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Best balance transfer credit cards of 2015

Chase Slate tops the list of this year's best balance transfer credit cards.

By , Editor-in-chief
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Balance Transfer

When considering balance transfer credit card offers, consumers need to match their needs to available features. While some cardholders might be drawn to a long, low introductory APR, others might be thinking of ways to get perks out of a card once his or her balance is paid off. Ready to get serious about debt reduction? Here’s a list of what we think are the best balance-transfer offers on the market:

Chase Slate®

Chase Slate®
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Our editor's take:
Pay no interest until 2016 with this card. 0% introductory APR for both balances transferred and new purchases for 15 months, and no fee for balances transferred in the first 60 days from account opening. 

Takeaways
Credit Required Excellent / Good
BT Intro APR 0%
BT Intro Period 15 months
BT Fee $0 Intro fee on transfers made within 60 days of account opening. After that: Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Intro Purchase APR 0%
Intro Purchase Period 15 months

Billing Slate as a source for "simple and convenient" money management, Chase has developed one of the country's highest-profile balance-transfer credit cards. Slate's current offer includes a zero-percent introductory APR for 15 months on both balance transfers and purchases (after that introductory period ends, a variable APR of 12.99, 17.99 or 22.99 percent -- depending on creditworthiness -- applies on balance transfers and purchases).

Chase Slate also offers an introductory $0 balance-transfer fee for transfers made during the first 60 days with the card. After that, you'll pay 3 percent of the amount transferred on future balance transfers with a minimum charge of $5.

Slate also includes access to Blueprint, an online tool that allows Chase cardholders to plan how to pay down debt over time. One of Blueprint's features, "Finish It," lets customers set their own deadline for reaching a zero balance. The software then suggests a new monthly payment to hit that deadline. On the other hand, a consumer budgeting a specific amount toward their debt can use the tool to project how long it might take to reach a zero balance.

Discover it®

Discover it®
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Our editor's take:
Longer balance transfer of 18 months/0% APR, plus 0% intro APR with cash-back rewards on new purchases. 

Takeaways
Credit Required Excellent
BT Intro APR 0%
BT Intro Period 18 Months
BT Fee 3%
Intro Purchase APR 0%
Intro Purchase Period 6 Months

While competing credit cards often highlight money-saving offers as a reason to switch lenders, Discover it marketing campaign suggests that consumers aren't always getting the customer service they deserve. Over the past few years, Discover has staffed up an entirely U.S.-based service and support team, empowering them to answer phones without forcing customers through complex, automated queuing tools.

Discover's recent balance-transfer offer features a zero-percent introductory APR on balance transfers for 18 months. An introductory zero-percent APR on purchases also applies, for six months. A variable APR of 10.99-22.99 percent, for both balance transfers and purchases, applies after the introductory period ends. A 3 percent fee applies to each balance transferred.

Unlike typical balance-transfer cards, Discover it offers access to cash-back rewards of up to 5 percent on qualifying purchases. A Discover Deals website, stocked with online shopping rebates of up to 10 percent at participating merchants, rounds out this card's strong feature set.

Barclaycard® Ring MasterCard® - 1% Back on Balance Transfers

Barclaycard® Ring MasterCard® - 1% Back on Balance Transfers
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Our editor's take:
Low ongoing rate for balance transfers. No balance-transfer fees, plus get a 1 percent statement credit on balance transfers. No annual fees.

Takeaways
Credit Required Excellent
Purchase APR 8% Variable
BT Fee None
Special Offer Get a 1% Statement Credit back on the amount of balance transfers made in the first 60 days of account opening

The country's first "crowdsourced credit card" has evolved since its launch a few years ago. Since then, cardholders have used Barclaycard's online forums to vote for new features and to brainstorm new experiments. Late last year, customers and brand managers agreed to start testing some new balance-transfer deals as a way to bring more cardholders into their community.

The card's current offerings include a 1 percent statement credit on balance transfers made in the first 60 days of account opening, a low variable APR of 8 percent for both balance transfers and purchases, no balance-transfer fees and no annual fee.

Citi Simplicity® Card

Citi Simplicity® Card
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Our editor's take:
0% intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 18 months -- the longest intro rate of any card. No late fees -- ever.

Takeaways
Credit Required Excellent
BT Intro APR0%*
BT Intro Period 18 months on Balance Transfers*
BT Fee 3% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.
Intro Purchase APR 0%*
Intro Purchase Period 18 months on Purchases*

Another card to consider if you need a longer timeframe to pay down debt is City Simplicity, which, like Discover it, features a zero-percent introductory APR on both balance transfers and purchases for 18 months. After that, the variable APR for balance transfers and purchases will be 12.99-22.99 percent, based on creditworthiness. This card charges a 3 percent fee for each balance transferred, with a minimum charge of $5 per balance transferred, balance transfer fee applies with this offer. Other benefits include no late fees, no penalty fees and no annual fee - ever.

NASA Federal Credit Union Platinum Advantage Rewards

NASAFederalCreditUnionPlatinumAdvantageRewards

Our editor's take:
Fixed rate for the lifetime of the balance. Lock in at low APR. 

Although this credit union primarily serves employees of NASA and about 900 affiliated technology companies, if you can qualify for their Platinum Advantage Rewards credit card, and you'll lock in an extremely rare, fixed introductory balance-transfer APR that's among the lowest interest rates on the market.

This card currently offers 7.9 percent APR for balance transfers made within 90 days of account opening, based on creditworthiness. That 7.9 percent APR will remain in effect for the life of balances transferred within the first 90 days of account opening. The variable APR for purchases and any amounts transferred after the first 90 days falls is 9.9-17.99 percent, based on creditworthiness. With no annual fee and no balance-transfer fee, this deal can help you save an extraordinary amount of cash if you've got a strong credit history, but you've already cycled through the big banks' zero-percent APR transfer deals.

PenFed Promise Visa® Card

PenFed Promise Visa® Card
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Our editor's take:
No balance-transfer fee, and low intro balance-transfer and variable ongoing APRs.

Takeaways
Credit Required Excellent
BT Intro APR4.99% APR promotional balance transfer rate
BT Intro Period Promotional balance transfer rate for 12 Months on Balance Transfers made between February 15, 2015 through March 31, 2015. After that, the APR for the unpaid balance and any new balance transfers will be 7.99% to 16.99% APR based on your credit worthiness and will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate. This transaction is subject to credit approval.
BT Fee None
Intro Purchase APR N/A
Intro Purchase Period N/A

Although PenFed still has "Credit Union" in its full name, this nonprofit has grown into one of the country's largest financial institutions. It's using that clout, and its deposit base, to offer some consistently low interest rates for families with strong credit. This no-frills Visa card offers straightforward terms, no annual fee, no balance-transfer fee, and no penalty rate if you accidentally miss a payment.

The current offer includes a 4.99 percent promotional APR for 12 months on balance transfers made between Feb. 15 through March 31, 2015. After that, the variable APR for the unpaid balance and any new transfers will be 7.99-16.99 percent, based on creditworthiness. It's worth noting that credit union membership is a requirement but not a guarantee than an applicant will be approved for this credit card.

In our opinion, the best credit cards for balance transfers often include:

  • Low introductory rates. Many cards offer a zero-percent intro APR on balance transfers, sometimes for a year or more, enabling the cardholder to make a serious dent in their balance without accruing additional interest.
  • Fixed interest rates or discounted APR ranges. Although fixed APRs are almost impossible to find on general purpose credit cards these days, a few credit unions and regional banks promise to lock an interest rate for the life of your balance transfer. Most other lenders offer no-frills cards that trade bonus features and perks for variable APRs a few percentage points lower than the market average.
  • Introductory or lowered balance transfer fees. While many banks charge processing fees that often range between 3 and 5 percent, certain offers can reduce or eliminate those fees, also cutting down the finance charges you'd pay over the life of your balance.

The cards on our list of the market's best balance-transfer deals possess some, if not all, of the aforementioned attributes. Let us know what you think about these selections by leaving a comment below.

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