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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.
Get long 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers, unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day, one-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening. $0 annual fee.
Turbo charge your plans to ditch debt with this easy-to-use card that will pay you unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day. Use the cash-back rewards to pay down your debt even faster! You earn cash in two ways when you use this card. First, earn a one-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening. Second, you'll take home an unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day. No headaches remembering rotating bonus categories, you will earn cash on everything you buy. Pile those unlimited cash rewards back onto your balance and say goodbye to your debt even faster! This card offers 0% intro on balance transfers for 15 months. Get 0% intro on purchases for 15 months also with this card! There is a 3% balance transfer fee, but the cash rewards could easily offset that over the long run for you.
The Verdict: Many credit cards with introductory 0% interest don't offer rewards. You win in four ways if you use this card to pay down debt. 1) Earn a one-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening. 2) Get unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day that can also be used to speed your way to being debt-free. 3) 0% intro on balance transfers for 15 months gives you time to pay off your balance transfer without interest charges piling up. 4) $0 annual fee makes it a cost-effective choice for ditching debt.
Most Appropriate For: If you want to earn cash back rewards, while you pay down your debt, this card gives you a straight-forward deal. Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day. If your credit has a few blemishes, don't worry. This card is a fantastic option if you have good credit.
Credit Required: Good to Excellent.
This card just seriously upped its game, extending its intro APR to one of the longest available. Take advantage of impressive 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers with this $0 annual fee card.
Finance a new purchase with generous 0% Introductory APR on purchases for 18 billing cycles then 14.49% - 24.49% Variable APR. That means no monthly interest charges will pile up during the promo period. Stop paying high interest charges with 0% Intro APR for 18 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days then 14.49% - 24.49% Variable APR. That means your payments can go entirely toward reducing your debt for over a year. Regain control over your financial life and put time on your side to pay down debt faster. Unlike some other cards, there is no penalty APR. That means a late payment won’t automatically raise your interest rate. The balance transfer fee is either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.
The Verdict: This is a great low interest card with one of the longest periods of intro interest available. The $0 annual fee means you won’t pay for card membership. Get a better interest rate now with BankAmericard® credit card.
Most Appropriate For: If you want to get out of debt, this card has all the tools you need. This card is perfect for people who want long 0% introductory interest on purchases and balance transfers.
Credit Required: Excellent/Good
This card has a sign-up bonus loaded with potential: you can turn $200 into $400 with Cashback Match™. If you’re a new card member, you can automatically double your rewards within the first year of having the card.
You also earn 5% cash back from rotating categories like gas stations, department stores, Amazon.com or restaurants for up to $1,500 every quarter, each time you activate. You’ll also get 1% cash back on everything else.
With 5% cash back from everyday spending categories and 1% cash back on everything else you can easily earn $200 cash back and turn it into $400 with Discover’s Cashback Match™
There is also no annual fee, and you will get 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months and 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months. After that, 13.49% - 24.49% Variable APR.
While the Discover It - 18 month balance transfer offer has some rewarding cash back benefits, it lacks the 0% intro APR length of other cards on this list and it has 3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*. You also need to remember to opt into the categories every quarter or you will not receive the 5% cash back rewards.
Most Appropriate For: People who enjoy both cash rewards and lengthy balance transfer offers.
Verdict: If you looking for a balance transfer credit card that teams up with a cash back rewards system, this card is right up your alley. It has a unique sign-up bonus system that doubles your cash back at the end of your first year. So if you’re in the market for a rewards card and would like to transfer your current balance, this card is perfect for you.
Recommended Credit: Good to Excellent
This balance transfer card comes with a generous on-going cash-back rewards. Use that cash-back to help pay down your debt faster.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® comes with a long 0% Intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers. Plus, you get flexibility with 0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases. The standout features that set this apart from other low interest offers are the rich cash rewards. Earn, 1.5% cash back offer.. Just think how much faster you can pay down your balance with the big cash back rewards. The balance transfer fee is 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5, then either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater..
The Verdict: This is an enticing balance transfer offer, with a long 0% intro APR period. The cash-back gives you an extra boost and can help you reach your goal faster.
Most Appropriate For: If you want cash-back rewards along with lengthy 0% intro APR, this card is a perfect match.
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
Drive away with a lengthy intro APR on both purchases and balance transfers with the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card in your wallet. This card offers a sparkling combination of long 0% intro interest, a big cash sign-up bonus and generous cash-back on things you buy every day.
Hit the brakes on high-interest charges now. You could save hundreds of dollars in interest with 0% Introductory APR on purchases for 15 billing cycles. Pay down debt faster with 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. Then 15.49% - 25.49% Variable APR. Enjoy a $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening. Earn 3% and 2% cash back on the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter, 1% on all other purchases. It’s hard to believe this fully loaded card comes with $0 annual fee.
The Verdict: You could save hundreds of dollars in interest with this card.
Most Appropriate For: If you want to choose how you earn cash back rewards, this is the only card that lets you choose your rewards category to match your buying habits. Choose from gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores and home improvement and furnishings. Save money on high interest charges when you finance purchases during the intro APR period.
Credit Required: Excellent/Good
Get out of debt faster with help from an industry leading rate of year-round cash back on dining and entertainment with this fully loaded low-interest card. This card offers generous 0% intro APR on balance transfers and purchases and a solid sign-up bonus.
If you are carrying high interest debt, transfer your balance to this card. Take advantage of 0% intro on balance transfers for 15 months then 15.49% - 25.49% (Variable) APR. Pay your debt down faster when every penny of your payment goes to the balance during the promo period. This card also comes with 0% intro on purchases for 15 months then 15.49% - 25.49% (Variable) APR.
If you go to sporting events, restaurants, fast-food places, bars or movies, this high-paying cash back card is a great choice to maximize cash back rewards on things you buy. Watch your rewards pile up fast with 3% cash back on dining; 3% cash back on entertainment; 2% cash back at grocery stores; 1% cash back on all other purchases. You can earn a one-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. Unlike other cards that come with quarterly caps on the amount of bonus cash you can earn, there’s no limit to how much cash back you can earn on this card.
The Verdict: This unique balance transfer card offers a high rate of cash back on dining out and entertainment and groceries. If you buy items in these categories you could earn generous cash back that you could use to pay down your balance faster.
Most Appropriate For: If you eat out and go out, this card is a top choice while you pay down debt. You’ll earn one of the highest year-round rates of cash back on these categories on a $0 annual fee card.
Credit Required: Excellent/Good
Start out with a generous Welcome Offer: $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 or more in purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Lengthy 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers with $0 annual fee vault this card to the top of the balance transfer pack.
Transfer your balance and whittle away at debt faster with intro APR 0% on balance transfers for 15 months then 14.49%-25.49% variable. Every penny of your payment will trim your balance during the 0% intro interest period, with no monthly interest charges piling up. Get unlimited 1.5% cash back on your purchases. Use the steady stream of cash back on new purchases to help pay down your balance faster.
Finance new purchases with intro APR 0% on purchases for 15 months then 14.49%-25.49% variable.
There is a long list of benefits for cardholders. You’ll enjoy legendary American Express customer service and perks that include extended warranty, car rental loss and damage insurance and purchase protection.
The Verdict: This card comes with a nice cash Welcome Offer on top of generous on-going cash back. Add in the lengthy 0% intro APR and this balance transfer card is hard to pass up. While other banks are pulling back on extra coverage and perks, the Amex Cash Magnet rolls just about everything you could hope for into one incredible card.
Most Appropriate For: TheAmerican Express Cash Magnet® Card – $150 Welcome Offer is perfect match for anyone who wants to do a balance transfer and earn generous cash back without rotating categories or quarterly sign-ups.
Credit Required: Excellent/Good
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
* 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