Strict disclosure rules and a fear of rising interest rates have radically reduced the number of fixed rate credit cards on the market. A scan of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s credit card agreement database shows that only about 17 percent of active offers include the phrase “fixed rate.” Many of those agreements refer to offers that banks reserve for their most creditworthy customers. Still, if you want to lock in a low APR on a balance you think you’ll carry longer than a year, you can still pound the pavement to find a deal from one of these five sources:
Fixed rate credit cards for excellent credit.
A handful of national lenders keep fixed rate credit card offers tucked away behind their more prominent variable rate credit card deals. With few exceptions, you’ll need excellent credit and a connection with a branch manager or a private banking specialist to request an invitation.
Fixed rate credit cards from community banks and credit unions.
Most of the fixed rate credit card offers in the CFPB’s database come from community lending institutions in smaller cities across the country. Lenders act differently when they’re appealing to members or community leaders instead of to shareholders.
Fixed rate credit cards from regional mortgage lenders.
In a quiet mortgage market, some regional lenders have advertised fixed rate credit cards tied to home loan accounts. Look closely at the fine print: these accounts almost always connect back to a home equity line of credit. While the APR won’t change, your home becomes collateral against your balance.
Fixed rate credit cards for bad credit.
Subprime credit card lenders have launched a series of products touting a fixed APR, masking extreme service charges and transaction fees that far outweigh what you’ll pay for opening a secured card or even a prepaid debit card.
Fixed rate balance transfer offers.
If you’re really just trying to lock in a predictable APR on an existing debt, some variable rate credit cards include fixed rate balance transfers. Watch for limited deals from lenders like Pentagon Federal Credit Union, Chase, and Barclays, who have used this tactic to lure cardholders away from competitors.
Keep in mind that low introductory rate offers can help you pay down a balance transfer over a year or two. They’re far easier to find, and can help you stay motivated to get out of debt.