List of Cards with 0% Balance Transfer Offers
Published 8/20/09 (Modified 7/24/12)
Review Of The Balance Transfer Credit Cards I Use To Pay Off Debt
As a fan of balance transfers and zero percent credit cards, I've been feeling rather forlorn these past few months. With the recent enactment of new laws and regulations clamping down on how credit card issuers run their practices, it seems the era of 0% balance transfers and 0% APR deals has finally reached its apex and is now beginning its downward decent into the annals of credit card lore. Only a mere few years ago, one could effortlessly lighten the burden of high interest credit card debt with the assistance of balance transfer offers - lucrative deals that dangled everything from waived transfer fees to long term interest free durations that extended into perpetuity for the entire life of the loan. At its heyday, it was a common place to hear stories of those who were able to engage in balance transfer arbitrage and profit immensely from the 0% APR offers that credit card companies issued to attract new card members to the fold. Back then, the savvy and opportunistic card arbitrager could simply apply for a credit card, obtain a 0% balance transfer, pay no money up front, and immediately transfer the free funds into a remarkably high yielding (5.00 - 6.00% APY) online savings account - reaping what was essentially free interest profit.
Sadly for those of us who once depended on these types of offers for so long, those days are now sorely missed and all but gone, as such once abundant deals are edging ever closer to extinction. With the devastating credit crisis having made its presence keenly felt in all aspects of the U.S. economy, credit card issuers have pretty much pulled out their most lucrative balance transfer offers. Nowadays, balance transfer durations are getting shorter, the balance transfer fees are getting higher, and ordinary purchase interest rates at the conclusions of promotional periods are all witnessing substantial increases.
Compare These Factors When Reviewing Prospective Balance Transfer Cards
But while harder to find, balance transfer cards still exist, at least for the time being. For those who wish to take advantage of these limited time offers, it's important to recognize the critical ways that today's balance transfer offers have changed compared to years past. Here are the crucial balance transfer terms and conditions to always consider:
1) Length Of Time Of the Promotional Periods: Presently, zero percent balance transfer periods range from 6-18 months with only a few rare programs that offer terms beyond a year. Obviously, the longer the term the better, but even enjoying a 6 month promotion at 0% APR is less onerous of an interest penalty burden than enduring the same time period at a whopping 15-25% APR or more (which is what many credit card companies are gouging their customers with these days).
2) Balance Transfer Fees: While introductory 0% APR no balance transfer fee cards are still around, they are increasingly very difficult to find. Currently, the standard balance transfer fee for most cards is slated at 3% of the total amount transferred. While there are still a few offers out there that do offer the next best alternative - capped balance transfer fee charges at a maximum of $75.00 or so, those types of attractive offers are dwindling as well.
3) Credit Card Sign Up Bonuses: While 0% credit card promotions are dwindling, incentive rewards and sign up bonuses are still plentiful. It's best to seek out cards that offer special sign up rewards whenever possible. There are actually quite a few offers out there that pay anywhere from $50 to $100 or more for new members. By taking advantage of these sign up rewards, one can greatly minimize the impact of the 3% balance transfer fee charges that many introductory balance transfer offers impose.
4) Annual Fees: Avoid credit card offers that levy annual membership fees if possible. There is simply no reason to pay such petty charges as there is a wide selection of no annual fee cards out there to choose from. The exception to the rule is if the card offers a special sign up bonus that pays for the annual fee altogether.
The Top Balance Transfers: 0% APR Credit Card Offers That I Use
While it's presently no longer reasonably profitable to continue playing the credit card arbitrage game, balance transfer cards can still be a reliable method of debt reduction and a source of emergency funding for those drowning in debt or suffering from a bout of unemployment. While a host of alternatives to balance transfers have emerged, they still remain very effective and accessible solutions for individual and families looking to manage their debt.
If you're looking for breathing space and extra time to pay down your existing credit card balances without the stifling pressures of the high interest gun pointed at your head, a balance transfer credit card that offers a 0% APR introductory rate may be right for you. But here's a little warning. While 0% and low interest balance transfers are effective tools for reducing the burdens of existing credit card debt, if you aren't diligent in ensuring that you follow the appropriate rules and conditions to the letter, you may unwittingly put yourself in a worse off position than before. When you obtain your balance transfer offer, you should never use your promotional credit card for additional purchases but instead focus exclusively on using the interest free grace period towards paying down existing high interest debt. Remember, you ought to engage in 0% balance transfers only if you're serious about getting out of debt, not merely as a way to engage in delayed gratification by using the interest free funds to go on a self defeating shopping spree.
As I frequently get emails and requests from readers asking me for recommendations on what I believe are the best balance transfer offers available today for those looking to pay down debt, I've included a very short list below of my conclusions. The following is a list of what I would personally use for balance transfer purposes. Note that a few of the balance transfer cards below even offer zero percent rates on purchases along with the balance transfers to boot. A few even tout special sign up bonuses as well.
1) Discover More Card - No annual fee. Offers 0% APR on purchases for 15 months and 15 months on balance transfers, with a 3% balance transfer fee. This card also features a cashback rewards program where you can earn up to 5% cashback in categories that change throughout the year (subject to restrictions and maximum limits).
2) Citi Forward Card - No annual fee. This Citibank credit card offers 0% APR on purchases for 7 months and 12 months on balance transfers. There is either a 3% or $5 balance transfer fee, whichever is greater. You can earn bonus points for paying on time and for staying under your credit limit.*