Wracking up credit card debt can be painfully easy, until it comes time to pay off high balances with equally high interest rates. Americans now rely less on revolving credit, with debt levels now dropping to below the levels seen in 2006 — per the Washington Post — but dealing with existing debt can still be challenging in a market with wage freezes and high unemployment. One great strategy for reducing debt quickly is transferring balances to take advantage of low introductory interest rates. By choosing zero balance transfer fee credit cards, borrowers can lock in a low interest rate at no penalty. Here's information on the only zero balance transfer fee credit card available in 2014, as well as alternatives to consider.
The One and Only Zero Balance Transfer Fee Credit Card of 2014
So far, credit card companies have chosen to offer extended introductory low and zero APR terms, rather than zero fee transfers. The Chase Slate card is the only option that combines both a no fee transfer and a 0 percent introductory rate. This rate applies to both balance transfers and purchases. Where historically, those introductory rates were for six or 12 months, the Chase Slate card is a whopping 15 months. This allows cardholders to pay down debt quickly before interest starts accruing.
Alternatives to Zero Balance Transfer Fee Credit Cards
Resolving revolving debt can take years, unless borrowers take proactive steps to reduce their outstanding balances. A typical balance transfer fee starts at 3 percent or a minimum of $5. For small balances, this makes them very expensive. On large balances, a transfer fee combined with an extended introductory rate of 0 percent APR makes a lot of sense. Below are a few different options that allow consumers to pay down balances at a more leisurely rate.
- Discover it Card: This card offers an introductory APR of 0 percent for 14 months on balance transfers and on purchases. It also has no annual fee and cash back earnings of up to 5 percent on certain purchases up to a quarterly maximum and 1 percent cash back unlimited. A late payment does not cause an interest rate hike, and, unlike the Chase Slate card, applicants do not need virtually perfect credit.
- Citi Simplicity: Offering a 0 percent introductory rate for 18 months on both purchases and balance transfers, the Simplicity card has a lot of flexibility. As an added bonus, new cardholders have four months to make the decision to transfer a balance. The lack of late fees and penalty rates also makes this an excellent option.
- Chase Freedom: Offering a 0 percent APR for 15 months on both transfers and purchases, Chase has a solid, middle-of-the-road credit card account. Currently, new account holders also have the opportunity to earn $200 in bonus cash when they make $500 in new purchases during the first three months. Those who make a balance transfer should be aware that most companies apply payments to the new balance, before applying anything to the transferred balance. Unless an account holder intends to pay the entire balance during the introductory period, the bonus cash may not be as attractive as it would be for those without a transfer
Look for 0 Percent APR, not Zero Balance Transfer Fee Credit Cards
The move away from free transfers means that finding these offers have become increasingly challenging. Of course, with consumers watching their spending and their debt levels more closely, that may change. In the UK, Barclaycard offered a seemingly endless 30 months at a 0 percent APR introductory offer. If these intro rates continue to extend, consumers may not need car loans or other short-term loans. For small balances, avoid balance transfers. The fee will eat up the savings from the non-existent interest. Those with a credit score at or above 720 can try for the Chase Slate card, but for the majority of Americans, the Freedom card is the more likely option.