A Catch to Balance Transfer Offers

Watch out for hidden fees and high rates applied to new purchases.

A card that offers a 0% interest rate on balance transfers can be a real boon when you're paying off a big-ticket item or whittling away at a holiday-shopping balance. That's because once you transfer the balance to the new card, additional interest charges are suspended for as many as 15 billing cycles. (Check out the best credit card deals.)

If you've recently received several such offers in your mailbox, read the fine print and choose one that also promises a waiver of the balance-transfer fee. Issuers routinely charge 3% of the amount transferred, with a minimum of $5 to $10.

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Senior Reporter, Kiplinger's Personal Finance