United States: 0% Interest Balance Transfers Cards, Save Money
Living under a mountain of credit card debt is a nightmare due to two painful charges. First, the amount of goods and services that will be charged to your credit card. Second, the finance charges imposed each month on your balance.
With each statement cycle, your average daily balance is multiplied by one-twelfth of the card’s Annual Percentage Rate (APR). Therefore, if you owe $10,000 on a card with a 12% APR, you will earn $100 in interest each month. Finance charges earned each month are added to your balance, resulting in increased interest accruing with each passing month.
That’s when balance transfer comes to your rescue.
How a Balance Transfer Works
To help ease the debt burden and acquire new customers, banks offer credit cards with an annual percentage rate (APR) of 0%, for a limited time, on balance transfers. Qualified applicants may have their balance paid with their new card. During the time the 0% rate is applied, no interest accrues on the transferred balance. However, the amount transferred is almost always subject to a one-time balance transfer fee. This fee is generally 3% -5%. In addition, cardholders remain responsible for making minimum payments. New transactions may bear interest at the standard rate, although in some cases, the 0% promotional rate also applies to new purchases.
Finally, no matter how much you are struggling with debt, it is vital that you continue to make all your payments on time, as only applicants with excellent credit will qualify for most promotional credit card offers.
Saving money with a balance transfer
It is critical that those seeking this do so as part of a comprehensive plan to eliminate their credit card debt. Such a plan should focus on maximizing revenue, minimizing expenses and regularly paying off your credit card balance before the promotional rate expires.
As part of a plan to eliminate debt, the benefits of a balance transfer are clear. For example, if a cardholder has a $10,000 balance on a card with an annual percentage rate of 15%, he or she is accruing $125 in interest each month. If you continue to pay interest while reducing the balance by $500 per month, you will still have accrued $1,250 of interest during the 20 months it took you to pay off the balance (15% interest applied to a daily average balance of $5,000 in 12 months).
Alternatively, that person may accept a 21-month balance transfer offer at 0% interest with a 3% balance transfer fee. In this case, that person’s previous balance of $10,000 will be paid, while incurring a new balance of $10,000 plus $300 in balance transfer fees. If everything goes according to plan, the cardholder will have saved nearly $1,000 in interest.
A 0% balance transfer is not an instant solution to your credit card debt problem. You should think of these offers as a good opportunity, but you will still have to do most of the work yourself.
Best 0% balance transfer cards in the market
We are fortunate to have a highly competitive market for 0% balance transfer credit cards. None of these cards have annual fees. These are the best offers currently available.
BankAmericard Credit Card
The BankAmericard credit card offers 0% APR for 15 billing cycles, one of the longest periods offered by credit cards. This rate applies to balance transfers made within 60 days of opening your account. After that, there is a standard APR for purchases and balance transfers which varies from 12.99% -22.99%. There is also a $0 opening balance transfer fee during the first 60 days of account opening. After that, the fee for future balance transfers is 3% ($10 minimum).
The Chase Slate credit card is specially designed for balance transfers. Get 0% APR for 15 months. After that, a variable APR of 15.99% -24.74% is applied. What makes this card special is the zero opening balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days of account opening. After that, the fee for future transactions is 5% of the amount transferred, with a minimum of $5. So, this is a great offer if you need a card to transfer a balance and get a 15-month interest relief.
Citi Simplicity Card – No late fees
Offers 0% APR for 21 months on both balance transfers and new purchases (that’s a long time). After that, the annual percentage rate of regular balance transfer will be 14.99% -24.99% (variable), depending on your credit. There is a balance transfer fee of $5 or 3% (whichever is greater). Simplicity has no money back program or points, but does not offer late fees or punitive interest rates, and includes exclusive services.
Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card
The credit card offers 0% introductory APR for 12 billing cycles in the first 60 days, then 13.99% – 23.99% variable APR. There is a 3% fee ($10 minimum) that applies to balance transfers. The 3% cash rebate for gas is among the highest available in the market, and you earn 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (for the first $2,500 in combined grocery/gas wholesale purchases each quarter).
HSBC Gold Mastercard Credit Card
Offers an introductory annual percentage rate (APR) of 0% for balance transfers and purchases during the first 18 months from account opening. After that, a variable APR of 11.99%, 15.99% or 19.99% will be applied. This card also does not have a penalty APR and a late fee waiver. There are no foreign transaction fees or annual fees.
Low-interest credit cards for long-term debt
Another option to save money, if you have a large debt, is to transfer the balance to a low-interest credit card. This option is especially attractive if you will not be able to pay the entire balance within the 0% APR introductory period of the previous cards.