With average credit card interest rates over 14%, a 0% APR balance transfer can provide a great way to save money on credit card interest. However, not all 0% APR balance transfer credit card offers are the same. In fact, some offers can eat away at a substantial portion of the savings a 0% APR balance transfer can provide.
The best 0% balance transfer credit card deals are known as “no fee balance transfers.” Unfortunately, offers for these deals are few and far between these days. As someone that tracks the credit card market for a living, I’ve watched as almost every credit card company has pulled these balance transfer offers from the market.
If you can’t find a “no fee balance transfer offer,” you will ultimately end up paying a 3% balance transfer fee. Here’s where you need to take a close look at the fine print. The vast majority of credit card companies cap the balance transfer fee at $75, regardless of how much you transfer. Thus, a $1000 balance transfer would cost $30, but ultimately save you over $100 in interest. A $10,000 balance transfer will cost you the maximum fee of $75, but that is only a .075% fee.
Some credit card companies have raised the maximum balance transfer fee from $75 to $250, while a few I’ve come across have eliminated the cap altogether. If you’re transferring a small balance, this won’t make too much of a difference. However, if you’re transferring $10,000, you’ll end up paying $250 or $300 instead of $75. There’s no need to panic though. Just be sure to read the fine print.
The last, and perhaps most important thing, about a 0% balance transfer has nothing to do with balance transfers at all. It has to do with whether the 0% interest rate applies to purchases as well as balance transfers. Here’s the reason: if you use your credit card to make purchases and your 0% rate applies only to balance transfers, your payments will reduce the balance at the lowest interest rate. That means if you transfer $1000 at a 0% rate and spend $1000 at the standard rate of around 14%, paying $1000 towards your bill will pay off the 0% balance transfer, leaving you with a $1000 balance getting charged 14% interest.
0% APR balance transfers offer great opportunities to keep more money in your pocket and decrease your credit card debt. Just be sure to check the fine print so you can maximize your balance transfer savings.