraud alerts are sent out in case of any unusual activity.
  • All Chase Slate credit cards come equipped with an extra security layer in the form of an embedded chip, which when read by a chip card reader, produces a one-time code for transaction validation.

Chase Blueprint

Anyone who requires assistance with management of his/her credit card finances and payments can make use of the Blueprint service of Chase, which is provided to all the Chase Slate card holders. This service features a wide variety of tools that can help you in clearing your card balance and enable you to better analyze your spending patterns. Following are some important benefits provided by the Blueprint service:

  • All Chase Blueprint users can select the ‘Split’ option to pay off any purchase in a certain specific number of payments. Alternatively, you can decide the exact payment amount you wish to commit to a particular item each month.
  • The ‘Full Pay’ feature of Chase Blueprint enables you to identify spending categories that you should pay off in full every month. Hence, if your spending is highest in a particular category, you can avoid paying large sums of interest on those set of items and ensure that those specific purchases are paid off first every month.
  • The ‘Finish It’ option allows you to calculate and ascertain the amount of time it will take you to pay off a particular item, depending on the amount you’re willing to pay for it each month. This feature also enables you to keep track of your interest payments, allowing you to see the long-term cost impact of a specific minimum payment plan.
  • The ‘Track It’ feature of Blueprint service allows you to analyze your past spending patterns and find out the items that you’ve been spending on the most. It can go a long way in helping you closely monitor your budget, by creating visualizations that are grouped based on spending categories.

Why Chase Slate’s Blueprint service proves to be highly useful is because it helps you stay on top of the interest component of your balance. Interest is compounded on a daily basis, meaning that once it kicks in, it’s calculated on daily balances. So, if you’re really tight on finances, you can save a lot of money by paying off items that can cost you the most. Although such savings may/may not be huge, they can be a lifesaver for people who’re running on tight finances.

Warranty, purchase and price protection

The Chase Slate card not only helps you clear away your old balances, it also protects the new purchases you make with it. The worst thing that can happen to you while shopping is buying an item today and seeing it on sale somewhere else tomorrow or day after.

All Chase Slate card members can avoid such mishaps because of the price protection feature of the card. It covers the card holders for a price difference of up to $ 500 (maximum of $ 2500 per annum) if the purchased items/services are found advertised at a lower price within 90 days of purchase.

The purchase protection feature on the other hand protects you from any loss of or damage to the purchased item inside the first 120 days of purchase. You can claim damages of up to $ 500 per item and up to a maximum of $ 50,000 per account.

All Chase Slate card holders are provided a warranty extension for purchases made with the card. An extra year is added to all the regular manufacturer warranties, as long as the warranty isn’t over 3 years.

Citi Simplicity Card

The next card in our best balance transfer credit cards list is the Citi Simplicity card. This card can be a very good tool for people who wish to overhaul their credit card debt. It comes with a pretty long introductory 0% APR period of 21 months (among the best in the industry) on balance transfers and purchases.

citi-simplicity-credit-card

This card is ideal for anyone who feels he/she will take at least that long for clearing away his/her credit card debt. It also works very well for people who forget to make their credit card payments every now and then.

On the other hand, this card may not be the best suited for anyone looking for long-term value in his/her credit card. It doesn’t offer any rewards program and loses its sheen after the expiry of its introductory 0% APR period. In addition, it’s not the ideal card for transferring big balances as you’re charged 3% balance transfer fee.

Excellent for reducing your interest outgo

This card serves as an excellent option if you’ve accumulated a hefty balance on some high-APR card, and wish to get rid of it quickly (without paying a lot in interest). The average interest charged on credit card debt hovers around 18% these days and if you’re running a $ 10,000 balance and making regular $ 500 monthly payments, transferring that balance to Citi Simplicity card can save you in the vicinity of $ 1750 in interest. Furthermore, you’ll also be able to get rid of your card debt 3 months earlier than normal (if you had continued with the 18% APR card).

While majority of credit cards charge up to $ 35 as late payment penalty and can increase the APR to 29.99% in such instances, there is no penalty or late fee ever charged in case of Citi Simplicity card. However, you may still face other consequences related to the missed payments, for example, damage to the credit score. Hence, you should treat this Citi Simplicity benefit solely as a cushion in times when you genuinely forget to pay your credit card bill. In addition, although you aren’t charged any penalty APR on missed payments, the applicable interest rate after the expiry of introductory 0% APR period can be as high as 23.24%, depending on your credit score at that time. Therefore, if you ever get late in making your card payments, and your credit score takes a hit because of that, Citi will be in a position to increase your APR to the maximum. However, it’ll give you an advance notice before doing that.

One particular area where this card falls short is rewards. It doesn’t really offer a lot of value if you make monthly payments on time and pay in full. There are several rewards credit cards that can earn you plenty of cash back and/or reward points on your purchases under similar circumstances. If you’re okay with slightly less-desirable terms, you can even opt for a hybrid rewards and balance transfer card, like the Chase Freedom or the Barclay CashForward World MasterCard. Although they have comparatively shorter 0% APR periods, they offer rewards that make them very good long-term options.

Citi Simplicity balance transfer card – Other features and benefits

Annual Fee – $0

APR on purchases after the introductory 0% APR period – 13.24% to 23.24% Variable depending on credit worthiness

Main features

  • Car rental insurance
  • No late fees and no penalty APR
  • Purchase protection
  • Citi identity theft solutions
  • Travel insurance
  • Zero annual fee
  • Balance transfer fee of 3% or $ 5, whichever is higher
  • $0 fraud liability in the event that card gets stolen
  • EMV chip technology that provides enhanced security and global acceptance
  • Extended warranty
  • 24/7 customer service
  • Automatic account alerts
  • Option to select one’s payment due date in the beginning, middle or later part of the month
  • Easy in-app purchases with Apple Pay
  • Travel and emergency assistance

Just like most of its competitors, Citi Simplicity card also provides a certain set of features, known as Citi Services. Majority of these are benefits that are also available with other credit cards, however, one perk that sets it apart is the Citi Price Rewind. How it works is that you register a product after purchasing it with your Citi Simplicity card, and the issuer will then look up the Internet for merchants selling the same product for a better price. In the event that it does manage to find a lower price within the first 60 days of transaction, it’ll refund the price difference (of up to $ 300 per product and a maximum of $ 1200 in a calendar year) to your card. You can go through this Citi Price Rewind guide to learn more. Some of the prominent products that aren’t covered in this scheme are: jewelry, mounted/stuffed animals and tickets.

About zero annual fees, no late fees and no penalty APR of Citi Simplicity card

Citi Simplicity does get pretty aggressive with its marketing strategy and goes all out to differentiate itself by highlighting how it handles late or missed payments. Its marketing tagline read ‘No late fees, No penalty rate and No annual fee – Ever!’ While majority of credit cards charge anywhere around $ 35 as late payment fee, which although isn’t a lot, but can add up to a considerable amount if collected consistently, Citi Simplicity doesn’t charge any late payment fee to its customers. It can be a huge money saver if you find yourself in this situation pretty often.

Another area where the Citi Simplicity card scores over its competitors is no penalty APR. Credit card issuers generally don’t make adjustments to the interest rate unless the card holders run into one of the few unwanted situations, for instance, exceeding the credit limit, making late payment etc. Whenever this happens, the credit card issuer is entitled to increase the applicable APR on the card, which is often a significantly higher rate. Many credit cards levy penalty APRs in the range of 29.99%, which is exorbitant to say the least! Not with Citi Simplicity card. No penalty APR is ever charged on this card.

If you’re already having a hard time managing your credit card debt, a penalty APR sword constantly dangling over your head can make matters even worse.

The fact that you don’t need to pay any annual fee on this card makes it another reason to use it as your ideal balance transfer credit card.

Citi Diamond Preferred

Another important credit card that has made it to our best balance transfer credit card’s list is the Citi Diamond Preferred card. It’s one of the ideal credit cards for anyone having a hard time paying down his/her card balance, as it offers one of the best and longest introductory 0% APR time periods in the industry. Just like the Citi Simplicity card, you can avail the 0% APR offer for a time period of 21 months, and use it for both balance transfers and purchases. This is 6 to 9 months longer compared to majority of balance transfer credit cards offered in the marketplace today. The interest savings made during the extra 0% APR period can be very valuable for people having huge card balances, or ones who’re contemplating making a huge purchase.

citi-diamond-preferred

Citi Diamond Preferred features some additional perks as well, for instance, purchase protection and presale access to tickets, which bring a great deal of exclusivity to it. However, if you’re someone who is confident of paying off his/her existing credit card balance in around 15 months, you’d be better off opting for the Chase Slate, Citi Double Cash, Discover It or some other balance transfer card with a shorter 0% APR period and better features.

Features that differentiate Citi Diamond Preferred from its competition

  • Introductory 0% APR for 21 months on balance transfers and purchases, which is longer compared to a large majority of balance transfer cards.
  • Citi®Private Pass® that gets you access to exclusive presale tickets and VIP packages to popular sporting events, concerts, dining deals, complimentary movie screenings and more.

Where Citi Diamond Preferred Card is found wanting

  • Not the ideal card for international travelers owing to the 3% foreign exchange fee
  • Lack of rewards on credit card usage and timely payments
  • You may be charged a penalty APR of up to 29.99% if you’re late in paying your credit card bill or your payment is returned
  • Steep 25.49% APR on cash advances

Is it really worth it?

Along with the Citi Simplicity card, the Citi Diamond Preferred card is a standout balance transfer card that offers an excellent 21 months long introductory 0% APR period, which is incomparable in the industry!

If you have a large existing credit card balance or are about to make a big purchase that’ll take you some time to pay off, Citi Diamond Preferred is the ideal balance transfer card to make a switch. However, if you’re someone who regularly misses his/her credit card payments, you’d be better off moving your balance to the Citi Simplicity card instead. That one’s almost the same as the Citi Diamond Preferred, however, without the late payment penalty.

On the other hand, if all you’re looking for is an ideal rewards credit card, these aren’t the cards that fit the bill. You won’t earn any rewards points or cash back by spending with your Citi Diamond Preferred card or by paying your balances in full each month.

The closest that this card gets to rewarding its users for their purchases is through the Citi Services suite, that provides various protections and insurance on items/services purchased through this card. Feel that 15 months or less are good enough for you to get rid of your credit card debt? You’d be better served by Chase Slate instead.

Furthermore, despite being marketed as a ‘VIP’ and ‘Exclusive’ card, it’s not a very-difficult-to-get card. In fact, as per online reports, people having credit scores in the range of 630-650 have also gotten approved for this card.

Citi Diamond Preferred card – Other features and benefits

Annual Fee – $0

APR on purchases after the introductory 0% APR period – 12.24% to 22.24% Variable depending on credit worthiness

Main features

  • Balance transfer fee of 3% or $ 5, whichever is higher
  • Introductory 0% APR on balance transfers and purchases for 21 months
  • Citi®Private Pass® providing exclusive and early access to important events, movie screenings, dining experiences etc.
  • Worldwide travel accident insurance
  • Ample security through Citi Identity Theft solutions
  • Purchase protection
  • Travel and emergency assistance
  • Car rental insurance
  • $0 liability in case the card gets stolen
  • Trip rescheduling and cancellation protection
  • 24/7 access to personalized concierge service providing assistance for concert ticket bookings, flight bookings, hotel bookings etc.
  • Select your own payment due date in the beginning, middle or later part of the month
  • Automatic account alerts

The introductory 0% APR period starts immediately after opening the card account. A standard APR varying from 12.24% to 22.4% variable becomes applicable post the expiry of this introductory period, depending on the credit score of the card holder at that time. People who’re regular with their credit card payments and use their credit responsibly often find themselves at the lower end of this APR (after the introductory period).

Please note, the introductory 0% APR offer can only be availed if you choose to transfer your credit card balance within the first 4 months of opening your account. Transfers done after 4 months are subject to the regular average APR applicable on purchases. Please also keep in mind that you’ll need to pay a balance transfer fee of 3% or $ 5, whichever is higher. So, if you wish to move a large balance from your existing credit card, you’d be better served by a balance transfer card like Chase Slate, that doesn’t feature any balance transfer fee and provides an introductory 0% APR period of 15 months (if you move over your balance within first 60 days of account opening).

Extended warranty, travel insurance, theft protection and damage protection

Whenever you purchase a product having a warranty of 5 years or less, using your Citi Diamond Preferred card, the warranty will automatically get extended by one year. This feature provides you a coverage of a maximum of $ 10,000 per annum in claims.

Furthermore, any product purchased with this card is automatically covered by the damage & theft purchase protection feature, which covers you for refund or repairs if the item is reported as stolen or damaged within 120 days of making the purchase (90 days in case of New York residents). This coverage is provided for a maximum of $ 1000 and has a cap of $ 50,000 in each card member year.

Coming to its travel insurance feature, if any trip booked using the Citi Diamond Preferred card, is rescheduled or cancelled due to some reason, Citi will reimburse any non-refundable fees to the card holder. This works very well for people who need to regularly make last-minute flight changes, and pay huge sums of money in rebooking fees (unless they’ve purchased expensive ticket insurance). Paying for hotel and/or airline ticket bookings using the Citi Diamond Preferred card can help tremendously in this regard. This benefit can be availed for up to a maximum of $1,500 per year.

Other prominent features of Citi Diamond Preferred card

All Citi Diamond Preferred cards come equipped with the EMV (EuroPay, MasterCard, Visa) smart chip which is indispensable if you’re travelling to anywhere in Asia and Europe. Merchants at all these places use new age chip enabled terminals for credit card transactions, as they are more secure compared to the conventional magnetic strip technology.

However, you can avoid this card if you’re a frequent international traveler, as it imposes a 3% foreign transaction fee on all international transactions. So, if you’re travelling to UK and purchase a £ 100 item, you’d actually be charged £ 103 for it (after taking foreign transaction fee into account). Although it may not seem a lot, it can add up to quite a bit at the end of every trip. Please also note that any online international purchases made with it, from within the US, would also attract such foreign transaction fee.

Last but not the least, Citi PrivatePass is another major not-to-be-missed feature of Citi Diamond Preferred card. Using this feature, you can purchase normally-unavailable tickets to sold-out shows and events, via the Citi PrivatePass portal. The shows and events could be related to family entertainment dining, sports, like music and more. There is no special signup required at the Citi PrivatePass website, and all you need to do is purchase these tickets using your Citi Diamond Preferred credit card.

Discover It

This is easily one of the better balance transfer credit cards as it offers an attractive introductory 0% APR for 18 months on balance transfers (6 months on purchases). However, what sets this balance transfer card truly apart from others is the 5% cash back you can earn through it, on its rotating bonus categories (that change every quarter). Rather than offering the regular signup bonus which many cards do, Discover It doubles the cashback earned by you in your first year with the card. This offer makes the Discover It the best balance transfer cum cash back credit card in the market today.

discover-it-card

It’s available in two different variants, differing in terms of the length of the introductory 0% APR balance transfer and purchase periods. You can avail the introductory 0% APR offer in two different arrangements as follows:

  • 0% APR for 18 months on balance transfers and 6 months on purchases or
  • 0% APR for 12 months on balance transfers and 12 months on purchases

Is it really one of the best balance transfer cards?

This particular balance transfer card, like others offering 5% cash back on rotating categories, is all about when and how you put it to use. Else, you can always benefit from the 1% cash back on non-bonus categories, which is commonplace when it comes to $0 annual fee rewards credit cards.

You can make the most of this card if you closely follow its 5% cash back calendar. You stand to earn a handsome 5% cash back on a maximum of $ 1500 spent by you at the applicable category retailers every quarter. It implies that you can potentially save up to $ 75 per quarter with this card.

Discover takes its cashback offer to an altogether different level as it matches the entire cash back earned by you (dollar for dollar) in your first card member year, providing all new card members with lots of incentive. So, if you earn a total cashback of $ 300 in your first year with Discover, the card issuer will double it to $ 600! Hence, the effective cashback earned by you during your first card member year would be anywhere from 2% to 10%! This makes Discover It easily one of the best rewards and balance transfer credit cards in the marketplace today.

Another major benefit of purchasing the Discover It card is that you get to access the Discover Deals program, which is their online shopping portal. Here you can enjoy exclusive offers through your Discover It card, save plenty of money and even earn extra cash back bonus. Some of the popular merchants you can buy from here are Macy’s, Walmart, Apple, Papa John’s, Groupon, Sam’s Club, AVIS Rentals, Abercrombie & Kent and many more. You can shop with all these merchants and earn gift cards, percentage discounts and/or cashback bonus ranging from 5% to 20%. Majority of these merchants don’t ever come under the rotating bonus categories, except during the holiday season. Hence, Discover Deals is another excellent avenue where you can get instantly rewarded for using this card.

Where it falls short?

  • There’s a 3% balance transfer fee associated with the card, which can be substantial if you wish to move large balances to it.
  • Cash advances are discouraged as you are charged a fee of $ 10 or 5% of the cash withdrawn (whichever is higher). Furthermore, an APR of 25.24% is charged on cash advances, which is substantial.
  • Although there is no late payment fee for the first time you pay late, you’re charged $ 37 penalty every time you make a late payment after that.
  • Just like American Express, Discover has its own payment processing network, which is very different from the MasterCard and Visa (that are accepted just about everywhere). Hence, Discover credit cards don’t enjoy as wide acceptability as their leading competitors. It isn’t uncommon to see brick and mortar establishments refusing Discover credit cards. However, that’s not the case with online transactions. Therefore, apart from being an excellent balance transfer and rewards credit card, Discover It can be actively used as a supplemental card. You can use it actively for the earning bonus rewards. But, please remember to keep some other primary card handy, just in case.
  • If you wish to make the most of the rewards offered by this card, you’ll need to opt into new bonus categories every quarter, on the Internet.
  • You’ll need a FICO credit score of 690 to 719 to qualify for the Discover It card.

Discover It card – Other features and benefits

Annual Fee – $0

APR on purchases after the introductory 0% APR period – 11.24% to 23.24% Variable depending on credit worthiness

Main features

  • 100% U.S.-based customer service
  • Constant monitoring of card activity to ensure maximum security
  • $0 fraud liability, providing comprehensive coverage for unauthorized transactions
  • Free of cost FICO credit score on monthly statements, online and mobile
  • You can even transfer most of the non-credit card debts to this card, including many types of loans
  • Quick freezing and unfreezing of account (from website or mobile app) to prevent any balance transfers, cash advances are new purchases after card gets lost or stolen.
  • Zero annual fee
  • No change in APR in case of late payments
  • No late fee charged for the first late payment.
  • Attractive 5% cash back on quarterly rotational categories
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Free of cost overnight shipping for card replacements, available for any US address
  • Discover matches the entire cash back earned by you, dollar for dollar, at the end of your first year with the card
  • Easy redemption of rewards for cash
  • Rewards can be instantly redeemed Amazon.com during checkout
  • Zero foreign transaction fee. So, this card will be the right pick for you if you frequently travel to a country where it’s widely accepted
  • No over limit fee
  • Free FICO credit score on the Internet and monthly statements

About the 5% bonus cashback

The following table details the applicable 5% bonus categories for the present and the next quarter. You can easily lineup your expenditures with this calendar and maximize your rewards earnings. Any purchase that doesn’t fall under the applicable category can be made using a different credit card.

October – December 2016                           Amazon.com, Department Stores and Sam’s Club

January – March 2017                                    Gas Stations, Ground Transportation and Wholesale Clubs

On the whole, the Discover It balance transfer credit card is one of the very few credit cards that comes with a long 18 months introductory 0% APR period. If that wasn’t good enough, it offers highly competitive rewards and a substantial signup bonus. Provided that you make the most of the quarterly bonus categories, you can easily earn $ 600 in rewards in your very first year, while continuing paying off your credit card debt without any APR. However, Chase Slate would be the ideal card if you wish to move a huge balance, and don’t wish to incur a hefty balance transfer fee.

Citi Double Cash Card

Offering an introductory 0% APR on balance transfers for a period of 18 months, and thereafter an ongoing APR of 13.24% to 23.24% depending on your credit worthiness at that time, Citi Double Cash card is easily amongst the best cards for balance transfers in the marketplace today. How this card distinguishes itself from its competitors is that it rewards card holders with a cashback of 1% each two times – first at the time of purchase and then when you pay for that purchase. There’s no cap on the amount of cash back you can earn with it. This offer easily puts this card amongst the most rewarding cashback credit cards, at least when it’s about the flat rate rewards.

citi-double-cash-card

Features that make it stand out

  • The unlimited 2% (1% + 1%) cashback rate trumps the usual flat 1% rate provided by the large majority of similar cards.
  • The 18 months introductory 0% APR period puts it in the company of a handful of balance transfer credit cards that provide such an offer.
  • Access to Citi Price Rewind, another useful service run by Citi wherein it searches for a lower price on any particular item you purchased using your Citi Double Cash card (and registered with Citi). It looks up hundreds of online merchants and refunds the difference to your card if it finds a merchant selling the same item at a lower price, within 60 days of purchase.
  • The card uses highly secure and new age EMV chip technology making it acceptable everywhere around the globe by merchants who use chip-enabled terminals.
  • There is no annual fee charged on this card
  • Unlike its competitors, Citi Double Cash credit card doesn’t place any restriction on the categories you can earn cash back on (like in case of Discover It card). You don’t require to enroll into or keep track of any categories and there’s no capping on the total cash back you can earn.

Where it falls short

  • The absence of a sign-up bonus makes this card slightly less attractive compared to others such as Discover It etc.
  • All balance transfers attract a fee of $ 5 or 3% (of the transferred amount), whichever is higher, making it not the best card for moving large amounts of money.
  • The cash back earned can be redeemed only if it is minimum $ 25. There is no such minimum restriction in other cards.
  • All purchases are charged an APR if you have already transferred some balance from another card. This APR becomes applicable unless you clear your entire balance (including the balance transfer amount) in full by the due date each month.

About the 2% cash back

The unlimited 2% cash back offer applicable on all purchases enables Citi Double Cash to counter some of the highest flat rate cashback cards available in the marketplace. This reward rate puts it ahead of other popular cards like Barclaycard Cash Forward World MasterCard, Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card and others. Considering that there is no annual fee charged on this card, it has every potential to be kept as a primary credit card in the wallet.

1% cashback is awarded right after you make your purchase. The remaining 1% is applied as you pay for those purchases (whether over a period of time or all at once), provided that you pay at least the minimum due each month. So, effectively the total cash back earned on every purchase works out to 2% of the total purchase amount. Anyone who believes in clearing his/her balance in full each month, would hardly notice any timing difference between the payment and purchase related 1% rewards.

Furthermore, please note that no cashback reward is applicable to cash advances, balance transfers, returned items, interest or account fees. The earned cash back can be redeemed for gift cards, statement credits or checks.

Although this card makes an excellent option for anyone looking to earn handsome rewards on his/her day-to-day purchases, its lack of signup bonus makes it falls slightly short of the competition. Majority of credit cards reward their customers with some extra cash back or bonus points for opening an account with them. However, this card lacks such upfront incentives.

On the other hand, it tries to make up for the lack of such bonus by offering ancillary benefits like late fee waiver and the Citi Price Rewind feature. Whether majority of customers ever actually use and benefit from these perks is something arguable and makes these perks not the best substitute for the signup bonus. However, anyone who does use these features effectively, can derive thousands of dollars of benefits from them.

Citi Double Cash Card – Other features and benefits

Annual Fee – $0

APR on purchases after the introductory 0% APR period – 13.24% to 23.24% Variable depending on credit worthiness

Main features

  • Introductory 0% APR on balance transfers for a period of 18 months, provided that you make the transfer within 4 months of account opening.
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on general purchases, and another 1% when you pay for them.
  • Zero first late fee
  • Access to Citi Private Pass, an exclusive service run by Citi wherein cardholders get privileged access to thousands of events, including VIP packages and presale tickets to concerts, dining events, movie screenings, sporting events etc.
  • Round-the-clock fraud protection. You’re alerted as soon as any unusual activity is observed on your account.
  • Citi Identity Theft Solutions come to your rescue in the event that you fall prey to identity theft.
  • Citi Lost Wallet service ensures that you’re sent a new replacement card within 24 hours of losing your Citi Double Cash card. Not just that, you’re also provided some emergency cash depending on the cash advance limit applicable to you.
  • Your Citi Double Cash card also gets you worldwide car rental insurance, covering you against any damage to or theft of a rental car.
  • Provided that you paid for your trip using your Citi Double Cash card, you are covered by a worldwide travel accident insurance, which provides you financial help in the event of some tragic accident.
  • In the event that you need to cancel or change your travel plans, you may be able to get reimbursed for any non-refundable trip expenditures such as change fees etc. provided you had paid for them using your Citi Double Cash card.
  • Complete protection against any online or off-line unauthorized charges. You have $0 liability for any such charges posted to your account.
  • Your Citi Double Cash card extends the manufacturer warranty of any item that you purchase with it.
  • The Damage & Theft Purchase Protection feature of this card covers you for any refunds and/or repairs if the purchased item is stolen or damaged within the first 120 days of purchase.
  • The Citi Concierge service has highly efficient staff that readily assists you with your dining, travel, entertainment, shopping and daily needs round-the-clock throughout the year.
  • The Citi Cards with Apple Pay feature provides you a quick and easy means to make in-app payments at more than 200,000 stores.

FAQs related to Balance Transfer Cards

Is balance transfer the right way for me to go?

If you’re consistently piling up balance on a high interest credit card, it may be in your best interest to transfer this amount to another credit card with low interest rate. This type of debt consolidation can be done through the balance transfer facility. Balance transfer is an excellent tool for anyone wanting to get rid of his/her credit card debt in the quickest manner possible. However, it’s useful only if you’re able to pay off your entire balance within the 0% APR period, before the regular interest rate becomes applicable. You may need to consider some other method of reducing or clearing your debt if you feel you’ll not be able to stay disciplined about your monthly payments.

Where can I find the best deals on balance transfers?

You’ll need to shop around and look at various options. We’ve thoroughly detailed the five best balance transfer cards of this year in this write-up. Perhaps you can start your search from here!

Is it possible to shuffle credit card balance between different cards of the same financial institution?

Normally, balance transfer offers can’t be used for transferring balances between different cards issued by the same card company.

How much balance should I transfer?

Please note, you’ll not be able to transfer more debt than the credit limit available on your new card. In addition, you should keep your credit utilization ratio at no more than 30% for all your credit lines. So, try to make sure that the transferred balance is lesser compared to the credit line available on your new card. However, if the balance you need to transfer is higher than the credit limit on the new card, you can talk to the new card issuer and possibly ask for a raise in that limit. Many companies may allow you to transfer the balance higher than your credit limit for a fee.

Does the introductory 0% APR apply to new purchases too?

In most cases yes. However, the period for which such 0% APR may be applicable may or may not be different than the balance transfers. So, cross check with the card issuer before finalizing anything.

Will it actually save me money?

You can use the balance transfer calculators available at many reputed portals and calculate your total savings there. However, you’ll only be able to do this when you are aware of your present interest rate, balance transfer fees and the interest rate applicable on the new card (introductory rate and the rate after that).

Will opting for a balance transfer affect my credit score?

Although your credit score may take a minor short-term hit, owing to the hard inquiry made by the new credit card issuer, selecting the right balance transfer card can actually help you improve your credit score by increasing your credit utilization ratio. However, opting for too many balance transfers, one after the other can give a wrong impression to the lenders that you’re simply avoiding your debt and are merely shuffling high interest card debt to low APR cards without any real intention of paying it off.

How long does a balance transfer take?

Provided you’ve got everything in order, a balance transfer may not take any more than 7 to 10 business days. However, there is no guarantee. If the present creditor needs to be paid by check (instead of electronic payment), the transfer could take longer.

How do I make the most of the balance transfer facility?

Once you’ve decided to opt for a balance transfer and have finalized an offer, you should devise a proper plan of clearing your entire card debt within the introductory 0% APR period. Work out a payment schedule and ensure that you stick to it. Avoid making any fresh purchases with the balance transfer card and use it only for clearing your debt.

Is it possible to transfer the credit card balance again?

In case you aren’t able to clear your transferred credit card balance during the introductory 0% APR period, you may feel tempted to opt for another balance transfer. Although it’s possible to do that, please remember, doing so can hurt your credit score in the long term. When you continue opening back-to-back low interest accounts, while not reducing your high debt, lenders start viewing you as a high risk prospect, which might make it harder for you when you try financing bigger purchases such as a car or a house in the future.

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5 Steps For After You Use a Balance Transfer Card

You’ve been approved for a 0% balance transfer card and have just completed the transfer! Congratulations! You’ve taken a very important first step to rid yourself of credit card debt.

However, it’s no time to rest. Although you may save hundreds or even thousands of dollars in interest, the work is not yet over. If you stop now and don’t take other important steps into consideration, you may find yourself in a far worse situation by the time your new credit card’s introductory 0% APR period ends.

balance transfer card

Here are those 5 more steps that you must take:

Stop using credit cards

The process of becoming debt free gets much easier if you don’t have to pay any interest on your existing debt. However, things can quickly go out of hand and the task can become impossible if you don’t stop using your credit cards. If you’ve taken a balance transfer card specifically for making inroads into your long pending debt, the only way you can succeed at it is by quitting using your credit cards completely.

Many such cards, such as the Chase Slate card, come with the 0% introductory APR applicable on purchases. Hence, you may be easily tempted to buy more. However, you must keep in mind that the normal APR will become applicable the moment the introductory period is over. And for some cards, this time period may not be very long.

The ideal way to go about the balance transfer process is to transfer all of your existing credit card balance to one single card with a reasonably long introductory APR period. After that is complete, put your cards away in a safe place where you can’t reach them easily. Don’t refrain from cutting them up if the temptation gets too strong. The card issuer can always send you a replacement card once you’re done dealing with your debt.

Plan for when the balance transfer card introductory APR offer ends

In the event that you’re unable to completely get out of your credit card debt by the time your new card’s introductory 0% APR offer is over, you may require a backup or a contingency plan.

If the introductory APR period lasts for 18 months and there’s still a considerable balance on the card to be paid off, you may want to start looking around for a new card with a similar type of offer. Please keep in mind there isn’t a rule that prevents you from transferring a balance from an existing balance transfer card to another one.

Know that you are well within your rights to opt for such a strategy as long as you’ve stopped using your credit cards completely and are working on a realistic plan to overcome your card debt.

Ensure that all old balances have been zeroed out

Whenever you opt for a balance transfer facility from one credit card or loan to a new credit card, you must ensure that all old balances have been zeroed out. It’s not uncommon to notice some small part or rogue interest left over on the old card, which if left non-transferred can quietly incur penalties and late fees while you’re focused on clearing away your new card’s balance.

Although it may seem tempting to close all your old credit card accounts, it may be a wiser move to let them be, as long as you’re not asked to pay an annual fee on them. This is because the FICO scoring model gives weight to the length of your credit history in the calculation of your credit score. Hence, keeping your old credit card accounts open can have a positive impact on your credit score.

Make a reasonable estimate of the amount of debt you can actually pay off

Once you’re able to control your income and expenses, you’ll find it much easier to figure out the extent of debt you can possibly pay off during your new credit card’s 0% APR period. To give you an example, if you owe $10,000 on your credit card and transfer it to the Chase Slate balance transfer card, you’ll get 15 months introductory 0% APR time period to pay off that balance. Additionally, you won’t be charged a balance transfer fee if you make the transfer inside the first 60 days of opening the Chase Slate account.

Now, divide the $10,000 balance into 15 months and you’ll arrive at a $667 monthly payment to become debt free by the end of the introductory offer period. If you won’t be able to pay that much every month, you can pay as much as your pocket allows and bring your balance down as much as possible during these 15 months. Thereafter, you can carry over the remaining balance to another balance transfer credit card.

Create a monthly budget

Your intent to become debt free is extremely important for any balance transfer strategy to bear any results. At the same time, you must also analyze the factors that brought you into this position. Figuring out your habits and understanding what led to the debts can help you strategize for the future.

A majority of people can gain control by creating a budget and writing down each one of their monthly expenses. You will be able to fully understand your budget and make the necessary positive changes when you figure out where your money is being spent.

Pull up your bank statements from the last few months and figure out where your money has been going. It may be tedious, but it will be beneficial. You may even find things that have been erroneously charged or items that are draining your account for no reason. You can plan accordingly once you’ve figured out the problem areas. You’ll have a properly written budget and be on your way to financial stability and management.

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The impact of balance transfer on your credit score

It isn’t uncommon for credit card customers burdened by high-interest card debt to opt for balance transfer facility to benefit from the introductory 0% APR offers. Nothing denying the fact that such refinancing can be a very cost-effective move, but it also leads to a hard inquiry into your credit, which is most likely to temporarily affect your credit score.

balance-transfer-credit-score

How your credit score gets impacted

As per FICO (Fair, Isaac and Company), any such hard inquiry made on credit leads to a temporary drop of around 5 or less points in the credit score. However, it’s normal to see the credit score bounce back up after a few months’ time as you start repaying your debts in time. In fact, in many cases, the credit score even gets better than before! The reason for that is while new credit constitutes 10% of the credit score, the total amount owed makes 30% of it. When we talk about the total amount owed, it isn’t necessarily about the actual dollar amount owed by you, but more about your credit utilization ratio. You need to divide the total amount owed by the total credit limit available to you (across all your credit cards), to arrive at this ratio.

Let’s assume that you owe $ 10,000 as credit card debt, and it’s the only debt you owe. You have only one credit card, with a limit of $ 15,000. At this point, you are provided an opportunity to transfer that $ 10,000 balance to another credit card offering an attractive limited period 0% APR facility. The new credit card also offers you an extra $ 5,000 credit line.

There’s a 3% fee associated with this balance transfer facility, so essentially your new total credit card debt will become $ 10,300 post the transfer. However, where things get interesting is that while your credit utilization ratio was 66.6% earlier, it’d become 51.5% after the transfer is complete (taking the balance transfer fee into account). Although you may owe a little more money to the card issuer, you’re most likely to see a jump in your credit score owing to lowering of the credit utilization ratio. The $ 300 fee paid by you would be put to excellent use as it’d probably save you a good deal of money in the long term. Let’s understand how.

How a credit card balance transfer saves you money

Even though you may owe an extra $ 300 on your credit card, having transferred your $ 10,000 balance to a 0% APR card is sure to save you a good amount of money in the long run. In this example, the introductory 0% APR offer is applicable for the first 18 months, followed by 15% APR (once the promotional period ends).

Let’s say you make monthly payments of $ 250 right now, and are charged 18% APR on your $ 10,000 balance.

Assuming that you avoid opting for the balance transfer facility and continue making these $ 250 monthly payments, it will take you 62 months and a total of $ 5,386 in interest to become debt free. Your total outgo, in that case, would be $ 15,386.

On the other hand, if you do opt for the balance transfer facility and continue making the same $ 250 monthly payments, you could free yourself of your card debt in 46 months, and pay only around $ 1,093 in interest. Your total outgo in this scenario would be $ 11,393.

What more, you could even opt for another balance transfer at the end of the first 0% APR promotional period, transferring the remaining balance ($5,800) to another 0% APR card (with $300 transfer fee) for an additional 15 months of interest-free honeymoon, and become debt free in total 44 months, paying just $165.6 in interest!

As you can see, the initial temporary hit you take on your credit score and the $300 balance transfer fee can save you tremendously by opting for single or multiple balance transfers.

Simply put, it’s definitely worth it!

When it may be better to wait

In case your credit score isn’t in a very good shape, it may be better to wait until it climbs back up into a respectable ‘good’ range, which is 680 or above, before applying for any balance transfer credit card. Financial institutions are generally hesitant in accepting balance transfer card applications of people whose credit score is below 680. However, they need to make a hard inquiry to obtain that information. It would mean that your score will still drop, and you’ll not be able to reap any benefits of the reduced credit utilization either.

Hence, if you’re somewhere close to the magic 680 figure, it’d be good to wait a little more. In fact, you can do certain things which are likely to increase your credit score instead, for instance continuing making minimum payments on your card/s each month and paying all your other bills in time, to avoid anything delinquent popping up in your credit report.

Continuing making all your payments on time is most likely to result in your creditor passing positive details to the credit agencies. At least, nothing negative would be reported.

Furthermore, you can even make higher than minimum payments and reduce your balance/s rapidly, lowering your credit utilization ratio and positively impacting your credit score.

Any increase in your credit score is highly likely to qualify you for better interest rates when you apply for the balance transfer card later.

It may also be better to wait for balance transfer credit card application if you’re planning to take out a mortgage anytime soon. Buying a home is easily one of the major purchases that you’re likely to do in your entire life. It’s best to keep your credit score in good shape when you submit your documents. Taking even a slight hit due to a hard inquiry (resulting from a balance transfer card application) can negatively impact the offered interest rates on a mortgage.

Final thoughts

If you qualify for a balance transfer card right now and don’t have any major purchases coming up in the near future, it may make a lot of sense to take that small and temporary credit score hit, and save a lot of money in terms of interest, in the long-term. Just ensure that you continue making the minimum due payments on the new card (without fail) after the balance transfer is complete.

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How do balance transfer cards work?

Let’s cut to the chase and get behind the workings of balance transfer cards right away! Once we’re done doing that, we’ll go over few more aspects of balance transfers which are integral to the process.

The term ‘balance transfer’, unlike other complicated financial terms, is fairly easy to understand. A balance transfer is simply the process of transferring your existing balance on a credit card, to another one.  So, you pay off one credit card using another. Quite evidently, a balance transfer doesn’t reduce your debt liability in any way. You still need to pay back the original amount you had borrowed! All it does is that it moves you debt from Card A to Card B.

But why bother doing that?!

Most credit cards charge interest rates (APRs) in the range of 12% to 24%, and sometimes even more!

Now, if you’ve an outstanding balance of $6,000 on a credit card A (from Sam’s Bank, and with 20% APR), you could be paying around $100 per month only towards the interest component. So, if you make a $150 credit card payment per month, only $50 would be utilized for reducing your outstanding principal, the remaining ($100) would be used towards the interest, and go into the issuing bank’s pocket.

Now which bank wouldn’t like to bag that sort of ROI! Drumroll!! Card B (the balance transfer card) from Dan’s bank enters into the picture! Here’s what happens!

  • Dan’s bank emails you an offer that they’d transfer your $6,000 balance on Card A to Card B, and give you a 0% APR for 15 months if you transfer that balance within 30 days of opening an account with them.
  • You apply for Card B with Dan’s bank and your application for their balance transfer card is approved.
  • You provide Dan’s bank with your Card A account number and the outstanding balance on it.
  • Dan’s bank pays off that balance (to Sam’s bank) in full.
  • Dan’s bank also charges you a one-time balance transfer fee ranging between 3% and 5% of the outstanding balance transferred.
  • Dan’s bank is your new creditor now and you start making your monthly payments to them.
  • Everyone’s smiling!

How you benefit here is that you won’t have to pay any interest (APR) on the transferred balance for 15 straight months (as per the terms of balance transfer card). Now your monthly $150 payment would be used entirely for servicing your outstanding principle/debt. Even if you continue paying a minimum of $150 per month for 15 straight months, you’d have reduced your outstanding balance by over $2000, saving yourself many hundred dollars’ interest payment in the process.

When should you use such cards?

If you are financially stable and are in a steady well-paying job, transferring your high APR balance from one card to another, for saving on interest and for paying off the entire outstanding faster, may work as a very smart move. However, please keep in mind that majority of such cards come with a balance transfer fee of 3% to 5% (Chase Slate being the only exception as it has no balance transfer fee and provides a 0% Intro APR for 15 months).

When you should not?

On the other hand, it may not be that good a move to apply for a balance transfer card if your credit score is low because of late payments or some other reason/s. The chances are high that your card application may get rejected. You’ll need a healthy credit score to be eligible for a balance transfer card.

A balance transfer card can also go against your financial interests if your debt is already too big. Although you may receive some temporary relief from the monthly interest payments, you’re most likely to find yourself using your old/new card once again when the situation gets tight.

To opt for low regular APR or Intro 0% APR

You may think that it’s a given that everyone would love to use the 0% Intro APR of balance transfer cards!

No Sir/Ma’am!

0% Intro APR makes sense only if you have a small outstanding balance which you are confident of clearing during the tenure of the 0% APR offer period (ideally 12 to 18 months). In case you go with the 0% Intro APR and are unable to clear your debt during that time, the regular APR of the balance transfer card will kick in, which may even be higher than your current APR. The entire purpose of balance transfer may get lost in that case.

The solution lies in balance transfer cards with low regular APRs. You can ditch the 0% APR balance transfer cards for the ones with low regular APRs if you feel that you’ll need more than a year to pay off your entire outstanding. For instance Barclaycard Ring Mastercard has zero balance transfer fee and low regular variable APR on balance transfers and purchases.

Do balance transfers impact your credit score?

Balance transfers have no direct impact on your credit score. Credit agencies don’t factor them in during their evaluations and they don’t get flagged in the credit reports.

Having said that, please note that buying a balance transfer card can indeed impact your financial profile, which in turn may impact your credit score. This may happen in three different ways:

By altering your credit ultilization ratio: Credit rating agencies calculate your credit score based on the overall utilization of your credit lines. It’s done taking into consideration both the aggregate as well as individual utilization of each one of your credit cards/lines. Your overall credit utilization may fall and positively impact your credit score provided you don’t close your old credit card account.

By encouraging you to overspend: A balance transfer may possibly impact your credit score negatively if you use it merely for avoiding your card payments or for funding your reckless spending habits.

By reducing the age of your credit accounts: Credit history, which constitutes 15% of your credit score is based on the average age of your credit accounts and the age of your oldest credit account. Your credit score may not get impacted if you’re transferring balance between your existing credit accounts. However, it may take a hit if you apply for a new credit card and/or close the old credit card account.

By causing hard inquiries: A hard inquiry is made on your credit report every time you apply for a new credit card. Although these inquiries drop your credit score only marginally, they can be very damaging if you apply for too many credit cards or apply for them too frequently.

Final Word

If used wisely, a balance transfer credit card can go a long way in helping you manage your debt effectively. On the other hand using it for wrong reasons can harm your credit score and increase your overall costs/debts.

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The Best No-Interest Balance Transfer Credit Cards

Looking for the best 0 APR Balance Transfer credit card?  We can help!

Sometimes, we accrue a balance on a credit card.  It’s rough, if it gets too big.  And, on top of it all, you may start paying interest on the interest that you have on the credit card.  It can be a very stressful situation for someone, but luckily, there is a solution.  It is often a smart idea to search for a credit card that offers no balance transfer APR in order to buy you time to pay off your card.  You may still have to pay a straight transfer fee, but overall, it will save you money.  So, let’s explore some of those credit cards available to you, shall we?

Discover it

This credit card is a powerful beast.  Not only does it feature no annual fee, no overlimit fees, or foreign transaction fees, but it offers 0% Intro APR for the first 18 months of card membership (it switches to 22.99% after that).  A fee of 3% applies when the balance is initially transferred.  Furthermore, your intro APR on purchases for 6 months is 0% as well!  You’ll earn 5% cashback in a series of rotating bonus categories, and 1% cashback on every other purchase.

Citi Simplicity Card

Another ‘no annual fee’ credit card with no APR for a time on balance transfers is the Citi Simplicity Card.  For the first 18 months, your APR will be 0%.  After that, it will change to 12.99%-21.99%, based on your credit worthiness.  Furthermore, the fee for transfers is 3% or $5, whichever is greater, so be sure to do the math to make sure any transfer makes financial sense.  It says it in the name, but the Citi Simplicity Card is really that- simple.  There are no bonus points or rewards offered with this card.

 

Chase Slate

Another ‘no frills’ credit card, the Chase Slate is great for someone who absolutely needs to transfer a large balance.  First, there is no APR for purchases or balance transfers for the first fifteen months of cardmembership.  Furthermore, there is no annual fee.  But, the real bonus is the fact that there is no balance transfer fee associated with the card!  Yes, that’s right- you could possibly pay off your entire balance without paying another dime of interest.  This could really help save some people from financial distress!  After fifteen months, the APR returns to either 12.99%, 17.99% or 22.99%.

 

Conclusion

These credit cards are some of the best available on the market for people that needs to transfer a balance from one credit card to another.  The Discover it card is a great option for those that would like to earn some rewards while they make purchases on their new credit card.  The Citi Simplicty card is great for those that want a simple card with low APR after 18 months.  And, the Chase Slate card is the winner in this category, with its fee-free offer of balance transfers and APR.  But, it seems to me that each one of these cards offers at least something to the consumer.  So, which one tickles your fancy?

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The Best 0% APR Credit Cards in 2014

Looking for the best 0% intro APR credit card out there?  We’ve got you covered.  Sometimes, you get a little ahead of yourself with the credit card spending.  A lot of times, it may make sense to seek out a card offering 0% APR on balance transfers, to save you the interest you may be paying every month.  Some of you may also want to make a big purchase, and pay it off over a longer period of time without interest.  Here are some great new cards available for you today!

 

Chase Freedom Card

With your 15 months of 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers (then a variable APR of 13.99%-22.99%) and cash back rewards, you can’t go wrong with the Chase Freedom card.  You’ll earn 5% cash back on several bonus categories that change every three months, up to $1,500 in each quarter.  Every other purchase earns a normal 1% cash back.  With no annual fee and a $100 sign up bonus on $500 in spend over three months, you can’t go wrong with the Chase Freedom card!

 

Chase Slate

You may have never heard of the Chase Slate, which gives you 15 months as opposed to 18 months of 0% APR on purchases with the Citi Simplicity card. A variable APR of 12.99%, 17.99%, or 22.99%, depending on credit worthiness, will find you after 15 months.

There is no balance transfer fee for the first 60 days. It’s the only card that features both a 0% intro period and no balance transfer fee. This is a good deal, because while other cards will not charge you interest on your transfer, but still charge you a hefty balance fee, the Chase Slate does the opposite.  If you can pay down your debt quickly, this might be a better option for you.

 

Discover it

We love the Discover it card over here at Card Watchdog.  It has it all, like 14 months of 0% interest on purchases and transfers, 5% cash back on rotating categories (up to $1,500 per category), and no penalty APRs or foreign transaction fees.  Your first late payment fee is even forgiven!  We also love that Discover has recently added your free monthly FICO credit score on your monthly statement, making staying on top of your score that much easier.  Add the benefit of no annual fee and you have a solid no hassle rewards card.

Apply: Discover it®

 

Citi Simplicity

With 18 months of 0% interest on purchases and transfers, which is unheard of for other credit cards, it also charges no annual fee, nixes late fees and penalty APRs and has only a 3% transfer fee for balance transfers. For those of you that might be a bit more forgetful than the rest of us, you might want to consider the Citi Simplicity card.

 

Barclaycard Arrival

I love this card for the travel rewards, at 20,000 – 40,000 miles (depending on which version you get) when you spend $1000 or $3000 in the first 90 days of card membership.  Simply put, the no annual fee version earns lesser rewards and the annual fee version earns more rewards, so it’s all up to you which card makes more sense for you! Both cards offer 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.  Add in 1 to 2 points on every purchase you make, and you’ve got a killer credit card!

 

Conclusion

We hope the above analysis was a good primer on some 0% APR credit cards on the market, available for you today.  You really can’t go wrong with any of these cards. It’s all about assessing your own spending and goals to see which one is right for you. So, which one tickled your fancy?  Did we miss any that you’ve enjoyed using?  We want to hear about it!  Comment below!

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How to Help Pay Down Debt with a Balance Transfer

Did you know you can help consolidate and eliminate debt with a credit card balance transfer? There may come a time when you realize that your credit card debt is way higher than you are comfortable with. This means it is time to focus, find some discipline and pay off those balances, before things become truly out of control and you find yourself in financial hot water.

When your credit card charges a high interest rate, it can be difficult to make significant progress each month, since you are accruing interest rapidly and only part of your payment is applied to the principal balance. This means it will take you far longer to pay off a large sum!

One way to help solve this problem is to take advantage of a 0% APR balance transfer for a credit card that you won’t have to pay any interest on for a period of time. Obviously, the longer the introductory rate goes on, the longer you will have to pay off the debt without having to pay any interest. So, start your search by looking for cards that offer extended 0% APR introductory rates.

But—be careful, because there may be other details to consider and you must read the fine print carefully to make sure you know exactly what the terms and conditions are.

 

Check Your Mail!

Chances are, you have been receiving offers in your mailbox for 0% APR credit cards that offer balance transfers. Take a look at these and evaluate the following factors:

  1. How long does the introductory rate last?
  2. What will the interest increase to when the introductory period ends?
  3. What are the balance transfer fees?
  4. Are there any penalty fees?
  5. Is there an annual fee?

Each of these things may be a little different. You want to pick the card with the best combination—the longest 0% introductory period, the lowest balance transfer fees, the lowest (or no) annual fee, and the fewest restrictions and penalties. Not all cards are created equal, so read carefully!

Be Smart About Paying Off Your Debt

Most experts would recommend that you attempt to pay off your entire credit card debt without paying substantial interest. Since you get nothing for that interest (other than the opportunity to borrow the money), it is not a great way to spend your money. In order to make the most of your 0% APR credit cards, you should make minimum payments on those and put everything you can onto your higher interest rate loans and credit cards to pay them off more quickly.

However, unless you pay off the balance transfer on that 0% APR credit card, you will be surprised to discover how quickly you start accruing interest once that introductory period ends. At that point, you have not really gained much or saved much money, because, as you recall, you paid a balance transfer fee to use the 0% APR card!

Be a Better Money Manager

Here is a quick example that helps to illustrate how a 0% APR credit card can help you pay off debt. Let’s say that you have $500 per month to allocate for credit card payments, and you currently owe $9,000 in credit card debt, the combined total of three separate cards. Here is what your payoff schedule could look like:

  • Card #1: Balance $2,500, APR 14.99%
  • Card #2: Balance $2,750, APR 19.99%
  • Card #3: $3,750, APR 13.99%

Your total credit card debt is $9,000. The best course of action is to apply for a 0% APR credit card with an 18-month introductory period. Let’s say, for example, that you are approved for a $5,000 credit line, with a 3% balance transfer fee ($150). You will transfer the entire balance of Card #2, because this is the highest interest rate. You will also transfer $2250 from Card #1, so that you now have $5,000 in credit card debt that will not accrue any interest.

Here’s what your debt now looks like:

  • Card #1: Balance $250, APR 14.99%
  • Card #2:  Balance $0
  • Card #3: Balance $3,750, APR 13.99%
  • Card #4: Balance $5,000, APR 0%

So, as you can see you still have $9,000 in debt. Remember, you have $500 per month to put toward paying off your credit cards. Here’s the plan:

Focus on paying off Card #1 first, as this is now your highest interest rate. Make the minimum payments on Card #3 and Card #4 (these will likely be approximately $75 and $100). This leaves you with $325 per month to put toward Card #1 and Card #3, which will allow you to payoff Card #1 during the first month, and you will not pay anything in interest charges.

Once Card #1 is paid in full, then you will have $400 to put toward Card #3. After paying $175 for one month, the balance will now be approximately $3,575. In 10 months, you will be able to pay off that credit card in full, and you will have paid approximately $220 in interest charges.

All that is left is Card #4, which will have a balance of $3,600 after making minimum payments for the previous 11 months. You still have 7 months left in your introductory period, so making a monthly payment of $514 will allow you to pay the balance in full, without paying any interest.

By using the 0% APR credit card for 18 months, you have paid $150 in balance transfer fees and paid approximately $220 in interest. Had you stuck with the original credit cards you had, you would have paid nearly $900 in interest during the same period of time.

Conclusion

By using a 0% APR credit card wisely, you can certainly pay off your debt more quickly, and save yourself a considerable amount of interest in the process. Right now, Discover it® – 18 Month Balance Transfer offers one of the best 0% credit cards out there. With no annual fee, no penalties, and a 0% APR on purchases for 6 months and balance transfers for 18 months, you really can’t go wrong!

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Do You Need a 0% Intro APR Credit Card?

How many tempting offers for 0% APR credit cards have you received in the last few weeks? Between online offers and the direct mailing stuffed into our mailboxes, it seems as if the options are endless. But, do you really need a 0% APR credit card? Can you save money by using one? The answers to those questions are not exactly straightforward, and depend on your unique circumstances.

In today’s credit card market, 0% APR credit cards are hardly rare. What was once a unique offering is now quite commonplace, and 0% cards are the most common type of credit card available.

So, on to the biggest question…

 

Can a 0% APR credit card save you money?

Let’s examine a few scenarios to see how this would work. The first thing to find out is how long the introductory rate will last. Some 0% APR cards offer a 6-month introductory rate, others may extend this period to up to 18 months. Obviously, the longer the 0% rate lasts, the more money you will save, especially if you are using the card as a balance transfer option and trying to pay off a higher balance credit card. Once the rate rises, which could be up to 20% APR, or even higher in some cases, your savings will start to become debt if you are still carrying a balance.

[Looking for a travel rewards card? Check out our post with the Top 5 Travel Rewards Cards with 0% APR.]

 

Consider the Evidence

Let’s say you transfer $2000 from a higher interest rate credit card to a 0% APR card that offers 12 months interest free. Your previous card was charging 17.99% APR. Over the course of 12 months, assuming you were to pay off the balance entirely, you would have a monthly payment of $184, and end up paying a total of $201 in interest fees.

So, in this scenario, you would save $201 by using the 0% APR card. Obviously, the higher the balance and interest rates are for your current card, the more you will save by switching to a 0% APR card.

If you pay only the minimum balance on the credit card, which is likely to be around $40 per month, then you will have only paid off $480 during the 12-month period, and be left with a balance of $1520 at the end, which is subject to the higher interest rate.

[Don’t forget to check out our page with the Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards.]

 

Potential Downsides

If you make it a habit to frequently switch credit cards to keep opening up 0% APR cards, this could adversely affect your credit score. One factor that goes into calculating your credit score is how many times your credit report is pulled, and how often. So, doing this often could hurt you. If you do often switch, it is important to close out any credit cards that you do not use, so that you do not have too much available credit, because banks look at this when they assess your credit.

Also, if you do not pay off your entire balance during the 0% APR period, then you have to carefully consider what the interest rate will be after the introductory period ends. If the interest rate will be higher than what you are currently paying, then you might not end up saving any money if you do not pay off the card in full before the 0% period ends.

 

Conclusion

The example we used is only an estimate. Your balance transfer amount could vary, depending on your credit limit. Keep in mind that there will be balance transfer fees, usually 3-5% of the balance (on $2000, 5% would equal a fee of $100, which comes out of the savings you would see). In general, a 0% APR credit card is a great option for someone who is disciplined and can afford to pay off the entire amount before the introductory rate expires, but may not be the best option for someone who cannot commit to that payment schedule.

Also, if you plan to keep the card for longer than the 0% period, then you must compare the nitty gritty options—interest rates, annual fees, penalties, and perks, and make a choice that is going to suit you for the long term.

Banks love to offer 0% introductory rates, because they often make money not only on the balance transfer fees, but, since most people do not pay off the full amount during the introductory period, they end up making plenty of money on the interest you pay at the higher rates.

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Citi Diamond Preferred: Seemingly Endless Perks

Looking for a 0% credit card to use for balance transfers? The Citi Diamond Preferred has some of the best advantages and benefits around. If you have high interest credit cards and want to cut the amount of interest you are paying by transferring your balances and getting out of debt more quickly, here are some of the main advantages offered by this card.

 

No Annual Fees

The Citi Diamond Preferred card does not have a yearly fee. This is significant, and often where the credit card companies make their money, particularly when offering a 0% balance transfer option.

0% APR for a Full 18 Months on Balance Transfers

You get a full 18 months of 0% APR financing when you transfer a balance from another credit card. The interest rate that you will have to pay after the 18-month period expires will depend on your credit rating, but will vary from 11.99% to 21.99%. If you pay off your entire balance transfer amount within the 18-month period, you will pay absolutely no interest at all.

0% APR for a Full 18 Months on Purchases

Not only will you pay 0% APR on your balance transfers, but you will pay a 0% APR on all of your purchases that you make during your 18-month promotional period. Again, the same interest rates will apply as listed above for balance transfers after your promotional period expires, but you will be able to save a tremendous amount in interest charges during this 18-month period. If you pay off the credit card by the end of the 18 months, you will pay zero interest and this can help you get out of debt quickly!

Low Balance Transfer Fees

The Citi Diamond Preferred card has a lower than usual balance transfer fee, at only 3% of the amount that you transfer. There is a $5 minimum transfer fee, so unless you plan to transfer less than $167 or so, you will be able to take advantage of the low percentage.

Free Concierge Service Included

The Citi Diamond Preferred card offers a free travel service, one that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days per week. You can book flights or hotels, or even make reservations at your favorite restaurant or buy concert tickets. The process is simple and extremely convenient—and free!

Enjoy the Citi Easy Deals Program

With the Citi Easy Deals program, for every purchase you make, you will accumulate points that can be used later when you want to redeem them for gift cards or other various online deals. You can use your existing points toward the deals, and merely pay the balance using your Citi Diamond Preferred card.

Car Rental Insurance Provided for Free

Automobile rental insurance is included for free! One of the ways that car rental places tend to get some extra money out of you is by requiring you to pay an extra fee for insurance. While some auto insurance policies offer rental insurance coverage, not all will—or there may be a huge charge. The Citi Diamond Preferred card offers not only car rental insurance for free, but will provide you with assistance should you ever experience the travel hassles of lost luggage, legal services or emergency assistance, including medical care. This type of coverage is so important, especially for those who travel frequently.

Excellent Fraud Protection

Protection from fraud is included. When using the Citi Diamond Preferred card, you will never be held responsible for unauthorized purchases made from your card. There are emergency fraud services, including emergency card replacement and emergency cash replacement, so you can go about your business feeling safe and secure.

Best Prices with Price Matching

Price matching protection is included. When you make a purchase using your Citi Diamond Preferred card and then later find the same product advertised with a lower price within the next 60 days, you can get a refund for up to $250 of the purchase price. Citi wants to make certain that you are always getting the best deals and the best prices on the items that you purchase. Extended warranty protection is also available.

Access Private Pass Deals and Services 

Citi Diamond Preferred cardholders will have access to the unique Citi Private Pass, which allows them to make purchases of pre-sale or preferred tickets, as well as various VIP packages for concerts and shows. In addition, there are many deals for dining, golf, shopping, family entertainment and more! This is all included for free when you have a Citi Diamond Preferred card.

 

Why Not Choose the Citi Diamond Preferred Card?

Although some claim that because the Citi Diamond Preferred card does not offer specific rewards or cash back deals, the many perks of being a cardholder, not the least of which is having a generous 18 months to pay back the balance transfers and purchases that are made, seem to far outweigh the minimal cash back options that are offered by many other cards that have 0% or low-rate balance transfer options. Consolidating your debt using this card is a wise move for those who are looking to get out of debt quickly, while getting some exciting extra perks on the side!

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Capital One Platinum Prestige: When Only the Best Will Do

Do you have excellent credit? Then you probably want (and probably deserve) a credit card that offers the best interest rates and most desirable features that you can get. The Capital One Platinum Prestige might be just the card you are looking for.

With low rates and excellent benefits available, this card offers those with top credit scores opportunities to save money. Although this card does not offer cash back or rewards programs, there are some great money saving features that are available to you.

Benefits

Save a Ton with Long Term 0% APR on Balance Transfers

By transferring balances from higher interest rate credit cards, you can save a bundle while paying off your credit card debts. Right now, you can get a 0% APR rate until May 2015! This low introductory APR lasts longer than many other introductory rates, allowing you an extended time to enjoy interest free options. After the introductory period ends, your interest rates will still be among the lowest and most competitive, ranging from 10.9-18.9, depending on your credit score and payment history, as well as the current prime rate at the time that the introductory rate ends. Now is a great time to consolidate your credit card debt and pay no interest for the next 15 months!

Save a Ton with Long Term 0% APR on Purchases

This great introductory 0% APR is not only valid on balance transfers, but on all purchases as well, meaning you pay no interest on your purchases. For those who pay off their balance each month, this may not be a big deal, but it can be a huge benefit for those who carry a balance and want to save money. Plus, with a 25-day grace period, you pay less interest after the introductory period ends, too.

No Annual Fees, Ever!

Those with great credit deserve great perks. One of the perks of having terrific credit is to be able to qualify for credit cards that have no annual fees. It costs you nothing to use the Capital One Platinum Prestige card, year after year. Many credit cards charge up to $89 per year for similar benefit packages, so this is an attractive option.

Low Balance Transfer Fees

When you transfer balances from other credit cards, you will be charged a low rate of 3% of the amount transferred. Compared to some other cards that offer 5% balance transfer fees, this can add up to a significant savings. For example, if you transfer $5,000 to the Capital One Platinum Prestige card, you will be charged only $150, compared to $250 if you were charged 5% by another card.

Extended Warranty Prestiges

When you make a purchase using your Capital One Platinum Prestige card, you are eligible for an extended warranty on items that do not carry a manufacturer’s warranty of at least one year. This means extra protection on the things most important to you, at no additional charge.

Capital One Rated Tops for Application Clarity

For the fourth year in a row, Capital One was ranked first in credit application clarity, earning a score of 100%, meaning the fine print contains no surprises and you can easily find out just what you are getting into and exactly what benefits you can enjoy. This is important when you are making decisions about your credit, keeping your score high is a priority—especially when you have worked so hard to achieve this top honor. You won’t have to worry about finding out after the fact that there are any hidden fees or restrictions when you use Capital One.

Protection From Fraud

With Capital One, you are protected from fraudulent use of your card 100%. You are not going to be held responsible for any fraudulent purchases made on your card. This is important in today’s world, with the many leaks and security breaches that are reported on what seems to be a weekly basis! No worries if your card is ever lost or stolen, Capital One has you covered.

Extra Benefits

With extra benefits like auto rental insurance and roadside assistance, Capital One stands out. Enjoy the convenience and security that comes with knowing you are protected and insured from accidental occurrences and emergencies.

Express Yourself!

With the Capital One Platinum Prestige card, you have the option of personalizing your credit card with a photo or image that makes it unique and entirely yours! There are plenty of great stock images to select from, or, if you prefer, it is simple to upload one of your own favorite photos to decorate your credit card.

If you have excellent credit and want to be treated well, then the Capital One Platinum Prestige card may be just the right card for your needs. Save money and enjoy the many benefits of having one of the top credit cards available.

 

Conclusion

This is a solid offering from Capital One for those looking to get out of debt or just enjoy no interest for a while! In addition, the low interest after the intro period ends definitely sets it apart from many other balance transfer cards.

However, for those looking for more out of their credit card, there are many other cards that offer the 0% intro APR and no annual fee benefit as well as rewards. Consider the Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard: Barclaycard® Rewards MasterCard® – Excellent Credit. In addition to offering 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for eighteen (18) months and no annual fee, you’ll get 2 points per dollar on gas, grocery, and utility purchases, as well as 1 point per dollar on everything else. If that isn’t enough, you’ll get 5,000 points upon making your first purchase with the card, with the opportunity to earn 5,000 more after spending $750 in the first 3 months. Talk about benefits!

That said, it’s worth looking into other cards if you’re wanting to earn rewards on your spending. It all depends on what suits your individual spending habits and goals.