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® (Offer Expired)
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® (Offer Expired). 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 a $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. You also earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
This card lets you score 0 percent APR on new purchases for a full 15 months from account opening, then a variable APR of 14.99% - 23.74% applies. The balance transfer fee is either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater. Since it does charge a balance transfer fee, however, it may not be your cheapest option.
You can use it as a cash back card with the option to redeem points for statement credits, travel, merchandise, gift cards, and more. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and no minimum required to redeem from cash back.
Chase Slate® Credit Card (Expired Offer)
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 (Expired Offer) . 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 (Expired Offer) 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 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 13.74% - 23.74%, based on your creditworthiness. Balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening. You do need to pay a 3 percent balance transfer fee to qualify, but you’ll have nearly a year and a half 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® Cash Back
If you’re looking for a card that gives you ample time to pay down debt and a solid rewards program, the Discover it® Cash Back could be your best bet. This card offers 0 percent APR for the first 14 months on purchases and balance transfers, with a go-to APR of 14.24% -25.24% Variable. You’ll never pay an annual fee. However, you do need to pay a 3 percent balance transfer fee.
The Discover it® Cash Back 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 gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate.
Citi Simplicity® Card
Rounding out our list of top balance transfer credit cards is the popular Citi Simplicity® Card. Like the other Citi cards on our list, this option comes with amazing 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, and all with No Late Fees, No Penalty Rate, and No Annual Fee...Ever.
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