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15-month balance transfer credit cards
Pay no interest for 15 months when you transfer your debt to a balance transfer card with 0% APR.
Finding a 15-month balance transfer card is like finding a ticket to freedom from mounting debt. These cards can help you consolidate your debts and offer the opportunity to pay it down without paying interest. Consider its terms, fees and perks and compare it to other credit cards with similar promotions to find the right balance transfer card for you.
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Our pick for a balance transfer card
American Express Cash Magnet® CardRead more
Compare credit cards with 0% APR on balance transfers for 15 months or more
How do 15-month balance transfer credit cards work?
A 15-month 0% balance transfer credit card can offer the benefit of moving existing debt to a new card — minus paying a high APR. Transfer debt from other credit cards or high interest loans, to your new card and take advantage of no interest for 15 months. But you usually won’t be able to transfer your debt from the same provider.
If you’re able to plan your finances, you could be debt free after 15 months. But be careful not to use this card for purchases — any new charges are paid for first, before the transfer amount. So to make the most of your 15-month 0% APR card, pay it off first before using it for purchases.
How can I compare long-term balance transfer credit cards?
Not only should you be looking at the specific terms of a 15-month balance transfer offer, consider other benefits or fees to determine if it benefits you. Consider the following points before deciding on a new card:
- Length of low-rate offer.
There are a number of 0% balance transfer cards — some as high as 21 months. Make sure you pick a length of time that’s long enough to pay off your debt.
- Revert rate.
Check to see what the interest rate reverts to once the 15 months is up.
- Annual fee.
Most balance transfer cards come with an annual fee. What you pay usually has to do with if it offers benefits or rewards, so make sure you can make the annual fee worth it.
- Balance transfer fee.
With some cards, there will be a one-time fee from 3% to 5% of balance transfer amount. Make sure the cost is worth the amount you’re saving in interest.
- Transfer amount.
When you’re approved for your new card, you’re given a credit limit. Usually your transfer limit is 80% to 95% of your credit limit.
What are the drawbacks of using balance transfer credit cards with long promotional periods?
Annual fees, high revert rates and transfer limits can all be drawbacks to using a balance transfer card — if you’re not prepared for them. Always read the fine print to try and avoid paying unnecessary fees and take advantage of the benefits these cards can offer.
But the biggest drawback that many don’t realize is when you use the card for purchases or cash withdrawals before you pay off your balance transfer. Since 2009 and the implementation of the Credit Card Act, credit card companies are obligated to apply payments in a certain hierarchy. Repayments are applied to items with the highest interest rate. So if you have $5,000 in 0% balance transfer, $400 in purchases and $200 in cash advances, your $600 payment will only be applied to the cash advance — leaving your balance transfer untouched. If you keep on this path too long, you’ll miss your 0% interest window and end up paying the revert rate at the end of your term.
Not even interest-free days on purchases will save you, because this feature is only offered if you pay your balance in full.
Using a balance transfer credit cardJane was approved for a 15-month balance transfer credit card, and was able to consolidate $10,000 of her debt onto one card with no interest. With a new credit card in her wallet, she thinks there can be no harm in finally buying that $500 television she has had her eye on. Especially when her new credit card features 30 interest-free days.
Jane didn’t read the fine print, and didn’t realize that with an outstanding balance, she doesn’t qualify for interest-free days. Not only that, but her payments won’t touch her balance transfer amount. If she continues this way, she won’t pay off her $10,000 debt before the 15-month term is up, and she’ll be back to paying a high APR.
A 15-month balance transfer credit card definitely has its advantages, but only if you use it right. Compare your options carefully against your spending habits to make sure that this is the right product for you.Back to top
How can I apply?
How you apply depends on the bank and credit card you choose after your research. However, most banks usually require similar eligibility including:
Most credit cards allow for applications from individuals as young as 18.
- Residential status.
If you’re living in the US temporarily, make sure you can take advantage of the special offer.
- Level of debt.
Banks won’t offer credit cards to individuals who already have a high debt to income ratio.
A number of credit cards will have a minimum income requirement in order to qualify.
You will also need to have the following details during the application process:
- Contact information.
The bank will need to be able to reach you with any additional questions either by phone or email.
- Residential information.
A physical address within the US is required.
- Income information.
Proof of how much money you make can be shown with a pay stub or tax documents.
How can I improve my odds of approval?
The first thing credit card look at is your credit score. Those with higher credit scores are often approved for higher credit limits and better rates. Credit scores generally depend on your debt-to-income ratio, how well you tend to your debt, among other things. Before you apply for a credit card, check your credit score to make sure you have a score of 600 or more. Though there are some credit cards that will approve you with a lower score, its likely you won’t get the credit limit you need or the rate you want.
Scoring a 15-month balance transfer card can be your ticket out of debt — if you limit using the card for just that. Remember the more you use the card for other purchases or cash advances, you’ll lose the benefit of the 0% APR and take on more fees. Before choosing a new balance transfer credit card, compare cards.
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