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Credit card debt pay off made easy with right use of your balance transfer credit cards

Published 4/27/08 (Modified 12/19/13)
By MoneyBlueBook

List of zero percent credit cards to make life easy

Editor's Note: Thank you for your interest, these offers have expired and are no longer available.

People utilize balance transfer credit cards for a myriad of reasons such as making money from balance transfer and credit card arbitrage, to paying down and reducing high interest debt by applying for zero percent to low interest credit card offers. While those trying to make money from multiple balance transfers are usually more focused on finding no fee 0% offers that last up to a year long, those trying to pay down credit card debt generally have a much longer time horizon span in mind. My focus here is to provide some practical help to those struggling with high interest credit card debt, and help them find more manageable ways of relieving and resolving this financial burden.

Compared to other forms of loans, credit card debt is particularly hard to handle because it is usually associated with high interest rates in excess of 15-20% or more depending on your credit score and credit report history. The longer the credit card debt remains unpaid, the more interest continues to accrue, and the quicker the balance can balloon out of control. That's why it is important to make a concerted effort towards paying off the debt through regular payment increments. The key to making higher sums of unpaid credit card debt more palatable while you chip away at it is to shift those high interest debts over to accounts that provide lower rates. This can be accomplished either by shifting the card balance over to 0% balance transfer introductory APR offers, or it can be accomplished through the use of so-called lifetime balance transfer credit cards that offer low interest rates. For those with above average to excellent credit scores, I recommend taking the 0% balance transfer route and applying for no interest balance transfers since they offer the least amount of financial investment since no interest is imposed so long as you continue to regularly pay off each month's minimum card balance.

The biggest downside with 0% cards is that the longer duration offers generally impose some type of 3% upfront balance transfer fee. The more attractive no balance transfer fee offers usually have much shorter durations, limited to 6-12 months periods. Of course, another downside with 0% offers is that after the six months or one year promotional period runs its course, you'll need to apply for another balance transfer card if you intend to keep rolling over your interest-free debt. 0% balance transfer promos work best for those who anticipate paying off their debt soon within a span of a few months or within a year. However, a great number of those struggling with credit card debt are unable to pay off their cards in such a short period of time. Many also have a tough time micromanaging and handling the stress involved with tracking balance transfer offer expiration dates and having to worry about whether they will qualify for another 0% card offer later on when the time comes. Fortunately, there are alternative options for those with sizable credit card debt, and who find 0% balance transfers too short and burdensome to handle.

Choose The Low Interest Fixed APR Lifetime Balance Transfer Option If You Expect To Carry A Balance For A While (1 Year Or More)

If you know it's going to take longer than 6 to 12 months to pay off your entire high interest credit card balance, it might pay to get a lifetime balance transfer card and avoid having to keep rolling your balance over to another card every time your current 0% deal expires. These lifetime balance transfer credit cards provide a low and predictable fixed interest rate that stays in place until the balance on the card is paid off. Many lifetime balance transfer deals are frequently free of any upfront balance transfer fees, and rates are often lower and just as competitive as the rates offered by the best bank provided personal loans. Thus those individuals that may take one, two, or even three years of steady snowball or snowflake-type payments to pay off their credit cards may want to consider lifetime balance transfers as a hassle-free alternative to 0% interest cards or loan consolidation options.

A major benefit of low fixed interest rate lifetime balance transfer cards is that the interest rate is usually set, fixed, and predictable for the life of the balance until it's paid off. You avoid having to deal with tricky interest rates that are likely to reset at much higher standard levels at the end of some 0% balance transfer promotional period. After all special 0% balance transfer offers expire, they usually instantly reset to much higher variable rates of 15-20% APR or more. Securing a low interest balance transfer card right from the start helps avoid that issue by committing yourself to something foreseeable, with no expiration, and which will not suddenly skyrocket in payment obligation, presuming you know how to do a balance transfer correctly and avoid making any big mistakes or slip ups. As with all balance transfer credit cards, it's important not to use the account for further purchases once you've made your balance transfers as the zero or low interest rate will usually only apply to the debt you initially transferred. New and additional purchases will generally be charged a much higher rate.

People who are looking to take advantage of the lifetime balance transfer method of clearing debt should look for the lowest fixed interest rate offer(s) they can find. In some limited circumstances, it may require that you apply to more than just one low fixed rate card to consolidate your high interest debt into lower APR accounts. While owning a low interest rate credit card still means the cardholder is required to pay some interest, having to pay 5%-7% APR is a lot easier and less depressing than having to face an out of control 15%, 20%, or even 25% APR interest rate. However, I highly encourage you to work diligently and persistently at paying off the balance regardless of whether you are under a temporary 0% offer or whether you have a fixed rate for the life of the balance. While the interest rate may be zero or low, don't be lulled into a false sense of security. Don't forget - in the long run, low interest credit card debt is still debt - so get rid of that hanging sword sooner than later!

Special 0% Lifetime Balance Transfer Offers Via Targeted Mailing Offers From Discover Card and Certain Card Issuers

As an additional note, there are certain card issuers out there, most notably, Discover Card, that occasionally send promotional mailers to select consumers for 0% lifetime offers. These offers are quite amazing since the 0% balance transfer deal is for the life of the balance. The invite terms vary depending on individual mailers but in the case of Discover Card, they usually include custom invitation codes that must be entered on their online website to activate.

The Discover Platinum Card lifetime balance transfer offer usually provides a 0% interest rate for a 6-12 month period or so with the right to extend the zero percent balance transfer offer indefinitely thereafter. The catch is that you must make 2 purchases or cash advances for each billing period. As readers of my balance transfer dangers article will know, payments made towards the balance transfer card get counter-intuitively applied to lower interest balances first. Thus, until the larger 0% balance is paid off, additional purchases get pushed to the back of the line where they silently accrue interest at the standard high rate for purchases. Some of the Discover Card mailer terms impose no minimum limit to the purchase amount so in theory you could use the card to buy two 25 cent candies each month and qualify for the 0% lifetime balance transfer forever. However, not all of the offers are the same and some mailer invitation terms require a minimum monthly purchase charge of $50 or more to maintain the 0% lifetime balance transfer program.

Unfortunately, because this is a targeted offer based on Discover Card's own snail mail marketing efforts, there are no direct online sign up links. I am also not aware of any other direct online application links to zero balance transfer credit card offers for life provided by other card issuers.

Currently, the vast majority of fixed low interest lifetime balance transfer deals have been ended in favor of balance transfer offers that feature fixed 6-18 months terms.

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54 Responses to “Use Balance transfer credit cards to pay off Credit Card Debt” 

  1. jennifer says:

    Please e-mail me the card that gives you the low fixed apr for lifetime balance of the transfers. I am going crazy with all I got going on. Please send soon have a payment due and cant pay it.

  2. Naomi Caranto says:

    Please send me more information on "Fixed Low Interest Lifetime Balance Transfers" to pay credit card debts. Can you recommend one that is BBB certified?

    Please advise,
    Naomi Caranto

  3. Robyn says:

    I would also like to know about credit cards with low (below 5% preferably) interest for life on transferred debt. I have about $30,000 of debt to take care of and an excellent credit rating.

  4. fassd.com says:

    Most high interest credit cards are usually easy to get and really the interest rate only matters if you roll over your balances from month to month. People that have had bankruptcies, judgments or just have a bad credit rating, for what ever reason are the most common applicants for high interest credit cards.

  5. BigJack says:

    What are the alternatives to using 0% balance transfer cards whether for life or just for a period of 12 months or more? I've heard about so-called balance transfer alternatives like p2p loans through online peer lending companies like Lending Club, Prosper - are they legit?

  6. Jd says:

    Hi there I would like to find out more about these cards? I tried going to the card sites and can't seem to find them any where? I am most interested in the low interest life of the loan/transfer. Please email with any help.....Thanks

  7. carlos benavides says:

    Hi I have a question. If you have transferred an amount and added some purchases to your card, are you able to pay the higher interest part of your credit card? I have some transfers at 3.99 and some purchases at 14%. I pay over the amount due every month but it just goes straight to the lower interest part of the credit card. Any thoughts?

  8. Jeff says:

    Just wanted to post that even on the fix rate life balance transfers you have to be careful. I had one and resently they up my rate. Said they send out a notice of changes of terms and if you didnt refuse them (If you can even understand them) they increase your rate even if you have always paid on time and never late.

  9. elizabeth says:

    Hi all -
    I'm in $17K of debt, newly divorced, newly relocated across the country,
    single mom of special needs child and now caretaker of dad w/alzheimer's.
    No time for a job, however taking piano students as I can. Don't have much income currently.

    My husband having left, plus need for food/heat/medical caused massive
    debt this past year (about 80% credit cards).
    How should I handle this??? Attorneys don't advise
    bankruptcy as my divorce is still pending. (Not sure if much $ is to be gleaned there.)
    AAH! I need to take action, but what should I do??? Ideas???

  10. Palik says:

    If you are having unfair dealings with these Banks and Credit Card Companies, Call or file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) at http://columbia.bbb.org/

    If they substantiate enough cases, they will fine them and if it continues, they eventually shut them down.


  11. Carolyn says:

    I too would be interested in locating a low fix interest rate card. I have searched and have not found one myself. Thanks in advance for any info.

  12. Susan says:

    After spending several hours online and sifting through the mailers that we get each week. I am more confused than ever and no closer to finding the "right " credit card to pay off a loan balance for my daughter from college. Article was great. Any thoughts on a private loan vs. a credit card to ado this. I plan on setting up an automatic $100. weekly payment as the minimum payment.

  13. Palik says:

    Susan, you might want to start by looking at MSN, Money, Credit Cards. The second and third entries are okay but they're at 7.25%. You might also want to log into the news sites that involve Finances and see if they have anything on credit cards.

  14. Melissa says:

    I will try to keep this long story short. I had a credit card with Bank Of America, it had a high balance but low interest rate. Payments were always significantly more than the minimum and the card had been paid off twice already with no late payments. In May they added an annual fee that put me over limit by $4.00, which in turn raised my interest rate , as well as adding an over limit fee. Unfortunately I had asked them prior to the annual fee charge to close the account, as they would soon be selling to Barclay Bank, and I was not interested in them switching my account to a Mastercard. They of course had no recollection of this call and said I would now have to use the 27.74% interest rate. I hung up called back, got a new customer service rep, and the new rep kindly took away all fees and lowered my rate to 5.24%. I have been paying off the card now for several months, and have now received a new statement from Barclay's, the new owner of my balance, that effective almost immediately my new interest rate will be 29.99%. This is still with no late payments and on a closed account. It is crazy what they are doing to the people who pay their bills. They told me they made a computer error on the interest and they would not charge back interest on anything charged from May to November. Duh......because there was nothing charged the account has been closed since then. They acted like they were doing me a favor. They said their last record before B of A sold to them was my interest rate of 27.74%, so theirs is only a little higher. I explained that if they had that then they should have my conversation with them, as well as the opt out info, and notes about all the returned fees they had to do when they noticed their mistake. Of course they didn't though. So now they tell me to mail them a statement that proves I had a lower interest rate. Can't do that though, because I got estatements from bank of america, and didn't save them all. Anyway, if I can give anyone advice about either of the banks/businesses do not get a card with them, and if you have one, save every statement, and take detailed notes on every converstaion. Maybe even record it, like they always say they are doing. Neither company is to be trusted.

  15. MK says:

    @Melissa - Couldn't you just have them calculate the interest rate by the amount of interest you were paying? It should be obvious enough if the difference is that big and they should have some record of finance charges billed.

  16. Bill says:

    Several years ago I transferred a bunch of higher percentage card balances to a smaller number of fixed rate cards.

    I've been working on paying them off and making great progress. However, I have one card with a fixed rate of 2% and a balance of $8k.

    The minimum payment is $114 monthly, of which $12 is interest, and the payment is automatically debited each month, so I never miss one.

    So my question is, with the rate of inflation at 3% or more, should I look to aggressively pay off this balance, or just make minimum payments and let it ride?

  17. ava says:

    If any for you are with GE Money cancel you cards. GE Money is ripping people off. I have several cards with them and since the new Credit care Law. GE Money has raised my interest rate to 29.99% and then want work with you regarding payment date. I get paid at the end of the month and they told me to make to payment to catch up. If you are with them Cancel your cards.

  18. Janice says:

    Everyone we should be checking out the Presidents deal on Credit Cards as i understood it the Credit Company is not suppose to go up on Intrest Rates for 6 months and that is only if you have been late 3 times or more unless i misunderstood this law if i did not the credit card companies im reading her on this blog are not compling with the law check it out People.

  19. Deborah says:

    I am writing to let anyone that has Capital One credit cards know that they will not work with you to lower you interst rate, I have Citi and Chase and both worked with me to lower my interest rate so that I can pay the balances off. I lost my job and my income decreased 20,000 a year. They wouod not consider anything to hlep me out.

  20. William says:

    There's obviously frustration and anger among the crowd here towards the credit card industry and for darn good reasons. I believe neither President Obama will see an economic recovery during his administration nor will immediate subsequent U.S. Presidents during theirs as long as credit card companies continue their deceptive practices. Something must heavily and negatively impact at least one major credit card company that would cause it to go nearly bankrupt or completely bankrupt and this would raise a huge, red flag to all. Just like Bernie Madoff's $50 billion ponzi scheme that went bust, it's just a matter of time.

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