Credit card issuers are in such fierce competition these days to attract new customers that most have started offering sweetheart deals to win you over, like ultra-long 0% introductory interest periods. While these types of offers can be great (switching from paying something like 15% interest to 0% is obviously a smart move), so many cards are offering so many varying offers that sifting through them to find the better ones can become a little confusing.
Like most things, there's no single answer for everyone, yet in our research, we found that four cards in particular each offered appealing features that beat out other similar cards. One offers a solid 15-month 0% term, yet charges no balance transfer fee. Two more offer nice 0% intro terms together with attractive cash back rewards programs.
The No Transfer-Fee Card
The Chase Slate® is tied as our highest-rated balance transfer card, and for good reason. It charges no fee for transferring your balance to it in the first two months, no annual fee, and no interest on balances transferred for a full 15-month 0% intro APR period. This makes it a phenomenal tool to gain control of your credit card debt, as you can make a costless balance transfer, then use the 15-month interest grace period to pay down your balance.
The Verdict: If you don't need the entire 18 months offered by the BankAmericard, this can be efficient since it doesn't have a balance transfer fee. No transfer fee and no annual fee, combined with the 0% intro APR means that this is really free money for the 15 month term, no catches.
Most Appropriate For: Those who want a no-fee way to stop paying interest, and possibly pay off the cards during that breather. Those with good rather than excellent credit.
Least Appropriate For: Those who pay off their balances every month would be better served getting a card paying high rewards.
Recommended credit: Just Good. The Chase card has the most lenient credit requirements of our top balance transfer cards.
The Ultra-Long 0% Card
The BankAmericard® Credit Card is tied as our highest rated balance transfer card, featuring an unbelievable 18 billing cycles (months) 0% APR intro period. This means that if you were to roll your balance over onto the card today, you wouldn't have to pay interest until well into 2018. The card does charge a 3% balance transfer fee*, but if you're looking to avoid paying any interest on your credit card balances for as long as possible, the BankAmericard could be your card.
The Verdict: Getting a loan this cheaply for this long is pretty amazing. If you're carrying a balance, and realistically you know you will have to carry that balance for a while, this card becomes a no-brainer. As an example, assume you have a $10,000 balance on your current cards at a 18% rate. Over the 18 billing cycle (month) term, you would have paid $3,098 in interest.* Switching to this card would cost $300 in fees, but then nothing the rest of the way, for a net savings of $2,798. Not bad, you could do a lot with that extra cash.
Most Appropriate For: Those who have large balances and want as much interest-free time as possible to pay the principle down.
Least Appropriate For: Those who pay off their balances every month or every few months.
Credit Required: Good to Excellent
The Cards Which Not Only Don't Charge, But Actually PAY you.
Pros: Chase's new Freedom Unlimited card is essentially an improved version of the old Freedom. They bumped the base cash back rate all the way up to an industry leading 1.5%, and pay that full 1.5% on all spend, with no limit or spend category restrictions. Unlike most other high paying cash back cards, you don't have to worry about categories or have to activate anything. You'll receive the full 1.5% back as you make your spend, on all spend, automatically. In addition, Chase is temporarily offering a cash bonus to new card-members. If you charge $500 on it in the first 3 months, you'll earn a $150 cash bonus. Finally, Chase is also offering new card-members 15 months of 0% Intro APR interest for the first 15 months of using the card to make new purchases. So during that period, you can use the card without paying any interest on balances you tally, while still earning cash back. The card requires good, not excellent credit, making it easier to get in.
Cons: Charges a 5% balance transfer fee. This is on the high side, so we recommend looking at the Slate or BankAmericard if your goal is to transfer a balance. The Freedom Unlimited should be viewed as a cash back card.
The Verdict: One of the strongest cards available to those with good (but not perfect) credit. The card combines industry leading cash back rates (1.5% on everything) with a strong 15 months of 0% Intro APR interest on new purchases combined with a $150 cash bonus when you use the card to make $500 in spend in the first 3 months.
Most Appropriate For: Those with good credit seeking a daily-use card offering great cash back rewards and 0% Intro APR intro APR. Best for new charges.
Least Appropriate For: Balance transfers, as it charges the 5% fee while offering no more free term than the Slate (which has no transfer fee).
Credit Required: Good to Excellent
Pros: Capital One's Quicksilver card makes things simple: you earn 1.5% cash back on all your purchases, with no limit and no category restrictions or games. We included the card in our balance transfer list because it offers 0% intro APRuntil February 2017 on all balances transferred.
Cons: Does charge a 3% balance transfer fee. Requires good credit to get in.
The Verdict: If you're looking to transfer a balance and make some purchases, you can use this card to avoid paying interest during the intro period AND earn cash rewards.
Most Appropriate For: Anyone who might make some large purchases in the near future, or regularly charges a lot on their cards. Making the charges on the Quicksilver would earn cash back but not require any interest during the intro period.
Credit Required: Good to Excellent
With so many issuers competing to offer such great introductory incentives, it seems smart to make use of them in the right way! We hope our reviews of these cards was helpful, and if you have any comments, please don't hesitate to let us at the LendingTree Credit Card Review Team know!
Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This content was accurate at the time of this post, but card terms and conditions may change at any time. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.
*Savings calculation: Credit Card Balance * (1+Average Card Rate/365)^639 days - Balance Transfer Fee - Average Household Credit Card Balance