Q: I have $15,000 in credit card debt that I would like to transfer to a zero percent card for as long as I can get. Is this possible? Where should i start to find the best option?
A: It's once again possible to find a balance transfer credit card offer, even for an amount as high as $15,000. However, you may have to trade an upfront fee of 3 to 5 percent in exchange for the zero interest deal you want.
Best balance transfer cards require an upfront fee
Balance transfer credit cards disappeared at the deepest point in the recession as banks faced pressure to stockpile cash and to reduce credit limits. Today, shareholders want banks to get back into the business of lending those stockpiles, and they want portfolio managers to tread lightly. Therefore, if you've got an excellent credit score, you'll find plenty of banks ready to compete for your $15,000 balance.
However, lenders have cut their risk and boosted their margins by requiring even excellent customers to pay a balance transfer fee of between 3 and 5 percent. That's become the norm, but you're still saving money if you're paying average interest rates now and you intend to pay down your balance in the next year or two. CardRatings.com tracks balance transfer offers in our credit card database, and a couple of today's best offers include:
Discover it® With a year and a half to enjoy no finance charges, you'll love this offer designed to help elite credit card users move over to Discover. You'll pay a 3 percent balance transfer fee, with no annual fee. The 0% introductory APR on balance transfers lasts for 18 months. See terms for the APR rates after introductory APR ends.
Chase Slate®. Chase offers a 15 month, zero interest introductory offer on balance transfers, coupled with their Blueprint online payment planning tool. If you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, as an introductory offer you will pay no balance transfer fee. After the introductory period the balance transfer fee will be either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater. There is no annual membership fee.
Because your credit score will be impacted, whether by getting a new balance transfer credit card or by cancelling old cards, consider whether you'd be better off consolidating all your debt onto a single card or equalizing your credit utilization across multiple accounts.