Updated: 06/07/2017

Finding the Best Balance Transfer Card for Fair Credit

Credit cards can be handy tools when it comes to earning rewards, building credit scores, and paying off big purchases with affordable payments. However, if you use a balance transfer option, your credit card can also be helpful in eliminating debt and saving money on interest payments.

When you have fair credit, making your credit work for you means more than just using your credit cards to make purchases and rack up debt. Instead, a balance transfer card can provide one of the best options for managing your debt and improving your credit score.

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What Are Balance Transfer Cards?

 

A balance transfer credit card is one that allows you to transfer another debt, usually a balance from another credit card.

The most common benefit of that a balance transfer card provides is a reduced interest rate when compared to the terms that you are currently locked into, or even better, no interest at all.

Another, less obvious benefit of a balance transfer card is the ability to easily organize and manage your finances. This is a crucial element for people who are busy and who might otherwise forget to pay their credit card bills if they have too many to manage.

How a Balance Transfer Works

Once you have transferred your balance, your debt to the original lender is satisfied. That lender, whether it is a credit union, another credit card company, or a loan servicer, cannot stop you from transferring your balance. In the end, all your original lender is aware of is that you have satisfied your agreement with them and have paid off what you owe.

After the balance is transferred, you can continue to make your payments to the new creditor, according to their terms. If it is a 0% credit card, you can pay your balance off during the designated period without paying interest. This can end up saving you hundreds of dollars in interest payments, depending on the rate you were paying with the original creditor.

Important Criteria to Keep in Mind

Not every credit card allows balance transfers. On the other hand, some credit cards not only allow you to transfer a balance, but they also make it easy to do when you open an account. However, it’s important to note the terms of the balance transfer before you get started. Some of the terms you should consider before you apply for a balance transfer card:

  • How much the interest rate is after the intro period
  • How much is the balance transfer fee?
  • Are there any other fees?
  • What will it cost you if you don’t pay off the balance in the intro period?
  • Can you pay off your balance during the intro period?

Although designed to help you eliminate debt and pay down balances, the truth is, balance transfers can end up costing you more money than you save. It’s important that you ask yourself these questions and weigh the costs and fees before transferring your balance.

Finding the Right Balance Transfer Card for Your Situation

Build your credit while you manage your debt more effectively with a balance transfer credit card. Choosing the right one can help you pay down your debt more easily and put more money in your pocket at the end of the month.

Unfortunately, credit cards aren’t one-size-fits-all solutions that suit every consumer’s needs. However, under the general umbrella of balance transfer credit cards, there are several specific types that can help you narrow down those that will best meet your needs. These include the following:

Easy Approval Balance Transfer Cards

The better your credit, the more options you will have when it comes to balance transfer credit cards. With that being said, there are some balance transfer cards that approve people who fall somewhere in the middle when it comes to credit scores.

If you have fair or poor credit, it might be difficult getting approved for a balance transfer card, simply because you are basically asking a new creditor to take on the debt. In some cases, you might have to work on paying down your debt as much as possible before applying for a new credit card.

Average to Excellent Credit

If you have average credit, you can still qualify for balance transfer cards with attractive terms. In most cases, these cards are best for people whose credit is in the 600 to 679 range.

intro purchase APR 0% for 12 monthsregular APR13.49 - 23.49% (V)
intro BT APR 0% for 12 months 3% BT fee $5 min
rewards 1% 2% 3% on $1 +$100 bonus
  • earn 3% back at US supermarkets (limited by $6000 spending annually, then 1%)
  • 2% on gas and in selected department stores
  • 1% back on all other purchases
  • $100 sign up bonus after spending $1000 in purchases in the first 3 months
good credit required

no annual fee

up to 2-3% cash back

Amazon Prime membership free

read review

The Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express has no annual fee and offers 0% intro APR for balances transferred in the first 60 days, for 12 months. While the average credit score of those who have been approved is about 714, people with a credit score in the low 650s have also been approved. This card also awards 3% cash back at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 in purchases per year, 2% at US gas stations and US department stores, and 1% on all other purchases.

intro purchase APR 0% for 21 monthsregular APR13.99 - 23.99% (V)
intro BT APR 0% for 21 months 3% BT fee $5 min
excellent required

no annual fee

0% APR for 21 months for BT and purchases

read review

The Citi Simplicity Card offers several distinctive benefits that make it great for people with average credit who are eager to build or improve their credit scores. In addition to no late fees, penalties, or annual fees, the Citi Simplicity card offers a 0% APR on balance transfers for 21 months. Cardholders with credit scores in the range of 645 to 714 have been approved for this card.

No Balance Transfer Fee Cards

Balance transfer fees typically range from 3% to 10% of your balance, with a minimum of $5 or $10. Depending on the size of the balance you transfer, this can end up costing you quite a bit of money — even more than you would pay in interest without transferring. If you choose a card without a balance transfer fee, it can equate to significant savings, even if it doesn’t include a 0% intro APR.

As you can guess, there aren’t many credit cards available without balance transfer fees. Some of the best to consider if you prefer a card without a balance transfer fee, are the following.

intro purchase APR 0% for 15 monthsregular APR15.49 - 24.24% (V)
intro BT APR 0% for 15 months, 0% BT fee 60 days 5% BT fee $5 min
fair credit required

no annual fee

0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers

0% BT fee for 60 days

free FICO score

read review

Chase Slate is a balance transfer credit card that not only doesn't charge you a transfer fee, it also offers an introductory 0% APR for balances transferred in the first 60 days, for 15 months. There is no annual fee.

intro purchase APR 0% for 15 monthsregular APR13.49% Variable
intro BT APR 0% for 15 months no BT fee
excellent required

0% Introductory APR for the first 15 months on purchases. Plus, you'll get a 0% introductory APR for 15 months on Balance Transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR will apply, 13.49%

No annual fee

No balance transfer fees

No foreign transaction fees

Chip technology, so paying for your purchases is more secure at chip-card terminals in the U.S. and abroad

Free online access to FICO® Credit Score

read review

The Barclaycard Ring MasterCard has no balance transfer fee and a 0% APR for balance transfers made within the first 45 days, for 15 months. This card also has no annual fee.

intro purchase APR no intro offerregular APR8.99 - 17.99% (V)
intro BT APR 4.99% for 12 Months 8.99%-17.99%
rewards +$100 statement credit 

no annual fee

no BT fee

read review

The PenFed Promise card is known for having the fewest fees of any card. There is no annual fee, balance transfer fee, cash advance fee, late fee, or foreign transaction fee. Although it does not offer a 0% intro APR on balance transfers, it does offer a low APR of 4.99% for 12 months, which could still save you money on interest. 

0% Balance Transfer for 24 Months

The longer the balance transfer interest rate is low, the more time you have to pay down your debt without accruing new debt. While most balance transfer credit cards that offer 0% introductory APR offers cap them at 6, 12 or 18 months, it is possible to find a card here and there that extends that period of time to a full two years or 24 months.

Santander Sphere Visa Balance Transfer Card

With the Santander Sphere Visa Balance Transfer Card, you'll have a full 24 billing cycles at 0% APR in which to pay off the debt you transfer. In order to enjoy this perk, you'll need to complete the balance transfer within 90 days of opening your account. This card also has no annual fee and offers reward points for each dollar you spend. There is, however, a four percent transfer fee.

Although not 24 months balance transfer cards, there are other great cards with long 0% introductory rates.

intro purchase APR 0% for 18 monthsregular APR11.49 - 21.49% (V)
intro BT APR 0% for 18 months 3% min $10
good credit required

no annual fee

low APR 11.49-21.49%

read review

The BankAmericard Credit Card gives you a 0% intro APR for balance transfers made in the first 60 days for 18 billing cycles. There is no annual fee for this card.

intro purchase APR 0% for 14 monthsregular APR11.49 - 23.49% (V)
intro BT APR 0% for 14 months 3% BT fee
rewards 1% or 2% 
  • earn 2% cashback on gas and restaurants with $1,000 quarterly limit in combined purchases
  • 1% on all other purchases
good credit / fair credit required

no annual fee

2% on gas and dining out

read review

The Discover it 18 Month Balance Transfer card gives you 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 21 months. There is also no annual fee. Plus, this card comes with a cash back match bonus for new cardholders, and up to 5% cash back in quarterly rotating categories.

 



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