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The Fastest Way To Pay Off $10,000 in Credit Card Debt

What's the best way to pay down a credit card balance as quickly as possible, while paying the least in interest, and without hurting your credit? What follows is a powerful method recommended by the most astute personal finance experts* to achieve exactly those objectives. It's extremely effective, completely legal, and leverages programs created by credit card issuers to your advantage. Follow these steps and start to become credit card debt-free.

Step 1: Use A Powerful Tool To Immediately Stop Paying Interest On Your Balance

Think of someone carrying a credit card balance like a patient who enters an emergency room bleeding badly. The first thing a doctor will do is stop the bleeding. It's no different when attacking a credit card balance; the first thing you do is stop the interest charges.

Fig. 1 – Ranking The 0% Cards

There's a simple way to do this, and it's brilliance is that it actually uses the banks' marketing offers to your advantage: find a card offering a long "0% intro APR balance transfer" promotional offer, and transfer your balance to it. These are cards which offer new customers a long period of time (often as much as 18 months) during which the card charges no interest on all balances transferred to it. We constantly track all the cards in the marketplace in order to find the ones currently offering the longest 0% intro periods.

If you need more motivation, just think of this: on a $10,000 balance, $150 of a $200 monthly payment would get vacuumed up by interest charges.** That leaves only $50 of your $200 that actually reduces your balance, the rest vanishing into bank pockets. That's just brutal. Use our reviews to find a card which offers the longest possible no-interest period while charging low, or even no fees. Moving your balances to the card you choose will stop the bleeding, allowing you to move on to step two.

Step 2: Power Through Your Balance During The 0% Period

Fig. 2 – Faster Repayment

Once you've transferred your balances and put a stop to the interest charges, it's time to capitalize on the interest-free period to really break free of the debt. The best part of this is how simple it is: just keep making the payments you used to make when you had to pay big interest payments. Going back to the $10,000 example above, if you transferred that balance onto a card like the Chase Slate (which offers 15 months of 0% intro APR with no transfer fee) and maintained the same $200 monthly payment, you can see how much faster you'll be reducing your balance in figure 2.

As you can see, without using the 0% card, the same $200 monthly payments barely make any headway. It's like swimming upstream, or walking while taking a step back for every two steps forward. That's no way to swim or walk, and attempting to pay off your cards while paying high card interest rates is no way to manage your finances. Move your balances onto one of the cards below, stop getting crushed by interest, and start making real progress toward getting rid of your card debt.

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% Intro APR Card

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 With Long 0% Intro APR AND Cash Rewards Programs.

Pros: Chase is temporarily offering a fantastic deal on this card. If you charge $500 on it in the first 3 months, you'll earn a $150 bonus. Combine that with the 1% standard cash back feature, plus 5% cash back in certain rotating spending categories per quarter (at the time of this writing it includes gas stations, restaurants, select grocery stores, and wholesale clubs) and this card really starts to pay. All this and you get 15 months of 0% intro APR, and it requires good, not excellent credit, making it easier to get in.

Cons: Charges a 5% balance transfer fee.

The Verdict: A great combination of 0% intro APR, solid cash-back rewards, an attractive limited-time bonus offer while only requiring good credit.

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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Compare The Top 0% Intro APR Credit Cards

Chase Slate® INTEREST SAVINGS $1,321 (on a 5K balance transfer) More Details >
0% FOR 15 Months
TRANSFER FEE* 0%
PROs - Charges no balance
transfer fee
- Only long 0% card without balance transfer fee. Very valuable. CONs - The Slate doesn't have a cash rewards program.- Really a pure-play balance transfer card
BALANCE TRANSFER RATING           Read Full Review >
Bankamericard® Credit Card INTEREST SAVINGS $1,474 (on a 5K balance transfer) More Details >
0% FOR 18 Billing Cycles (mos.)
TRANSFER FEE 3%
PROs - Offers the longer 0% interest term.   CONs - No cash rewards - Does charge a transfer fee.- Make sure extra months are worth paying fee
BALANCE TRANSFER RATING           Read Full Review >
Chase Freedom UnlimitedSM INTEREST SAVINGS $1,071 (on a 5K balance transfer) More Details >
0% FOR 15 Months
TRANSFER FEE 5%
PROs - 1.5% unlimited cash rewards and cash bonus - Solid 15-month 0% period CONs - Does charge transfer fee- Only recommend if transferring and making new purchases
BALANCE TRANSFER RATING           Read Full Review >
Capital One® Quicksilver® INTEREST SAVINGS $696 (on a 5K balance transfer) More Details >
0% FOR 9 Months
TRANSFER FEE 3%
PROs - Unlimited 1.5% cash back   CONs - Does charge transfer fee- Shorter 0% term
BALANCE TRANSFER RATING           More Details >

* 0% fee on balances transferred in first 60 days, 5% on transfers thereafter.