Smart Buying

Best Balance Transfer Cards to Save You Money

Credit card issuers still offering balance transfers have tightened their approval standards.

If you want to lower the interest rate on your credit card balance, you’ll have to search harder for a good deal. Card issuers became more cautious as the pandemic caused the economy to crater, and some cut back on low-rate balance transfers. American Express, for example, is not offering balance transfers for now.

The issuers that are still offering balance transfers have tightened their approval standards. You may need a FICO credit score of at least 725 or so to snag a card with an introductory 0% interest rate, compared with a minimum score of about 670 before the pandemic hit, says Ted Rossman, of CreditCards.com. Your income and debt levels affect your eligibility, too. And issuers are reducing card limits. “Even if you qualify for a 0% balance-transfer card, you might not be able to move all of your debt,” says Rossman.

Cards worth a look. The Chase Slate Visa card (chase.com) offers a 0% rate on balance transfers for 15 months (and then 14.99% to 23.74%). You pay no fee on transfers made within 60 days of opening the account. Go to a Chase branch to apply; recently, most customers could not apply online.

The First Technology Federal Credit Union Platinum Mastercard (firsttechfed.com) has a shorter 0% introductory window of 12 months, but the rate after a year is a relatively low 6.99% to 18%, and the card charges no balance-transfer fee. You can join the credit union by becoming a member of a qualifying association and opening a savings account; First Tech pays the association fees and makes an initial deposit in the savings account on your behalf.

If a longer 0% period is your priority, check out the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum card (usbank.com). The rate is 0% for the first 20 months and ranges from 13.99% to 23.99% after that. The balance-transfer fee is the greater of $5 or 3% of the amount transferred. The Citi Simplicity Mastercard (citi.com) charges the same transfer fee and provides a 0% rate for the first 18 months (then 14.74% to 24.74%). Plus, it imposes no fee or penalty interest rate for late payments.

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