The best balance transfer cards are like life preservers in the merciless sea of credit card debt. It’s tough swimming out of debt when interest continues to make the waves higher and higher. With a 0% intro APR, you can stop accumulating interest for up to 18 months while catching up with payments. Many credit cards offer APR deals, but not all of them are worthy of your consideration. To help narrow and refine your search, we’ve put together a quick list of the best balance transfer and 0% interest credit cards available today.
Best card for balance transfers: Chase Slate
The Chase Slate offers something pretty rare: a long 0% balance transfer period and no balance transfer fee if you transfer a balance within the first 60 days your account is open. You get zero APR for 15 months on purchases and transfers, which is among the longer periods out there, and if you need to transfer a lot of debt, you’ll find the savings worthwhile. A variable APR of 12.99%, 17.99%, or 22.99% kicks in after the introductory period ends. The Slate also comes with Blueprint, a feature that helps you track and budget your spending. But the real value is the 0% APR period and no balance transfer fee combination – you almost never see this transfer twofer, and it can really add up to significant savings for those with credit card debt. It also means that no matter how much debt you have or what the difference between your current card’s rate and the Slate’s rate is; you’ll always save money if you transfer your balance to the Slate and pay it off in 15 months.
Best for rewards and 0% APR: Discover it®
The Discover it® offers both an amazing intro APR deal and a halfway decent rewards rate. To find both features wrapped up in a single credit card is a rare occasion. The 0% introductory transfer APR lasts an astounding 18 months–the highest period you’ll find right now from any issuer. That’s a solid year and a half without interest on old debts. The it also offers an APR deal on new purchases—0% for 6 months. Rewards accumulate at 5% in rotating categories that change quarterly throughout the year. Here was the calendar for 5% categories in 2013:
- January – March: Restaurants and movies
- April – June: “Spring style”
- July – September: “Summer fun”
- October – December: “Holiday shopping”
Earnings in these categories are capped at $1,500 in spending per quarter, meaning you can earn up to $300 in accelerated rewards every year. You’ll get 1% cash back in non-bonus spending. Oh, and did we mention? There’s no annual fee. You get an 18-month 0% APR and 5% rewards categories for no annual fee. Pretty awesome.
Best for waived late fees: Citi Simplicity
Like the Discover it, the Citi Simplicity offers 18 months of zero interest on balance transfers – but this card offers 18 months on purchases, too. It has no late fees or penalty APR, ever. If you’re struggling with debt, this might actually be a better card than the Discover it®, because you have more time to make new purchases and pay it off interest-free. There is a 3% balance transfer fee, so be sure to do the math and see whether the extra 3 months of 0% interest over the Slate will outweigh the one-time charge.
Best for long-term debt: Lake Michigan Credit Union Prime Platinum
The Lake Michigan Credit Union Prime Platinum Visa boasts one of the lowest ongoing APRs out there: right now, it’s 6.25% variable. Anyone can join with a donation to the Michigan branch of the ALS association. Moreover, the card has no balance transfer fee, so it’s always worth it to shift your debt from a higher-rate card to this one. If you need to carry your debt for substantially more than 15 months, this can be a better pick than the Chase Slate.
on Lake Michigan Credit Union's
Balance transfer credit cards are an excellent method of consolidating debt and freezing interest. They give you a little room to breathe and time to get back on your feet. If the cards we showcased here aren’t quite what you need, visit your local credit union. Because credit unions are not-for-profit organizations, they can offer financial products that are sure to have the consumer’s best interest in mind. That means low interest rates and good balance transfer options. For more balance transfer options, visit your local credit union or use our credit union tool to find the best credit union in your area.