Best 0% Balance Transfer Credit Cards

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This posts lists a bunch of the 0% balance transfer credit cards on the market today, and having the list in the first place was motivated by a reader who managed to pay off her debt with these 0% balance transfer offers. Below is her story along with the different choices out there on the market today, including a couple options with no balance transfer fees.

During the 0% balance transfer credit cards craze of recent years, many of my friends were calling me ignorant for not taking advantage of these balance transfer offers. The idea was simple in that all you needed to do was apply for a few credit cards offering 0% balance transfers, send the money to a high yield savings account and pocket the difference in interest.

The 0% balance transfer tactic worked well, with each card earning a couple hundred dollars before taxes with minimal effort. I never bothered, though. The tactic seemed weird. It just wasn’t me and subsequently, I never talked about it here.

Now that the credit card companies are offering these 0% balance transfer offers in full force again, a reader took the plunge and wrote me an email that really changed my perception of these 0% balance transfer cards.

David, you have to write about these 0% balance transfer credit cards. I used one and it helped pay off my debt a year ahead of schedule!

Whoa. That got my interest.

The 0% Balance Transfer Story

Apparently, reader Shelby (fake name as she requested to stay anonymous), used these cards to transfer all her credit card debt onto 2 cards with 0% interest. Then she made every effort to pay off the balance. It was a great strategy because based on her calculation, the lack of interests helped her reach her credit card debt free goal 394 days ahead of time.

She said more people should take advantage of these offers to get out of debt and I totally agree. All you need to do is apply for 0% balance transfer credit cards and watch your debt shrink much more rapidly.

What is a 0% Balance Transfer?

An insightful and exciting way to decrease the burden of credit card debt, while at the same time not having to pay exorbitant interest fees, is to take advantage of a 0% balance transfer credit card offer. Sure, this may seem like a foolish exercise in futility at first glance – taking out a new credit card account to get rid of credit card debt – but nevertheless, the fact remains that this can be a remarkably effective tool in your arsenal when you want to save money and diminish credit card debt.

A 0% balance transfer is a marketing tool used by credit card companies to increase the number of customers holding accounts with them, and also increase the amount of debt held within those accounts. While these balance transfers are effective for the credit card companies, they also can be a powerful aid to customers who wish to save money and pay off credit card debt. This is how the process works:

First, a customer opens a new credit card account that offers a 0% interest balance transfer program. These are not usually difficult to find, although there are variables about which customers should be aware. Some balance transfer offers are considerably longer than others, and in this case, longer is definitely better. In addition, customers would be well advised to pay close attention to the interest rate after the period of zero interest expires. It will, of course, be increased. However, some companies will charge incredibly high rates after the end of the initial period with no interest. Because of the importance of these types of details, it is absolutely vital that a customer read the fine print very carefully before deciding which credit card offer to accept.

Once the new account has been opened, customers will usually find the telephone operators with their new credit card company more than willing to assist them in transferring the balances to their new account. This is to be expected, of course, because they want as much of that money transferred into that account as possible – right up to the limit. How that account is managed after the transfer is what will make the difference in how much money is saved over the course of the zero interest period.

Once the new account has high-interest funds transferred in, this is the best time to pay down that balance as aggressively as possible. By doing this, customers may be able to completely pay off much of the credit card debt without incurring any interest fees at all, saving significant amounts of money. It is, however, vital to remain aware of when the zero interest promotion ends. In the event that there is still a balance remaining on the transferred balance as this time period comes to a close, it may be possible to open a 0% balance transfer credit card with another company, and continue the cycle further. Again, looking out for the longest period with a 0% balance will help you to diminish debt and save money.

How to Calculate When Using a 0% Balance Transfer Makes Sense

When deciding what to do about your debt, one common question is how to calculate when using a 0% balance transfer makes sense. 0% balance transfer credit cards are promotional offer that creditors extent to attract customers. The offer permits you to transfer balances from other credit cards onto the new card at an amount up to your credit limit. You will pay 0% interest on the money transferred for a set period of time, usually between six months and one year. After this period of time, any remaining balance will default to the normal interest rate, under the terms of most cards. Most 0% balance transfer credit cards charge you a fee to transfer the balance. The industry standard is a 3% fee. This fee used to be capped, which meant that there was an upper limit maximum that would be charged.

Calculating Whether 0% Balance Transfer Credit Cards Makes Sense

Your first consideration when calculating whether the 0% balance transfer credit cards make sense should be determining whether you will save enough in interest to make the 3% fee worthwhile. This will depend on the amount of money you owe and the interest rate you are currently paying.

Interest rates on credit cards can vary widely from around 5% to upwards of 25% depending on your credit score and a number of other factors. This will make a vast difference in determining whether a balance transfer makes sense in your situation or not.

Assume, for a moment, that you have a 5% interest rate. If you have a $1000 balance, that means that you are paying 5% annually on a $1000.00 balance. Although there is some variation on how creditors charge interest – some charge interest on a double month cycle- you will pay approximately $23.37 in interest over a 6 month period. This number was calculating assuming you are making minimum payments of 3% per month of the balance remaining. If you are making larger payments, you will pay less in interest. Over a one year period of time using the same calculations and assuming the same payment rate, you will pay $42.79 in interest over the course of the year. This means that if the balance transfer offer is good for six months, a balance transfer may not be right for you, since you will pay a $30.00 fee (3% of $1000) to save $23.37 in interest. However, if the balance transfer offer is good for one year, then a balance transfer will safe you about $12.00. While this is a savings, only you can decide whether that amount of money is worth the hassle of transferring a balance.

If your interest rate jumps to 15% on your credit card, the numbers look a bit different. Again assuming a $1000 balance and payments at 3% per month, you are now looking at $71.66 in interest over six months and $134.94 in interest over the course of a year. Assuming a 3% balance transfer fee of $30.00, the offer begins to look a bit more attractive.
If your credit card interest rate is 20%, with all other factors the same, you will pay $96.59 in interest over 6 months and $184.48 over one year. In this situation, a balance transfer begins to look as though it might make sense.

Therefore, it seems clear that the higher the interest rate, the wiser it is to do a 0% balance transfer. The same rule applies for high balances. If you had an $8000 balance on that same 20% card, over the course of a year you would pay $1475.89 in interest. This is quite a bit more then the $240 balance transfer fee you would pay.

Other Things to Consider about 0% Balance Transfer Credit Cards

One other major factor to consider when making the calculation of whether a 0% balance transfer credit cards make sense is whether you can actually pay the balance back within the promotional period. If you have, for example, an $8000 balance, you would need to make credit card payments of over $1330.00 per month in order to have that balance paid off within a six month promotional period. If you do not have that kind of cash lying around, you need to consider what happens when the promotional rate ends.

Typically, when a promotional rate ends, you will just have to begin paying at the regular interest rate on the remaining balance. Thus, you would need to look at what that standard interest rate was in order to determine how much you should expect to pay in interest on the remainder of the transferred balance after your promotion ends. You can do this by figuring out how much you can pay per month and subtracting that amount form the total owed. So, if you were able to pay $200 a month on your $8000 balance, at the end of six months you would still have $6800 remaining on your card. Find out what rate will be charged on that remaining balance. If the rate is higher then the rate you have now, it might not be advantageous for you to take the balance transfer offer unless you are absolutely confident that you can pay off the balance within the promotional period.

Be diligent about ensuring that you really can pay off the money within the promotional period. Do not be late on your payments or otherwise default on any agreement with the credit card company or you may find yourself spending much more money when your rate defaults to a penalty rate under the terms of the contract. Finally, do not count on simply being able to transfer the balance again at the end of your promotional rate. After the economic crisis of 2009, the days of easy credit and endless balance transfer offers are no more and there is no guarantee that at the end of your promotional term, another balance transfer offer will come along.

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • sonya says:

    Where is the list of credit cards?

  • Margaret Mcnulty says:

    Please reply. Very interested

  • Margaret McNulty says:

    I am very interested to do a transfer. I have 3 credit cards I want to transfer. Please get back to me

  • Usana says:

    You said this may seem like a foolish exercise in futility at first glance – taking out a new credit card account to get rid of credit card debt – but nevertheless, the fact remains that this can be a remarkably effective tool in your arsenal when you want to save money and diminish credit card debt. I really help me.

  • Luis Cabrera says:

    Two months ago I was deciding what to do about my debt… back then I didn´t know about 0% balance transfer. I read (and learned) on this blog that 0% balance transfer credit cards are promotional offers that (some) creditors extent to attract customers. The deal consists in grab the offer! Because it permits you to transfer balances from other credit cards onto the new card at an amount up to your credit limit. In that case I would pay 0% interest on the money transferred for a set period of time, usually between six months and one year, wich is great (pure oxigen in my case). Thanks for sharing this wonderful strategy… it save me (literally).

  • Christopher says:

    Hi All – this is a great forum. I have a question about the principal payments on a 0% into APR credit card. I wanted to use the 18-month intro period to finance an asset that I will refinance at the end of the intro period.

    1) Do I have to make any payments at all during the intro period?

    2) Is it possible to transfer $2,500 in balance on day one, pay the transfer fee (if applicable) and then just carry the balance for the entire 18 months (making 0 payments) and pay it off in full by refinancing with a new loan at the end of the intro period?

    Doing the above would allow me to reduce my ‘blended’ asset financing costs and give me 0% funding costs for 15-18 months. If I refinance at the end of 18 months with a small loan @ 6.99% I would have an average funding cost of ~4.89% for a 60 month period.

    Appreciate the help on the above. By the way, the 3% transfer fee works out to an APR of about 1.9% for an 18-month period for those interested – certainly better than most other credit card rates!


  • Skedaddio says:

    You said there are “a couple options with no balance transfer fees.” Chase Slate is one option. What’s the other?

  • Marvin says:

    I have never been in credit card debt but have recommended 0% transfers to numerous friends. Additionally, we get some of the 0% checks in the mail for our credit cards and I use those checks to pay principal towards our mortgage, then pay off the credit card throughout the year.

  • Alex @ Credit Card XPO says:

    I’ve been getting lots of balance transfer offers from chase and discover lately, mostly 0% for 12 months. They can be great for consolidating debts.

  • aw says:

    If you have penfed visa and are thinking about the balance transfer, you should know there is still a monthly minimum you are required to pay. No monthly minimum with citibank although they reduced from 18 months to 8 months for me. As for chase slate i don’t know yet but will update when i know.

  • Linda L. Pare says:

    Please send me some “transfer balance” checks.

  • Kelly says:

    I was hoping to get some answers. I am trying to get information on a 0% balance transfer for 15-18 months, the catch is the debt is $20,000. I’ll be able to easily pay this off, but most credit card companies want to you fill out the application before they set the credit limit and I really wanted one card to track. Has anyone else managed to secure a limit that high, or will I need to get more than one card?

    Any suggestions?

    • David @ says:

      The credit limit is just something that’s decided based on all the information they come up with after you fill out your application, taking into account your credit report as well. Unfortunately, it’s one of those situations where you just have to take the plunge to find out.

  • Ncole says:

    Editing note – your article has a sentence that gets cuts off at “However, with the recent credit crunch”…

  • Linda says:

    I have capital one credit card and I at my limit. But they offer me checks to tranfer my high rate card. They say my credit limit is 6,000. How can this be when I owe 6.000? Why are they sending me this promotion with no limit left? Or this is different? I have no room to take advantage of this offer, or do I?

  • autum says:

    So I have citibank card. Logged in to find an offer for 0% for 18 months which I accepted. Requested a check be sent to me. A couple days later they sent me a letter the offer is only for 8 months. I’m not sure if they issued the check, but if it does show up I’m not going to bother as they’ve changed the terms on me. I have a excellent paying history and my credit scores around 700, so what gives?

  • Dave says:

    Some great credit card options here. But often too many options just confuse the issue – which of course is the objective of the card issuers. The more they can muddy the waters with what appear to be fantastic deals, the more chance of getting and keeping a customer.
    I know this has already been mentioned but its an important point – take into account the ‘extra’ deals such as additional store card reward points or whatever, but firstly ask yourself the question –
    “Can I afford to pay off this balance within the time period and avoid any charges?”
    Don’t get tempted by extras which could mean paying more!

  • kay kay says:

    Hi Guys, Need your advice;
    I have a 5000 debt credit card debt presently at 14% APR..

    Should I take a 0% interest over 18 months-3% fee, which will convert back to 14% after the 18months ?
    Should I take the 4.99 over 24 months, which will convert back to 14% after the 24 months?

    Please advise

    • Jay Jay says:

      I have the same choice and I’m figuring the 3% fee up front is the better option, if the other option is 4.99 APR for 24 months – year 1 would be (lets say rounding off the 4.99 to) 5% interest charged on the monthly balance. Year 2 the same situation 5% for the year based on the unpaid balance every month. Anyone have a different take on it?

  • Ron says:

    A handful of 18 month 0% cards have been just what the doctor ordered. I transfered *everything* to them and have been whittling things down ever since. “Automatic web payments” of just above the minimum ensure that I won’t miss a payment, and with the rest of my monthly CC cash, I’m paying one down at a time heading for the magic 25% usage rate. Once I hit that with one, I’ll go to the next card and then the next. Two of the cards will be paid off by the offer endings, and the other a month after!

  • Dean says:

    Question? What is the best way to go about this when applying?

    I make roughly 40K and have 2 cards with Capital One. Both of my cards are near their limit… 1 @ 1800 and 2 @ 5300. I have ALWAYS made my payments for 18 years. I know high limits are a red flag for almost all CC companies, but I don’t get the fact that I ALWAYS pay my bill. (other than credit risk due to high balance. 18 years straight?) The only reason ( Which I am sure they don’t care!) my balances are so high is for dental reasons I incurred from an accident. I currently incur a 23% rate only after the darn financial collapse, which my rates were half that.

    My Credit score is 713 on average across the board from the big 3 reporters. I assume it would be 30 points higher if my balances on my CC’s were less than 80% of the maximum.

    I noticed some companies did not like address changes, but should that really matter when moving just a smidge down the road?

    Also some of these applications don’t ask if this is a balance transfer. I have my own internal personal obligations to help my family which may deminish my income, but I ALWAYS pay my obligations.

    The only other debt I have is student loans which are 14K and I make double payments of ($288)

    What am I misunderstanding?

    Any guidance on my scenario is greatly appreciated!

    • Ron says:

      Both of my cards are near their limit… 1 @ 1800 and 2 @ 5300.

      That’s why your score is lower.

      student loans which are 14K and I make double payments of ($288)

      For God’s sake, pay your 23% loans faster than you pay 7% loans!!!

      Lastly, search high and low for cards with a rate better than 23%!!! My score is markedly lower than yours and 13% cards were easy to find.

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  • JL says:

    Sorry I’m confused about the calculation to figure out if 3% balance transfer is for me or not. Here is my scenario: 13.25%/365 = 0.0363% daily interest rate. Credit card debt = $1922.70, and $1922.70*3%= $57.68. So it’s $1922.70+$69.80 (daily interest rate) =$1992.50; $57.68/$1992.50 = 0.0289. What does 0.0289 translate to? Is that 29 days, 289 days or does it need to be multiplied by 365 to get 10.56 days? I have another card that’s 10.24% as well; and I’m looking to make balance transfers from these two cards onto one card with 15 month 0% on balance transfers and new purchases. There’s a 3% balance transfer fee. It would go up to 16.99% to any unpaid balances after 10/1/2014.

    Please help!!

    • Amer says:

      Hi JL

      I am not so sure about your question, the 3% is a ONE TIME ONLY FEE, so it most cases within one or two month you are making it back in interest savings. The key here is to make sure that you pay the Transferred balance in full before the 15 month expires so you don’t incur any additional interest, also it is a good practice not to use the card you are transferring to, so you don’t end up paying any interest on regular purchases.

  • Chris says:

    For anyone who does this, just a tip from my friend in retail whose company often offers 0% 12 mo offers. Take the balance you plan to transfer and divide it by the amount of months the promotion is -1. So if its an 18 month promo, divide your balance by 17. If you cannot afford to make that payment every month do not do the balance transfer.

    The reason she told me about this is many companies will hit you with BACK interest if you don’t payoff in time, and she’s had customers get screwed by only a few days. Meaning the dates on their last month were off and even though they would have been paid off, they weren’t in time and got hit with all the interest. By taking off 1 month, you ensure you are paid off in time. Its also a good way to make sure you can afford to be paid off in time. A lot of people making min. payments don’t realize what its going to take to pay off a balance in 12-24 months sometimes.

    • Amer says:


      You are absolutely right, this is usually the case for Same as cash for x number of month.
      Lowes, Home Depot and Furniture stores (Mostly retail) are famous to do this practice.
      It is usually not the case for regular Credit Cards like Capital One, Discover, Amex etc…..

  • Mel says:

    So i’ve had a USBank cc for about 8 months now with 22% APR. My credit limit is 2500 and I keep my balance really low, below 500. I recently called and requested a lower rate and they offered me 19.9% APR for 6 months. They also offered to increase my limit to 6000 which I agreed. I decided to look for a 0% APR cc which I found Chase Slate. They offered 0% for balance transfers plus for 15 months. I applied online with the balance transfer and they approved me, I have yet to receive the card and the credit limit amount. Should I pay this month on the USBank balance or wait for the Chase Slate, since I transferred my balance?

    • Amer says:

      I would pay the card just in case the transfer does not execute before the due date.
      Transfers usually take 3-5 full business days. You can check online on your USBBank CC to make sure the transfer was executed.

      M. AMER

  • David says:

    So, how would this work with a mortgage payment? Please help me with the correct calculations to determine what my savings would be. I owe $179,000 at 4.8%. If I take the credit card offfer of $20,000 at 0% interest for one year and a fee of 2%, that transaction will cost me $400. However, I will be paying 0% for one year on the $20,000 AND my principal will go down $20,000 immediately and be down for that entire year. I have the resources to pay the monthly payment (in additon to the regular monthly mortgage payment) and will make sure I pay the credit card company each month on time (autopay). When the year is up, I will have saved $960 from interest charges ($20,000 x 4.8% vs $20,000 x 0%) minus the transfer fee of $400, leaving me with a savings of $560. But, isn’t there also a savings by lowering my principal on the mortgage that will make this offer even more worthwhile for me? Unfortunately I don’t know how to calculate that to find the real value of doing a transaction like this. Would you please share that with me?

    • M. AMER says:

      Hi David

      You already did most of the calculation, and it looks correct to me from a quick glance. You are certainly saving some money.
      As for your question about calculating how much did you lower your principal, indeed this is absolutely true also. It is not straight forward to calculate but I would say that you are looking into a saving of a few months to a year of paying your mortgage earlier, meaning that if you were suppose to finish your mortgage at the end of 2025 for example, you are now looking into finish it in full in 2024.

      The one key factor that you really need to consider is how much this 20,000 Additional debt will affect your credit worthiness, meaning that anytime you take on an additional debt, you are affecting your credit score for sure. Remember that once your credit utilization on a Card exceeds 50% of the total credit limit, it does affect your credit negatively. But again, if you don’t plan to do any major financial transaction like buying a Car or refinancing your home etc….. it might be still worth.

      M. AMER

  • Pasta says:

    I pay my bills off every month and only want to use the “0% balance transfer/0% for 12 months” cards to avoid paying any interest. If this is for you it’s important to know that one must use the 0% card only for the balance transfers, transfer it when the card has a $0 balance and not use it for any additional purchases during the promotional period otherwise the TOTAL amount would be due on the next payment due date to avoid interest.
    I have a GE Capital card that had a 0% promotion for purchases for 6 months and if another purchase is made, that purchase starts a new 6 month promotion and doesn’t affect the prior purchases. But balance transfers don’t work that way. I had a transfer to a NFCU rewards card (that I use for daily purchases and always pay off each month) that was having a 0% BT plus no interest for 12 months. Unfortunately, I had a balance of about $900 on the card and when the statement came there was no indication of any 12 month 0% interest promotion so I had to pay the balance in full by the next statement date to avoid interest. The credit union confirmed this when I called and I was on hold for several minutes to get an answer. Seems like most people are not using it for this purpose and expect to pay interest.
    I ended up opening another credit card with NFCU and will reserve that for the BTs.

  • Jamie says:

    My husband and I did this about 12 years ago to pay off our combined credit card debt. It was awesome. We paid it off so fast. Great article.

    Now I am starting to pay back my student loans, a big chunk of which is at 6.8% interest, so even with the student loan interest adjustment on my taxes, it might be worthwhile to use these 0% offers to help me pay off a good chunck of it sooner. I’ll think on that more…. Most likely, I will be in a high tax bracket, so I wonder if it really would save me that much…

  • adam says:

    If I transfer a balance of 7 k but still use my card, how will I know that the 7k balance isn’t accumulating interest?

    • AMER says:

      Say thanks to Obama Regulation, According to the new Obama Rules, Banks must credit your monthly payment towards the balance with the highest interest rate first. but there is a caveat to that! so let me give you an example:
      Suppose you have a card with 10,000 limit and you did a balance transfer of 7,000 with 0% for 12 month. And 8.99% for purchases. then say you charged $100.00 for regular purchases in a given month.
      At the end of the billing cycle you will receive a bill with a total balance of 7,100.00 and Min payment say $50.00
      In order to avoid any interest you must pay the Min Payment + the full balance of the regular purchases
      So in this case it will be 100 +50, so your payment should be $150.00.
      When the Bank receives the payment your regular charges will be Zeroed out and the new balance on the Transfer will be 6,950
      and so on…
      Before the new Obama rules the Bank will take the 150 applied to the 7,000 and then charge you interest on the 100.00
      Of course it is no much but imagine if you keep using the card month after month your 8,99% balance will continue to grow
      while the 0% Balance transfer will stay as is. This is an excellent regulation of consumers and a major step forward in regulating bank practices.
      Other Obama rule is that a Bank can not raise Interest rate on a balance you already incurred.
      So for example if you have a card with a balance of 3,000 and a rate of 8.99% and the bank send you a letter stating that they will raise you rate to 12.99%, the 3,000 will continue to incur the 8.99% rate while the new purchases will incur the 12.99% rate.

      Hope this helps.

      M. AMER

  • Colleen says:

    I recently transferred a balance to a Wells Fargo CC and was surprised to find a minimum monthly fee that is roughly 1% of the balance. This was not explained anywhere on the card and after getting the runaround for a few minutes from the customer service rep he finally admitted that is very confusing, that the information should be on the card and he could understand why I was confused why the fees, transactions, purchases amount did not add up to the min. payment due amount. Seems shady to me.

  • omar says:

    Yes it has 0 percent rate for 12 months. I’m only 20 and has a credit score of 724 and I don’t want to mess it up. I’m really thankful you are trying to help me.

    • AMER says:

      Sure, I will be glad to help. So you have 0% on purchases for 12 months, your purchase is 2000 + Tax let us say it is 5% so your total is 2100 divide that by 12, you will end up paying $175 per month. Now if you continue to use this card after you buy the TV make sure that you pay what you charge per month + 175 so you balance continue to go down as the introductory period comes near it is expiration. Just budged it right and you will be fine. Most credit card company hopes that you will not pay within the intro period so all you need is to be disciplined and disappoint them :-). Good luck with your purchase…

  • omar says:

    Hey so I jst got a us bank platinum card and was thinking to buy a tv tt’s 2000 dollars if I pay that within the 12 months would I be able to do that or do I need to pay those 2000 within 30 days no one hs been able to answer my question I hope you ca.n

    • AMER says:

      What are the cards terms? Please list them fully so I can answer. Does it have a ZERO % introductory rate on purchases? And for how long?


  • AMER says:

    0% balance transfer does indeed work specially when your current credit card interest rate is above 10% or so. The 3% fees for the transaction is equal to one or two month of the interest you pay anyway every month with your current debt.
    Here is how I did it in case someone needs some numbers:
    – 2 Bank of America credit cards with 12.25% & 14.25% with balances 6,000 & 8,000 so total debt is 14,000.00
    – Min payments on these two cards where 325 + 225 = 550.00 per month of which about 200 per month goes to interest!
    – Approved for 0% CITI (Limit 10,000) + 0% CHASE (Limit 3000) + 0% Discover (Limit 3,000) for 18 month and so I transferred 9,200 + 2 ,400 + 2,400 thus brought BOA Credit to ZERO (Never be your customer again BOA)
    – Total transfer fees = 14,000 * 0.03 = 420.00 (Two month worth of interest anyway!)
    – Currently I am paying $500 for CITI, $125 to CHASE & $125 to DISCOVER. Total payment per month is 750.00 (Only 200 more than what I was already paying with BOA and there was no end in sight!!)
    – If I continue with this 750 payment for the 18 months ( I am already 4 month into this) my 14,000 debt will be simply wiped off (YAY!)

    Here are a few tips:
    1. Make you payment ONLINE AND ON TIME, NEVER NEVER NEVER be late or ELSE you got yourself in a bigger mess actually.
    2. Do not incur additional debt, seriously consider closing the cards you are paying off, in my case it was obvious, BOA out of the blue have decided to charge me 59 dollars per year member ship fees (did not even consider that I was his customer since 2001). But of course every case is different.
    3. Be disciplined. The debt free feeling is your goal and it is priceless so you will have to work hard to get it.

    Good Luck in getting out of debt…

    M. AMER

  • Mika Nystrom says:

    I’ve been playing this game for years, generally pretty successfully. Probably ten years now. There are two drawbacks that I’ve discovered apply to me and that you don’t mention in your article.

    1. My real-estate guy says all my credit card balances hurt my credit score. I say the credit-scoring mechanism is broken: what kind of a bank wants to lend money to someone who’s stupid enough NOT to take a 0% offer? But I don’t make the rules, they do. And apparently the large balances do hurt my credit score, which makes it a bit more difficult to refinance mortgages, etc.

    2. Something else is more insidious that I’ve noticed recently. When the government changed the rules on credit cards a few years ago, they made a rule that payments have to be credited to higher-APR balances before lower-APR balances. (By the way, if there’s anything that has killed the availability of real 0% offers for disciplined people it is this rule! Before this rule was enacted, we used to get 0% fee, 0% interest offers all the time. They vanished when the rule was about to come into effect. It’s easy to see why.) In any case this rule would seem to make it so you can carry a 0% balance and use the card for ongoing purchases, since your payments will always be allotted to purchases rather than the 0% balance, right? Let’s say you owe $5,000 on a 0% balance transfer offer and you make $1,000 in purchases in a month. You can just pay off the $1,000 and keep the $5,000 at 0%, right?

    Well, not so fast. There are two important things that go wrong with this argument. First is if your credit card is a “business” credit card (Chase is notorious for these). The consumer-protection rules don’t apply to these. They will credit your payment to the 0% APR and leave the 19.99% purchases to revolve. More subtle but still important is the second observation that on a consumer credit card, even though your payment is allotted to the higher APR, you lose your grace period! Since the bill is due at least 21 days after the end of the account billing cycle, if you pay your bill on the due date, you’re actually owing the money on average 36 days (1/2 month + 21 days), and if you spend $1,000 a month, you will be carrying an average balance of $1,200 at the purchases APR, with zero grace period. If your purchases APR is 20% then your “blended” APR is $1,200 / ($1,200 + $5,000) x 20% = 3.87%. Not bad but more than I pay on my HELOC (and not tax deductible either).

  • Adriana says:

    If you are in over your head and the monthly payments are more than you can afford just call your creditors and ask for the hardships department. They are interested in getting some money rather than no money from you. Explain your situation, and the monthly amount you are able to pay. They can lower your rate, and extend your term. You may pay more in the end, however, your monthly costs become more manageable until you can get back on your feet.

  • Ellen says:

    It’s very interesting to read all of information about no fee balance transfers for 15 months or 24 months. Could someone give me information if they know of one or some bank that gives opportunities for American citizens living in Indonesia temporary? We have a ton of debt and we want to get out of all of it.

  • comanche/chiquimula says:

    I take these card transfers as a game. I do keep my credit cards interests paid at $0 regardless of the balance. $50.00, $100.00, even $1000.00 and I still won’t pay just the minimums. I do not get late fees. Most of the time, I use my credit cards to eat at restaurants, put gas in the car, buy groceries etc, but in general I use my cards for every small or large purchases.

    My last large one was a 40″ TV that I bought for my wife for under $800.00 at P.C. RICHARD’S. The sales man knew I had the store credit card and want me to use it so he can give me, I believe a twelve months interest free loan. I explained to him that I was going to use my BofA Visa card so I could get some points for the purchase and later exchange them for cash (which I just did right now before I started writing this “comment”. In total, I got a $80.00 direct deposit to my checking account at Chase Bank. You see, I have four credit cards with BofA. all having high limits, and another four cards with Chase Bank which also “had” high limited line.

    A few months ago my card’s statements came with half of the credit line I had from Chase, with no reason given at all. I always paid the same way, in full every month, no minimums, no late payments, and without notice they just lowered my credit line. I was really offended. I paid them off with $0 balance left and put them in my desk drawer. I do not use them any more, for my own reasons I still have the Chase checking account so when I pay other bills through them they can see the large amounts that I pay other creditors and this is every month. They send me checks to write in the amounts I want, or” balance transfers” with 0% interest. I just shred the checks from Chase and ignore the offers of the transfers, as I do not need them (for now).

    Same thing with BofA. They send me offers of 0% balance transfers, and I do not have to apply for new card. I do occasionally use the ones from BofA, and the bank will just take the amount off the credit card and I wouldn’t have to care about the APR since I plan to pay it a month or two, before the expiration date of the transfer.

    Right now I have a $3000.00 transfer at 3% fee which charges me $90.00 but I just arranged to have $80.00 transferred to me because of card bonus points so this transfer really just cost me $10.00. The bonus is that I still have some more points to use, plus the $3000.00 of the transfer are kept in secured place earning interest. I have done this many times. The $90.00 I can spend having dinner with my wife, so I don’t mind paying this fee and saving the $3000.00.

    Plus, since I do not pay minimums I make the decision on how much I want to pay and make sure I keep my good credit record. Am I doing something wrong? Doing this four times a year I put aside $12,000.00 at the expenses of $360.00 a year, but with the points from the cards to lower this fee.

  • LovelyWeather says:

    Re using 0% credit card offers to pay off existing 0% credit card balances that are nearing the end of the 0% offer period:
    1) If you don’t keep doing this, you are not very bright. It’s a good idea for those who wish to do it (and can do it).
    2) Credit card companies are hip to this (duhh), and these 0% offers are great money-makers for them.
    3) Credit card companies wish to make money on you (duhh) and if they don’t have you borrowing money from them, they won’t make any money on you at all.
    4) Credit card companies pay hundreds of people excellent salaries to figure out complex statistical models to predict the profit on lending money to consumers.
    5) When you transfer a balance to a new (or existing) credit card on a special 0% offer, you are part of a pool of borrowers, and that pool will have predictable characteristics in payoff behavior.
    6) Firstly, the credit card company makes money off you immediately with the transfer fee (ka-ching).
    7) Then, the statistical probabilities indicated some percentage of the borrower pool will be late on payments (ka-ching).
    8) Then, the statistical probabilities indicated some percentage of the borrower pool will not transfer the balance away after the introductory period, and be forced to pay at the new higher rate (ka-ching).
    9) Then, the statistical probabilities indicated some percentage of the borrower pool will not transfer the balance away before the introductory period is over, because they lost track of the end date or the end date is really the first day of the billing cycle in which the end date falls, etc., meaning the company will get one month of interest off you before you realize what has happened and scramble to transfer the remaining balance to another 0% offer (ka-ching).
    10) You are a number in a computer statistical model. You are a probability, not a person, just a probability. Credit card companies are in the business of risk (e.g., the stock market, etc.) and you are the best thing going on which to figure risk, because people’s behavior is EXTREMELY predictable.
    But here’s how you can win:
    When you are applying for a balance transfer, ask the representative some key questions. What is the daily interest after the promo period ends (based on the amount you wish to transfer)? What will the monthly payment be? How much time will it take to get the balance transfer to complete? (Don’t call the last day of the offer because it usually take a week to process, and then you’ve just applied for a transfer at a non-0% rate.) If I have more than one balance on a card (e.g., multiple 0% offers, or additional purchase balances, etc.), how are balances paid off with each monthly payment I make? Oldest offer first? Split between offers? Purchase balance first? Highest percentage rate balance first? And then ask how my monthly payments will be allocated if I go out of the 0% period (for whatever reason mentioned above)? Then ask if the way payments are allocated can change completely once you are out of the 0% period? This almost always happens (ka-ching).
    There’s a lot more to it than even all this. I learned it all the hard way, over time, and it has cost me. Don’t ask me any stupid questions that you could find out yourself by a phone call or e-mail to the credit card company. I am not a 0% offer. Having said that, if you are conscientious and you can keep yourself in the part of the borrower pool statistical model upon which the credit card company only makes a balance transfer fee, then you are ahead of the game, and can really start to pay down debt cheap.
    Good luck. Think. Don’t be stupid.
    (Tip: If you pay at least 10% more than the minimum payment on 0% offers, you will continue to get 0% offers sent to you.)

  • Misty says:

    I am one of those very disciplined people, but my problem is that I have been unemployed and racked up credit debt. I’ve paid very diligently, so much so that all my creditors have continued to increase my credit limit. But as you can understand I’m hardly making a dent paying down the debt bc of the fees. If I can keep repeating the balance transfer process that would really help me– Eg. I’d like to transfer my 9K balance from Mastercard to Chase. Then at the end of the introductory, if i still have a balance and if I don’t want to be stuck paying Chase’s higher interest rate, I will transfer that balance again to another card with 0% or even back to Mastercard (at 9%apr). I’ve read your post and skimmed the comments. I want to confirm that I can do this. Also, what are some other ways this may backfire on me– ie affect my credit rating, getting blacklisted by credit card companies, etc…?

    • Betsy says:


      2 years ago, I was in exactly the same situation as you, and successfully played the balance transfer game to get through. My credit rating actually increased during this time, due to extremely disciplined payment patterns and no additional charging. The only way this will backfire on you is if you are unable to maintain your excellent payment history. If you miss or are late on a payment, the rate will reset to an unbelievably painful penalty rate. Good luck on the job search.

  • pletcherygz says:

    If you smile when one is around,you really mean it.

  • Karan says:

    For those of you interested, Penfed(pentagon federal credit union) plat cash rewards card is offering 0% on balance transfers and also no balance transfer fee for 24 months! that is unheard of these days! This card is also the best around offering 5% cashback on gas purchases.

  • Dottie Seeland says:

    We signed up for one of the cards you list. In addition to the 0% balance transfer for 12 months, there was added incentive to purchase certain types of products using that card in order to gain more points for rewards. We got fooled! Instead of using the card only for paying off debt, we added our gas, grocery, etc. purchases in order to get the extra rewards. Exactly what the company had in mind!! We played right into it, and could not pay it off within the year. Now we do not use it for anything at all, and are trying to get it paid off with a 24+% apr. Get another card with 0% balance transfer? Not on your life. We’re not that disciplined, which is what these companies depend on.

  • Happy Card Holder says:

    I want to share my frustration with BANK OF AMERICA.
    Lets start by going back to April 2011, when they added an annual service charge to both cards that my friend had with them. A self-respecting bank would have grandfathered her account with no service charge, but not the BANK OF AMERICA!
    So, the year 2011 was coming to an end, I have helped my friend by paying off her balance on one of the cards, and wanted to re-allocate her spare (now) line of $6K to her other account. Guess what? – The rep, had gathered all of her personal information, then PULLED HER CREDIT WITHOUT LETTING HER KNOW THAT HE’LL DO THAT! And then, get ready for this: closed one of her accounts and reduced the credit line on the other one!
    These two incidents make me think that BANK OF AMERICA has a DOUBLE STANDARD, where they treat customers like me (who have $00,000 balancesl MUCH BETTER than those who linger around with $000.00 in their accounts!
    Shame on the BofA for mistreating its customers!
    P.S. I’m still a happy, satisfied client of BofA, but I feel like I have to spread the fair warning to be VERY CAREFUL with this Bank as it got many tricks under its sleeves for unsuspecting customers!

    • Chris says:

      I’ve had a BofA credit card for almost 8 years. I was thinking of applying for one of these 0% cards and doing a transfer…I called to see if BofA would be willing to offer me a deal or lower my interest rate and instead they lowered my balance to the amount I owed! So now my card looks like I’m maxed out. When I complained they said it was based off a negative on my credit from 5 yrs ago (which wasn’t a problem when they RAISED my credit limit 2 years ag0). To say the least I’m pretty pissed they would do that to someone who has never had a late payment in 8 yrs. Based on this I’ve applied for a card above and transferred my balance, and I do not plan on using my BofA card again. If thats how they want to treat loyal customers then they can’t have any more of my money.

      • M. AMER says:

        Even worse than this guys, I had two accounts with them about 2 years ago and they decided to add an annual fee to them out of the bleu, never late, never missed a payment before. I called them to complain and they said we have to maintain this fee in order to server you better. Ok fair enough but how about the offer I have in my hand that invites my wife to the same Credit Card from Bank of America with NO ANNUAL FEES. The only difference is I have been a customer with them for more than 10 years and my wife is not. Well The representative could not answer of course and I ended up paying off the two accounts and close them. So yah Bank of America is horrible when it comes to customer loyalty. STAY AWAY!

  • william cole says:

    Can you tell me if CITI 0% balance credit cards are available to Canadians?

  • James Hoehner says:

    I had never heard about actually opening up zero balance cards in order to make $$. Sounds like your friend was playing with fire on that one. For me at least…unless you are just completely disciplined, you’ll run into issues in the long term.

    Thanks for the story though.

  • Pattie says:

    If you already have a Citi card that had balance transfers on it but the 12 month period is up, can you reapply for another citi card to transfer for the 18 or 21 month card to transfer balances?

    • MoneyNing says:

      Yes, you can apply for a new card, but your existing debt will likely be one of the consideration of the new terms of your new card (ie, you may or may not get the full 21 months 0% balance transfer offer).

      Also make sure that there is the balance transfer fee of 3% on the new card so factor that into your calculation.

  • Samantha says:

    Jeremy – do you know if that card is available only to those with accounts in that bank?

    Is it only for military, and other government employees?

    How much can a person transfer?

    Can a person transfer from 2 cards?

    How much does it ding credit to apply? I am being very careful to avoid dinging my credit score anymore.

    No interest if approved – but will it lower the monthly payment at all or will the payment remain the same but all will go to principal instead?

    I read the details on the cards – some are better than others – but I really could not find the answer to my question.

    I really like to know ALL about a card before applying – because it does ding credit ratings each time a person applies for a card.

    Thanks to anyone who can answer my questions.

  • Jeremy Cherry says:

    For those of you interested, Penfed(pentagon federal credit union) plat cash rewards card is offering 0% on balance transfers and also no balance transfer fee for 24 months! that is unheard of these days! This card is also the best around offering 5% cashback on gas purchases.

    • elizabeth says:

      I just tried to find the pentagon federal credit union plat cash rewards card. I can’t find it offering 0% apr. I found it waives the balance transfer fee, but the apr is 13.99%. Did you apply via a special web site?


    • Lyle says:

      Is there a link to the Pentagon Federal Credit Union card with the 0% on balance transfers with no balance transfer fee? When I looked, all I seen was 1.99% on the promotional period.

    • Jeff Smith says:

      I really like the Penfed credit card, too. Good terms, nice people, has saved me money. The also gave me a good credit line, and increased it later also. I have the Penfed Promise card, which has no fees on balance transfers.

  • Belinda says:

    If you carefully plan how much you will pay during the 0% promotional period, it works. You must do two things though – 1st, do not incur new credit card debt, and 2nd, stick to your payment plan. Develop a realistic payment plan. We used the same amount we were paying on a higher interest loan and two credit cards ($1,300), with a principal amount of $52,000. The new minimums on 0% cards were $850. We are taking the extra $450 and applied it to one 0% card at a time, starting with the one that will expire first. That will be gone in six months, then we will take that money and apply it to the next in line. Our best 0% is 24 months. We also have a 4.99% Pen Fed loan that will retain that % for the life of the loan. We will turn our ‘extra’ principal payment money to that one last. We also paid off $8000 with cash at the beginning of this program (bringing our amount to $44,000) and will do the same next year when the total should be around $32,000-$8,000. Note that the ‘extra’ principal payment money increases as credit cards disappear, as the minimum payment for the paid off card is snowballed into the principal payment money. Our debt will be gone in 2 years.

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