Credit card debt has reached near epidemic proportions here in the U.S., with literally millions of American households struggling under the weight of large monthly interest charges. In fact, according to Federal Reserve and US Census reports, the average American household that has credit card debt is currently carrying over $15,000 of it.* If you are like so many in this situation, there are some pointers that can help you shed debt fast. In fact, we have developed a 2 step method which can powerfully speed up the process, allowing you to pay off your debt faster with less interest. Here's how it works:
Step 1: Stop The Interest Charges
Think of someone carrying a credit card balance like a patient who enters an emergency room bleeding badly. The first thing a doctor does is stop the bleeding. Likewise, to pay off your balances faster, the first thing you need to do is stop the interest charges. It's almost impossible to make serious headway on a sizeable balance when you get whacked every month with huge new interest amounts. Not many people know that almost anyone with decent credit can put an immediate halt to their interest charges by transferring their balances to a card offering a 0% intro APR term. The trick is to find the card offering the best terms. Our review team is constantly monitoring offers, and we've compiled a list of the best below, which we keep updated. Currently we've found an offer which allows you to freeze interest payments for 15 months without paying any transfer fee or annual fee. Transferring to a card like this is basically the same as getting an interest-free 15 month loan to pay off your credit card balances.
Step 2: Power Through Your Balance During The 0% Intro Period
Once you've transferred your balance to the best 0% intro APR offer you can find, the trick is to keep making the same monthly payment you were making before. The difference is that now 100% goes to reducing your balance, rather than lining bank pockets. You can see the impact in the chart below:
If you want to transfer a balance without paying a transfer fee
The Facts: No balance transfer fee. No annual fee. Pros: The Chase Slate® does not charge a transfer fee while still delivering 15 months interest-free on any balance transfered in the first 60 days. It's a compelling combination, and the reason the Slate is tied as our highest rated balance transfer card. Normally you have to go to family in order to get a free "loan" like that! You only need good credit to be approved as opposed to excellent, so it's a bit easier to get in than most cards offering this level of incentive. Cons: No significant rewards program. The Slate is all about the balance transfer features. The Verdict: If you don't need the entire 18 months offered by the BankAmericard, the Slate can be your best bet 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 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. More Details >
If you want to maximize the interest-free intro period on your transfer
The Facts: 18 billing cycles (months) of 0% Intro APR. No annual fees. Pros: If you transfer your current balance onto the BankAmericard® Credit Card, you won't have to pay any further interest on that balance until well into 2017. The card features an unbelievable 18 billing cycles (months) 0% APR period, which is the longest interest-free intro period here. If your goal is to stop paying interest for as long as possible, then this is your card. Cons: The card does charge a 3% balance transfer fee. 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 15% rate. Over the 18 billing cycle term, you would have paid $2,522 in interest.* Switching to this card would cost $300 in fees, but then nothing the rest of the way, for a net savings of $2,222 making the transfer. Not bad, you could do a lot with that extra cash. Most Appropriate For: Those who have large balances and coudl use some extra time with which to pay them down. More Details >
If you want cash rewards with a shorter interest-free transfer period
The Facts: 0% on balance transfers for 9 months, 1.5% cash back rewards program. $100 cash bonus. No annual fee. Pros: While neither the Quicksilver or the Freedom (below) top out our balance transfer list, both offer an intriguing combination of a longish 0% balance transfer period and a top of class cash rewards program. This is good if you want to consolidate your credit card balances, save through the balance transfer, but also earn rewards on any new spending you make. The Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Card 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 for 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. More Details >
The Facts: 15 Months of 0% Intro APR, 1% Cash Back Rewards Program, $150 bonus. No annual fee. Pros: The Chase Freedom® is temporarily offering a fantastic deal to new card members; 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 and local commuter transportation) 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. More Details >
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!