|Posted on January 23, 2016 at 1:25 PM|
Powerful 2-Step Process To Eliminate Credit Card Debt
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by Jarret DiToro
What's the best way to pay down a credit card balance as quickly as possible, while paying the least in interest, and without hurting your credit? What follows is a powerful method recommended by the most astute personal finance experts* to achieve exactly those objectives. It's extremely effective, completely legal, and leverages programs created by credit card issuers to your advantage. Follow these steps and start to become credit card debt-free.
Step 1: Use A Powerful Tool To Immediately Stop Paying Interest On Your Balance
Think of someone carrying a credit card balance like a patient who enters an emergency room bleeding badly. The first thing a doctor will do is stop the bleeding. It's no different when attacking a credit card balance; the first thing you do is stop the interest charges.
There's a simple way to do this, and it's brilliance is that it actually uses the banks' marketing offers to your advantage: find a card offering a long "0% intro APR balance transfer" promotional offer, and transfer your balance to it. These are cards which offer new customers a long period of time (often as much as 18 months) during which the card charges no interest on all balances transferred to it. We constantly track all the cards in the marketplace in order to find the ones currently offering the longest 0% intro periods.
If you need more motivation, just think of this: on a $10,000 balance, $150 of a $200 monthly payment would get vacuumed up by interest charges.** That leaves only $50 of your $200 that actually reduces your balance, the rest vanishing into bank pockets. That's just brutal. Use our reviews to find a card which offers the longest possible no-interest period while charging low, or even no fees. Moving your balances to the card you choose will stop the bleeding, allowing you to move on to step two.
Step 2: Power Through Your Balance During The 0% Period.
Once you've transferred your balances and put a stop to the interest charges, it's time to capitalize on the interest-free period to really break free of the debt. The best part of this is how simple it is: just keep making the payments you used to make when you had to pay big interest payments. Going back to the $10,000 example above, if you transferred that balance onto a card like the Chase Slate (which offers 15 months of 0% intro APR with no transfer fee) and maintained the same $200 monthly payment, you can see how much faster you'll be reducing your balance in the chart below.
As you can see, without using the 0% card, the same $200 monthly payments barely make any headway. It's like swimming upstream, or walking while taking a step back for every two steps forward. That's no way to swim or walk, and attempting to pay off your cards while paying high card interest rates is no way to manage your finances. Move your balances onto one of the cards below, stop getting crushed by interest, and start making real progress toward getting rid of your card debt.
Top 0% Intro APR Balance Transfer Cards:
The No Transfer-Fee Card
15 Months of 0% Intro APR. No balance transfer fee. No annual fee.
The Chase Slate is tied as our highest-rated balance transfer card, and for good reason. It charges no fee for transferring your balance to it in the first two months, no annual fee, and no interest on balances transferred for a full 15-month 0% intro APR period. This makes it a phenomenal tool to gain control of your credit card debt, as you can make a costless balance transfer, then use the 15-month interest grace period to pay down your balance.
The Verdict: If you don't need the entire 18 months offered by the BankAmericard, this can be efficient since it doesn't have a balance transfer fee. No transfer fee and no annual fee, combined with the 0% intro APR means that this is really free money for the 15 month term, no catches.
Most Appropriate For: Those who want a no-fee way to stop paying interest, and possibly pay off the cards during that breather. Those with good rather than excellent credit.
Least Appropriate For: Those who pay off their balances every month would be better served getting a card paying high rewards.
Recommended credit: Just Good. The Chase card has the most lenient credit requirements of our top balance transfer cards.
The Ultra-Long 0% Intro APR Card
BankAmericard® Credit Card
18 billing cycles (months) of 0% Intro APR on balance transfers. No annual fees.
The BankAmericard is tied as our highest rated balance transfer card, featuring an unbelievable 18-month 0% APR intro period. This means that if you were to roll your balance over onto the card today, you wouldn't have to pay interest until well into 2017. The card does charge a 3% balance transfer fee*, but if you’re looking to avoid paying any interest on your credit card balances for as long as possible, the BankAmericard could be your card.
The Verdict: Getting a loan this cheaply for this long is pretty amazing. If you're carrying a balance, and realistically you know you will have to carry that balance for a while, this card becomes a no-brainer. As an example, assume you have a $10,000 balance on your current cards at a 18% rate. Over the 18 month term, you would have paid $3,098 in interest.* Switching to this card would cost $300 in fees, but then nothing the rest of the way, for a net savings of $2,798. Not bad, you could do a lot with that extra cash.
Most Appropriate For: Those who have large balances and and want as much interest-free time as possible to pay the principle down.
Least Appropriate For: Those who pay off their balances every month or every few months.
Credit Required: Excellent
The Cards With Long 0% Intro APR AND Cash Rewards Programs.
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Card
0% on Balance Transfers until November 2016, 1.5% Cash Back Rewards Program. $100 Bonus. No annual fee.
Pros: Capital One's Quicksilver card makes things simple: you earn 1.5% cash back on all your purchases, with no limit and no category restrictions or games. We included the card in our balance transfer list because it offers 0% intro APR until September 2016 on all balances transferred.
Cons: Does charge a 3% balance transfer fee. Requires good credit to get in.
The Verdict: If you're looking to transfer a balance and make some purchases, you can use this card to avoid paying interest during the intro period AND earn cash rewards.
Most Appropriate For: Anyone who might make some large purchases in the near future, or regularly charges a lot on their cards. Making the charges on the Quicksilver would earn cash back but not require any interest during the intro period.
Credit Required: Good
Chase Freedom® Card
15 Months of 0% Intro APR, 1% Cash Back Rewards Program, $150 bonus. No annual fee.
Pros: Chase is temporarily offering a fantastic deal on this card. If you charge $500 on it in the first 3 months, you'll earn a $150 bonus. Combine that with the 1% standard cash back feature, plus 5% cash back in certain rotating spending categories per quarter (at the time of this writing it includes restaurants) and this card really starts to pay. All this and you get 15 months of 0% intro APR, and it requires good, not excellent credit, making it easier to get in.
Cons: Charges a 3% balance transfer fee.
The Verdict: A great combination of 0% intro APR, solid cash-back rewards, an attractive limited-time bonus offer while only requiring good credit.
Most Appropriate For: Those with good credit seeking a daily-use card offering great cash back rewards and 0% intro APR. Best for new charges.
Least Appropriate For: Balance transfers, as it charges the 3% fee while offering no more free term than the Slate (which has no transfer fee).
Credit Required: Good
Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This content was accurate at the time of this post, but card terms and conditions may change at any time. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.
* Savings calculation: Credit Card Balance * (1+Average Card Rate/365)^639 days – Balance Transfer Fee - Average Household Credit Card Balance
Balance transfer fee is minimum of 3% or $10
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