No-Balance-Transfer Fee Credit Cards: What You Need to Know

By Adam Levy Published April 21, 2017 Markets

Zero transfer fee credit card

One of the best ways to pay off debt fast is to transfer your high-interest balances to a new 0% interest credit card. No interest payments mean more of your money is going toward your debt instead of straight into the pockets of the credit card issuer.

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But be careful: Some banks will hit you with a hefty balance-transfer fee just to move your debt from one credit card to another. A select few offer new cardholders $0 balance-transfer fees and 0% interest for a limited introductory period.

If you expect to be able to pay off your debts within the next year or two but you don't want to pay any more interest, a credit card with no balance-transfer fee and an introductory 0% interest rate may be for you. But before you jump on that next 0% interest credit card offer, here are some things you need to know.

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First, "What is a balance transfer fee?"

While it's hard for banks to make money charging no interest, they can make up for it by charging other credit card fees. One big fee to pay attention to is the balance-transfer fee, which typically ranges from 3% to 5%. That means if you want to transfer a balance of $10,000 to a new 0% introductory credit card, you could pay as much as $500 right off the bat. It's easy to see how a no-fee credit card could save a lot of money.

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What you need to know about no-balance-transfer-fee credit cards

You can transfer more than credit card debt. Don't limit yourself to transferring high-interest debt from credit cards. If you have a car loan or pay installments for new appliances, you can transfer those balances as well. The credit card issuer will provide you with checks to pay off the balances on those loans.

Most credit card companies don't allow transfers from the same issuer. If you're thinking about signing up for a Chase Slate credit card for the 15-month introductory 0% APR rate and transferring your credit card balances from other Chase credit cards, think again. Chase won't let you get away with that.

You have a limited window to transfer a balance with no fee and no interest. Make sure you transfer your balance right after you get approved for your new credit card. The Chase Slate, for example, offers a window of 60 days to transfer balances for no fee. The Barclaycard Ring MasterCard will let you transfer balances for free anytime, but its 0% introductory interest rate is only good for those made in the first 45 days. Besides, you'll want to transfer your debts sooner rather than later, so you don't pay as much interest.

New purchases may not qualify for the balance-transfer interest rate. Pay attention to the fine print. Some credit cards charge a higher interest rate for new purchases than on balance transfers. If that's the case, you could end up paying a lot more interest than expected. While the Credit CARD Act of 2009 requires issuers to put payments above the minimum toward consumer's highest-interest debt, they can still apply the entire minimum to the 0% balance transfer. If you make new purchases, you'll have to pay for them in full on top of your minimum payment in order to maintain 0% interest. Keep it simple and apply for a card with 0% rates on both balance transfers and new purchases.

Don't be fooled by the minimum payment. If you don't pay off the entire balance transfer before the introductory rate expires, you'll start accruing interest. And those sneaky minimum payments won't even come close to paying off the full debt before the 0% rate expires. If you're not good at planning ahead, set up autopay so you make payments large enough to completely abolish the debt before your introductory rate expires. If you have 15 months to pay down $12,000, for example, pay $800 per month. The minimum payment due could be less than half of that.

Credit cards with no balance-transfer fee

So you know you're ready to start paying off your debt fast, and you think a no-fee balance-transfer credit card with a 0% introductory rate is the best route to go. Here are some of our picks for the best balance-transfer credit cards.

Chase Slate.The Chase Slate will waive the usual 3% balance transfer fee on transfers within the first 60 days following opening the account. It also offers an introductory 0% APR for the first 15 months for both balance transfers and new purchases. Chase Slate cardholders will also have access to a free FICO credit score once a month, so they can see how their credit score is doing as they pay off their debt. (Read our full review of Chase Slate.)

Barclaycard Ring MasterCard.The Barclaycard Ring MasterCard will allow you to transfer any balance to the account for free anytime. If you make the transfer in the first 45 days of opening the account, it'll also give you 15 months of 0% interest. The 0% rate also applies to new purchases. This card is great if you're looking to pay off debt with Chase, since those debts probably aren't eligible to be transferred to the Chase Slate. Also, if you're unable to get approved for the Chase Slate because of too many open credit lines, you might have more luck with Barclaycard. (Read our full review of the Barclaycard Ring MasterCard.)

If you're smart about how you use a no-balance-transfer-fee credit card, it can be a great tool to pay off debt fast. Pay attention to the tips outlined in this article to make sure you use that new credit card safely and effectively and avoid paying unnecessary interest and other credit card fees.

5 Simple Tips to Skyrocket Your Credit Score Over 800!

Adam Levy has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Barclays. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

9 credit cards with no annual fee and zero balance transfer

Zero transfer fee credit card

Payment outstanding on a credit card imposes a double burden on the card holder. In addition to the principle, that is actual purchases made, the bank levies financing charges each month on the balance. The impact of compound interest results in further finance charges and leads to more interest accruing every month.

To ease this burden, several banks offer credit cards with no annual fees and 0% promotional APR, for a limited time, on balance transfers.The market is competitive and a proper study and comparison needs to be made before zeroing down on a card.

Let’s look at such credit cards available in the market.

  1. BankAmericard Credit Card – This card offers 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for 18 billing cycles, one of the longest introductory periods presently on offer. Balance transfers made within two months of opening the account enjoy this introductory rate. The bank charges transfer balance fee of 3%. APR for purchases and balance transfers varies between 11.74% and 21.74%. No annual fee is charged.
  2. Chase Slate Card– It is customized for balance transfers. Introductory APR is available for 15 months on balance transfers and on new purchases. Subsequently, variable APR is 15.49%-24.24%. For transfer of balance during the first two months of opening the account, the intro balance transfer fee is zero.The bank charges 5% of the amount transferred, with a minimum of $5 for future transactions. No annual fee is charged.
  3. Citi Simplicity Card– It offers intro 0% APR for 21 months on new purchases and balance transfers. Subsequently, APR depends on your credit and varies between 14.24% and 24.24%. 3% balance transfer fee is charged, subject to minimum of $5. Although there are no points or cash back, the bank levies no late fees or penalty interest rates. No annual fees are charged.
  4. Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card– This card offers 0% intro APR on balance transfers and on purchases made during first 9 months. Each balance transfer carries a charge of 3%. Beyond intro period, APR varies between 13.74% and 23.74%. The card offers $100 bonus to new cardholders on purchases of $500 within 3 months of approval. 1.5% cash back is available on every purchase. No annual fees are charged.
  5. Aspire Federal Credit Union Platinum Rewards MasterCard This card offers 0% APR for six months on balance transfers. During the first six months of opening your account, balance transfer fees are waived. No annual fees are charged.
  6. Navy Federal PlatinumCard– Military households have the option to go in for Navy Federal Platinum This card does not charge any balance transfer fees, cash advance fees or foreign transaction fees. However, it levies late fee charge of up to $20. This card is known for having offered low interest promotions. In general, membership is allowed for those in military service, certain government employees and families of military personnel.
  7. Discover it– This is a good card for several reasons. No annual fees are charged. Further, apart from 0% intro APR, it offers rewards of 5% on rotating categories like gas, clubs, etc. and 1% on all other purchases. Cash rewards do not have an expiry date. New customers can enjoy the first-year bonus.
  8. American Express – It has a Blue Cash Everyday Card with several benefits. It doubles up as a regular card after you have paid off the balance. With a 0% intro APR, it offers rewards program that suits most people. Earn cash back of 3% up to $6,000 at U.S. supermarkets per year, and after that, 1%. Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and supermarkets. This card offers 1% cash back on all other purchases. No annual fees are charged, and there is a $100 bonus on spending $1,000 in purchases in the initial three months.
  9. Chase Freedom– It has an excellent intro APR period, and a good rewards program. It offers rotating 5% cash back categories that change every quarter. A $150 signup bonus which is easy to earn and no annual fee make this card an attractive proposition.

The aim of going in for a balance transfer should be to eradicate credit card debt. One needs to maximize income, limit expenses, and pay the total entire credit card balance well before expiry of the promotional rate period.

3 credit cards with no balance transfer fees and low interest rates

Zero transfer fee credit card

Is credit card debt becoming overwhelming in your life? A credit card with the right balance transfer offer can help you get out from underneath that mountain.

It’s easy to find credit cards that will let you transfer a balance at 0% APR for a certain number of months . . . but you’ll typically pay a balance transfer fee of at least 3%.

If you want to be really cheap, here are three credit card offers that don’t have any balance transfer fee. That means you won’t pay a penny to transfer your debt over from a higher interest rate to a lower interest rate card. You might even get a 0% interest rate for some number of months as an introductory offer!

As mentioned, the average balance transfer fee is usually around 3% but it can sometimes be as high as 5%. So by eliminating the balance transfer fee, you can save $300 right off the bat (on a hypothetical balance transfer of $10,000) and enjoy a low or zero percent interest rate all year long.

Of course, each card still requires you to make a minimum payment every month.

Depending on your exact situation, you’ll have to read carefully to see which one is right for you.

Here are three credit cards with no balance transfer fees

  • Zero dollar balance transfer fee on transfers made within 60 days of account opening. After that, the fee will be the greater of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer.
  • 0% Intro APR for the first 15 billing cycles that your account is open. After that, a variable APR of 13.24%, 18.24% or 23.24% applies based on credit.
  • Zero dollar annual membership fee

SPECIAL NOTE: To apply for this card, you have to be a member of Pen Fed Credit Union. But don’t worry if you’re not military. Simply join the National Military Family Association for a one-time tax-deductible fee of $20 and then you can apply. You don’t even have to keep your membership active.

This credit union, which is open to members who already work in select financial institutions, offers a suite of four cards with no balance transfer fees. They include the Visa Platinum, Platinum Member Rewards, Platinum Cash Rewards and Visa Signature cards.

  • Zero dollar balance transfer fee
  • 0% Intro APR for the first 6 billing cycles on the Visa Signature card. The three other cards range from 3.9% to 5.9% for the first six months. After that, the interest rate varies from 12.15% to 16.15% based on the Prime Rate.