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Best Rated 0% Balance Transfer Credit Card Offers for 2016

09/15/2016 11:44 am ET

When you’re looking to pay down debt, one of the best things you can do is transfer your balance from a high-interest credit card to one that offers a temporary (the longer, the better) 0 percent introductory offer. This allows you to pay down your debt without tacking on additional interest fees.

Additionally, you can look for cards that have no balance transfer fees or that offer 0 percent on purchases for a period of time. 2016-07-05-1467755090-8137138-Debtreliefsignbluesky300x204.jpg

The combinations and possibilities are endless, which is why we’ve compiled this summary of the best 0 percent balance transfer cards on the market.

We’ve split this up into a few different sections to make it easier for you to find what you need. Our sections include cards that offer:

  • Best of the best
  • 0 percent balance transfer with no balance transfer fee
  • 0 percent balance transfer cards issued by local and regional institutions
  • Other cards to consider

The Fed met recently and many experts are predicting a rate hike in the near future. With that looming over our heads, now is a good time to lock in a 0% interest rate and begin paying down your credit card debt.

As always, remember that no two financial situations are exactly the same. So make sure to crunch all the numbers before deciding which 0 percent balance transfer card makes sense for you.

NOTE: Be aware that all credit card review sites are not created equal. Click here to see why we believe we are the most objective in the field.
 
 
OUR WINNER / BEST OF THE BEST: CHASE SLATE*

Chase Slate is the holy grail of zero percent balance transfer credit cards. It offers a 0% rate on balance transfers for 15 months as well as a 0% rate on purchases for 15 months and no balance transfer fee, as long as you make your transfer within the first 60 days of opening the account. 2016-07-05-1467754544-3892425-thewinnerretroposterillustration300x300lr.jpg

Offered by a prominent national institution with services and support to match, the complete lack of fees (most transfer offers charge a 3% fee) makes Chase Slate really stand out among the best balance transfer credit cards.

Honorable Mentions


Alliant Credit Union Visa Platinum Card

 
This is another great offer that combines a 12 month 0% balance transfer offer with a $0 balance transfer fee. When the promotional offer is over, pending your creditworthiness, you may qualify for their lowest ongoing rate of 9.49% up to 21.49%.

Discover It®*

For those needing a slightly longer time period to pay back their debt, the Discover It Card comes with a 0 percent APR on balance transfers for 18 months and 0% on purchases for 6 months. Another offer is available online where purchases and balance transfers are 0% for 12 months. There is a 3 percent balance transfer fee.

After the promotional period, the interest rate is a variable rate between 11.24% and 23.24%. Balances must be transferred by November 10, 2016 to qualify for the promotional rate.

Citi Simplicity®*

This card works particularly well if you need a longer time frame to pay off your debt. It offers an incredible 0% APR for 21 months on balance transfers and on purchases. Although it has a 3% balance transfer fee, the additional time to pay off your debt could help you more than offset the transfer fee.

BankAmericard Credit Card*

Another card to consider is the BankAmericard Credit Card which offers 0% for 18 months on balance transfers done within the first 60 days. After the introductory period, the rate falls into a competitive range between 11.24 and 21.24%. A standard 3% balance transfer fee applies.
 
WHEN TO PAY A BALANCE TRANSFER FEE

"Paying a balance transfer fee can make sense if you need a longer period of time to pay off your debt, says Gerri Detweiler, head of market education for Nav. She continued, "Let's say you can get a balance transfer for 12 months at 0% with no transfer fee or one for 18 months at 0% with a 3% balance transfer fee. If you need 18 months to pay off that balance, take the longer transfer and pay the fee. That 3% fee is still much less expensive than paying whatever interest rate will be charged on your balance after the introductory rate expires."
 
 
BEST 0% BALANCE TRANSFER CARDS WITH NO BALANCE TRANSFER FEE

Sometimes seemingly appealing 0 percent APR balance transfer cards can catch consumers off-guard with a balance transfer fee. In other words, you may be paying no interest for a period of time, but that 3 or 4 percent transfer fee can be hefty if your balance is large. In this section, we identify the best 0 percent balance transfer cards that DON'T have a balance transfer fee.

Chase Slate*

As mentioned above, this offer is our overall winner (click on the link above for more information and to apply online). Besides the lack of a balance transfer fee, it offers a 0 percent introductory APR for 15 months on both balance transfers and purchases. To take advantage of this offer, you will need to transfer all balances within 60 days.

Alliant Credit Union Visa Platinum Card

For anybody with good credit who is looking for a solid balance transfer card, the Alliant Credit Union Visa Platinum Card is a stellar choice. In addition to not having a transfer fee, it also offers a 0 percent introductory APR for 12 months. 2016-07-05-1467755124-927532-scalesbalanced0feegraybeigebkgrnd300x200.jpg

You don't have to be a credit union member to apply for the card and qualify for the 0 percent rate. Just select "not a member" when you apply for the card on the credit union's website.

If you want to become a member, all you have to do is make a $10 donation to a non-profit called Foster Care to Success, which provides college scholarships and other support to youth in foster care.

Elements Financial Credit Cards

Elements Financial offers three credit cards that have both a 0 percent balance transfer APR for the first six months and no balance transfer fee: The Platinum Visa Credit Card, Cash Rewards Visa Credit Card, and the Signature Rewards Visa Credit Card.

The only difference with the three of them is their rewards structure. There's also a slight difference in the APR after the introductory period, so if that's something that matters to you, make sure to crunch the numbers and see which works best for you.

To become eligible to apply, you'll need to join TruDirection, a financial literacy organization.

Edward Jones World MasterCard

The Edward Jones World MasterCard is a great choice for people who want a good introductory offer for balance transfers as well as some rewards. This card offers a 0 percent APR on balance transfers and no transfer fee for 12 months, so long as you make your transfer within 60 days of opening the account.

Cardholders also earn one reward point per dollar spent, which can be redeemed for travel, cash back, gift cards, and other goodies. The card's ongoing APR (after the introductory period) of 13.24% percent is also competitive. Please note, though, that we DON'T recommend making new purchases on this card though during the intro. period as the purchase APR of 13.24% will apply to new purchases.

To qualify, you do have to be a customer of Edward Jones. The good news for those not interested in opening an investment account is that it's also possible to qualify for the card by opening a simple savings account. There's no minimum deposit required to open a savings account.
 

 

Click here for printable PDF of a table of the best balance transfer cards of 2016.

 

TIPS ON PAYING OFF A TRANSFERRED BALANCE

 
"One of the best ways to manage a balance transfer is to divide your balance by the number of months the low-rate offer is available, then set up auto pay for that amount. I did this with a 0% offer from a home improvement store and it worked beautifully, said Gerri Detweiler, head of market education for Nav. "I was able to pay off my purchase over time but didn't have to worry about missing a payment and getting stuck with high-interest charges."

Amber Stubbs, Senior Managing Editor of CardRatings.com, responded with some of her top tips. "Be sure to pick an offer that is long enough. Although it is tempting, do not use the card for anything other than the balance transfer until the balance transfer is paid off." She continued with a final bit of advice, "Always compare offers and actually do the math to see which will save you the most money."

BEST LOCAL AND REGIONAL ZERO PERCENT BALANCE TRANSFER CARDS

Sometimes the best credit card deals can be found in your own backyard. While credit cards from large national banks and financial institutions are better known because of heavy advertising budgets, often times the real gems are closer than you think.

2016-07-05-1467754671-2884069-localregionalwhiteyellowbkgrnd300x150.jpg

  • First Tennessee Bank Credit Card (Southeast region): 12 months, then 8-21%, 4% Fee

  • TruWest Federal Credit Union (Texas and Arizona): 18 months, then 6.20% - 20.20%, 3% transfer fee
  • Arkansas Federal Credit Union (Arkansas): 6 months, then 8.99%-15.99%/6.00%-14.99%, No Balance Transfer Fees
  • Randolph Brooks Federal Credit Union (Texas): 12 months, then 7.95% - 18.00%, No Balance Transfer Fees
  • You do need to be a member of these credit union to apply for all three of these cards.

    OTHER ZERO PERCENT BALANCE TRANSFER CARDS TO CONSIDER

    Here are some other cards to consider. Please click here for the printable PDF with more information on cards from PNC Bank, SunTrust and more.

    • Barclay NFL Extra Points Credit Card*: 15 months, then 15.24% to 25.24%, 3% fee
    • Citizens Bank Cash Back Plus™ World MasterCard®: 15 months, then 14.99% to 20.99%, 3% Fee
    • M&T Bank Visa® Credit Card: 12 months, then 10.49% to 17.49%, 4% Fee
    • PNC Points by PNC Bank: 12 months, then 12.24% to 22.24%, 3% fee
    • SunTrust Interest Advantage MasterCard: 12 months, then 12.99% to 19.99%, 4% fee
    • SunTrust Rewards MasterCard: 12 months, then 14.99% to 21.99%, 4% fee
    • SunTrust Cash Back MasterCard: 12 months, then 14.99% to 21.99%, 4% fee

    That concludes our list of the best 0 percent balance transfer credit cards we are currently aware of. As our experts have mentioned above, it is important to spend a little time and plan for transferring your balances. You want to do the math to find the card offer that works the best for you.

    If you can afford to pay a 3% fee to transfer a balance to a card that is interest-free for a longer term, such as the Citi Simplicity card for 21 months, that may be your best move. If you want the security of knowing the rate will be low following the promotional offer period, another card, such as from TruWest Credit Union may work better for you.

    We wish you the best in your card research and selection and hope the balance transfer process goes well and helps you realize true savings as you pay your balance down. A little bit of research can save you big bucks over time!
     

    OTHER RESOURCES

    Our Ratings/Disclaimer:

    When reviewing these cards, we do our best to put ourselves in your shoes. We choose cards based on such things as (lack of) fees, finance charges and ease of use. In other words, if we wouldn’t use these cards ourselves, we wouldn’t recommend them!

    * NOTE: About 30% of the credit card offers that appear in this article are from credit card companies from which we receive financial compensation (these cards are listed as such on our site). They are noted above with an asterisk. We are proud that the majority of cards that we list (about 70%) are cards that don’t advertise with us―- almost all of our competitors ONLY list cards that advertise with them.

    The bottom line is that we don’t know of another site that prominently lists as many non-advertiser cards! Please note that Rates are current as of the publishing date of this article and should be verified prior to applying.

     
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    Co-written by Curtis Arnold, a nationally recognized consumer advocate and founder of CardRatings.com, the pioneering website that started posting the first credit card ratings online around 20 years ago, Shane Tripcony, personal finance blogger and web marketing consultant, and Amanda Abella, personal finance writer and business consultant. Curtis and Shane are the founders of BestPrepaidDebitCards.com, which provides ratings and reviews of prepaid cards and credit cards.

    (Photos from Adobe Stock)

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