- The average household carried $5,700 in credit card debt as of late 2018. Worse, the average credit card APR is over 17%.
- Balance transfer cards help families pay down debt by affording them 0% APR for anywhere from nine to 21 months.
- The main "gotcha" with balance transfer cards is the fact that some charge a balance transfer fee of 3% or 5%. At least one balance transfer card — the Chase Slate — doesn’t charge this fee.
Average household credit card debt reached $5,700 in late 2018, although consumers in some states reported much higher balances. Considering the average credit card APR is well over 17%, it’s safe to say many debtors are paying interest out the ears.
Consider this example: The average consumer with $5,700 in debt at 17% APR with a monthly payment of 2% (or $114) would take 88 months to pay their debts off. During that time, they would fork over $4,285 in interest alone.
Fortunately, there’s one type of credit card that can actually help save you money — if you use it the right way. Balance transfer cards, also known as 0% APR credit cards, let consumers save money by avoiding interest thanks to 0% APR for anywhere from nine to 21 months.
What’s the catch? Some balance transfer credit cards charge an upfront balance transfer fee of 3% or 5% of your balance — or $300 to $500 for every $10,000 in high-interest debt you transfer. Balance transfer cards also extend 0% introductory offers for a limited time only, meaning your rate will eventually reset to their standard variable rate.
Best balance transfer cards for 2019
With those potential downsides in mind, it’s important note that you can still use balance transfer cards to save thousands of dollars in interest. The key to doing so is picking a card with a long 0% APR offer and paying off as much debt as you can — and maybe even all your debts — before your card’s 0% introductory offer ends.
If you believe 2019 could be the year you get out of debt, a balance transfer credit card could help. Here are the best offers available today based on their introductory offers, fees, and perks.
- Best for no balance transfer fees: Chase Slate
- Longest introductory offer: Citi Simplicity Card
- Best for purchases and balance transfers: U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card
- Best for earning cash back: Discover it® Cash Back
- Best for earning points: Amex EveryDay Credit Card from American Express
Best for no balance transfer fees: Chase Slate
Why you’ll love it: The Chase Slate is one of the only cards that lets you avoid balance transfer fees for a limited time.
Most balance transfer credit cards charge a fee to transfer a balance, but the Chase Slate charges no balance transfer fees for the first 60 days. You’ll also get 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months. After that, you’ll have a 17.24%–25.99% variable APR.
If you want to avoid fees and you have high-interest debt, you have little to lose by transferring it to this card. You could save hundreds or even thousands by transferring your high-interest balances with no out-of-pocket expense.
Pros: No balance transfer fee in the first 60 days, 0% APR for 15 months (then 17.24%–25.99% variable APR), no annual fee
Cons: Shorter 0% APR offer than some other cards
Longest introductory offer: Citi Simplicity Card
Why you’ll love it: The Citi Simplicity Card offers the longest introductory offer in the business — a full 21 months with 0% APR.
Consumers with a lot of high-interest credit card debt could save more with a card that offers 0% for as long as possible. The Citi Simplicity Card extends one of the best offers in this category.
There’s no annual fee, yet you get 0% APR on balance transfers for 21 months (transfers must be completed in the first four months) and 0% APR on purchases for 12 months. After that, your rate goes up to 16.99% to 26.99% based on your creditworthiness. Other perks this card offers include automatic account alerts, 24/7 customer service, and the ability to choose your payment due date.
Having a full 21 months with 0% APR could help you pay down a ton of debt, but keep in mind you’ll pay a 5% balance transfer fee (minimum of $5) for the privilege, and you need to make all transfers in the first four months.
Pros: Score 0% APR for a full 21 months, no annual fee
Cons: 5% balance transfer fee, few cardholder perks
Best for purchases and balance transfers: U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card
Why you’ll love it: This card offers 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for a full 18 months, making it ideal for balance transfers or big purchases.
The U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card is unique in the fact that it offers 0% APR on more than just balance transfers. Once you sign up, you’ll get the introductory rate of 0% on balance transfers and purchases for 18 months (followed by a 14.74% to 25.74% variable APR).
Getting 0% APR on balance transfers and purchases makes this card a solid option for anyone who has debt to transfer or a big purchase to make. If you wanted to buy new appliances or use credit to cover a minor kitchen remodel, for example, you could do so and repay your balance at 0% APR for the full 18 months.
Other benefits you’ll get with this card include cell phone protection, a free TransUnion credit score each month, and the ability to choose your payment due date. This card also comes with no annual fee, although there is a 3% balance transfer fee.
Pros: 0% APR good for both balance transfers and purchases, no annual fee, cell phone protection
Cons: 3% balance transfer fee
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