These Balance Transfer Credit Cards Can Help You Pay Down Debt

When considering a balance transfer card, be sure to check the introductory APR and any transfer fees.

[Disclosure: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]

If you’re trying to pay down a large credit card balance and you feel like you’re getting nowhere, one potential solution is to move your debts to a balance transfer card. Balance transfer cards often offer introductory periods of 0% interest, giving you time to pay down your balance without accruing additional debt.

If you’re looking for a balance transfer credit card, you should be examining the introductory period, transfer fees and any additional benefits the cards provide to help you decide which one is right for you. To help you get started, check out these cards, which all offer solid intro periods for you to pay down your balances interest-free. (Paying your debt down means you’ll be on the path to improving your credit utilization and, in turn, your credit scores. You can see two of your scores free on Credit.com.)

Chase Slate

Balance Transfer Fee: $0 for 60 days, then $5 or 5% of the transfer amount, whichever is greater

Annual Percentage Rate (APR): 0% intro APR for 15 months, then variable 15.74% to 24.49%

Annual Fee: None

Why We Picked It: This card has a lengthy 0% intro period and cardholders can avoid balance transfer fees for 60 days.

Benefits: Fifteen months is a solid intro period, and you can save further by completing your balance transfers within 60 days to avoid transfer fees. There’s also no penalty APR if you make a late payment.

Drawbacks: After the initial 60-day window, balance transfers incur a $5 or 5% transfer fee, which is higher than many competing cards.

Citi Simplicity

Balance Transfer Fee: $5 or 3% of the transfer amount, whichever is greater

APR: 0% intro APR for 21 months, then variable 14.24% to 24.24%

Annual Fee: None

Why We Picked It: Citi’s 21 months of interest-free financing is impressive. (Full Disclosure: Citibank advertises on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.)

Benefits: With 21 months interest free, Citi Simplicity sets the bar high for balance transfer cards. That’s almost two years to pay down your balance. There are no late fees or penalty APRs.

Drawbacks: There are no rewards policies.

Alliant Visa Platinum Rewards Card

Balance Transfer Fee: None

APR: 0% to 5.99% intro APR for 12 months, then variable 13.99% to 23.99%

Annual Fee: None

Why We Picked It: Alliant Credit Union’s rewards card offers no balance transfer fees and a year with no interest. Plus, cardholders earn rewards points for valuable redemptions.

Benefits: Qualifying cardholders get a year of 0% APR and no balance transfer fees. They’ll also earn two points for every dollar spent in purchases and 5,000 bonus points when spending $500 in the first three months. Points can be redeemed for travel, gift cards, cash back and more.

Drawbacks: You’ll have to be an Alliant Credit Union member to access this card, although a simple $10 donation to Foster Care to Success can make you eligible. Beyond that, you need the right credit to qualify for the 0% intro APR offer. If you don’t, Alliant may impose an intro APR up to 5.99%.

Discover it

Balance Transfer Fee: 3% of the transfer amount

APR: 0% intro APR for 18 months on balance transfers (6 months on purchases), then variable 11.74% to 23.74%

Annual Fee: None

Why We Picked It: Discover it offers 18 months of 0% APR on balance transers and earns cash back with a nice bonus the first year.

Benefits: Eighteen interest-free months is a solid time frame to catch up on debt. Cardholders also earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases for quarterly rotating spending categories such as gas, dining and home improvement. All other purchases get unlimited 1% cash back. Discover matches all earned cash back for the first year of the card.

Drawbacks: Earning cash back requires spending on the card, which may be counterproductive if you’re trying to pay down debt.

Barclaycard Ring MasterCard

Balance Transfer Fee: $0

APR: 0% intro APR for 15 months, then variable 13.74%

Annual Fee: None

Why We Picked It: This card has 15 months with no interest, no balance transfer fees and a decent APR once interest kicks in.

Benefits: For 15 months, cardholders can pay down their balances with no interest. They’ll also pay nothing for balance transfer fees. Once the interest kicks in, it’s a decent rate.

Drawbacks: The card’s Giveback rewards program is a profit-sharing feature that offers cardholders little control.

Choosing & Using a Balance Transfer Card

Assuming you intend to use your balance transfer card to pay down large balances, there are some things you should know about selecting and using these cards.

Before you apply for any card, you’ll want to check the APR that kicks in after the 0% intro period. If it’s higher than the APR on your current cards, think twice about applying. If you don’t manage to pay off your balance transfers before the intro period runs out, a card with a higher APR will slap you with a worse interest rate than you currently have.

The balance transfer fee also requires close attention. Some balance transfer cards won’t charge a fee on transfers, while others will charge $5 or 3% to 5% of the transfer amount. Depending on your current balances, this could wind up costing hundreds of dollars.

When you open a card, transferring your balances immediately will pay off. That’s because you’ll get the full intro period to pay down your balance interest-free. Also, if your card only offers free balance transfers for a limited time, you’ll want to take advantage while you can.

Finally, you’ll want to use the card in the most fiscally responsible way. Paying off your entire balance within the intro period will save you the most money, so you may want to figure out the minimum monthly payment required to accomplish that. Using the card for everyday spending will add to that balance, and if your focus is reducing debt, you’ll probably want to limit or completely avoid using the card for purchases until the balance reaches zero.

Image: Geber86

At publishing time, the Chase Slate, Citi Simplicity, Discover it and Barclaycard Ring MasterCard credit cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

The post These Balance Transfer Credit Cards Can Help You Pay Down Debt appeared first on Credit.com.

4 Credit Cards That’ll Cut You Some Slack

Some credit cards won't penalize you for every mistake you make (though it's still best to use your plastic wisely).

[Full Disclosure: Cards for our partners are mentioned below.]

Mismanaging your credit cards can really cost you. Go over your credit limit and you’ll get hit with a fee. Need to transfer a high-interest balance? You’ll pay a fee. Miss a payment? Incur a fee — and a penalty annual percentage rate (APR).

Some credit cards, however, will give you a pass from time to time — at least as far as fees and those pesky penalty APRs are concerned. Credit scoring consequences will still apply, which is why you’ll want to do your very best not to get into trouble. (You can see how your card use is affecting your credit by viewing two of your scores for free on Credit.com.) Still, it’s nice to know that not every mistake will cost you. Credit card late fees, after all, can run you $25 to $37 and penalty APRs are no joke — industry standard is around a variable 29.99%.

Expert Intel: Some issuers will forgo reporting a first missed payment to the credit bureaus, too, if you call them up and plead your case. (Accidents happen, you know?) Habitual offenders, however, shouldn’t expect their issuer to acquiesce.

With that in mind, here are four credit cards that’ll cut you some slack.

1. PenFed Promise Visa Card

Why We’re Mentioning it: Because when it comes to fee-free credit cards, the PenFed Promise Visa is king. There’s no annual fee, no late fees, no balance transfer fees, no over-the-limit fees, no cash advance fees and no foreign transaction fees. Plus, there’s no penalty APR. All that and you can earn a $100 statement credit if you spend $1,500 in your first 90 days. One note: PenFed is a credit union open primarily to military members and their families, though there are other ways to qualify for membership. See its website for full details.

Annual Fee: $0

Purchase APR: Variable 9.24% to 17.99%, depending on your credit

2. Discover it — Cashback Match

Why We’re Mentioning it: On top of being a solid rewards credit card, the Discover it completely forgoes over-the-limit fees, and a late payment won’t incur a penalty APR. You’ll also get a free pass the first time you miss a payment. (Remember, though, you’ll want to avoid skipping a due date at all costs, as doing so can seriously muck up your credit.) You won’t have to pay an annual fee either. As for the rewards, Discover it cardholders can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases in revolving quarterly bonus categories, plus 1% cash back everywhere else. They’ll also get a dollar-for-dollar match on all the cash back they earn in their first year at the end of it (hence the name.)

Annual: $0

Purchase APR: Variable 13.74% to 23.74% depending on your credit, after 14-month 0% introductory APR expires

3. Citi Simplicity

Why We’re Mentioning it: The Citi Simplicity’s big selling point is its balance transfer offer: Cardholders get a 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for a whopping 21 months (after that, it’s a variable14.24% to 24.24%, depending on creditworthiness). On top of that, the card’s also relatively cheap to carry. It skips late fees and forgoes a penalty APR. Plus, there’s no annual fee to start with. (Full Disclosure: Citibank advertises on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.)

Annual Fee: $0

Purchase APR: Variable 14.24% to 24.24%, depending on your credit, after a 21-month introductory APR expires.

4. Chase Slate

Why We’re Mentioning it: The Chase Slate also forgoes a penalty APR, and it also sweetens its 15-month 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers (variable 15.74% to 24.49%, after that) by waiving the balance transfer fee during the first 60 days after account opening. (After those 60 days, the balance transfer fee will run you 5% of the amount transferred, with a minimum fee of $5.) And, like all of the other cards on our list, there’s no annual fee.

Annual Fee: $0

Purchase APR: Variable 15.74% to 24.49%

At publishing time, the the PenFed Promise Visa, Discover it — Cashback Match, Citi Simplicity and Chase Slate credit cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

Image: courtneyk

The post 4 Credit Cards That’ll Cut You Some Slack appeared first on Credit.com.

Discover It Balance Transfer Review

Balance Transfer Review

Updated March 1, 2017

Credit card debt is a burden weighing down the budgets of many Americans. If you’re motivated to unlock the shackles of consumer debt, then a balance transfer may be right for you. But finding the right one can be overwhelming. “Discover it® – 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer” is an excellent option for people with debt. You will have an introductory 0% APR on balance transfers for the first 18 months, with a 3% balance transfer fee.

Key Credit Card Features

For people with credit card debt, the most important feature is the generous balance transfer offer. If you transfer debt from any other credit card company, you will pay a one-time fee of 3% of the amount transferred. But you will then pay no interest for 18 months. You could save hundreds of dollars (and potentially more) during the interest-free period. Just make sure you get your transfer completed as soon as the account is opened and that you make your monthly payments on time. 0% for 18 months is one of the best balance transfer credit cards on the market today.

In addition to charging no interest on balance transfers for 18 months, the card charges 0% interest on purchases during the first six months. You will be able to earn cash back on your purchases as well. However, we strongly recommend using a balance transfer credit cards only for balance transfers so that you can get out of debt faster.

Do You Need a Balance Transfer?

Most people who are paying down credit card are subjected to interest rates north of 15%. Reducing interest rates on debt with a balance transfer can slash both the time and money it takes to pay it all down.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, a balance transfer isn’t right for everyone.

[Find out how much you’ll pay in interest on credit card debt here.]

How Do You Qualify For a Balance Transfer?

Banks will only offer balance transfers to people with good credit. Typically, the ideal candidate will have:

  • Customers with a good credit score. Your score does not have to be perfect, but your chances are much better if your score is above 680.
  • Your debt burden will be considered, and the lower the better. In our experience, it becomes difficult to be approved if your debt burden starts to go above 40%.
  • Very few, if any, accounts that are currently delinquent

Note: Your debt burden is calculated by adding up your monthly fixed expenses and dividing that by your monthly income. The expenses should include your monthly rent or mortgage payment, auto payment, student loan payments and the monthly payment on any other credit cards or loans that appear on your credit bureau. If your total payments are more than 50%, you will likely be declined.

Also take into consideration why you’re in debt. Don’t get another credit card if you’re swipe happy and won’t be able to help but spend on the new credit card. A balance transfer credit card needs to go right into the metaphorical (or literal) freezer.

Is Discover It the Balance Transfer Right for You?

promo-balancetransfer-halfThe Discover It balance transfer is only right for you if your credit card debt is with another bank. You cannot do a balance transfer from one card to another within the same bank.

Discover It currently offers an introductory 0% APR balance transfer for 18 months. There is a 3% fee associated with this balance transfer, but the fee often pays for itself — depending on your balance.

If you were approved for a balance transfer of $5,000, a 3% fee would equal $150. That shouldn’t sound like a lot, because leaving $5,000 at a 17% interest rate (with a payment of $250 a month), you’d pay the bank $153.16 of interest in just four months.

The Discover It balance transfer would save you $741, including interest and fees.

Should the Discover It be Your First Balance Transfer Card?

While Discover It does offer a competitive balance transfer, there are other option out there.

With Chase Slate®, you can save with a $0 introductory balance transfer fee, 0% introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and $0 annual fee. Plus, receive your Monthly FICO® Score for free.

Citi Simplicity offers 0% with a 3% fee for 21 months, which also tops this Discover deal.

The higher the debt, the more attractive Discover’s balance transfer offer becomes.

Fine Print Alert: What to Watch Out For 

If you do complete a balance transfer with Discover, make sure that you:

  1. Complete your balance transfer as soon as possible. If you wait too long, you can lose the offer.
  2. Continue to pay on your old credit card until you see that the balance transfer has been completed. It can take two to three weeks for the balance transfer to complete, and you don’t want to be hit with late fees on your old credit card while waiting for the transfer.
  3. You can only move debt to Discover from another bank. You cannot transfer debt between two credit cards with Discover.
  4. Make your payments on time, every month. They charge a late fee of up to $37, and a returned payment fee of up to $37. Discover does state they waive your first late payment fee on the Discover It card, but that isn’t a benefit you should plan on using.

How to Complete a Balance Transfer with Discover

We’ve created an entirely separate post featuring screenshots and explanations on how to complete a balance transfer with Discover. You can find it here.

If you run into road blocks or have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us via email (info@magnifymoney.com) or on Twitter @Magnify_Money.

The post Discover It Balance Transfer Review appeared first on MagnifyMoney.