What is a credit card with a $0 annual fee and 0% intro APR on balance transfers?
A 0% intro APR balance transfer credit card offers an intro APR period that usually lasts between 6 and 21 months. The lack of an annual fee only sweetens the deal and maximizes your savings. With some strategic budgeting, you could get out of debt faster.
Compare balance transfer credit cards with no annual fee
What are the benefits of a no annual fee 0% intro APR balance transfer card?
Cards with no annual fee and a 0% intro APR offer several benefits:
- Consolidation of debt at 0% interest. Customers can take control of their debt by transferring it to a card with a lower balance transfer rate to repay their debt without the burden of interest.
- Competitive pricing. Competitive rates help you manage your finances with greater ease during the balance transfer intro period.
- Credit improvement. If you have multiple debts across a number of cards it can reduce your credit score. Transferring the debt to a single new card means opening up further credit, which can reduce your utilization ratio and help your score.
What are the features of a no annual fee 0% intro APR balance transfer card?
The main features of a no annual fee 0% intro APR balance transfer card are:
- Reward programs. While consolidating your debt is a big enough incentive for most customers, an added advantage of rewards program can make the card a must have. Just be careful not to rack up additional debt while still paying off your transfer.
- Complimentary travel insurance. Some cards offer complimentary travel insurance which can be useful for customers who are planning for any overseas trip in the near future.
- Interest-free days. Most of the cards provide grace periods on purchases. This effectively means that the expense of owning the card can be absolute zero if it’s used carefully.
- Low or zero transaction fees. These cards also provide very low or zero transaction fees on foreign transactions. This should be useful for customers dealing in foreign currency on a regular basis.
Case study: Is the annual fee the right focus?
While it’s nice to find a balance transfer credit card that offers both a $0 annual fee and a 0% intro APR on balance transfers, the annual fee might not be as big of a deal as you think. Especially when you may be able to find a longer intro APR with a credit card that has an annual fee.
Let’s say you have $10,000 of debt on a credit card with a variable APR of 18% and no annual fee, and you can afford to make monthly payments of $500. At this rate, it’ll take you 24 months to pay off your debt, and you’ll pay $1,996 in interest.
You’re considering transferring the debt to one of these balance transfer credit cards to take advantage of its 0% intro APR on balance transfers. One comes with an annual fee of $49, while the other has no annual fee:
Credit card 1
Credit card 2
|Intro APR||0% intro APR on balance transfers for 12 months, then 15% variable APR||0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months, then 15% variable APR|
|Balance transfer fee||3% of the transfer||3% of the transfer|
|Time to payoff||22 months||21 months|
|Interest and fees paid||$580||$429|
In this case, having to pay an annual fee was offset by the longer 0% intro APR on balance transfers. Keep this in mind before placing too much emphasis on whether a balance transfer credit card has an annual fee or not.
How to compare balance transfer credit cards
You should always research the various offers available before deciding on a card. When it comes to comparing cards, these are the major factors to consider:
- Annual fee waiver.
Some cards only waive the annual fee as a promotional offer — you should know when the annual fee will kick in, and how much it will cost from then on.
- Balance transfer period.
Consider the length of the promotional offer, such as 0% interest for 6 months versus 0% interest for 18 months.
- Revert rate.
The revert rate is typically the high-interest purchase or cash advance rate that kicks in once the promotional period ends.
- Balance transfer fee.
This is a one-time fee that you may have to pay to move your balance over to the new card, and can cost up to 5% of the transfer.
- Balance transfer amount.
Some credit cards will allow balance transfers up to 100% of your new credit card limit, while some may impose a balance transfer limit.
- Other features.
Consider other card features like the complimentary extras that may be offered, as well as the ability to earn rewards on the card.
How to apply for a balance transfer credit card
Applying for a balance transfer card isn’t too complicated of a process, but you’ll want to have some information on hand. You can learn more about the process with our full guide.
- Compare your options. Find the credit card that works for your financial situation and best fits your balance transfer needs.
- Apply for a card and request the transfer. During the application you’ll likely be able to request at least one transfer. You may be able to request additional transfers online or by phone.
- Figure out what to do with your old cards. You may want to keep your cards open to lower your credit utilization and keep your average credit age from falling further. Just make sure you don’t keep spending with them.
- Start paying off your debt. Once your transfer goes through, make sure you stay on top of your payments. If at all possible, you’ll want to pay off the balance before the intro period ends.
Finding a credit card that offers both a $0 annual fee and 0% intro APR on balance transfers can help you pay off your debt faster while avoiding interest and fees. Still, you may not want to place too much emphasis on whether a balance transfer credit card comes with an annual fee, as the savings in interest with a longer 0% intro APR offer can outweigh the cost of an annual fee in many cases.