Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards if You Have a Ton of Debt
November 6, 2017
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According to 2017 research conducted by Value Penguin, the average indebted household carries more than $16,000 in credit card debt. Not surprisingly, more than 30 percent of all households carry some kind of credit card debt. Further, families living in the northeast and on the west coast of the U.S. carry the highest average credit card debt over all.
If this all sounds too familiar, you might be wondering about the best ways to tackle your own nagging debts. If you’re smart, you’ve probably at least considered a balance transfer card that offers 0 percent APR for 12-21 months. With one of these offers, you can avoid interest payments and focus on digging yourself out of debt – at least for a while.
Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards for People Drowning in Debt
But, which balance transfer card should you get? If you have a small amount of debt that will only take a few months to pay off, nearly any 0 percent APR card could do the trick. If you’re drowning in debt and carrying more than average, on the other hand, a card with a long introductory offer and the best terms possible will leave you better off.
Here are some of the best balance transfer cards for people who have a ton of debt, plus how you can use them to your advantage:
Barclaycard CashForward™ World Mastercard®
If you’re looking for a card that can help you pay down debt and earn rewards, look no further than the Barclaycard CashForward™ World Mastercard®. This card gives you a full 15 months to pay off debt at 0 percent APR, and all without an annual fee. You do need to pay a 3 percent balance transfer fee on all balances you transfer (minimum of $5), and you have to transfer balances within 45 days of signing up to qualify for this promotion.
On the rewards side of the equation, you can also earn rewards for using this card for spending. Not only will you earn a $200 cash bonus after you use your card for $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days after account opening, but you’ll earn a flat 1.5 percent cash back rewards no matter what you buy.
While earning rewards sounds good, keep in mind that you want to avoid a situation where you’re racking up even more debt. The best way to use this card is to take advantage of the 0 percent offer to pay down debt, then use it as a rewards card (and pay off your balance monthly) thereafter.
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® card is another smart option that lets you pay down debt and earn rewards. This card offers 1.5 percent cash-back on every dollar you spend along with a $150 bonus after you use your card for $500 in purchases within three months of account opening.
When it comes to balance transfer options, this card lets you score 0 percent APR on balance transfers and purchases for a full 15 months. Since it does charge a 5 percent balance transfer fee, however, it may not be your cheapest option.
The best way to use this card is to sign up and take advantage of its 15 months at 0 percent APR, then use it as a cash back card with the option to redeem points for statement credits, travel, merchandise, gift cards, and more.
Chase Slate® Credit Card
If you’re looking for a way to score 0 percent APR without paying a balance transfer fee, look no further than the Chase Slate® credit card. This card lets you transfer balances without a fee for the first 60 days your account is open. However, this benefit is only available to individuals transferring balances from banks other than Chase.
There’s no annual fee on this card, and you’ll get 15 months at 0 percent APR for both balance transfers and purchases. While the Chase Slate® credit card doesn’t offer a rewards program, the lack of a balance transfer fee makes the offer more than worth it.
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card
The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card can be especially advantageous when you’re trying to pay down a ton of debt. Why? Because this card offers one of the longest introductory offers in the business – a full 21 months at 0 percent APR. You do need to pay a 3 percent balance transfer fee to qualify, but you’ll have nearly two years to pay down debt without the drag of interest payments. As an added bonus, this card is yet another option that doesn’t charge an annual fee.
While the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card doesn’t offer rewards, it does come with a few handy travel benefits and consumer perks. For example, you’ll get free worldwide travel accident insurance, extended warranties, access to the Citi Price Rewind program, and a special concierge who can help you with travel plans, dinner reservation, sports and concert tickets, and more.
Discover it® Card
If you’re looking for a card that gives you ample time to pay down debt and a solid rewards program, the Discover it® Card could be your best bet. This card offers 0 percent APR for 18 months on balance transfers and 6 months for purchases. You’ll never pay an annual fee. However, you do need to pay a 3 percent balance transfer fee.
The Discover it® Card is an especially solid offering if you want to earn cash-back rewards. Not only do you earn 1 percent cash-back for every dollar you spend, but you earn 5 percent cash-back on up to $1,500 spent in categories that rotate every quarter. While bonus categories change from year to year, this card’s categories commonly include purchases made at restaurants, home improvement stores, gas stations, and Amazon.com.
Citi Simplicity® Card
Rounding out our list of top balance transfer credit cards is the popular Citi Simplicity® Card. Like the other Citi card on our list, this option comes with amazing 21 months to pay down debt at 0 percent APR after you pay a 3 percent balance transfer fee. You also get 0 percent APR on purchases for the first 21 months, and all with no annual fee.
Other benefits this card offers include zero percent fraud liability and the fact it doesn’t charge late fees or penalty rates. Last but not least, the Citi Simplicity® Card comes with a flexible due date option that lets you tailor your due date to your needs.