So, I know I've made a big deal about not recommending credit cards or balance transfer offers as part of any affiliate strategy in the past. I take my affiliates very seriously. But lately (especially after publishing the Debt Master Plan…) I've gotten emails from folks who would like to learn more about debt consolidation and transfer offers but didn't like the interest rates they were offered by Upstart, which, while fabulous and vastly better than paying 15-24% on your credit cards, still isn't like transferring debt to something at 0%.
So, since I teach to be as strategic as possible with your debt, I thought it would be worth it to showcase a few of my favorite 0% balance transfer offers (some of which I've used in the past) to pay down debt.
Why 0% Balance Transfer Offer Recommendations Now?
I've hesitated in the past to administer credit card offers because of my own checkered history with cards. I'd never want to give folks access to a financial tool, on my own recommendation, that could hurt them in the future.
However, after doing some research and surveys among readers, I've learned that the majority of you are very debt focused: you're less than $10k in debt and very motivated to pay it off. Which means that 0% balance transfer offers are actually a great tool (which is the word I used before …lol) to make your debt freedom both less expensive and likely to happen sooner.
Just so long as you don't use the card irresponsibly once you slay all that debt in the face.
So, after that long-winded intro..
Here are four balance transfer offers that you can definitely use to be more strategic with your debt.
- Why we like it for debt payoff: 0% interest on balance transfers for 15 months, also 0% interest on PURCHASES for 15 months as well.
- Fees: There is a 5% fee for all transfers, but no annual fee on this card!
- The FBL take: 5% fee for transfers is higher than most cards, but they offer 0% on purchases and a cash bonus offer of $150 if you spend $500 on the card in the first three months on purchases. I'd open this card, do a balance transfer but leave a small amount (1-2k available on the card.) Then I'd buy groceries, gas and other necessities on this card so I could get the extra $150 and have that go directly to the balance.
- Why we like it for debt payoff: 0% interest on balance transfers for 18 months. Plus, Discover is offering an intro offer where they will match your cash back earnings dollar-for-dollar at the end of your first year.
- Fees: There is a 3% fee for all transfers, but no annual fee on this card!
- The FBL take: 18 months is one of the longest 0% interest terms around – that's a year and a half to pay off your debt. For those with only fair credit, this is one of the few cards for which you may qualify.
- Why we like it for debt payoff: 0% Introductory APR for the first 15 months on purchases. Plus, you'll get a 0% introductory APR for 15 months on Balance Transfers when made within 45 days of account opening.
- Fees: No balance transfer fees, foreign transaction fees, or annual fees.
- The FBL take: While not one of the most well-known for it's balance transfer offers, this is still a solid card and very highly rated if you're looking for something to use after your balance transfer term is over.
- Why we like it for debt payoff: 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; 13.49%-23.49% variable APR after that
- Fees: 3% balance transfer fees and no annual fee.
- The FBL Take: This is a good card to use for a balance transfer, pay off, and then use for other purposes. It's unlimited 1.5% cash back on any purchase and I use it exclusively for traveling abroad as there are no foreign transaction fees.
If your credit is decent, (I repeat don't try this unless you have good–ish credit!) I'd try these (or any of your own, investigate with your card company) 0% balance offers with credit cards before trying to consolidate to a lower interest rate. Why?
Because paying zero interest for a certain number of months is a great way to leverage credit strategically to pay off debt. Debt consolidation is nice, but they're still making you pay a (lower) interest rate. You want the lowest interest rate possible. So, start here and if you don't have any available, move to the next option.
A refinance loan works for those with over $5,000 in debt, but with less than they would consider to be staggering. You apply for a loan (at a lower interest rate than offered on a credit card.) You apply, get approved, you get the funds and you pay off your credit cards with this money. Then, each month you pay the loan provider.
It's (typically) a lower monthly payment at a much better rate – meaning you'd save on interest, and have more money in your budget for additional payments. These are a really strategic tool to use in any debt payoff journey.
Ready to explore other debt options? Have 640 credit score and above? Click here to explore The Payoff Loan® for credit cards. For those with lower credit, I recommend Upstart as they factor in work history and school record to give you the best rate possible.
Debt Management Company
For those who have average credit and few other options and an insurmountable amount of debt there are options, such as working with a professional debt management company.
By consolidating your debt, you can lower your monthly payments, pay just one creditor, and pay less in interest because you're consolidating at a lower rate. A debt management company, such as Accredited Debt Relief, will help you.
Related: Click here to hear one woman's story about using a debt consolidation company.
LB Note: This post originally appeared on May 24th, 2017. It was updated on January 7th, 2019.