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What's the best way to pay down a credit card balance as quickly as possible, while paying the least in interest, and without hurting your credit? What follows is a powerful method recommended by the most astute personal finance experts to achieve exactly those objectives. It's extremely effective, completely legal, and leverages programs created by credit card issuers to your advantage. Follow these steps and start to become credit card debt-free.
Think of someone carrying a credit card balance like a patient who enters an emergency room bleeding badly. The first thing a doctor will do is stop the bleeding. It's no different when attacking a credit card balance; the first thing you do is stop the interest charges.
There's a simple way to do this, and it's brilliance is that it actually uses the banks' marketing offers to your advantage: find a card offering a long "0% intro APR balance transfer" promotional offer, and transfer your balance to it. These are cards which offer new customers a long period of time (often as much as 18 months) during which the card charges no interest on all balances transferred to it. We constantly track all the cards in the marketplace in order to find the ones currently offering the longest 0% intro periods.
If you need more motivation, just think of this: on a $10,000 balance, $150 of a $200 monthly payment would get vacuumed up by interest charges.* That leaves only $50 of your $200 that actually reduces your balance, the rest vanishing into bank pockets. That's just brutal. Use our reviews to find a card which offers the longest possible no-interest period while charging low, or even no fees. Moving your balances to the card you choose will stop the bleeding, allowing you to move on to step two.
Once you've transferred your balances and put a stop to the interest charges, it's time to capitalize on the interest-free period to really break free of the debt. The best part of this is how simple it is: just keep making the payments you used to make when you had to pay big interest payments, except now 100% of your payment will go to reduce your balance.
Going back to the $10,000 example above. (just be aware that we're using the $10,000 number as an example to demonstrate how the process works. You may be approved to transfer an amount greater or less than $10,000). If you transferred that balance onto a card which offers 15 months of 0% intro APR with no transfer fee, and maintained the same $200 monthly payment, you can see how much faster you'll be reducing your balance in the chart below.
As you can see, without using the 0% card, the same $200 monthly payments barely make any headway. It's like swimming upstream, or walking while taking a step back for every two steps forward. That's no way to swim or walk, and attempting to pay off your cards while paying high card interest rates is no way to manage your finances. Move your balances onto one of the cards below, stop getting crushed by interest, and start making real progress toward getting rid of your card debt.
Take control of your finances with the Wells Fargo Platinum card. This no-annual fee card gives you a long 0% for 18 months on qualifying balance transfers on balance transfers.
If you only make the minimum payments on high-interest credit card debt, it could take years to pay it off. Using a card like this means every cent you pay during the intro period will go toward paying down your balance. Wells Fargo is one of the few card issuers to offer generous cell phone protection. This card offers up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Platinum card. If you need breathing room on upcoming purchases before interest kicks in, this card also gives you a very long purchase intro rate of 0% for 18 months. There is a typical balance transfer fee of 3% for 120 days, then 5%.
The Verdict: This is the total debt fighting package all wrapped up in one offer. This card gives you all the tools you need to get out of debt, plus unique cell phone protection that make this card shine. If you are budget-conscious, having $600 protection on your cell phone could make a big impact if your cell phone is stolen or damaged.
Most Appropriate For: This card is perfect for people looking to get out of debt and want to pay it off over time with no interest and no annual fee.
Credit Required: Excellent/Good
Over a year of 0% interest on purchases and balance transfers! High cash rewards at gas stations and restaurants AND no annual fee makes this card offer special.
The Discover it® chrome credit card comes with everything you wish all credit cards came with – no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, no overlimit fee, and a free pass the first time you miss a payment! Cardholders also get an intro APR of 0% for 14 months on both purchases and balance transfers, then 11.99% - 22.99% Variable. If you misplace your credit card, freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch on the mobile app and website. No late fee on first late payment. No foreign transaction fees. Free FICO® Credit Score. $0 Fraud Liability. Redeem your rewards for cash in any amount, at any time and your cash back never expires. That means extra cash in your pocket to spend any way you want. Plus, Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched. The list of features seems endless on this Discover card.
The Verdict: This is a great choice if you want to consolidate debt, make a large purchase or eat out often. Discover will reward you with the ability to earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
Most Appropriate For: People who like to earn cash back with no annual fee and lengthy APR offers.
Credit Required: Excellent/Good
New! Wells Fargo is making waves with this innovative offer that offers up to a year of 0% interest on balance transfers and includes one of the most generous sign-up bonuses available on a $0 annual fee card.
Transfer your high interest debt to this card and take advantage of 0% for 12 months on qualifying balance transfers APR on balance transfers. Get flexibility with 0% for 12 months APR on purchases. That gives you up to a year to pay down your balance with no interest piling up! What makes this card standout from other low interest offers are the rich rewards that come with $0 annual fee. Earn 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months - that's a $200 cash redemption value! Earn 3X points on eating out, ordering in and popular streaming services, 3X points on gas stations, rideshares and transit, and 3X points on travel including flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals. Earn 1X points on other purchases.
The Verdict: The valuable makeover on this offer make this card an easy choice for anyone who wants to maximize spending on everyday purchases, while saving up to hundreds of dollars on interest.
Most Appropriate For: If you want to earn rewards and save on interest without paying an annual fee, this card is a perfect match for you.
Credit Required: Excellent/Good
This card shines from the start. Get a solid cash sign up bonus (with a relatively low spend requirement to get it) on top of long 0% intro APR.
You can earn earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases and take home a $150 cash bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months. This card offers generous intro APR
0% for 15 months on qualifying balance transfers then 13.99%-25.99% (Variable).
Take advantage of intro 0% for 15 months on purchases then 13.99%-25.99% (Variable). You’ll also get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card. The Wells Fargo card cash rewards won't expire as long as your account remains open. Never worry about rotating categories when you earn rewards on all purchases with this card in your wallet.
The Verdict: If you’re looking for an easy to use balance transfer card with cash back rewards, a sign-up bonus, plus unique cell phone protections, this is a great option for you.
Most Appropriate For: This card is aimed at people with excellent credit.
Credit Required: Excellent/Good
* Savings calculation: Credit Card Balance * (1+Average Card Rate/365)^639 days – Balance Transfer Fee - Average Household Credit Card Balance Balance transfer fee is minimum of 3% or $10. Monthly interest calculated on $10k balance at 18% as: 10000*(1+(0.18/360))^365-10000)/12
*Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.