Contents

zero credit card

Zero credit card

Zero credit card

rather than a long term 0% credit arrangement ? Most zero percent credit card deals run for a maximum of around 18 months. Pay the debt back, in full, sooner than that to be sure to avoid expensive fees and rates!

. and the minimum monthly payback on the credit card is made (on time!) for each month the 0% term runs? If you are the forgetful type, set up a direct debit each month to be absolutely certain you don't end up getting caught! Fail to pay a monthly minimum, and the 0% deal could end -- abruptly!

Pay the entire amount due before the expiry. If for any reason you can't pay the credit card debt off, in full, by the end of the 0% period, arrange, in advance a zero percent balance transfer.

Be sure to avoid a vicious cycle of debt. It's always useful, before making any credit card purchases, to make a list of your monthly outgoings to ensure there is spare money to pay the debt off in time. Don't borrow money, in any form, as a "rob Peter to pay Paul" solution. Ask for advice from family, friends and independent advisors if you feel uneasy.

What not to do with zero percent credit cards:

What IS NOT required is a vicious cycle of spending, debt, and more spending . Eventually, the credit rating will decline if this occurs, and this can only reward the bankers! Its a case of being sure to apply for the correct credit card deal: one that suits your individual circumstances. Don't rack uip debts you won't be able to fully repay in time!

Zero credit card

Zero credit card

Zero credit card

Zero credit card

b) Set up a 0% card for an existing credit card debt.


0 Cards: 0 Credit Cards for Good Credit

Our first duo of cards feature our recommended choices for balance transfers:

  1. The Discover® More(SM) Card is a popular offer (this 0 Credit Card rated at Epinions) giving pricing at zero percent interest on balance transfers for twelve months and on purchases for six months.

Further below are more 0 Cards for consumers with good to excellent credit.


Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards for 2017

This page includes analysis of our favorite cards from The Simple Dollar’s advertisers and the marketplace. Visit our advertiser disclosure to learn more.

Credit cards allow us to make purchases without feeling the immediate effects of the money spent. The only problem is how easily it is to forget that we still have to pay that money back. This is how a lot of people fall into credit card debt and it only gets worse when you factor in interest. That’s where a 0% interest balance transfer card can really come in handy. These cards can buy you the time you need to chip away at any existing credit card debt without feeling the staggering impact of high interest rates.

For anyone who has incurred some credit card debt and is worried about high interest rates, we have a solution. We’ve put together a rundown of the best balance transfer credit cards of 2017 for your perusal. Check out these cards and their perks and apply online for one today.

The best balance transfer credit cards for 2017

  • Discover it® - 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer: Best overall
  • Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express: 0% interest and great rewards
  • Chase Slate®: $0 intro balance tranfer fee
  • Barclaycard Ring™ Mastercard®: Honorable mention
  • Chase Freedom®: Great signup bonus

Our Favorite Balance Transfer Cards for 2017

Zero credit card

Why choose between a balance transfer and rewards? The Discover it® 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer offers both, with 18 months of 0% APR and high-rate rewards. Use this card to pay off your balance interest-free — and earn 5% cash back in rotating categories while you’re at it.

5% cash back in rotating categories each quarter like gas stations, Amazon.com, restaurants, wholesale clubs and more, up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. 1% cash back on all other purchases.

  • Issuer: Discover
  • Rewards Details: 5% cash back in rotating categories each quarter like gas stations, Amazon.com, restaurants, wholesale clubs and more, up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3%
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.99% Variable
  • Introductory APR: 0%
  • Introductory APR Period: 6 months
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: 0%
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: 18 months
  • Ongoing APR: 11.99% – 23.99% Variable

True to its name, the Discover it® 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer card offers 18 months of 0% interest on balance transfers – longer than most other cards on this list. That’s plenty of time to diminish your credit card debt without having to incur steep interest on your outstanding balance. Furthermore, you can earn cash back rewards when you use the Discover it® 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer card. Earn 5% cash back on rotating, quarterly categories. Plus, there’s even an automatic dollar-for-dollar match of all your cash back for the end of the first year. This is a great card for those who want to spend some time chipping away at their debt while earning some nice rewards. Did we mention there’s no annual fee?

  • Transfer balances that are subject to high APRs, and pay off as much as you can during the intro period.
  • Pay attention to rotating cash back categories to maximize rewards, even after your transferred balance is paid off.
  • Keep the account open to monitor your FICO® Credit Score.

If you like the rewards that you can earn with the Discover it® 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer and you think it’s worth the 3% balance transfer fee, then this is the card for you. If, however, you aren’t as interested in earning rewards and would rather waive the transfer fee, then the Barclaycard Ring™ Mastercard® might be more your speed. Consider what you’ll save with each of these cards in the long run in order to make the best possible decision.

The Discover it® 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer card lives up to its name with a generous 18-month intro APR period. Access to a rewards program is just the cherry on the sundae with 5% cash back on rotating categories and 1% cash back on all other purchases made with this card. Once you accrue enough rewards, you can treat yourself to something nice or apply those rewards to your outstanding credit balance.

  • $100 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • No annual fee.
  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
  • 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, 1% back on other purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 13.99% to 24.99%.
  • Expanding merchant acceptance: Over 1 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in the last year.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
  • Issuer: American Express
  • Rewards Details: 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
  • Annual Fee: See Details
  • Balance Transfer Fee: Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.24%
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 2.7% of each transaction after conversion to US dollars.
  • Introductory APR: 0%
  • Introductory APR Period: 12 months
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: 0%
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: 12 months
  • Ongoing APR: 13.99% - 24.99% Variable
  • Penalty APR: 29.99%

Anyone looking for a year of 0% intro APR and a reasonable balance transfer fee of 3% or $5 (whichever is higher), the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express is the one for you. There’s also a decent cash back rewards program that complements your everyday purchases. With the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, you’ll be eligible for 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets for up to $6,000 in purchases each year, then 1%. You can also earn 2% at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores and then 1% on all other purchases, and you get all of these features without having to worry about any interest on your outstanding credit balance for a year.

  • Transfer balances that are subject to high interest rates; budget to pay them off during the intro APR period.
  • Keep this card after you pay off your balance to earn extra cash back at U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations.

It’s very important to remember that the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express comes with a balance transfer fee of 3% or $5 (whichever is greater). For some people, how much they’ll end up saving on interest more than justifies this fee. For anyone else in search of an alternative, the Barclaycard Ring™ Mastercard® is worth considering since it completely waives the balance transfer fee. The only trade-off there is that you won’t have access to a rewards program. And, for anyone who doesn’t mind the balance transfer fee and would enjoy a large signup bonus, there’s the Chase Freedom® card.

If you love earning rewards on everyday purchases, then you’ll love the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express. It may not have the longest introductory APR of any other card on this list, but it does offer a year. For some cardholders, that’s more than enough time to chip away at any outstanding credit card balance. This is especially true when you consider all the rewards you’ll earn on purchases made at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations, and more.

  • $0 Introductory balance transfer fee for transfers made during the first 60 days of account opening
  • Chase Slate named "Best Credit Card for Balance Transfers" four years in a row by Money Magazine
  • 0% Introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • Monthly FICO® Score and Credit Dashboard for free
  • No Penalty APR – Paying late won't raise your interest rate (APR). All other account pricing and terms apply
  • $0 Annual Fee
  • Issuer: Chase
  • Rewards Details: Save with a $0 introductory balance transfer fee and get 0% introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and $0 annual fee. Plus, receive your monthly FICO Score for free.
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.99% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars
  • Introductory APR: 0%
  • Introductory APR Period: 15 months
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: 0%
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: 15 months
  • Ongoing APR: 15.99% - 24.74%Variable
  • Penalty APR: See Terms

The Chase Slate® is ideal for transferring large balances or more than one balance. That’s because it charges $0 balance transfer fees within your first 60 days as a cardmember. Given that most balance transfer cards charge a fee of 3-5% per transfer, that can mean significant upfront savings (which you can put toward paying off your balance even sooner!)

  • Make your balance transfer or transfers within 60 days of opening your account to qualify for the $0 intro balance transfer fee.
  • Pay off as much of the balance as possible during the intro APR period to take full advantage of the 0% intro APR.
  • Focus on using the Chase Slate® to pay off your transferred balance instead of using it for new purchases. Once you’ve taken care of the balance, consider graduating to a card with a rewards program.

Unfortunately, you will not be able to transfer a balance to the Chase Slate® from another Chase account. If you would like to transfer a balance from an existing Chase account, we recommend the Discover it® 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer. (The Chase Slate® also doesn’t include access to a rewards program — but the Discover does.)

For consumers carrying a large balance or multiple balances on their credit cards, the Chase Slate® offers a break from high APR and balance transfer fees so you can pay off your transferred balance quickly — and become debt-free sooner.

  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter like gas stations, restaurants and drugstores
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 15.99-24.74%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • No annual fee
  • Issuer: Chase
  • Rewards Details: Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Sign Up Bonus: Earn a $150 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.99% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars
  • Introductory APR: 0%
  • Introductory APR Period: 15 months
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: 0%
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: 15 Months
  • Ongoing APR: 15.99% - 24.74% Variable
  • Penalty APR: None

Of all the cards we’ve covered on this list, the Chase Freedom® card reigns supreme for having the best signup bonus. When you spend $500 in purchases with this card (within the first 3 months of opening the account) you’ll earn a substantial $150 bonus. If that sounds good to you, there’s more! The Chase Freedom® card also comes with 15 months of 0% interest on your balance transfer, which gives you over a year to trim away at that outstanding debt. On top of all that, you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. You can also earn 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases.

  • Transfer your balances from cards with high APRs. Plan to pay them off within the 15- month intro APR period.
  • Keep this account open to continue earning cash back. (Watch the 5% bonus categories to maximize your rewards!)

It’s no secret that, of all the cards on this list, the Chase Freedom® card offers the highest signup bonus. However, this is not without its caveat as it also features a balance transfer fee of 5% or $5 (whichever is greater) – one of the higher balance transfer fees on this list. This can be a major deterrent for anyone looking to transfer a substantial balance. Still, a signup bonus can be tempting and if you would like that plus a lower transfer fee, then consider the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express. This card comes with a decent signup bonus and a balance transfer fee of 3% or $5, depending on which is greater.

With the Chase Freedom® card, you can enjoy freedom from annual fees and narrow introductory APR periods. In fact, when you sign up for this card, you’ll receive a sizable signup bonus plus 15 months of 0% introductory APR. You also have the freedom to use those cash back rewards whenever you want as they will never expire so long as your account remains active.

  • 0% Introductory APR for the first 15 months on purchases. Plus, you'll get a 0% introductory APR for 15 months on Balance Transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR will apply, 13.99%
  • No balance transfer fees
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Chip technology, so paying for your purchases is more secure at chip-card terminals in the U.S. and abroad
  • Free online access to FICO® Credit Score
  • Issuer: Barclaycard
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: None
  • Cash Advance APR: 13.99% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None
  • Introductory APR: 0%
  • Introductory APR Period: 15 months
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: 0%
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: 15 months (on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening)
  • Ongoing APR: 13.99% Variable

If you want a credit card that doesn’t include any kind of balance transfer fee, go with the Barclaycard Ring™ Mastercard®. Out of all the other cards we’ve covered, this is the only one that omits the balance transfer fee. Additionally, you won’t have to worry about paying interest on your balance transfer for the first 15 months. The Barclaycard Ring™ Mastercard® offers no foreign transaction fees and you can find out how you’re doing credit-wise with a free online FICO® Credit Score. All in all, a great balance transfer credit card for those who want little to no upfront fees.

  • Transfer your balance within 45 days of opening your account.
  • Pay off as much as possible during the 0% intro APR period.
  • Already have a card with a rewards program? Make new purchases on that card to earn points or cash back.

The Barclaycard Ring™ Mastercard® does not offer a rewards program, which can be a major dealbreaker for some cardholders. Of course, if you already have a rewards card in your wallet, then this might not be a big deal. For the rest of the potential cardholders who would like to have their cake and eat it too, it’s worth considering the Discover it® 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer card as an alternative. Not only does it come with 18 months of 0% interest, but you can earn 5% cash back on purchases made with this card in rotating categories.

If you want a card that is simple and low-maintenance, then you are going to love the Barclaycard Ring™ Mastercard®. Free from any extra bells and whistles, you can enjoy a decent 15-month window of interest-free bliss while you work away at that outstanding credit card balance. There’s also no annual fee to worry about.

Our favorite balance transfer credit cards: summed up

Getting even more out of your balance transfer credit cards

Now that we’ve covered the ins and outs of each of these balance transfer credit cards, it’s time to talk about how you can maximize your rewards. We’ve put together some helpful tips you can use to really get the most out of these cards.

Discover it® 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer cardholders can take advantage of the Discover Deals online bonus mall. Discover Deals is home to more than 200 online retailers where cardholders can earn an extra 5% to 20% cash back. There are also in-store coupons you can access for even more bonuses. Discover’s dollar-for-dollar cash back bonus also applies to purchases made in the Discover Deals online mall making it very easy to rack up the rewards. Now it’s even easier to pay off your outstanding balance while earning some much-needed cash back rewards.

While the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express can earn you some great cash back rewards on U.S. supermarket and U.S. gas station purchases (in the United States), the specific rewards categories could be limiting. For that, we recommend pairing this card with a decent, flat-rate cash back credit card. That way you can continue to earn valuable rewards in the categories that are most relevant to your regular spending habits.

The same is also true for the HSBC Platinum MasterCard® credit card which, unfortunately, does not come with a rewards program. In this case, it might be worth your while to look in a rewards credit card to pair with this balance transfer card. By pairing these two, you will have the best of both worlds when it comes to having a year and a half of 0% APR along with the ability to earn some great rewards.

If you’re a Chase cardholder, then you should consider making your purchases via Shop through Chase. By utilizing Chase’s online shopping portal, you can earn up to 15% cash back on purchases with your Chase Freedom® card. That’s even more than the 5% cash back you can get through purchases made in activated categories.

Leverage access to free FICO® Score

If you have a Barclaycard Ring™ Mastercard® and you aren’t taking advantage of the free FICO® Credit Score service, then you’re wasting money! Believe it or not, having access to a free FICO® Credit Score and monitoring service is a great value. Not only does this help you better manage your expenses and effectively alter your spending, it’s a value of more than $300. To give you an idea of why that’s so important, services like myFICO can charge you more than $300 a year just to track and monitor your comprehensive credit history.

Two problems, one potential solution

When you carry a balance from month to month, this can lead to compounding interest. This is why many financial experts will tell you never to make a credit card purchase you can’t pay off by the end of the month. When you don’t pay off your principal balance, you wind up paying interest and, the longer you let that outstanding balance sit, the more interest you’ll have to pay on the interest.

Carrying a balance also affects credit utilization, a measure of how much of your credit limit you’re using and one of the most influential factors in determining credit scores. Ideally, your credit utilization ratio should be low, an indication that you’re not stretching the bounds of your credit limit. High balances on credit cards and loans will increase your credit utilization and can have a negative effect on your credit score.

Solution: Zero-interest balance transfer

Fortunately, transferring your credit card balances to a zero-interest balance transfer card can address both of these pitfalls. A balance transfer to a card with introductory 0% intro APR means that interest stops piling up and compounding during that introductory period. If you gradually pay off your balance in this kind of interest-free environment, your credit utilization should go down as you retreat further from the edge of your credit limit.

The best way to use a balance transfer card

Balance transfer cards extend the 0% APR offer to balance transfers and purchases. These cards simply offer more flexibility to manage your cash flow and pay down debt without donating your money to high interest payments. So, you can use a balance transfer offer to make a large purchase at 0% APR, then use the promotional period to pay it off over time. The best 0% balance transfer cards will usually offer 0% on new purchases for at least 6 months.

This is obviously to incentivize people to keep spending on the cards, but if you’re not in debt, you can take advantage of it. Maybe you want to buy a couch, pay a medical bill, or tackle a home renovation project.

Other reasons to get a balance transfer card:

  • Consolidate your debts or get rid of cards with fees
  • Upgrade your credit card to earn more rewards
  • Add a card with great service and amenities

If your credit is good and you’re in this camp you should check out my reviews of the best rewards credit cards, best cash back credit cards, or best travel credit cards.

Research more balance transfer credit cards

Our team also created a directory of the most popular balance transfer credit cards available today. This directory was used as a starting point for my research and analysis. It is updated weekly to reflect any new changes to balance transfer offers, to add new cards, and to remove any expired deals.

The balance transfer credit cards directory is customized to highlight the most important features for balance transfer credit cards. It includes every credit card that has a 0% intro APR on balance transfers and rates each offer based on a number of key factors.

Balance transfer credit card directory

In order to value each of these cards, certain features were balanced accordingly based on overall importance to the prospective cardholder. The most relevant features for balance transfer credit cards are Balance Transfer Fee, Introductory Balance Transfer APR, Ongoing APR, and Annual Fee.

Obviously the biggest feature is having a 0% intro APR. You can also use the directory to filter by signup bonus or ongoing rewards if those are features that are more important to you.

Zero credit card

Rewards Tier Level

Great Signup Bonus

Great Ongoing Rewards

Balance Transfer Fee 3% or lower

Intro Balance Transfer APR 0% 12+ Months

Only Fair Credit Score Needed

To come up with a list of top balance transfer credit cards, I used the information shown in the directory above in addition to other data gathered on each credit card. For a better explanation of what was analyzed, I’ve included additional details below. Sometimes the terminology in the credit card world can be a bit confusing, so take a look if you’re unsure of anything.

Credit card companies usually charge a fee of up to 3% when you transfer a balance to a new card. This means that if you transfer a $10,000 balance, you will pay an extra $300 to the credit card company. Even some of the best balance transfer credit cards on this list charge this fee.

The balance transfer fee carries high importance because it can likely cost you a decent amount of money. However, depending on the card you choose, the fee may be worth it to get a few extra months of zero interest.

The balance transfer intro APR refers to the promotional interest rate charged for transferring a balance or making new purchases. The Intro APR is 0% for the best balance transfer credit cards. Nothing higher should be considered unless you can’t get approved.

Intro APR holds a high importance level when ranking all the top balance transfer cards simply because the main reason to transfer a balance is to stop paying interest for a period of time by taking advantage of a 0% APR.

Many times, the intro APR is also extended to new purchases, not just balance transfers. This way, you can take advantage by purchasing items and paying them off over the introductory period without accruing interest.

The balance transfer intro period is the time frame for which the Intro APR or other promotion is valid. As I mentioned earlier, the best balance transfer credit cards will run a 0% Intro APR on a combination of balance transfers or new purchases for at least 12 months, with some offering up to 18 months.

The intro period is of high importance because it controls the amount of time you can start paying down a high balance without accruing interest.

Ongoing APR is the interest rate charged on your balance after the Intro Period. The key determinant of your ongoing APR is your credit score and history. Note that there is no limit on the interest rate that can be charged by credit card companies.

Balance transfer cards have ongoing APRs that range as low as 10.99% and go beyond 20%. If you have good credit, the APR rate for you will be on the lower end. APR differs from Intro APR because it is the permanent rate. Once you get beyond the designated time period for any introductory APR offers, the credit card will default to the ongoing APR rate.

As I mentioned many times, you shouldn’t get a credit card if you plan on carrying a balance. But, if you must carry a balance after the Intro Period, look for the lowest APR possible.

Rewards rate refers to the actual rate at which you can earn rewards on a credit card. Several of the best balance transfer cards do offer rewards on new purchases and some do not. Rewards rate carries a low importance rating because the main purpose of a balance transfer card is to pay down debt and not earn rewards. Rewards rate is not included as a main feature in the balance transfer credit cards directory, but it does have a slight impact on some of the card ratings and you can filter by great ongoing rewards.

Top balance transfer cards, like the Discover it® 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer and Chase Freedom®, will offer rotating categories that enable you to earn 5% cash back on a variety of common purchases each quarter. The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express is also a solid card for balance transfers, as it offers 3% at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%). Again, you should only be concerned with these rewards after you pay off your balance and start to consider using one of these cards long-term.

The truth about balance transfer credit cards

  1. Look at the most important details to find the right card for your situation.
  2. Transfer a balance if you are facing late payment fees on a high balance.
  3. Consider the long-term features of the card after the balance transfer.
  4. Know your credit score to apply for the right card so your transfer is not delayed.

What To Do Before Getting a Balance Transfer Credit Card

Review the most important details of each card

Most cards offer a low introductory APR on balance transfers. However, it’s critical to look at the whole deal first to get an idea if the card fits your unique situation. Again, some of the most important factors to consider are:

  • Introductory Balance Transfer Rate
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Length
  • Balance Transfer Fee

Often, it’s the balance transfer fee that goes undetected until you’re already signed up and about to transfer your balance. You then see there are a few hundred dollars missing. This fee is charged as a percentage of the balance you are transferring over. Rates can vary by company, but they’re generally around 3%.

The introductory balance transfer rate should always be 0% on any balance transfer card you consider. Never transfer a balance to any card that does not have a 0% intro rate on balance transfers.

Depending on the card you get, the 0% intro balance transfer rate will vary. Remember, you want to get a card that has a 0% balance transfer intro period for at least 12 months or longer. This gives you ample time to pay off your balance.

Getting a 0% balance transfer used to be a piece of cake. Since the financial crisis, the availability of this great offer has tightened up. The best terms are available to those who have good or excellent credit. It can pay to check your credit score ahead of time and make sure it aligns with the new card to qualify. If you don’t check and are denied, this could negatively impact your credit score.

You should also be mindful of credit score changes. Keep an eye on your old accounts and know how many credit cards you have open. I’ve heard stories of people going to buy a house and realizing an old credit card has dinged their credit report. You can check out our review of credit report sites for more info on how to get your score (for free).

There are various schools of thought but, generally speaking, making changes to your credit card accounts will impact your credit score. You do have some control over whether those changes are positive or negative. For some more insight into this topic, check out these tips for cancelling a credit card.

Consolidate multiple cards and other debt

In many circumstances, you can stay current on payments by taking several of your cards with high balances and consolidating them into one balance. You can avoid keeping up with multiple payments each month by tracking just one card.

Additionally, you may be able to move loans for cars, appliances, furniture, and other monthly installment payments to a low- or zero-interest balance transfer credit card. You can do this because credit card companies often issue paper checks drawn on your new credit card account. You can use these checks to pay off your installment loans (if they’re small enough) when you open a new credit card account.

Come up with a plan to pay off your debt

There’s no use in getting a balance transfer credit card under conditions of complete panic. Gather yourself and come up with a plan to use a balance transfer credit card as a tool to help your financial situation.

The worst thing you can do is repeat the same issue and end up not paying off your balance again on the new card you transferred your balance to. By having a plan in place on how to attack your debt, you’ll be ready to use a balance transfer credit card the right way.

The plan: How to gain control of your high-interest credit card debt

Without question, the number-one reason people seek out the best balance transfer credit cards is to help get a handle on their high-interest credit card debt. There are many reasons for accumulating credit card debt, and many of these situations involve some sort of emergency spending. Regardless of the reasons for accumulating credit card debt, getting control over your debt takes the right tools and a plan.

I’d recommend the following to get started:

  1. This guide (to find the best balance transfer card for your situation)
  2. A way to analyze your expenses
  3. Credit score & credit monitoring

The first rule for getting out of a hole is to stop digging. I first heard that saying as a high-school basketball player and it’s stuck with me ever since. Odds are, if you’re reading this guide you’ve somehow found yourself in the hole of credit card debt.

It doesn’t matter how you got here. All that matters are the next steps you take, and your first step is to stop adding to your credit card debt. Get it under control.

You don’t need to cut up your existing cards or put them in the freezer as some people say. Drastic measures may be needed in extreme cases, but most people who are serious about trimming their debt can continue using a credit card without getting behind. Treat it like cash!

To stop paying interest on your credit card debt, you need to do two things:

  1. Find a solid balance transfer card.
  2. Consolidate as much as you can onto that card.

You want to apply for a card that you can get approved for. While there is no way to know for sure without applying, knowing your credit score will give you a general idea of how likely it is you’ll be approved. If you’re in credit card trouble, is a good idea to sign up for a credit monitoring service so you can keep track of your score and other important changes to your credit report.

For the most part, balance transfer cards are good credit cards for people with decent credit who are trying to avoid damaging their credit and making high interest payments. If you have lower credit, there won’t be many great offers for you because most balance transfer cards won’t want to take on high risk consumers who already have a history of not paying off credit card debt.

Select the best balance transfer card for you

My recommendation for those who seriously need to pay down debt is to go with the Barclaycard Ring™ Mastercard®. You won’t earn any rewards if you continue to use the card for new purchases, but this card offers the best combination of features to help you have more of your money go toward eliminating your debt.

The Barclaycard Ring™ Mastercard® offers 0% intro APR on balance transfers. (Note: you’ll need to transfer your balance within the first 45 days of account opening to get the intro APR.) This feature alone can save you hundreds of dollars.

A good option for balance transfers while earning cash back on new purchases is Discover it® because it has a 0% intro period of 18 months and earns up to 5% cash back in rotating categories. Keep in mind, however, this card does have a balance transfer fee and isn’t as widely accepted as Visa or MasterCard.

Consolidate and transfer your credit card debt

Once you’ve selected the proper card, gather all of your credit card debt and transfer as much as possible to the new card, starting with the highest-rate balances first. This will help you take advantage of that 0% introductory period.

Then, divide your entire balance by the number of months on your introductory period. This gives you the monthly payment you need to pay off all of your debt by the end of the intro period.

Example: Balance transfer in action

You have three credit cards with a total combined balance of $7,000. You sign up for the Barclaycard Ring™ Mastercard® and transfer all of the $7,000 to the new card. Your new balance is still $7,000 because Barclaycard Ring™ Mastercard® does not have a balance transfer fee.

In order to have the entire $7,000 paid off in 15 months, you’ll have to come up with an extra $466.67 per month. An insurmountable debt that was going to continue to grow sitting on your other cards is now somewhat manageable. The key is to find a feasible number that makes a huge dent in that debt while taking advantage of the 0% intro APR period.

Now that you’ve selected the right tool to knock down your interest rate, it’s time to lock in a solid plan to pay off the balance.

Your first objective is to free up cash flow you can put toward paying down your debt. To do this you need to understand your spending. Most credit card companies have online monthly statements where you can go back and see every transaction you’ve made. You can begin to see patterns and hone in on areas where you spend more than you should.

Many credit cards also provide a year-end breakdown with your spending by categories. The best cards have great online analytics that help you visualize your spending in near real time.

If your card doesn’t have any of these options, another great option is to use a free web service like Mint.com. Mint helps you expand your spending analysis outside of credit cards by linking in your bank account debit transactions, checks, and other expenditures.

Once you know how you spend, you can figure out where to pull back. This is, of course, easier said than done. If you’re looking for some creative ways to cut spending, spend some time in the archives of The Simple Dollar. Trent, the founder of this site, shares tons and tons of useful “frugality” tips he used to get himself out of debt and still applies today.

A particularly useful starting point is Rule 9: Do It Yourself. I also recommend Trent’s advice for things to do on a money-free weekend, which will keep you entertained while you save money at the same time.

The key is to be brutally honest about the money you spend and the true value of the services you use. Take cable TV for instance. With cheap streaming services, websites, and devices, cable TV is becoming less relevant. I would save at least $150 per month if I cut it out of my budget.

Younger generations are also getting rid of their cars and moving closer into central city districts. They prefer walking to work and not having to deal with high car payments, gas, and maintenance. Car sharing services like Zipcar make going carless a reality.

Consider a few of these changes to free up cash and pay down your debt more quickly. Some of them may fit your situation while others may not, but there are options out there.

Step 3: Create a systematic payment plan

Once you’ve made some changes to free up cash each month, you need to match the freed-up cash on a monthly basis to the intro period. As I did in the example above, you will take your new balance and divide it over the number of months in your introductory period, which is 15 months for the Barclaycard Ring™ Mastercard®. This will give you a nice, smooth “payment” that you can make each month to lower your debt.

You will want to systematically siphon off that money for debt payments before it can go anywhere else. Set up automatic payments to your credit card if you can, or set up auto transfers to a different bank account you’ll use to pay your credit card bills each month. You can easily set up a free checking account or online savings account for these purposes.

This rule is not meant for extreme circumstances. Sometimes, high credit-card spending is simply unavoidable. Job losses, medical bills, and other emergencies are examples of situations where reliance on credit cards may be warranted if all other options have been exhausted.

Exception to rule #2: Stop paying interest

This rule assumes you can take advantage of a 0% balance transfer credit card’s features. There are a few instances where you can’t completely stop paying interest:

  1. Some people may not be able to qualify for a balance transfer card.
  2. You may not qualify for high enough of a limit to consolidate all of your credit card debt.
  3. You cannot pay off all of your debt by the end of the intro period.

If you don’t qualify for a balance transfer card, creating a systematic payoff plan is even more crucial because you won’t have the safety net of 0% interest for a period of time. You will want to tweak the plan to be more aggressive in paying down your balances on the higher-interest rate cards first, then move on to lower-interest cards down the line.

If you can’t consolidate all your debt on a 0% card, you will end up paying some interest. I would transfer the highest-rate balances to the new card, then target your free cash at whatever balance could not be transferred over while maintaining your minimum payment on the new balance transfer card. Once this is paid down, you can shift the free cash to the new balance to get that under control.

If you can’t pay everything down by the end of the intro period, you will also pay some interest on the remaining balance. I recommend reviewing your spending plan at the end of the intro period to see if you can free up more cash to apply to the remaining balance. Continue your systematic payment plan as long as it takes.

Exception to rule #3: Create the payoff plan

There really are NO exceptions to this rule. You will never pay off your debt without a solid plan. The only caveat is in a situation where a person might have have large lump payments instead of creating smooth monthly payments. Salespeople often encounter this situation because their pay is highly variable. Inheritances also create a situation where someone would have a lump payment.

Regardless of how you pay, you must still have a plan and understand the costs and benefits of your approach.

For instance, the key is to make the payments as quickly as possible on interest-bearing debt. If you have interest-bearing credit card debt, you never want to “save” money in a bank account to make later payments unless you have to. This is because your interest rate is higher than anything you will earn in a bank account, so making frequent payments is more effective.

By following these rules, and understanding if any exceptions apply to your situation, you will be well on your way to tackling your credit card debt and liberating your financial future in 2017 and beyond.

Editorial Note: Compensation does not influence our rankings and recommendations. However, we may earn a commission on sales from the companies featured in this post. To view a list of partners, click here. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by our advertisers. Reasonable efforts are made to present accurate info, however all information is presented without warranty. Consult our advertiser's page for terms & conditions.

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


zero credit card

Avoid interest on your credit card purchases by comparing the best 0% deals.

What Approach Should Be Taken On 0% Interest Introductory Rates on Credit Cards

Credit card companies are known for making solid deals to potential applicants. Everyone wants to save money or access a perk when using a credit card. High interest rates make saving money on charges difficult. 0% interest introductory rates, however, are as good as.

Is It Wise to Transfers Balances to 0% APR Cards When Interest Begins?

Debt is an American reality for many families. The average family lives with more than $16,000 in credit card debt alone. That’s substantial when you take into account how many other debts the average family carries. A mortgage payment, car payments, and more are.

The Truth About Deferred Interest Credit Cards

If you have debt, you might be intrigued by the idea of paying no interest on your debts by transferring balances to other cards. It’s a great alternative means to debt consolidation for many Americans who do live with debt, and it’s how many families end up getting.

The Best 0% APR Introductory Period Credit Cards Available

Credit card perks aren’t exactly famous for being overwhelming. There are cards companies that offer exciting perks from time to time, and there are card companies that have more benefits than others, but most of them don’t offer anything so overwhelming you can’t.

Obtaining a Zero Interest Credit Card After Bankruptcy

Having a zero interest credit card can be appealing because it allows you to transfer large balances from high interest cards and make substantial purchases without an interest rate to deal with. For individuals who have declared bankruptcy within the past 10 years.

Be Careful of Introductory Zero Interest Credit Cards

Credit card companies often use introductory tactics to bring in new customers, offering a zero percent interest rate period as part of its initial perks. You might find a company offering sign-up bonuses like rewards points, cash gifts and airline mileage to attract.

Is There a Limit to the Number of Zero Interest Cards Someone Can Hold?

0% credit cards present a fantastic deal to those who need to borrow on a card’s account while avoiding interest charges. 0% credit cards are limited to an introductory period. After that introductory period, the interest rate kicks in. One way to keep a.

Citi Simplicity Card 21-Month 0% APR Introductory Period Overview

Debt is an American reality for many families. The average family lives with more than $16,000 in credit card debt alone. That’s substantial when you take into account how many other debts the average family carries. A mortgage payment, car payments, and more are.


zero credit card

I like the idea of leaving a dollar or two on there. I don’t know though. I have kind of anecdotal evidence of both. Now, if you’re worried about your credit score, then maybe leave the dollar on there. Because some of the older credit scoring models do penalize you for having no outstanding credit and no recent utilization.

The thing is, they can’t tell you have utilization. Because if you run it up and pay it off and they just always get $0, $0, $0, $0 every month reported to them it looks like you’re just not using it. When in reality, you’re running it up. Paying it off. Running it up. Paying it off. But they don’t see that if you’re making the payment the way you’re supposed to. The way I recommend before the statement drops.

But this is only when we’re worried about our credit score. So there’s two phases in life. I mean when you’re just plug-in along and you’re not going to be borrowing any money the next 30 days, it doesn’t really matter. You can pay down to $0 at the statement due date.

Should You Pay Your Credit Card Balance to Zero Each Month?

The only time it matters, the only time you should pay it before the statement drops and leave $1 or $2 on there, is when you know you’re going to be needing your credit.

If you know you’re going to be buying a car next month. And again, if we’re financial ninjas and we’re planning ahead, we’re not just on a whim rushing out there and buying a car. We’re following the three day rule. We’re planning ahead. We’re making good decisions. We’re budgeting. We’re not going to find ourselves in a situation where we unexpectedly need to apply for credit.

I would say for normal course of life, just pay the thing off. It’s easier to do. And that way there’s $0 and there’s no interest. And that’s going to save you the most money. But if you think you may end up applying for credit, maybe leave a buck on there or something. But make sure you do pay it down before the statement is printed. Because once they print and mail the statement or once they generate the PDF, that’s the amount that gets reported on your credit.

If you think about timing wise, a lot of people will charge about $1,000 on their card and they generate the PDF. We get it in the mail or via our phone and then we pay it off. The credit bureau doesn’t see that because they only get the dollar amount that was owed when the PDF was generated or the statement was printed.

So if you want to have that dollar balance or zero balance, you have to make the payment the day before the statement is printed. Which is not the due date. The due date it’s not for like another 20 days. This is before the payment statement is even generated. If you want to have that loan balance reported on your credit.

So we really don’t have a definitive answer. FICO does not give us the exact formula. From my own personal testing I can tell you that some of the scores reward you for having $1 or two small balance. Because, then they know you use it and it’s not just always zero and like you’ve cut them up.

What to do with a Zero Balance Credit Card

I heard this somewhere on the way. I don’t know who originally came up with this idea. It was not me, but I’m a fan of it. So instead of cutting your credit cards up, you freeze them in a block of ice. So if you don’t want to use your credit cards, take them and put them in a glass of water. And then put them in the freezer and freeze them in that water.

So now if you need them you have to thaw them out. And so it gives you time to think about it. You can’t put them in the microwave because they’re plastic.

So you’ve got like run some water over them or like in there with the ice pick trying to chisel the cars out of the block of ice. But it gives you enough time to really think of like, do I really want this purchase bad enough? Like you’re at home watching the infomercial on the Ginsu knives and you ask yourself, “do I really want them bad enough to go in there and thaw out the stupid block of ice Robert Palmer made me do.” And then refreeze them afterwards. You’re thinking, “no it’s not worth it.”