You're probably wondering how hard you'll have to work out over the next few weeks to make up for the extra treats you enjoyed during the holidays. And if you're feeling tight at the waist, chances are you're feeling a pinch in the wallet, too.
Surveys from the American Research Group and the American Retail Federation estimated that on average you likely spent between $650 and $750 on gifts and holiday entertainment this year. If you put it all on a credit card with an interest rate of 19.9 percent, you could end up spending as much as $150 on finance charges trying to clear a bill that size. Fortunately, these three balance transfer credit cards can help you knock down that balance at no interest over the next year:
Slate from Chase
If you're serious about getting out of debt, check out a rare offer that can help clear your balance before the next time they drop the ball in Times Square. Slate from Chase dropped their balance transfer fees for a limited time, meaning you can enjoy one of their best credit card deals without the usual service charge of 3 to 5 percent. Transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, and as an introductory offer you will pay no balance transfer fee. Qualify for this no annual fee credit card, and you'll enjoy zero percent introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, along with some of Chase's lower "go-to" rates.
However, instead of waiting until the last minute to clear your balance, take advantage of another free gift: access to Blueprint. Chase's online credit card calculator works best if you intend to use your Slate card for other purchases throughout the year. That's because Blueprint will show you how much you'll need to budget each month to clear your balance before the end of your introductory offer.
Citi Platinum Select MasterCard
Editor's Note: This limited-time offer has expired.
If you think you'll need a little longer than a year to cover the cost of 2011's holiday indulgences, consider the Citi Platinum Select MasterCard. This no-frills card carries a 3-percent balance transfer fee, but will stretch your payments across 18 months with no finance charges. Citi's go-to rates mirror those we're seeing on most of this year's balance transfer credit card offers.
Though this isn't one of Citi's rewards credit cards, the bank's trying a new incentive with its Platinum Select series. Called "Extra Cash from Citi," this set of special offers adds value by giving you an extra bank of bonus dollars you can use toward deals from select merchants. If you're a fan of daily deal websites like Groupon or Living Social, Citi's Extra Cash program may find you a few extra ways to save money beyond your initial balance transfer. Take a look at these Citi offers.
Chase and Citi offer strong online tools to help manage accounts, but Discover promotes an all-American customer service team. If you are looking for assistance eliminating your holiday debt, consider the Discover it Card. Not only will you be able to take advantage of their customer service to assist you in creating a debt-elimination plan, but right now, Discover's offering two competitive balance transfer deals. First, the Discover it card with an 18-month balance transfer offer has a zero-percent introductory APR for 18 months for balance transfers and a balance transfer fee of just three percent. The second offer is the Discover it card with a zero-percent introductory APR for 14 months for balance transfers and a balance transfer fee of just three percent.
If you've never tried a Discover Card before, this could be a great opportunity to diversify your credit profile while treating yourself to some of this upstart lender's perks and privileges. Additionally, with your new Discover it card with 18-month balance transfer, there is a zero-percent introductory APR on purchases for 6 months. You can also earn Discover’s Cashback Bonus rewards of up to 5 percent on qualifying transactions in specific categories, up to the cap when you sign up each quarter.
Balance transfer credit cards
Remember that balance transfer credit cards, like all lines of credit, can influence your credit report and impact how much you'll pay for insurance policies, mortgages, and auto loans. However, if you're not planning any big purchases over the next year, you may want to compare credit cards that can help you erase your holiday bills in time for next year's shopping spree.
About the Author
Curtis Arnold, a nationally recognized consumer educator and advocate, has been educating consumers about credit cards since 1998. New! Curtis is the author of 'How You Can Profit from Credit Cards: Using Credit to Improve Your Financial Life and Bottom Line' (FT Press, 2008). He is also the co-author of the upcoming Complete Idiot's Guide to Person-to-Person Lending (Alpha Books/Pengiun Group USA, April 2009), a contribitor to The Ultimate Allowance (InnerWealth Publishing, 2008) and is extensively featured in 42 RulesTM for Driving Success With Books (Super Star Press, January 2009).