Credit Scores That Get Balance Transfer Credit Cards

If you’re someone who struggles with credit card debt and high interest rates, a balance transfer might be a way to dig yourself out of indebtedness. There are various balance transfer credit cards that offer long 0% intro APR periods that provide you with ample time to pay off your balance. Depending on your credit score, you may qualify for some of the cards we list below.

Keep in mind that the credit score ranges listed below don’t guarantee that you will be approved for a card simply because you fall within the given credit range. Lenders consider numerous factors when determining eligibility.

Excellent credit

Chase Slate<sup>®</sup>

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on Chase’s secure website

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Chase Slate®

Intro BT APR
0%

Introductory rate

Balance Transfer Fee
$0 intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open. After 5% of the amount transferred, with a minimum of $5.
APR
15.99%-24.74%

Variable

Duration
15 months
Credit required
fair-credit

Average

BankAmericard® Credit Card

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on Bank Of America’s secure website

BankAmericard® Credit Card

Intro BT APR
0%

promotional rate

Balance Transfer Fee
$0 Intro balance transfer fee for the first 60 days your account is open. After that, 3% (min. $10)
APR
12.99%-22.99%
Duration
15 months
Credit required
good-credit

Excellent/Good

Discover it® - 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer

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on Discover’s secure website

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Discover it® - 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer

Intro BT APR
0%

promotional rate

Balance Transfer Fee
3%
APR
11.99%-23.99%

Variable

Duration
18 months
Credit required
good-credit

Excellent/Good

Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

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on Citibank’s secure website

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Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

Intro BT APR
0%

promotional rate

Balance Transfer Fee
$5 or 3% of the amount of the transfer, whichever is greater
APR
14.99%-24.99%

Variable

Duration
21 months
Credit required
good-credit

Excellent/Good

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

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on Citibank’s secure website

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Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Intro BT APR
0%

promotional rate

Balance Transfer Fee
$5 or 3% of the amount of the transfer, whichever is greater
APR
14.49%-24.49%

Variable

Duration
18 months
Credit required
good-credit

Excellent/Good

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

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on Citibank’s secure website

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Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

Intro BT APR
0%

promotional rate

Balance Transfer Fee
$5 or 3% of the amount of the transfer, whichever is greater
APR
13.99%-23.99%

Variable

Duration
21 months
Credit required
good-credit

Excellent/Good

Sphere® Credit Card from Santander

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on Santander’s secure website

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Sphere® Credit Card from Santander

Intro BT APR
0%

promotional rate

Balance Transfer Fee
$10 or 4% of the amount of the transfer, whichever is greater
APR
13.49%-23.49%

Variable

Duration
24 months
Credit required
fair-credit

Average

Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card

Intro BT APR
0%

promotional rate

Balance Transfer Fee
3% Intro for 18 months, then 5%
APR
16.15%-25.99%
Duration
18 months
Credit required
good-credit

Excellent/Good

Good credit

Chase Slate<sup>®</sup>

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on Chase’s secure website

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Chase Slate®

Intro BT APR
0%

Introductory rate

Balance Transfer Fee
$0 intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open. After 5% of the amount transferred, with a minimum of $5.
APR
15.99%-24.74%

Variable

Duration
15 months
Credit required
fair-credit

Average

BankAmericard® Credit Card

Apply Now Secured

on Bank Of America’s secure website

BankAmericard® Credit Card

Intro BT APR
0%

promotional rate

Balance Transfer Fee
$0 Intro balance transfer fee for the first 60 days your account is open. After that, 3% (min. $10)
APR
12.99%-22.99%
Duration
15 months
Credit required
good-credit

Excellent/Good

Discover it® - 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer

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on Discover’s secure website

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Discover it® - 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer

Intro BT APR
0%

promotional rate

Balance Transfer Fee
3%
APR
11.99%-23.99%

Variable

Duration
18 months
Credit required
good-credit

Excellent/Good

Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

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on Citibank’s secure website

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Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

Intro BT APR
0%

promotional rate

Balance Transfer Fee
$5 or 3% of the amount of the transfer, whichever is greater
APR
14.99%-24.99%

Variable

Duration
21 months
Credit required
good-credit

Excellent/Good

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

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on Citibank’s secure website

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Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Intro BT APR
0%

promotional rate

Balance Transfer Fee
$5 or 3% of the amount of the transfer, whichever is greater
APR
14.49%-24.49%

Variable

Duration
18 months
Credit required
good-credit

Excellent/Good

Chase Freedom<sup>®</sup>

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on Chase’s secure website

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Chase Freedom®

Intro BT APR
0%

promotional rate

Balance Transfer Fee
$5 or 5% of the amount of the transfer, whichever is greater
APR
15.99%-24.74%

Variable

Duration
15 months
Credit required
good-credit

Excellent/Good

Fair credit

We recommend using LendingTree, MagnifyMoney’s parent company, to shop for the best personal loan. With a single online form, you can see results from dozens of lenders and shop around for the best deal. By using LendingTree to look for a personal loan, a soft credit pull is performed, which means your credit score will not be negatively impacted. Here are options for fair credit:

MasterCard Platinum from Aspire FCU

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on Aspire Credit Union’s secure website

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MasterCard Platinum from Aspire FCU

Intro BT APR
0%

promotional rate

Balance Transfer Fee
$5 or 2% of the amount of the transfer, whichever is greater
APR
9.15%-18.00%

Variable

Duration
6 months
Credit required
fair-credit

Average

LEARN MORE Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

LendingTree

Loan Amount
up to $35,000
Term
up to 60 Months
APR Range
5.99%-35.99%
Origination Fee
Varies
Credit Required
Bad or Could be Better/Average/Good/Excellent
Soft Pull
You can get your rate without hurting your score.

Bad credit

*The credit score ranges listed above are for FICO Scores and obtained from Experian.

FAQ

The amount of time your have to complete your transfer will vary by credit card. Many cards require you to complete your transfer between 30 to 60 days from account opening, but check your specific card agreement for specifics. A good rule of thumb is to complete your transfer as soon as possible; the 0% intro APR period often starts from the day your account is opened.

Many cards charge a balance transfer fee ranging from 3 to 5 percent of the amount you transfer. So if you transfer $1,000 to a card with a 3 percent fee, you will accrue a $30 fee and owe $1,030. But be advised: There are cards that have $0 intro transfer fees.

Any remaining balances will accrue interest. The rate depends on your card agreement.

The post Credit Scores That Get Balance Transfer Credit Cards appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

How to Choose the Right Type Of Debt Consolidation

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If you’re feeling buried by what you owe, debt consolidation could provide you with both immediate relief and a quicker path to debt-free.

Debt consolidation is the process of taking out a new loan and using that money to pay off your existing debt. It can help in a number of ways:

  • A lower interest rate could save you money and allow you to pay your debt off sooner
  • A longer repayment period could reduce your monthly payment
  • A single loan and single payment could be easier to manage than multiple loans

But debt consolidation isn’t without its potential pitfalls. First and foremost: Consolidating your debt doesn’t address the behavior that got you into trouble in the first place. If you’re in debt because of overspending, consolidating may actually exacerbate your problems by opening up new lines of credit that you can use to spend even more.

And every debt consolidation option has its own set of pros and cons that can make it a good fit or a bad one, depending on your circumstances.

This post explains all of those pros and cons. It should help you decide if debt consolidation is the right move for you, and, if so, which option is best.

Six Consolidation Options to Choose From

1. Credit card balance transfers

A credit card balance transfer is often the cheapest debt consolidation option, especially if you have excellent credit.

With this kind of transfer, you open a new credit card and transfer the balance on your existing card(s) to it. There is occasionally a small fee for the transfer, but if you have excellent credit, you can often complete the transfer for free and take advantage of 0 percent interest offers for anywhere from 12-21 months. None of the other debt consolidation options can match that interest rate.

There are some downsides, though:

  • You need a credit score of 700 or above to qualify for the best interest rate promotional periods.
  • Many cards charge fees of 3 to 5 percent on the amount that you transfer, which can eat into your savings.
  • Unless you cancel your old cards, you’re opening up additional borrowing capacity that can lead to even more credit card debt. Let’s put that another way: Now that you’ve paid off your old cards, you might be tempted to start using them again. (Don’t!)
  • If you don’t pay the loan back completely during the promotional period, your interest rate can subsequently soar. Some balance transfer cards also charge deferred interest, which can further increase the cost if you don’t pay your debt off in time.
  • This just isn’t for people with high levels of debt. Credit limits are relatively low compared with those tied to other debt consolidation options.

Given all of that, a credit card balance transfer is best for someone with excellent credit, relatively small amounts of debt and strong budgeting habits that will prevent them from adding to their burden by getting even further into debt.

Comparecards.com, also owned by LendingTree, tracks the best 0 percent balance transfer offers.

2. Home equity/HELOCs

Home equity loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) allow you to tap into the equity you’ve built in your home for any number of reasons, including to pay off some or all of your other debt.

The biggest benefit of this approach is that interest rates are still near all-time lows, giving you the opportunity to significantly reduce the cost of your debt. You may even be able to deduct your interest payments for tax purposes.

But again, there are perils. Here are some of the downsides to using a HELOC/home equity loan for debt consolidation:

  • Upfront processing fees. You need to watch out for upfront costs, which can eat into or even completely negate the impact of lowering your interest rate. You can run the numbers yourself here.
  • Long loan terms. You also need to be careful about extending your loan term. You might be able to reduce your monthly payment that way, but if you extend it too far, you could end up paying more interest overall. Home equity loans typically have terms of five to 15 years, while home equity lines of credit typically have 10-to-20-year repayment periods.
  • You could lose your home. Finally, you need to understand that these loans are secured by your home. Fail to make timely payments, and you put that home in jeopardy. This is why, though the interest rates are lower than with most other debt consolidation options, there’s also added risk.

Home equity loans and HELOCs are generally best for people who have built up significant equity in their home, can get a loan with minimal upfront costs, and either don’t have excellent credit or need to consolidate more debt than is possible with a simple balance transfer.

You can ask your current mortgage provider about taking out a home equity loan or line of credit. Also, compare offers at MagnifyMoney’s parent company, LendingTree, here and here.

3. Personal loans

Personal loans are unsecured loans, typically with terms of two to seven years. Interest rates typically range from 5 to 36 percent, depending on your credit score and the amount you borrow.

The advantage of a personal loan over a credit card balance transfer is that it’s easier to qualify. While you typically need a credit score of 700 for a balance transfer, you can get a personal loan with a credit score as low as 580. You can also qualify for larger loan amounts than the typical balance transfer.

And the big advantage over a home equity loan or line of credit is that the loan is not secured by your house. This means you can’t lose your home if you have trouble paying back the debt. You can also apply for and obtain a personal loan very quickly, often at a lower cost than a home equity loan or line of credit.

The biggest disadvantage is that your interest rate will likely be higher than either of those options. And if your credit score is low, you may not find a better interest rate than what you already have.

Generally, a personal loan is best for someone with a credit score between 600 and 700 who either doesn’t have home equity or doesn’t want to borrow against his or her home.

You can shop around for a personal loan at LendingTree here. It’s important to compare offers to get the best deal possible.

4. Banks and credit unions

In addition to shopping for a personal loan online, you can contact your local banks or credit unions to see what types of loan options offer.

This is more time-consuming than applying online, and it can be harder to compare a variety of loan options. But it may lead to a better interest rate, especially if you already have a good relationship with a local bank.

One strategy you might try: Get quotes online using a service like LendingTree’s, then take those quotes to the bank or credit union and give it a chance to do better.

This strategy is best for anyone who already has a good and lengthy banking relationship, particularly with a credit union. But if you’re going the personal-loan route, it’s worth looking into in any case.

You can find credit unions in your area here.

5. Borrowing from family or friends

If you’re lucky enough to have family members or friends who have ample assets and are happy to help, this could be the easiest and cheapest debt consolidation option.

With no credit check, no upfront fees and relatively lenient interest rate policies, this might seem like the best of all worlds.

Even so, there are some things to watch out for.

First: A loan fundamentally changes your relationship with the person from whom you borrow. No matter what terms you’re on now or how much you love and trust this person, borrowing money introduces the potential for the relationship to sour in a hurry.

Consequently, if you do want to go this route, you need to do it the right way.

Eric Rosenberg, the chief executive of Money Mola, an app that lets friends and family track loans and calculate interest, suggests creating a contract that outlines each party’s responsibilities, how much money will be borrowed, the timeline for repayment, the payment frequency and the interest rate. He also suggests using a spreadsheet to keep track of the payments made and the balance due.

And Neal Frankle, a certified financial planner and the founder of Credit Pilgrim, suggests adhering to the current guidelines for Applicable Federal Rate (AFR), which as of this writing require a minimum interest of 1.27 to 2.5 percent, depending on the length of the loan. Otherwise, you may have to explain yourself to the IRS and the person lending you the money could be charged imputed interest and have to pay additional taxes.

If you have a family member or a friend who is both willing and able to lend you money, and if your credit isn’t strong enough to qualify favorably for one of the other options above, this could be a quick and inexpensive way to consolidate your debt.

6. Retirement accounts

Employer retirement plans like 401(k)s and 403(b)s often have provisions that allow you to borrow from the accumulated sums, with repayment of the loan going right back into your account.

And while you can’t borrow from an IRA, you can withdraw up to the amount you’ve contributed to a Roth IRA at any time without penalties or taxes, and you can withdraw money from a traditional IRA early if you’re willing to pay both taxes and a 10 percent penalty (with a few exceptions).

The biggest advantage of taking the money out of a retirement account is that there is no credit check. You can get the money quickly, no matter what your credit history looks like. And with a 401(k) or 403(b), you are also paying interest back to yourself rather than giving it to a lender.

Still, while there are situations in which borrowing from an employer plan can make sense, most financial experts agree that this should be considered a last-resort debt consolidation option.

One reason is simply this: Your current debt is already hindering your ability to save for the future, while taking money out of these accounts will only exacerbate the problem. Another is that tapping a retirement account now may increase the odds that it will happen again.

“I’d stay away from a 401(k) loan like the plague,” says Ryan McPherson. McPherson, based in Atlanta, Ga., is a certified financial planner and fee-only financial planner and the founder of Intelligent Worth. “With no underwriting process, and because you’re not securing it with your house, you’re more likely to do it again in the future.”

If you are in dire straits and cannot use any of the other strategies above, then borrowing or withdrawing from a retirement account may be the only consolidation option you have. Otherwise, you are likely to be better off going another route.

Things to consider before picking a debt consolidation strategy

With all these debt consolidation options at your disposal, how do you choose the right one for your situation? To be sure, it’s a key decision: The right option will make it easier for you to pay your obligations, and less likely that you’ll fall back into debt.

Here are the biggest variables you should consider before making the choice:

  1. Have you fixed the cause of the debt? Until you’ve addressed the root cause of your debt, how can any consolidation option help you get and stay out of debt?
  2. How much debt do you have? Smaller debts can be handled through any of these options. Larger debts might rule out balance transfers or borrowing from relatives or friends.
  3. What are your interest rates? You need to be able to compare your current interest rates with the interest rates you’re offered by the options above, if you want to know whether you’re getting a good deal.
  4. What is your credit score? Your score determines eligibility for various debt consolidation options, as well as the quality of the offers you’ll receive. You can check your credit score here.
  5. When do you want to be debt-free? Shorter repayment periods will cost less but require a higher monthly payment. Longer repayment periods will cost more but with a lower monthly payment. With this in mind, you need to decide both what you want and what you can afford.
  6. Do you have home equity? This determines whether a home equity loan or line of credit is an option. If it is, you should decide if you’re comfortable putting your home on the line.
  7. Do you have savings? Could you use some of your savings, outside of retirement accounts, to pay off some or all of your debt? That may allow you to avoid debt consolidation altogether and save yourself some money.

So … what’s the best consolidation strategy?

Unfortunately, there is no single answer to this tough question. The right answer for you depends the specifics of the situation.

Your job is to know what you currently owe and understand the pros and cons of each option we’ve outlined above. In this fashion, you can make an informed choice, one that’ll get you out of debt now and keep you out of it forever.

The post How to Choose the Right Type Of Debt Consolidation appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

Capital One Balance Transfer Offer

review-cc-full

Balance transfer offers on credit cards can be an excellent way to reduce the cost of expensive credit card debt, helping you can get out of debt faster. Capital One only offers one card with a balance transfer intro period. Balance transfers are usually offered only to people with excellent credit, however you may qualify if you have good credit. It’s always a good idea to check if you’re prequalified before submitting an application.

In this article, we will:

  • Review the balance transfer offer from Capital One
  • Provide details on who can be approved for the offer
  • Decode the fine print, so that you know how to avoid tricks and traps that could cost you

Note: If you are looking to get out of debt, you should consider downloading our free Debt Free Guide. It will show you how to slash your interest rates, boost your credit score, negotiate hard with creditors and become debt-free fast and forever. Balance transfers can be a great tool in your debt-free strategy, but everyone should have a strategy. And this guide can help you build one.

Offer Review

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Quicksilver from Capital One

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on Capital One’s secure website

The Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card is best known for having no annual fee, and providing unlimited 1.5% cash back on all of your spend. Unlike many cash back credit cards, there are no rotating categories, no caps, and no minimums for getting your cash back. They really raised the bar on cash back credit cards, until Citibank created the Citi® Double Cash Card which does the same thing, except you earn unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card offers 0% for 9 months on balance transfers, with a 3% fee. When compared to the rest of the market, this is a mediocre intro period. You can find cards with intro periods of 15, 21 and 24 months. We list all of the balance transfer options here.

Approval Criteria

Capital One markets this card for people with excellent credit. On their website, excellent credit is defined as someone who:

  • Has never declared bankruptcy or defaulted on a loan
  • Hasn’t been more than 60 days late on any credit card, medical bill, or loan in the last year
  • Has had a loan or credit card for 3 years or more with a credit limit above $5,000

If your credit score isn’t excellent, your options are much more limited. In fact, we recommend considering a personal loan to get a lower rate on your debt, where you will have a better chance of getting a higher loan amount.

 Fine Print Alert

Balance transfers can save you a lot of money. However, there are certain traps out there, and if you fall for those traps it could end up costing you a lot of money. Make sure you do the following:

  • If you are approved for your balance transfer credit card, complete the balance transfer right away. The 0% promotional offer begins the day your account is open.
  • Set up automatic payments so that you are never late. Even being late by one day can result in a steep late fee. And, if you are late by 60 days or more, you can see a big spike in your interest rate.
  • Don’t spend on the credit card. Although Capital One does offer 0% on purchases, they do that as a temptation. They want you to spend, so that you don’t use the promotional period to pay down your debt. If you are using a balance transfer, you should be doing it to get out of debt faster.

To learn more about balance transfers, you can visit our learning center.

Balance transfers, when used properly, can take years off your debt repayment. With proper credit behavior, the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card can save you money and help rid you of debt.

promo-balancetransfer-wide

The post Capital One Balance Transfer Offer appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

Review: Alliant Credit Union Visa Platinum Card Balance Transfer

If you have credit card debt, you are probably paying a high (double-digit) interest rate. One of the best ways to get out of debt faster is to use a 0% balance transfer offer. At MagnifyMoney, our favorite balance transfers have no balance transfer fee. Alliant Credit Union — a credit union that anyone can join — is offering a no-fee 0% balance transfer for 12 months. Although there are longer 0% balance transfers on the market, this is a solid no-fee option that can help you save money and become debt-free faster.

One added perk: Once you become a member of the credit union to take advantage of the balance transfer offer, you will also be able to take advantage of Alliant’s other competitive products. They offer a savings account that pays 1.05% APY. They offer 2.5% cash back on a new credit card. And their mortgage and auto loan rates are some of the lowest in the country. Alliant, one of our favorite credit unions in the country, provides the value you expect from a credit union with the user interface and digital tools that you would expect from a bank.

Visa® Platinum Card from Alliant CU

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On Alliant CU’s Website

Visa® Platinum Card from Alliant CU

Intro Rate
0%
promotional rate
Fee
$0
APR
9.99%-21.99%
Transfer Period
12 months
Credit required
Average

Average

  • As low as 0% introductory rate for 12 months (After the introductory period, a low standard variable rate applies, ranging from 9.99%-21.99%)
  • No annual fee
  • No balance transfer fee (unless associated with a promotional offer)
  • Generous credit lines
  • $0 fraud liability guarantee

How the Card Works

The Alliant Visa Platinum Card is a very simple, straightforward credit card. There is no annual fee, and there are no rewards. You will probably be given a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months that you have the card (more on that later). Even better — there is no fee for the balance transfer. After 12 months, the APR will range from 9.99% to 21.99%, depending upon your credit score.

Unfortunately, there is one part of this card that is a little complicated — and could lead to disappointment. You are not guaranteed the 0% interest rate for the 12 months. Depending upon your credit score, the interest rate during the 12-month promotional period could be as high as 5.99%. While a 5.99% rate (especially for someone with a less than perfect credit score) could be a good deal — it is certainly not the 0% intro APR being advertised.

In order to get the credit card, you will need to become a member of the credit union. There are a number of ways that you can become a member. Some of the ways are free (for example, you live in a community in Illinois that is covered). But for most people, the easiest way to join is to make a $10 donation to Foster Care to Success. This is an organization that serves foster teens across the U.S. that are “ageing out” of the system. Once you make that contribution, you will be eligible to join the credit union and get the credit card (along with other credit union products). The application process is easy — you just need to select “not a member” at the beginning of the process, and it will walk you through the membership process as part of your credit card application.

The credit card does offer some standard credit card perks, like $0 fraud liability and rental car insurance. However, the real value is the low interest rate that can help you become debt-free fast.

If you want to earn rewards, Alliant does offer another card — the Visa Platinum Rewards Card. This card has the same balance transfer offer (0% for 12 months with no balance transfer fee). But with this card, you also earn rewards. You can earn 2 points for every $1 spent on the card. However, the APRs (after the balance transfer period) will be higher. In general, we advise people to separate their spending from their borrowing. Cards that offer no rewards tend to have lower interest rates, and cards with rewards have higher interest rates — as we see in this case. If you are looking to become debt-free, it is probably better to ignore rewards and get the lowest interest rate possible.

How to Qualify for the Card

Alliant targets people with good or excellent credit. In general, that means you have a decent chance of being approved if your score is in the mid-600s, but you have a much better chance of being approved if your score is above 700.

In addition, Alliant (like all lenders) will need to be comfortable that you will be able to afford your payments. That means you will need to have a steady source of income. In addition, the lender will likely look at your total debt in relation to your income. If you have too much debt, you will find it more difficult to get approved.

What We Like About the Card

No fee for the balance transfer.

There is nothing better than free. And with no balance transfer fee and no interest for 12 months, that is exactly what you get. Pay down as much of the debt as possible during the promotional period — because every dollar of every payment will go toward principal.

It is from a credit union.

At MagnifyMoney, we like credit unions — in theory. As member-owned organizations, credit unions do not need to worry about shareholders and should be able to offer better value and lower interest rates. Unfortunately, far too many credit unions have websites that look like they were designed in the 1990s. With Alliant, we finally have a credit union that has made the application process easy, and has a great website. Alliant is delivering on the true potential of a credit union.

What We Don’t Like About the Card

It is not the longest balance transfer.

There are a number of longer no-fee balance transfer options on the market. You can get a no-fee balance transfer for as long as 15 months from some of the leading banks in the country.

You are not guaranteed a 0% intro offer — the rate could be higher.

In the fine print, Alliant makes it clear that you might not get a 0% intro rate. The intro rate could be as high as 5.99%, depending upon your credit score. The only silver lining: Alliant is willing to give intro rates to people with less than perfect credit. But we still find it a bit annoying that you could apply for a 0% intro rate and end up with a 5.99% rate instead.

Joining the credit union costs money.

If you can’t find a free way to join the credit union, you will have to make a $10 donation. We certainly like the cause that you would be supporting. However, it is still additional money that you would need to spend in order to get access to the product.

How to Complete a Balance Transfer

Completing the balance transfer is easy. During the application process, you can provide the credit card number of your existing credit cards (where the debt is located now). Alliant will then make a payment to your existing credit card companies.

Alternatively, you can call Alliant once you have the card to complete the balance transfer on the phone.

Just remember these tips:

  • If you start the balance transfer close to the payment date, you might want to make the minimum payment to ensure you don’t get hit with any late charges. Although balance transfers usually process quickly — they can take a couple of weeks. And you would not want to get stuck with a late fee.
  • Get the transfer done as quickly as possible. The 0% is for 12 months from when you open the account — not from when you transfer the debt. The faster your transfer the debt, the more money you can save.

Alternatives to the Card

If You Want a Longer Intro Period and No Balance Transfer Fee

Chase is the largest credit card issuer in America. It offers a great balance transfer on its Chase Slate credit card. Save with a $0 introductory balance transfer fee and get 0% introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and $0 annual fee. Just remember that you cannot transfer debt from other Chase products — including co-brand credit cards for airlines (like United and Southwest) or hotels (like Marriott or Hyatt).

Barclaycard is the American credit card division of Barclays Bank. Barclays is a large British bank. With Barclaycard Ring, you can get 0% intro APR for 15 months on a balance transfer and no intro balance transfer fee — so long as you complete the transfer within 45 days of opening the card. Just remember: Barclaycard only accepts people with excellent credit.

Who Benefits Most from the Card

If you have credit card debt that you think you can pay off in a year, this is a great option. With no balance transfer fee and 0% interest for one year — you can pay down your debt quickly. If you think it will take longer to pay off your debt, you might want to consider a longer balance transfer from a more traditional bank.

FAQs

Yes, anyone can join. During the application process, you will be asked if you are already a member of the credit union. Just select “not a member” and you can join during the application process.

Once the introductory period is over, interest will start to accrue at the standard purchase interest rate on a go-forward basis. Interest during the introductory period is waived — so you do not need to worry about a retroactive interest charge.

In the short term, your credit score will probably take a small hit (5-10 points) because you applied for new credit. However, over time, a balance transfer can increase your credit score with proper practices. This is because while new credit makes up 10% of your credit score, the amount you owe accounts for 30%. By using a balance transfer, you will reduce your interest rate. That should help you get out of debt a lot faster.

The post Review: Alliant Credit Union Visa Platinum Card Balance Transfer appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

Citi Simplicity Review: Now 0% Balance Transfer for 21 Months

Citi Simplicity has one of the longest 0% balance transfer offers on the market. If you transfer credit card debt to Simplicity, you will get a 0% intro APR for an incredible 21 months. There is a 3% balance transfer fee. You should do the math (and we will help you later in this post) — but for most people the fee is worth paying. As the name implies, Citi has tried to make this card “simple.” That means no late fees, no annual fee, and no penalty APR. It also means no rewards. If you have credit card debt at a high interest rate, Simplicity can help you save a lot of money and become debt-free faster if you use it wisely.

Citi Simplicity® Card

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On Citibank’s Website

Citi Simplicity® Card

Intro Rate
0%
promotional rate
Fee
3%
APR
14.24%-24.24%
Transfer Period
21 months
Credit required
Good

Good

  • The ONLY card with No Late Fees, No Penalty Rate, and No Annual Fee… EVER.
  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers and Purchases for 21 months. After that, the variable APR will be 14.24% - 24.24% based on your creditworthiness.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • The same great rate for all balances, after the introductory period.
  • Save time when you call with fast, personal help, 24 hours a day – just say “representative”
  • Enjoy the convenience of setting up your own bill payment schedule on any available due date throughout the month.

How the Card Works

The card gets its name, Citi Simplicity, from its effort to keep things simple. There is never an annual fee, late fee, or penalty rate. There is an introductory offer of 0% for 21 months which includes balance transfers made within the first four months of opening the card and all purchases made during the 21-month period. After 21 months your rate will depend on your creditworthiness. Additionally, after the introductory rate ends, you will see the same interest rate for purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances.

The Introductory Offer

This is the longest 0% purchase offer that we have found on the market. If you need to finance a purchase, it will be hard to find a better deal. What we particularly like about this 0% APR is that the interest is waived, not deferred. Most store credit cards only defer the interest (and for far fewer than 21 months), and you would be hit with a big penalty if you don’t pay the balance in full before the promotional period is over. That is not the case with Citi Simplicity.

In addition to the 0% purchase offer, there is also a very strong 0% balance transfer offer. You will pay no interest for 21 months, but will need to pay a 3% balance transfer. If you think you can pay your debt in full within 6 months, a balance transfer is usually not worthwhile. However, if you think it will take longer than 6 months, the fee is usually worth it and you can use this calculator to see how much you can save.

Here is an example to help understand the math. If you are making a monthly payment of $300 on $10,000 of credit card debt at a current interest rate of 17% and you transfer it to the Citi Simplicity card, you will be charged a $300 upfront fee. However, during the 21-month promotional period you would save over $2,000 — making the $300 fee worthwhile.

What Happens After 21 Months

Even if you still have a balance at the end of the 21 months, interest will start to accrue on your remaining balance on a go-forward basis. There is no penalty, and no retroactive interest will be applied.

No Late Fee

Most credit cards charge a late fee of around $30 when you miss paying at least the minimum payment by the deadline. However, the Citi Simplicity does away with this fee and will let you choose your payment due date when you sign up.

However, just because Citi doesn’t charge a late fee doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences for making a late payment. If your payment is more than 30 days late, Citi would report that information to the credit bureau. This can have a negative impact on your credit score that can result in higher interest rates when you later apply for new lines of credit.

No Penalty Rate

Most credit cards in addition to charging a late fee will penalize you with an increased interest rate when you are late with a payment. This rate could be somewhere in the 30% range for purchases moving forward. The Citi Simplicity Card promises no penalty rate, meaning even if you are late with a payment, after all mistakes happen, you won’t be gouged with your credit card interest rate. However, if you bounce a check for payment, then you can be charged $35.

Same Interest Rate No Matter What You Use Your Card For

The Citi Simplicity card, keeping things simple, makes the interest rate for purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances all the same. Many other credit cards will have different interest rates for each.

Price Protection

It’s already been mentioned that the Citi Simplicity card does not offer any rewards programs. However, they do offer some price protection. It’s called Citi Price Rewind. After you make a purchase with your card, you can register that purchase with Citi. Then Citi will search for lower prices across hundreds of online retailers. If Citi finds it at a lower price within 60 days, you will receive the difference between what you paid and the lower price found, up to $500 per purchase and $2,500 per year.

The only downside is this benefit only applies to certain purchases. For example, it doesn’t apply to purchasing a car, but can apply for tires purchased. You can view the full list of what qualifies here. If you find a lower price yourself, then you can submit a Price Rewind Benefit Request.

How to Qualify for the Card

You need to have good or excellent credit in order to be approved for the credit card.

In addition to a strong credit score, you will also need to demonstrate your ability to repay the debt. Citi will look at your total debt relative to your income to ensure that you are not too deep into debt. This product is not a way for people in trouble to get a lower rate — it is a way for Citi to get borrowers with a good profile who want a lower interest rate.

What We Like About the Card

A very long 0% period.

At a 3% balance transfer fee, this is the longest balance transfer on the market. Time is money — and every additional month at 0% can represent considerable savings.

Fewer “gotcha” fees.

Although we hope you never need to take advantage of these benefits, the card has no late fees and no penalty APR. In order to avoid even the risk of a late fee, we strongly recommend that you automate your monthly payments. However, mistakes can happen — and we do applaud Citi for removing some of the most annoying fees.

Price Rewind — it is actually a nice feature.

Price Rewind is a feature that is not used enough. Citi will look for a better deal — and give you the difference if you overpaid. This isn’t just a promise — we have spoken with people who have benefited from this feature.

What We Don’t Like About the Card

There is a balance transfer fee.

In most cases, and for most people, the fee will more than pay for itself. However, there are other balance transfer deals on the market that don’t have a fee. Just make sure you do the math to ensure that the fee is worth paying in your situation.

The rate after the 0% intro offer is not low.

After the intro period is over, the go-to purchase APR is not low. It ranges from the teens to the 20s, depending upon your credit risk. Hopefully, the 21-month period is long enough to eliminate your debt completely.

How to Complete a Balance Transfer

After receiving your card, you should call the number on the back of your card to initiate the balance transfer. You will need to give the credit card number of the credit card that has the debt. You cannot transfer debt from another Citi credit card (including its co-brand cards).

Although it can take less time, Citi warns that a balance transfer takes at least 14 days to complete. And you will remain responsible for making all payments on your card until the transfer is complete. We recommend paying close attention so that you do not end up with any late fees on your existing cards.

Alternatives to the Card

If You Want to Avoid a Balance Transfer Fee

There are two options if you want to avoid a balance transfer fee: Chase and Barclaycard. Both are good options.

Chase is the largest credit card issuer in America. It offers a great balance transfer on its Chase Slate credit card. You can get 0% interest (on transfers made within 60 days of opening the card) for 15 months. There is no intro balance transfer fee and no annual fee. Just remember that you cannot transfer debt from other Chase products — including co-brand credit cards for airlines (like United and Southwest) or hotels (like Marriott or Hyatt).

Barclaycard is the American credit card division of Barclays Bank. Barclays is a large British bank. With Barclaycard Ring, you can get 0% for 15 months on balance transfer and no balance transfer fee — so long as you complete the transfer within 45 days of opening the card. Just remember: Barclaycard only accepts people with excellent credit.

Who Benefits Most from the Card

If you have a lot of credit card debt that will take a long time (more than 15 months) to pay off, this card is a great option. Over 21 months, the savings can be incredible. Just make sure you take advantage of the 0% period to attack your debt as quickly as possible.

FAQs

No — you do not need excellent credit. Citi will approve anyone with good or excellent credit.

Once the introductory period is over, interest will start to accrue at the standard purchase interest rate on a go-forward basis. Interest during the introductory period is waived — so you do not need to worry about a retroactive interest charge.

In the short term, your credit score will probably take a small hit (5-10 points) because you applied for new credit. However, over time, a balance transfer can increase your credit score with proper practices. This is because while new credit makes up 10% of your credit score, the amount you owe accounts for 30%. By using a balance transfer, you will reduce your interest rate. That should help you get out of debt a lot faster.

The post Citi Simplicity Review: Now 0% Balance Transfer for 21 Months appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

Review: Aspire Credit Union Platinum MasterCard Balance Transfer

When you have a less than stellar credit score, and you’re battling credit card debt, it can seem like a steep uphill battle. You want a balance transfer, but finding a card that you qualify for and that has a low introductory rate for balance transfers can be tough. This is where the Aspire Platinum MasterCard (from a credit union) comes into play.

It offers a 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first six months. It also doesn’t charge a balance transfer fee during the introductory period. There is no annual fee, and the standard purchase APR is much lower than the competition. This is the best balance transfer for fair credit that we could find on the market.

MasterCard Platinum from Aspire FCU

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On Aspire Credit Union’s Website

MasterCard Platinum from Aspire FCU

Intro Rate
0%
promotional rate
Fee
2%
APR
8.90%-18.00%
Transfer Period
6 months
Credit required
Average

Average

  • No annual fee
  • 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 6 months
  • After intro period variable 8.90%-18.00% APR
  • 2% balance transfer fee, waived during the intro period
  • 1% foreign transaction fee
  • Generous credit limits

How the Card Works

In order to apply for this credit card, you need to open a savings account and maintain a minimum deposit of $5, and you will need to be a member of the credit union. Fortunately, anyone can join the credit union. During the credit card application process, you can elect to join the American Consumer Council (at no cost), which will make you eligible for all credit union products.

The credit card itself is relatively simple. The Platinum MasterCard has been created for people with fair to good credit. The card has a good intro balance transfer offer and much lower ongoing interest rates than traditional credit card companies.

The balance transfer offer is relatively simple. You will get a 0% introductory APR for six months with no balance transfer fee during this period. Although there are much longer balance transfer offers in the market, most of those are not available to people with fair credit. So, although this is a relatively short balance transfer, it might be the best offer for someone with fair credit.

The card has no annual fee. After the 0% intro offer the interest rate will revert to the standard purchase APR, which is from 8.90% to 18%. Most credit card issuers tend to start in the teens and end in the 20s (14%-24%, for example). These are very good rates — and for people with fair credit, these could be excellent rates.

Just remember: You can only transfer debt from other credit card issuers. That is probably not an issue (because you most likely do not already have debt with Aspire), but it is something to remember. Also, the 0% offer lasts for six months from the date you open the card, not six months from the date you transfer the debt. So you should get the transfer done as soon as possible.

How to Qualify for the Card

The Aspire Platinum MasterCard is designed for those with a fair to good credit score, somewhere between 600 and 700. If you fall in this range, you are likely to qualify.

Just remember that credit score is only part of the underwriting decision. Most credit card issuers, including this credit union, will want to know that you can afford to repay the debt. That means you will need to have a job and sufficient income.

What We Like About the Card

Finally, a balance transfer for people with fair credit.

If you have fair credit, it can be impossible to get approved for a balance transfer offer. This is one of the only (and by default, best) deals that we could find to get a 0% balance transfer. Just remember: This offer is for people with fair to good credit. If you have good credit, you can find a much better deal with someone else (with a longer balance transfer). But if you have fair credit (low 600s), this is probably one of the best deals out there.

Low ongoing APR.

Because this balance transfer offer is only for six months, you will probably still have debt remaining after the balance transfer is over. Fortunately, Aspire offers credit union rates. There are no rewards on the card — but that helps to keep the interest rate low.

What We Don’t Like About the Card

Short introductory period.

The Aspire card has a very short introductory period of only six months. This is low compared to other cards that have intro periods around 15 months and can be as many as 21 months (or more). If you have good credit, you can find better deals elsewhere.

No rewards program.

You might also take note that the Aspire Platinum MasterCard does not include any rewards program. Aspire offers the Platinum Rewards MasterCard and World Rewards MasterCard as rewards card options. However, they both require a good to excellent credit score.

How to Complete a Balance Transfer

To transfer your existing credit card debt to a new balance transfer credit card, you need to call your new credit card company and give them your old account number. Then they will pay off that credit card for you and tack that debt onto your new card. There are a few things to make note of before you complete a balance transfer to ensure the most benefit:

  • Note that you can’t transfer balances between cards from the same bank.
  • Make sure you request a balance transfer within six months of receiving your new credit card or receiving an offer.
  • Check to make sure the terms of the balance transfer match the offer you received.
  • Make sure you always pay your bill on time or you may lose your balance transfer offer.

Alternatives to the Card

If you have fair credit (low 600s), this might be one of your only options. However, if you have good or excellent credit, there are much better balance transfer deals on the market.

Many cards offer an introductory period of at least 12 months, and some offer introductory periods of 21 months or longer. These cards also do not charge an annual fee or new member fee.

If You Want a Longer Intro Period (And Are Willing to Pay a Transfer Fee)

The Citi Simplicity Credit Card has a 0% introductory period for 21 months. This is one of the longest intro periods we have seen and can be extremely beneficial. There is a 3% balance transfer fee that isn’t waived during the intro period, unlike Aspire. However, the length of the intro period may save you money if you have a large amount of debt and need time to pay it off. Besides no annual fee, Citi Simplicity boasts no late fees and no penalty rate. The APR for Citi is higher than Aspire, ranging from 14.24% to 24.24%, but if you plan on paying off your debt before the end of the intro period and pay each statement on time, the APR won’t be a major point.

If You Want a Longer Intro Period and No Balance Transfer Fee

The Chase Slate card is another option for balance transfers. Save with a $0 introductory balance transfer fee and get 0% introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and $0 annual fee. Plus, receive your Monthly FICO® Score for free. Just make sure you complete your balance transfer within 60 days of opening the account.

Who Benefits Most from the Card

The short introductory period makes the Aspire Platinum MasterCard a good option for people with a fair credit score who have a debt to pay off. Not only do you get a nice low intro rate, but the ongoing APR will likely be lower than your current credit card.

However, if you have good credit, then you could easily get a balance transfer card with a longer introductory period.

FAQs

Yes, anyone can join at no cost. When you apply for the card, you will also be asked to register as a member of the credit union, at no additional cost. All that is needed is for you to deposit $5 in a savings account. Note that the $5 must remain in the account during the length of time you have the credit card.

Once the introductory period is over, interest will start to accrue at the standard purchase interest rate on a go-forward basis. Interest during the introductory period is waived — so you do not need to worry about a retroactive interest charge.

In the short term, your credit score will probably take a small hit (5-10 points) because you applied for new credit. However, over time, a balance transfer can increase your credit score with proper practices. This is because while new credit makes up 10% of your credit score, the amount you owe accounts for 30%. By using a balance transfer, you will reduce your interest rate. That should help you get out of debt a lot faster.

The post Review: Aspire Credit Union Platinum MasterCard Balance Transfer appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

Barclaycard Ring Review: 0% Balance Transfer Until 2018

If you are looking for a balance transfer, this is one of the best offers available in the market. Barclaycard Ring has a 0% intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers made within the first 45 days of opening the card. Even better — there is no intro balance transfer fee. There is also no annual fee, so this is a great choice for anyone looking to get out of credit card debt cheaper and faster.

Barclaycard Ring™ MasterCard<sup>®</sup>

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On Barclaycard’s Website

Barclaycard Ring™ MasterCard®

Intro Rate
0%
promotional rate
Fee
$0
APR
13.74%
Transfer Period
15 months
Credit required
Excellent

Excellent

  • 0% Introductory APR for the first 15 months on purchases. Plus, you'll get a 0% introductory APR for 15 months on Balance Transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR will apply, 13.74%
  • No balance transfer fees
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No annual fee
  • Chip technology, so paying for your purchases is more secure at chip-card terminals in the U.S. and abroad
  • Free online access to FICO® Credit Score

How to qualify for the Barclaycard Ring MasterCard

The Barclaycard Ring MasterCard is only for people with excellent credit. If you have good (but not excellent) credit, consider the Chase Slate® card — another card with a very good balance transfer offer. Although banks keep their approval criteria to themselves, here is a good idea of what it takes to get approved by Barclaycard:

  • Have an excellent credit score.
  • Don’t have too much credit card debt.
  • You should be current on all of your accounts — no delinquency.

Credit card companies tend to reject people with high debt burdens. You calculate your debt burden by adding up all of your monthly fixed expenses and dividing the number by your monthly income. Your main expenses will be your housing, then any auto payments, student loan payments, and payments for any other credit lines or loans that appear on your credit report. If your debt burden is above 50%, you will find it difficult to get approved. Ideally, your debt burden should be below 40%.

If your debt burden is too high to get approved, or your score hasn’t quite reached “good” yet, you may want to consider applying for a personal loan instead. You’ll have an easier time getting approved and might get a lower APR than your high-interest card. You can use the loan to pay off your credit card debt, then make regular payments on the loan, which will help build your credit score over time.

You can shop for a personal loan from multiple lenders — without hurting your score — here.

Who is Barclaycard?

Barclaycard is the credit card division of UK-based Barclays PLC, one of the world’s largest multinational banking and financial services companies. If you’ve never heard of Barclays, it’s probably because the bank isn’t as big in the United States; however, the bank is no small fish. Barclays is also active in retail, wholesale and investment banking, wealth management, and mortgage lending. The bank is secure — it is the only big UK bank that didn’t require a bailout from the government.

Why we like the Barclaycard Ring MasterCard

Not only does the Barclaycard Ring MasterCard offer one of the best no-fee balance transfer options on the market — but it also has a much lower go-to APR after the balance transfer period is over.

With the Barclaycard Ring MasterCard you won’t pay any interest on balance transfers made within 45 days of opening the card for the first 15 months. After that period, Barclaycard applies a 13.74% variable APR to the remaining balance. There is no balance transfer fee, and the card has no annual fee.

Barclaycard waives the interest during the balance transfer period. You do not need to worry about deferred interest charges. If you still have a balance after the promotional period is over, there will be no retroactive charges or penalties. You will only pay interest, at the 13.75% rate, on the remaining balance on a go-forward basis.

The go-to APR is unique for two reasons. First, the 13.74% rate is pretty low compared to the 15% or higher APR consumers pay to use most credit cards, and significantly less than the more than 20% APR charged on most store credit cards. Even better — everyone approved will get the 13.74% interest rate. There is not a wide range of interest rates, which you typically find with other credit card issuers. However, this rate may vary with the market based on the prime rate.

Barclaycard has another interesting feature — charity giveback. A portion of Ring’s profits will be given to charity. And, as a Ring cardholder, you can vote on which charities get the money. We like that this card offers a great financial deal — and tries to give back to the community at the same time.

What to watch out for:

  1. You need to have “excellent” credit to qualify for the Barclaycard Ring MasterCard, so most people might not make the cut.
  2. Once you have the card, take care not to miss a payment or you’ll be hit with a $27 late payment fee.
  3. The introductory balance transfer offer is only for the first 45 days after you open the account. Don’t miss this window, or you’ll lose the balance transfer offer.
  4. Barclaycard still has high cash advance charges, so you should do your best to avoid taking one. You shouldn’t take a cash advance on a credit card anyway, as interest starts accruing immediately, and it can quickly become an expensive way to borrow money.

How to complete a balance transfer with Barclaycard

Completing a balance transfer with Barclaycard is easy. While applying for the product, you can provide the credit card number of the card you want paid off.

We have put together a step-by-step guide to help you through the process. The online process should take fewer than five minutes. If you have trouble completing the transfer online, you can always call the bank.

Beware: The balance transfer may take as long as four weeks to post to both of your accounts. Continue making payments to each creditor until you receive confirmation that the old balance has been paid off.

2 alternatives to the Barclaycard Ring MasterCard

You won’t qualify for the Barclaycard Ring MasterCard if you already have your debt with Barclaycard. Also, if you don’t have “excellent” credit, you will find it difficult to get approved. Here are a few good options to consider.

A similar offer for people with good credit

Chase has a similar balance transfer offer. A $0 introductory balance transfer fee with 0% introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and $0 annual fee. Plus, receive your Monthly FICO® Score for free.

For people who need more time to pay off their debt.

If you think you might need a few more months to pay off your credit card balance interest-free, you should consider the “Discover it – 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer.” If you have good or excellent credit, you have a good chance of qualifying for the Discover it card. You will have an introductory 0% APR on balance transfers for the first 18 months, with a 3% balance transfer fee.

Frequently asked questions about the Barclaycard Ring MasterCard

You will have 45 days from when you open the account to complete a balance transfer that qualifies for the 0% interest introductory period. Any balance transfer completed after the 45-day period will not be subject to the promotional 0% intro-rate.

If you don’t pay off the balance transfer during the introductory period, you will be charged 13.74% APR, varied based on the prime rate, on the remaining balance on a go-forward basis.

Yes, the introductory interest-free period applies to all charges made in the first 15 billing cycles as well as to balance transfers made within the first 45 days of opening the account.

You can transfer debts from MasterCard, Visa, American Express, or Discover Card accounts. If the debt you want to transfer is not on a MasterCard, Visa, American Express, or Discover Card account, you’ll need to call the number on the back of your card to make the balance transfer once you are approved for the card.

If you miss a payment, you will be charged a late payment fee up to $27.

The Barclaycard Ring MasterCard is a great option for those seeking to ditch high-interest credit card debt. It makes no sense to put your hard-earned money toward paying interest on your debt when you don’t have to. So, if you have excellent credit and high-interest debt to pay off, consider the Barclaycard Ring MasterCard.

The post Barclaycard Ring Review: 0% Balance Transfer Until 2018 appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

How Transferring a Balance Affects Your Credit Score

Are you thinking about taking advantage of a balance transfer offer? They’re awfully tempting and can be an excellent way to efficiently pay off your debt.

Thinking of taking advantage of a balance transfer offer? It can be an excellent way to pay off your debt. But how will transferring a balance affect your credit score? And of what potential pitfalls should you be aware?

It’s impossible to predict exactly how any one financial decision will affect your credit score. We can guess based on what we know about credit-scoring algorithms, and credit score simulators are can show you how a particular choice might affect your score. But so many factors influence your score that an exact effect is difficult to predict.

With that said, we can look at two areas of your credit score a balance transfer will most likely impact: your credit utilization and new credit inquiries.

Balance Transfers & Your Debt-to-Credit Ratio

Your credit utilization, or debt-to-credit ratio, is the second most important piece of your credit score, behind your payment history. It’s essentially a measure of how much you owe versus how much credit you have available.

Say, for instance, you owe $1,000 on a card with a $2,000 limit. In this case, your debt-to-credit ratio is 50%. (You can see how your debt is impacting your credit by viewing two of your scores for free on Credit.com.)

If you’re approved for a new credit card with a balance transfer offer, you’ll wind up with a higher overall credit limit. This could be a good thing, since it will push your debt-to-credit ratio lower.

In the above example, if you’re approved for a new card with a $1,000 limit, your total credit limit will be $3,000. As long as you don’t accrue more debt, your total debt-to-credit ratio will be about 33%. Since that’s better than 50%, your credit score should be fine. Plus, with a lower interest rate, you can presumably pay off the debt quicker. As your debt decreases, so will your debt-to-credit ratio, which means your credit score will climb.

What About New Credit Inquiries?

A balance transfer’s effect on your credit score isn’t all good. To open a new credit card, the card issuer will pull your credit score, which will most likely add an inquiry to your credit file and cause a small but temporary decrease in your score. The impact won’t likely be large unless you apply for several balance transfer cards at once.

The Possible Pitfalls of Balance Transfers

A balance transfer card can be good in some circumstances, but it has potential drawbacks. Here’s what to avoid if you opt for a balance transfer:

Taking on More Debt 

If you’re already dealing with credit card debt because of your spending habits, a balance transfer may be the wrong choice. Opening a new credit card gives you access to more credit, and with that access can come the temptation to spend. If you’re likely to reach your credit limits, a balance transfer card may not be for you.

Paying Too Much in Balance Transfer Fees

Most balance transfer cards come with a one-time fee. This fee may be worth it if it gets you out of paying loads of interest every month. But it might also cost more than you’re willing to pay. Be sure you know what the fee is upfront.

Maxing Out a Credit Card

Scoring algorithms like FICO’s look at both your overall credit utilization and your per-card credit utilization. So maxing out a balance transfer card to take full advantage of a low- or no-interest offer may negatively affect your credit score, even if opening the new card decreases your overall debt-to-credit ratio.

Should You Transfer a Balance?

Is a balance transfer right for you? If transferring a balance helps you save money and pay off debt faster, it’s most likely the right choice. Just be careful if you’re preparing to apply for a larger loan, like a mortgage. Even a small ding at the wrong time can hurt you. Still, transferring a balance and efficiently paying off debt will have great consequences for your credit score over the long term.

Image: Geber86

The post How Transferring a Balance Affects Your Credit Score appeared first on Credit.com.

How to Do a Balance Transfer with Citi

Here's the Right Way to Use a Student Credit Card

A balance transfer can be a great way to consolidate debt and reduce your interest rate. Citi credit cards offer some of the best options for balance transfers. If you’re looking for a balance transfer card that has low fees and a long 0% introductory APR, you might want to consider the Citi Diamond Preferred.

The Citi Diamond Preferred card currently has a 0% balance transfer offer good for 21 months. There is no annual fee; however, Citi will charge $5 or 3% of the total amount transferred to the card, whichever is greater. The card does offer some perks. Citi cardholders can access their FICO score for free and have access to the Citi Easy Deals portal, which provides discounted shopping items for everything from clothing and accessories to household goods. In this guide, we’ll explain exactly how to apply for a balance transfer with the Citi Diamond Preferred credit card. Although Citi offers balance transfers on other Citi cards, this is one of the best offers out there at this time.

If you are ready to take advantage of the Citi Diamond Preferred card balance transfer offer right now, you can click on the green “Go To Site” button below.

If you have a Citi card and want to complete a balance transfer, keep reading and we will explain the process step by step.

Why You Should Consider a Balance Transfer

Setting up a balance transfer is pretty simple, and a great way to get rid of the high interest rate on your credit card debt. At the very least, a balance transfer can buy you time to catch up on old debts. With a 0% APR, every dollar you put toward paying off your debt will go toward the principal balance. And because interest charges won’t continuously work against your progress each month, you should be able to pay down your debts a lot faster.

How to Apply for a Balance Transfer with Citi

With the Citi Diamond Preferred card, you can apply for a balance transfer by phone or online. If approved, you can opt to receive a balance transfer check easily and quickly by phone or online. A balance transfer check is similar to a regular check only it’s issued by the bank (Citi in this case) and used to withdraw cash from your credit line.

With the check, you’ll need to send the money directly to the company that has the debt you’d like to pay off. With the Citi Diamond Preferred card, you can even set up direct deposit for your balance transfer so the funds will go directly into your account if you are trying to pay off a credit card online.

What You Need

To get started, you’ll need the account number and amount(s) you wish to transfer from your current credit card.

The account you are transferring is considered the “transfer from” account, while the Citi credit card will be the “transfer to” account.

If you choose to have the money deposited directly into your account, you’ll also need your bank account and routing number. With direct deposit, the funds can be deposited into your account within 1 to 2 business days. Checks are received within 10 business days.

Keep in mind that you cannot transfer the balance from other accounts issued by Citibank or its affiliates.

Completing a Balance Transfer Online

Like many other banks, Citi allows you to complete a balance transfer conveniently online. Once you receive your card and sign up for online banking, you’ll be able to complete a balance transfer online. Here are the steps you’ll need to take.

  1. Log in to your account. On the main dashboard, you should see an account summary and a link to view a balance transfer offer. Click on “View Offer.”
  1. Next, you’ll be taken to a balance transfer request page where you can review the offer and accept it by clicking “Select Offer.”
  1. Now, you’ll need to enter the transfer information, such as the amount you need to transfer, the account number, and the creditor. At this stage, you can pay up to four creditors at once under the same offer if you wish ($100 minimum amount per transfer).

If you’d like to receive a check transfer, you can also choose if you’d prefer direct deposit or a check by mail. After you’ve finished filling out all the required fields and read the terms and conditions, move to the next step.

  1. Next, you’ll be taken to a summary page where you can verify that all the information you entered was accurate. If everything looks OK, look over the terms and conditions once more and check the box at the bottom, then press the green “Submit” button.
  1. Once you click “Submit,” your balance transfer request will be complete, and you’ll be taken to a confirmation page that you can print for your records.

If you sent a payment to your creditor electronically, keep in mind that it will be received in 2-4 business days. If a balance transfer check was sent, your creditor should receive it in 7-10 business days.

Completing a Balance Transfer by Phone

If you prefer to request a balance transfer by phone, you can call the number on the back of your card and speak to a customer service representative, who can help submit the balance transfer request on your behalf.

To complete your balance transfer request over the phone, you’ll need:

Name the account is held in
Type of card/account
Card/account number
Amount to be transferred
Name of issuing organization

Balance Transfer Best Practices

Remember to keep these things in mind before you do a balance transfer:

  • Make sure you request a balance transfer within 60 days of receiving your new credit card or receiving an offer.
  • Check to make sure the terms of the balance transfer match the offer you received.
  • Keep making payments on your credit card debt even after submitting a balance transfer request. If the request takes a few days to process and your credit card bill is due, you don’t want to be stuck with a late fee for not paying on time.
  • If your sole goal of setting up a balance transfer is to pay off existing credit card debt, you may want to avoid receiving a check or direct deposit payment as you could be tempted to use the money you receive on something else instead of paying off the creditor.
  • Read the fine print carefully before you make purchases on your Citi card. Some introductory 0% balance transfer offers do not apply to purchases. In that case, you would be charged the regular APR.
  • Make sure you pay your bill on time or you may lose your balance transfer offer.

 

The post How to Do a Balance Transfer with Citi appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

Should You Refinance Your Student Loans with a Credit Card?

Using a balance transfer credit card can be a great way to lower the interest rates on your debt to help you save money and pay your debt off faster. Most people only think about doing a balance transfer with high-interest credit card debt, but recently I’ve been considering a 0% interest balance transfer credit card to help me pay off my student loan.

After making my final credit card payment to be credit card debt free, I started thinking about how I could use a balance transfer offer extended by my creditor to help pay off other types of debt I still have. Since the highest interest debt I have remaining is my student loan, this is what I’m considering refinancing with a 0% interest balance transfer. My student loan only has a remaining balance of about $6,000, which means I could transfer the entire balance to the credit card and pay it off before the promotional rate expires, if I pay it off aggressively.

Of course, there are lots of reasons why you could choose to refinance or consolidate your student loans. I was curious whether or not a balance transfer could be a viable option as well.

Here are some of the pros and cons you should consider before deciding to refinance your student loans with a balance transfer credit card.

Benefits of Refinancing Student Loans with a Balance Transfer Credit Card

There are several benefits you could take advantage of by refinancing your student loans with a balance transfer credit card.

A Lower Interest Rate

One of the main reasons people choose to refinance student loans is to lock in a lower interest rate. For example, my student loans are at 6.8%. If I do a balance transfer to a 0% interest credit card, I could save hundreds of dollars on interest through the end of the 0% interest rate period on the balance transfer.

But keep in mind that not all balance transfers are created equal. You might get all kinds of different balance transfer offers from companies trying to entice you to sign up for a new credit card, or even transfer a balance to a card you already have. Some of these transfer offers will be better than others. You might encounter offers that have a 1% to 3% interest rate for a certain period of time, usually 12, 18, or 24 months. But the best balance transfer offers have a 0% interest rate, obviously saving you more on interest than the others.

Pay Off Student Loans Faster

Transferring student loan debt to a credit card can save money, but only as long as you get the balance transfer paid off before the promotional interest rate expires. This time limit is a big motivation for people to pay extra on their student loans to make sure the balance transfer is paid off before it expires. If you struggle with being motivated to make extra payments, the reality that your interest rate may spike up to 15% or more after a few months may be just the motivation you need to get serious about paying off debt. It’s worked well for me in the past when I’ve transferred high-interest credit card debt to a 0% balance transfer credit card, helping me to pay off $5,284.18 much faster than I would have otherwise.

Drawbacks of Refinancing Student Loans with a Balance Transfer Credit Card

Although using a balance transfer to help pay off your student loans sounds like a great way to save money and pay your debt off faster, there are some potential downsides you should be aware of.

Balance Transfer Fees

A lower interest rate makes balance transfer credit cards an attractive option for those looking to refinance debt, but you need to consider more than just the interest rate before deciding to refinance your student loans with a balance transfer credit card. Make sure you consider the balance transfer fee that many credit cards charge. This can eat away at the amount of money you save on interest. Luckily, some credit cards do have a cap on this fee at $50 or $75, which can be helpful if you plan to transfer a large balance that would otherwise result in a fee higher than that cap. But at that point, it could be difficult to get your student loan transfer paid off before the promotional interest rate on the balance transfer expires.

There are balance transfers without fees, but your options may be limited. If you find a no-fee, 0% interest transfer option you qualify for, it’s almost a no-brainer to use it to pay off other debt.

Potential Loss of Savings on Interest

As mentioned, it’s imperative that you pay off your entire balance transfer before the promotional interest rate expires in 12, 18, or 24 months. If you don’t, the high interest rate after the transfer expires will quickly negate any interest savings you earned by doing the transfer in the first place. In fact, you may end up paying more in interest than if you’d skipped the balance transfer in the first place.

You May Not Qualify

In order to use a balance transfer credit card to refinance your student loans, you first have to qualify for one. In order to qualify for many balance transfer credit cards you must have a credit score of at least 680.

Applying Could Ding Your Credit Score

If you don’t already have a credit card with a balance transfer offer available, you may need to apply for a new card. Anytime you apply for a new line of credit, it will ding your credit score slightly. This may or may not be an important factor depending on what your score is and if you plan to apply for any other credit cards or loans in the near future.

Loss of Federal Student Borrower Protections

A final and very important consideration to think about before you decide to refinance your student loans with a balance transfer credit card is the loss of student loan protections you may have. If you are refinancing federal student loans, you will lose the protections that are offered to you as a borrower, such as:

  • Income-driven repayment plans
  • The opportunity for student loan forgiveness
  • Deferment or forbearance
  • Discharge upon permanent disability or death

Some credit card companies may be willing to work with you in an emergency situation, but chances are high that even in those situations the flexibility offered to federal student loan borrowers is far greater. In some cases, you may be better off not refinancing your student loans in order to maintain your borrower protections.

With most low or 0% interest balance transfer credit cards, you can’t miss a payment or pay late. If you do, your promotional interest rate may be void and you will be subject to the regular interest rate, which could be 15% or more depending on the card and your credit score.

Despite these drawbacks, doing a balance transfer to help pay off your student loans can be a good idea if your goal is to get out of debt quickly while saving money on interest.

The post Should You Refinance Your Student Loans with a Credit Card? appeared first on MagnifyMoney.