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How To Compare Balance Transfer Offers

How To Compare Balance Transfer Offers

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This article was last updated Sep 11, 2020. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.

Balance transfer credit cards can offer a lifeline if you’re carrying a lot of high-interest card debt. However, with so many balance transfer card options available, it can be hard to pick the right one. Some of the things you need to consider when comparing card offers are the fees, the length of each card’s 0% intro period and the ongoing APR after the no-interest period expires.

We’ll review how to compare balance transfer offers and provide some of the best cards to get out of debt.

How to compare balance transfer offers

Decide if a balance transfer fee is worthwhile

Balance transfers often aren’t free; most cards charge a 3% to 5% fee per balance transfer. The balance transfer fee can be outweighed by the amount you save on interest — but always do the math first!

There are no-fee balance transfer cards out there — just know that the no-fee cards often have shorter intro periods of 15 months or less, compared to cards that charge a balance transfer fee and have intro periods up to 21 months. If you choose a no-balance-transfer-fee card and realize you won’t have enough time to pay off your balance before the intro period ends, you can opt to apply for yet another balance transfer card from a different issuer until the balance is paid off.

Let’s look at an example where you have $3,000 in debt on a credit card with a 20% APR:

  If you can afford a monthly payment of… It’ll take you this long to pay off your balance… Total interest charged would be… The best balance transfer card would be…
Scenario 1 $300 12 months $309 A card offering an intro 0% APR for at least 12 months and no balance transfer fee. This saves you $309.
Scenario 2 $200 18 months $481 A card offering an intro 0% APR for at least 18 months with a 3% balance transfer fee. This saves you $391 in interest charges.

Consider how many months you need to pay off debt

The length of intro periods varies by balance transfer card, from cards offering as little as six months to as much as 21 months interest-free. Depending on the size of your balance and how much you can afford to pay each month, the amount of time you need to pay off debt varies.

For example, if you have $3,000 in debt and can only afford to pay $150 a month, it’ll take you 20 months to pay off debt. A balance transfer offer of 12 months won’t provide you with enough time, so you should look for a balance transfer offer with the longest 0% promotional period. On the other hand, if you can afford $250 monthly payments, then a balance transfer offer of 12 months or more would be OK, since you should be able to have it paid off in a year with all of your payments going toward the debt’s principal.

Try our Balance Transfer Calculator.

Know the APR you’ll be charged after the promotional period expires

If you still have a balance after the introductory 0% period ends, you have two options: complete another balance transfer or keep whittling away at what you owe. If your balance transfer card has a reasonable APR and you only need a month or two remaining to pay off the balance, avoid the hassle of opening a new card and completing another transfer. Your card statement should reveal what your APR will be once your promotional deal is over.

Popular balance transfer cards

When choosing a balance transfer card, remember that you can’t transfer balances between cards from the same issuer. Below are a few cards with intro 0% APR offers worth considering:

Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

Intro balance transfer APR: 0% for 18 months on balance transfers. After, a 14.74% - 24.74% (variable) APR applies.

Balance transfer fee: Balance transfer fee – either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever Review

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

  • 0% for 18 months on Purchases

  • 0% for 18 months on Balance Transfers

  • 14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)

Highlights
  • 0% Intro APR for 18 months on purchases from date of account opening and 0% Intro APR for 18 months on balance transfers from date of first transfer. After that the variable APR will be 14.74% - 24.74%, based on your creditworthiness. Balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • Get free access to your FICO® Score online.
  • With Citi Entertainment®, get special access to purchase tickets to thousands of events, including concerts, sporting events, dining experiences and more.
  • Shop with confidence knowing that you have dependable protection benefits, including $0 Liability on Unauthorized Purchases and Citi® Identity Theft Solutions.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 14.74% - 24.74%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.

See additional details for Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

More Info

Intro balance transfer APR: 0% for 18 months on balance transfers. After, a 14.74% - 24.74% (variable) APR applies.

Balance transfer fee: Balance transfer fee applies with this offer: 3% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card Review

Discover it® Cash Back

  • 0% for 14 months on purchases and Balance Transfers, then 11.99% - 22.99% Variable.

  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically. *

  • Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically*

Highlights
  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem cash back in any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • No annual fee.
  • See Rates & Fees

See additional details for Discover it® Cash Back

More Info

Intro balance transfer APR: 0% for 14 months. After, a 11.99% - 22.99% variable APR applies.

Balance transfer fee: 3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*.

Discover it® Cash Back Review

U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card

Intro balance transfer APR: 0% intro APR for 20 billing cycles on Balance Transfers*. After, a 13.99% - 23.99%* (variable) APR applies.

Balance transfer fee: 3%.

U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card Review

For more options, read our recommendations for the best balance transfer cards.

The information related to the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever has been independently collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.


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