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3 Types of Cards That Can Help You Ride Out a Crisis

Dealing with an abrupt, damaging financial event like a cut in your working hours is difficult enough. Doing so in the middle of a global pandemic, as new cases of COVID-19 emerge daily and major U.S. cities essentially shut down, can be overwhelming. But if that’s where you are now, or fear you soon could be, using your credit cards strategically could help you get through.

To be sure, credit cards come with their own costs, risks and limitations - any debt eventually has to be repaid, so they’re not a solution to a permanent loss of income. But, they can be an accessible way to ride out the storm while keeping costs low and can even reward you with cash back or bonus points as you spend.

#1: Balance Transfer Cards (see options)

When you’re paying down debt, interest rates matter – a lot. For example, compare the differences between paying down a $10,000 debt on an 18% APR card and a 0% balance transfer card. Using the balance transfer card could save you around $1,431, even after paying a transfer fee of $300. Want to save even more? Sign up for a card that doesn’t charge a transfer fee. As a heads up, the amount you may qualify to transfer and save depends on a variety of factors including your credit worthiness.

#2: Cash Back Cards (see options)

Cash back is the most flexible of all credit card rewards. Instead of points that you have to figure out how to redeem — and that you might not be able to redeem for something you want — you get real dollars and cents you can use for, well, anything. Depending on the card you use and where you use it, you'll earn cash rewards of 1% to 6% of the amount of each transaction. Some cards pay a single, flat rate on every purchase, while others pay higher rates in specific categories and a lower rate on everything else.

#3: Rewards Cards (see options)

These cards typically have higher APRs, but offer larger sign-up bonuses and give you points, miles or cash back on every dollar you spend. Rewards credit cards come in two main varieties: cash-back cards and travel cards. Cash-back cards pay you back a percentage of the amount of each transaction. Travel rewards credit cards give you points or miles for each dollar you spend; you redeem those rewards for free flights, hotel stays and more. No single rewards card is right for everyone. It's all about how you spend money and what kind of rewards you value.


Balance Transfer

[object Object] card art

on Citibank's application

Great for: Long 0% interest periods for balance transfers

Securely with Citibank

  • 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.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • Get free access to your FICO® Score online.
  • With Citi Entertainment®, get special access to purchase tickets to thousands of events, including concerts, sporting events, dining experiences and more.
  • Shop with confidence knowing that you have dependable protection benefits, including $0 Liability on Unauthorized Purchases and Citi® Identity Theft Solutions.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 14.74% - 24.74%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.
See card details

  • 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.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
See card details

Annual Fee

$0

Balance Transfer Fee

3% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.

Intro APR

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 18 months

Ongoing APR

14.74% - 24.74% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score

720 - 850

Excellent - Excellent
See NerdWallet's pros & cons


Cash Back

[object Object] card art

on Citibank's application

Great for: Flat Rate Cash Back

Securely with Citibank

  • Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.
  • Balance Transfer Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.99% - 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back.
  • If you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by the due date each month.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.99% - 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.
See card details

  • Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.
See card details

Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Details

Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months

Ongoing APR

13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score

720 - 850

Excellent - Excellent
See NerdWallet's pros & cons


Rewards

[object Object] card art

on Chase's website

Great for: Cash-Back Pairing with Chase Sapphire Preferred®

Securely with Chase

  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open.
See card details

  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
See card details

Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Details

Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year. Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases. Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases.

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 15 months

Ongoing APR

14.99% - 23.74% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score

690 - 850

Good - Excellent
See NerdWallet's pros & cons
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