According to data collected by the Federal Reserve, many American households carry between $7,000 and $15,000 in credit card debt. Finance charges on that kind of balance can sap some serious cash from your household budget every year. Fortunately, stronger competition among credit card issuers has led to a resurgence in balance-transfer offers. Along with zero-percent APR introductory periods ranging from 12 to 18 months, some of these deals include waived or discounted balance-transfer fees and other cardholder benefits.
PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card
As one of the country's fastest growing credit unions, Pentagon Federal keeps stealing thunder from national megabanks. Applicants with strong credit can qualify for a zero-percent APR introductory period that lasts for 18 months, with a 3-percent balance-transfer fee. While most banks reserve deals like this for their no-frills cards, PenFed has paired this deal with a Visa Signature card that includes concierge service, no foreign transaction fee and a decent rewards points program. PenFed juggles its balance-transfer deals every few months, and other recent promotions have included low, single-digit, fixed-rate APRs for the life of the transferred balance.
Slate® from Chase
With a zero-percent introductory APR for up to 15 months and access to the Blueprint online budgeting tool, Slate from Chase offers a simple plan for streamlining your monthly credit card payments. During certain promotional periods, especially around the heavy Thanksgiving-to-Christmas shopping season, Chase waives balance-transfer fees on this card for new customers. That makes Slate from Chase one of the best balance transfer deals on the market if you're committed to knocking down your debt over the course of about a year. Slate from Chase is currently offering a $0 introductory balance transfer fee for transfers made during the first 60 days. After the first 60 days future balance transfers will carry a fee of 3 percent of the amount transferred with a minimum of $5.
Capital One® Platinum Prestige Credit Card
This no-frills credit card from Capital One carries one of the industry's lowest variable APR spreads for balance transfers. Even with a 3-percent balance-transfer fee, the go-to rate on this card undercuts many of its mainstream competitors by two to three percentage points. Instead of specifying a routine time frame for its introductory period, Capital One assigns an expiration date for each offer based on when you sign up. For most applicants, the introductory period ranges from 12 to 14 months. That's a little shorter than many competitors' offers, but could still be the right long-term move if you know you'll need more than a year to pay down your balance. Currently you can transfer a balance for zero percent introductory APR until May 2015, and get a zero percent introductory APR on all purchases until May 2015. After the introductory period the non-intro purchase and balance transfer APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate and is currently 10.9 percent - 18.9 percent (V).
Citi Simplicity® Card
Most new Citi customers who qualify for this no-annual-fee card can also get 18 months with no finance charges and a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3-percent of each transfer, whichever is greater. Although ads for this card tout its lack of late fees, Citi's fine print warns that you can end up paying interest on your balance transfer if you miss a minimum monthly payment during your introductory period. After the introductory rate expires, this card's variable go-to rate remains competitive with most no-frills credit cards.
Discover it® card
Although most of the ads promoting the Discover it Card tout the company's commitment to customer service and cash back rewards, this card actually features a competitive balance transfer deal. With an introductory zero-percent APR period of 14 months and a 3-percent balance transfer fee, Discover's latest rewards card makes sense if you want to consolidate your bills while earning bonus rebates on new purchases. With excellent credit, you could qualify for a go-to variable rate that's among the market's lowest.
Barclaycard® Ring MasterCard®
Although Barclaycard doesn't position its experimental Ring card alongside traditional balance-transfer deals, its extremely low APR and lack of transfer fees makes it a viable option for reducing your finance charges. After a wave of industry consolidation, banks now typically reserve their best balance-transfer deals for brand-new customers. Despite the lack of an introductory rate, this card offers you a way to save money if you've already cycled through new account offers with most of the major players. Barclaycard Ring also makes it easy for you to rack up points on rewards credit cards with higher APRs, then transferring your remaining balance to save on finance charges.
Even in a competitive, volatile credit card marketplace, balance transfer deals can change frequently. The deals outlined above can disappear with no notice, but recent history suggests that even better offers tend to pop up in their place. Even if a specific offer listed here goes away, all six of these brands have maintained strong balance transfer deals over the past few years.