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How To: Stop Paying Credit Card Interest Until 2018

It isn't difficult to hit the stop button on credit card interest charges. In fact, issuers are in such intense competition to attract new customers that they're the ones offering the programs allowing you to do it! You just have to follow a few simple steps, and you can stop paying another penny on credit card interest - all the way into 2018.

By now most people have heard of a "0% balance transfer." But just in case the concept is new, these are promotional offers made by card companies which allow you to move a balance from a card that is charging you interest onto one that does not (at least during the promotional period). There are cards offering 0% intro APR balance transfers for as long as 18 months.

The great news is that if you have just decent credit, it's not difficult to do, and you don't need permission from your existing card. You just apply for the new card, then make the transfer by phone or online and you're done. No more interest for the entire term you signed up for.

We've reviewed the pros and cons of our highest rated balance transfer offers below. Find the one that works best for you, and stop paying massive credit card interest rates. I'm sure you can think of something better to do with all the cash you'll save.


The No Transfer-Fee Card

The Chase Slate® is tied as our highest-rated balance transfer card, and for good reason. It charges no fee for transferring your balance to it in the first two months, no annual fee, and no interest on balances transferred for a full 15-month 0% intro APR period. This makes it a phenomenal tool to gain control of your credit card debt, as you can make a costless balance transfer, then use the 15-month interest grace period to pay down your balance.

The Verdict: If you don't need the entire 18 months offered by the BankAmericard, this can be efficient since it doesn't have a balance transfer fee. No transfer fee and no annual fee, combined with the 0% intro APR means that this is really free money for the 15 month term, no catches.

Most Appropriate For: Those who want a no-fee way to stop paying interest, and possibly pay off the cards during that breather. Those with good rather than excellent credit.

Least Appropriate For: Those who pay off their balances every month would be better served getting a card paying high rewards. Note that the 0% transfer fee is an introductory offer, so be sure to transfer your balance in the first 60 days, or there will be a fee.

Recommended credit:  Just Good. The Chase card has the most lenient credit requirements of our top balance transfer cards.

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The Ultra-Long 0% Card

All the other cards we reviewed make you choose between a long 0% Intro APR for balance transfers OR a top-flight cash back program. The Discover it®- 18 Month Balance Transfer is the only one that delivers both, featuring a staggeringly long 18 -month 0% Intro APR on balance transfers AND a cash-back program paying up to 5%. It also has a big first year bonus: after your first 12 months using the card, Discover will add up all the cash back you earned during the year, then double it as a thank you bonus. That means the cash back rate of this card tops out at an insane 10%. Just note that while the Discover it offers 6 more months of 0% interest compared to the Slate, the card does charge a 3% balance transfer fee.

The Verdict: Needless to say, between the cash back program that pays up to 10% and the long 18 -month 0% intro APR term, we're very impressed with this card. 

Most Appropriate For: Those who want a no-fee way to stop paying interest, AND also could see themselves using the card to make new purchases. This way you'll get a full 18 months of 0% intro APR and the high cash back rate.

Least Appropriate For: If you don't plan on using your new card to make any new purchases, then the cash back program isn't as important. In that case, you'll want to carefully evaluate whether you need the extra 6 months of 0% interest (and are willing to pay the 3% fee in order to get them) the Discover it offers compared to the Chase Slate.

Credit Required: Good/Excellent

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The BankAmericard® Credit Card is tied as our highest rated balance transfer card, featuring an unbelievable 18 billing cycles (months) 0% APR intro period. This means that if you were to roll your balance over onto the card today, you wouldn't have to pay interest until well into 2018. The card does charge a 3% balance transfer fee (or $10, whichever is greater), but if you’re looking to avoid paying any interest on your credit card balances for as long as possible, the BankAmericard could be your card.

The Verdict: Getting a loan this cheaply for this long is pretty amazing. If you're carrying a balance, and realistically you know you will have to carry that balance for a while, this card becomes a no-brainer. As an example, assume you have a $10,000 balance on your current cards at a 18% rate. Over the 18 billing cycle (month) term, you would have paid $3,098 in interest.* Switching to this card would cost $300 in fees, but then nothing the rest of the way, for a net savings of $2,798. Not bad, you could do a lot with that extra cash.

Most Appropriate For: Those who have large balances and want as much interest-free time as possible to pay the principle down.

Least Appropriate For: Those who pay off their balances every month or every few months.

Credit Required: Good to Excellent

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The Cards Which Not Only Don't Charge, But Actually PAY you.

Pros: Chase's new Freedom Unlimited card is essentially an improved version of the old Freedom. They bumped the base cash back rate all the way up to an industry leading 1.5%, and pay that full 1.5% on all spend, with no limit or spend category restrictions. Unlike most other high paying cash back cards, you don't have to worry about categories or have to activate anything. You'll receive the full 1.5% back as you make your spend, on all spend, automatically. In addition, Chase  is temporarily offering a cash bonus to new card-members. If you charge $500 on it in the first 3 months, you'll earn a $150 cash bonus. Finally, Chase is also offering new card-members 15 months of 0% interest for the first 15 months of using the card to make new purchases. So during that period, you can use the card without paying any interest on balances you tally, while still earning cash back. The card requires good, not excellent credit, making it easier to get in.

Cons: Charges a 5% balance transfer fee. This is on the high side, so we recommend looking at the Slate or BankAmericard if your goal is to transfer a balance. The Freedom Unlimited should be viewed as a cash back card.

The Verdict: One of the strongest cards available to those with good (but not perfect) credit. The card combines industry leading cash back rates (1.5% on everything) with a strong 15 months of 0% interest on new purchases combined with a $150 cash bonus when you use the card to make $500 in spend in the first 3 months.

Most Appropriate For: Those with good credit seeking a daily-use card offering great cash back rewards and 0% intro APR. Best for new charges.

Least Appropriate For: Balance transfers, as it charges the 5% fee while offering no more free term than the Slate (which has no transfer fee).

Credit Required: Good to Excellent

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Pros: Capital One's Quicksilver card makes things simple: you earn 1.5% cash back on all your purchases, with no limit and no category restrictions or games. We included the card in our balance transfer list because it offers 0% intro APR 9 months  on all balances transferred.

Cons: Does charge a 3% balance transfer fee. Requires good credit to get in.

The Verdict: If you're looking to transfer a balance and make some purchases, you can use this card to avoid paying interest during the intro period AND earn cash rewards.

Most Appropriate For: Anyone who might make some large purchases in the near future, or regularly charges a lot on their cards. Making the charges on the Quicksilver  would earn cash back but not require any interest during the intro period.

Credit Required: Good to Excellent

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Summary

With so many issuers competing to offer such great introductory incentives, it seems smart to make use of them in the right way! We hope our reviews of these cards was helpful, and if you have any comments, please don't hesitate to let us at the LendingTree Credit Card Review Team know!



*Savings calculation: Credit Card Balance * (1+Average Card Rate/365)^639 days – Balance Transfer Fee - Average Household Credit Card Balance
 
                                                                                                                                           
Card Name Purchase APR Annual Fee Balance Transfer APR Credit Needed Features Our Rating & Bottom Line  
BankAmericard® Credit Card
11.49% - 21.49% Variable APR on purchases $0 0% Intro APR on balance transfers made in the first 60 days for 18 billing cycles.
3% fee (min $10) applies to balance transfers
Good/Excellent 0% Introductory APR for 18 billing cycles for balance transfers made in the first 60 days, then 11.49% - 21.49% Variable APR. Our Rating:
4.7 out of 5

The perfect card for those seeking a simple yet convenient-to-use credit card
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Chase Slate ®
  0% for first 15 months, then 15.49% - 24.24% (variable) $0 0% for first 15 months, no transfer fee Good/Excellent $0 introductory balance transfer fee during first 60 days your account is open; 0% intro APR on purchases and transfers Our Rating:  
5 out of 5
A great card for less than excellent credit, while offering solid features like $0 transfer fee & 15 months 0% APR
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Discover it® - 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer
0% intro for 6 months then
11.24% – 23.24% (variable)
$0 0% intro for 18 months.
3% fee applies to each transferred balance
Good/Excellent 5% cash back in categories that change each quarter like gas, restaurants, home improvement stores and more-up to the quarterly maximum when you sign up. 1% cash back on all other purchases. Our Rating:
5 out of 5
Excellent combination of 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers plus Discover matches your cash back the first year.
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Chase Freedom UnlimitedSM
 0% for the first 15 months, then 15.49%-24.24% Variable$00% for 15 months
            fee of either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
Good/Excellent$150 bonus after spending $500 in first 3 months; 1.5% cash back on all purchases with no limits or category restrictionsOur Rating:
4 out of 5
Excellent combination of cash back rewards and 0% intro APR; $150 bonus opportunity
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Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Card
0% intro APR 9 months, then 13.49% - 23.49% (variable) $0 0% intro 9 months, then 13.49% - 23.49% (variable)
fee of 3% of the amount of each transfer
Good/Excellent 1.5% cash back on all purchases with no limits or category restrictions Our Rating:
4 out of 5
This is a great card for making purchases. Simple cash rewards program comes out among tops in industry
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