It’s not uncommon for people to go into debt around the holidays. Between travel, decorations, seasonal clothes, means, and of course, gifts, the costs add up fast.
To cover these expenses, many people use credit cards. Cashback and bonus points can offset some of the cost, but credit cards typically have some of the highest interest rates of any type of debt, making it even more difficult to pay off.
However, the credit card industry is extremely competitive, and many companies want your business. That’s why many offer credit cards with zero-interest introductory periods. By getting a balance transfer card with a generous intro offer, you can more easily eliminate your debt.
If you decide to get a balance transfer card, make sure you check out these strategies from Money.com.
How Do You Find The Right Balance Transfer Card?
The pandemic has dissuaded some credit card companies from offering zero-APR balance transfers, but you still have many options available. Because many balance transfer cards don’t have an annual fee, you should avoid comparing fees when shopping for a new card.
The main fee you should look at is the transfer fee, which is usually 3% of the amount transferred, though some companies charge 5%. This fee is tacked onto your new card’s balance, and you pay it off like you would with any other debt.
If you can find a card with zero or low transfer fees, you can save a considerable amount on interest payments and get out of debt faster.
Besides the balance transfer fee, you also want to compare the length of various introductory periods. The law states that credit card companies must offer zero-APR financing promotions for 12 months or more. The best cards offer as many as 18 months with no interest.
Additionally, you should consider whether the card offers zero-APR for purchases as well as transfers and if it comes with a rewards program or welcome bonus.
Which Balance Transfer Cards Should You Consider?
If you’re looking to consolidate your debt with a balance transfer card, here are Money’s top recommendations.
US Bank Visa Platinum
The US Bank Visa Platinum has the longest introductory period. New cardholders can enjoy zero-APR financing on transfers and purchases for 20 months. The transfer fee is only 3%, and you don’t have to pay an annual fee. After the introductory period ends, the regular APR switches to 13.99 to 23.99%, depending on your creditworthiness.
Citi Double Cash
The Citi Double Cash isn’t just one of the best cashback credit cards, but it’s also an excellent option for balance transfers. It comes with an 18-month zero-APR offer on balance transfers made in the first four months of opening an account. After that, the rate changes to 13.99% to 23.99%.
The balance transfer fee is either 3% or $5, depending on which is greater, and you don’t have to worry about an annual fee. Plus, you can earn 1% cashback on all purchases, plus another 1% when you pay your monthly bill — with no limits on the amount you can earn.
Citi Diamond Preferred
The Citi Diamond Preferred is a no-frills credit card with an excellent balance transfer promotion. You pay no interest on purchases and balance transfers for 18 months, then 14.74% to 24.74% afterward. Like most balance transfer cards, the fee is either 3% or $5. You also pay no annual fee.
How Do You Use A Balance Transfer Card?
These types of credit cards are among the best ways to consolidate and eliminate debt, but it requires some careful planning and smart usage. If you want to get the full benefit of a balance transfer card, you have to create a plan to pay off as much of your debt before the introductory rate expires and the regular APR kicks in.
One way to do so is by breaking up your current balance by the number of months left in the introductory period and then paying that amount every month. It would also be best to avoid taking on new debt. Otherwise, you risk paying expensive interest rates and getting stuck in a cycle of debt.
If you’re ready to take control of your finances and make 2021 your year, getting out of credit card debt is an excellent place to start. When you use a balance transfer card responsibly, you’ll have a much easier time making payments and paying off debt faster.
- Steele, Jason. “Best Balance Transfer Strategies to Pay Off Your Credit Card Debt in 2021.” Money, 29 Dec. 2020, money.com/best-balance-transfer-cards-and-tips/.