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Compare Balance Transfer Credit Card Offers
No one likes having debt, especially credit card debt. While personal loans are set up to pay themselves off (because each monthly payment goes toward it), you can hold a balance on a credit card almost indefinitely, provided you pay the minimums. Unfortunately, paying the minimum each month makes it extremely unlikely that you’ll pay it off.
Fortunately, you have options besides scrimping and saving every penny each month to pay it off. For some, a debt consolidation personal loan is the right choice, but for others, it’s a balance transfer credit card. Continue reading...
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Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards
✔ Annual fee: $0
✔ Best for: Balance transfer
✔ Welcome bonus: 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles, Get $200 when you spend $500 in your first 3 months
Our take: The Freedom Unlimited® card from Chase offers impressive rewards, generous cash back and intro bonuses – all for a $0 annual fee. This card is best for those with excellent credit (750+) and is perfect if you're looking for an extended 0% intro APR offer– this one goes for 15 months.
✔ Annual fee: $0
✔ Best for: Balance transfer
✔ Welcome bonus: 0% Intro APR Period 15 months on balance transfers
Our take: The Citi Rewards+® Card offers generous intro rewards such as 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers - making it an excellent option if you need to consolidate your debt. You can also earn $200 when you use your card to make $1500 worth of purchases in your first 3 months.
✔ Annual fee: $0
✔ Best for: Balance transfer
✔ Welcome bonus: 0% Intro APR offer for 15 months, earn a one-time $200 reward when you spend $500 on your card within the first 3 months
Our take: The Chase Freedom Flex card is a great choice if you're looking for a flexible cash back card with a 0% intro APR offer. This card is one of our top choices because it offers cardmembers a lot of rewards without charging an annual fee.
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What is a balance transfer credit card?
A balance transfer credit card is one that allows you to transfer the balance of another card to that card by paying off the other card. Balance transfer cards usually have good introductory offers (such as long low interest periods) and no fees for the transfer.
How does a balance transfer credit card work?
A balance transfer card can be used like any other card in most cases, but the idea of them is that you’ll transfer the balance of a card you no longer want to use (or at least, no longer hold a balance on) to make it easier for you to pay off your debt.
For example, if you had a sudden bill for car repairs for $2,500, you would likely need to put it on your credit card. Unless you have a large emergency fund you’re willing to dip into, you may need to take a few months to pay if off. However, if the only card you had at the time had an interest rate of 18%, it’s going to be a struggle because you’ll pay so much in interest.
So, you look around for a way to pay it off as quickly as possible. You have good or excellent credit, so you can get a long 0% APR introductory offer on a balance transfer credit card, which is much better than any interest rate you could get with a small personal loan, and you’ll be able to pay it off in just 6 months.
You get the balance transfer credit card, transfer the balance, and pay all the money off in the 0% period, ensuring you don’t pay any interest.
What can a balance transfer credit card be used for?
Most balance transfer credit card can still be used for new purchases, but their purpose is to allow you to transfer credit card debt at a high interest rate to their low interest card for you to pay off. Once the introductory period is over, it usually becomes a “normal” credit card, though some continue to provide balance transfer benefits.
Who should consider getting a balance transfer credit card?
If you have good or excellent credit and you’ve built up a balance from an unexpected large bill (or a few of them), then a balance transfer card is a good choice for you. You’ll likely be able to land good rates for a period of 6 months – 18 months, allowing you to pay off your debt.
However, if you built up that debt due to unwise spending (be honest with yourself, here!), no matter your credit rating, it’s likely not a good idea to do a balance transfer. Because credit cards offer revolving credit (meaning you can use it again when you pay it off), it can be all too tempting to spend too much across your cards once you’ve got another one.
If you feel like you’re in the latter category, or have a fair credit rating, look into debt consolidation personal loans as they offer the same benefits without giving you access to more credit.
How do I transfer a credit card balance to another card?
Most cards will do this for you when you either set up the card or when you request it through their online account management portal. However, some may allow you to use a check, to transfer the money to your bank account first to make the transfer. If you need to do the latter, make sure it’s not considered a cash advance, or you may be subject to fees.
What happens to the old credit card once a balance transfer is made?
In most cases, you just have another card with a balance of $0. Whether or not you choose to leave the account open is up to you, but consider annual fees and whether it’s really the best thing for you. If you’re trying to get debt free and you feel like the old card may be a temptation, close the account. While some warn that closing old accounts can harm your credit score, it’s nothing compared to carrying a lot of debt, especially debt you can’t afford to maintain or pay off.
How long does a credit card balance transfer take?
A credit card balance usually takes 2-7 days, but may take up to 14 days in some circumstances. Some suggest that it can take up to 6 weeks, which would leave you paying for another month’s interest on your old card. Make sure you know the estimated balance transfer time before you choose the right balance transfer credit card for you.
What are the pros and cons of balance transfer credit cards?
- Can help you avoid paying high interest rates
- You can get out of debt faster than you would otherwise
- Sometimes you can consolidate a few different credit cards to one card
- The deal and fees associated may make it not worth it
- Keeping the old account open for credit score reasons may lead you to over-spend, getting you into difficulty
- Low interest rates are typically 6 – 18 months (some less, some more) so you’ll have to move it again to a new card if you’ve not paid it off by the end of the introductory period
- You generally need good or excellent credit to get these cards
- The normal interest rate is often high
- If you make a mistake, they may remove your 0% introductory period, leaving you in the same (or a worse) predicament as before.
How does a credit card balance transfer affect my credit score?
In most cases, the transfer itself won’t affect your score, but opening a new account will. Opening a new account will always cause your credit score to take a temporary dip. That said, the added credit limit will add to your overall credit limit, bringing down your overall debt utilization, which can improve your score. Generally, it won’t be a concern unless you’re planning to get a mortgage within the next 3 months.
Do balance transfer credit cards have transfer fees?
Most do, but a lot of them have introductory offers that waive that fee. A balance transfer fee is usually $5 - $10 or 3-5% of the balance you’re transferring.
Can balances on multiple credit cards be transferred at once?
Most cards will allow you to do multiple transfers, provided you stay within the terms of the offer or your credit limit. If you complete the transfer through your new card’s online portal, they usually allow you to add several different accounts and different amounts. If they use the check method, then it may be up to you to split the money yourself or ask them to issue several checks.
Should I transfer my credit card balance?
If you have excellent credit, hold a balance on a card, and can get a long 0% APR introductory rate, then it’s likely worth it.
However, if you can’t get these low rates and your interest rates are under 10%, you may be better off diligently paying them off with the Snowball Method, or trying to get a low interest personal loan to consolidate your debts.
Make sure you explore your options and decide what’s best for you, depending on your goals and credit score.
What is the best balance transfer credit card?
The best balance transfer cards can change from month to month as issuers bring out new offers. That said, for those of you with a score of 690 or more, some of the best cards are:
- Wells Fargo Reflect Card – no annual fee and long 0% interest rates
- BankAmericard Credit Card – as above
- City Diamond Preferred – as above
- Discover it Balance Transfer card – as above
Make sure you browse through the cards in our comparison tables to find the best one for you and your circumstances.
Are balance transfer credit cards worth it?
If you have a good credit score or better (typically 690 or higher) then they’re definitely worth it, offering you up to 21 months of 0% interest to pay off your debt. However, if you can’t qualify for these cards and will only get a very short period (6 months or under), you’ll need to think about whether it’s the right choice for you. A debt consolidation personal loan may offer you better rates.
Apply for a balance transfer credit card
If you’ve decided a balance transfer credit card is right for you, then it’s time to compare cards and apply. Browse through the cards in our comparison tables and when you find the one that’s right for you, start the application process. Many cards offer preapproval and once approved, you often receive your log-in details in 1-7 days, allowing you to start the balance transfer process and get on your way to being debt free.
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