A veteran credit-card expert shares the best cards for massively lowering your interest rates.
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I’ve been writing about credit card balance transfers since the Great Recession a dozen years ago – but I’ve never seen banks remove so many credit card balance-transfer offers from the market so quickly.
While more than a quarter of Americans don’t even know about these offers, they can help you pay off your stubborn credit card balances faster and cheaper than keeping your existing credit cards. Basically, you roll over your balances onto cards with much lower interest rates – and sometimes no interest rates at all. The catch? These offers expire within 6-18 months, and you pay a fee for the privilege of the transfer.
Good offers, bad timing
When the pandemic hit, credit card issuers quickly decided that they didn’t want to extend too much credit right now, especially at zero-percent APR interest rates.
As long as I’ve been writing about credit cards, the go-to card for balance transfers has been the Chase Slate, which had offered 15 months of zero-percent financing on both new purchases and balance transfers, but without the customary balance transfer fee of 3-5 percent. Sadly, Chase no longer offers the Slate card online to new customers.
Other contenders included both the standard Chase Freedom and the Freedom Unlimited cards. They once offered 15 months zero-percent on both new purchases and balance transfers, but they got rid of the balance transfer offers.
And it’s not just Chase. Bank of America used to offer its BankAmericard with 15 months zero percent, with no balance transfer fee at all. It’s also gone.
The best cards still available
So what’s left if you want to roll over your balances onto a better card? Here are your best choices, and none come with an annual fee…
- Citi Double Cash. It’s hard to complain about the value of this card, which offers robust promotional financing offer and strong cash back. You receive 18 months of zero-percent APR financing on balance transfers, with a 3-percent transfer fee. You earn 1-percent cash back at the time of purchase and another 1 percent back when you pay for your purchases, for a total of up to 2 percent cash back.
- Wells Fargo Platinum. Also 18 months of zero-percent APR financing on balance transfers, with a 3-percent fee. But it offers no rewards, although it comes with a valuable mobile phone protection policy.
- Citi Rewards Plus. You get 15 months of interest-free financing on both new purchase and balance transfers, with the same 3-percent balance-transfer fee. It also offers competitive rewards, featuring 2x points at supermarkets and gas stations (for the first $6,000 per year and then 1X points thereafter) and you can earn 15,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in purchases within 3 months of opening the account. Finally, it automatically rounds your points up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase.
- American Express Blue Cash Everyday. 15 months at zero-percent on purchases from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, 13.99% to 23.99%. You get 3-percent cash back on your first $6,000 spent each year at U.S. supermarkets (then 1%), unlimited 2-percent cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, and 1-percent cash back on all other purchases. You also receive 20% back back on Amazon.com purchases on the Card in the first 6 months of Card membership (up to $150), plus earn $100 back after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months (cash back received in the form of statement credits). Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed for statement credits.
It’s harder to get a balance transfer credit card now than it was before the pandemic, but they’re still out there. When you use a promotional financing offer for new purchases or balance transfers to pay down your credit card debt, you’ll still be able to save plenty of money.
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Published by Debt.com, LLC