You Can’t Beat Free…
Are you in need of a free balance transfer? If so, the first step is to ensure it’s actually free, as credit card (and bank) fees seem to have a way of moving in undetected.
And it’s often difficult to navigate the rules attached to balance transfer offers without falling into one of the many traps along the way.
Just because there’s no annual fee doesn’t mean there isn’t a balance transfer fee. And even if it’s fee-free it could still have APR that exceeds 0%.
Some banks also charge account opening fees and other bogus junk fees, so you’ve really got to do your diligence.
In other words, you have to make sure the card you apply for is really free because credit card issuers are very good at making offers appear better than they are.
Is the Balance Transfer Really Free?
If you do a web search for “free balance transfer” you’ll be presented with all sorts of offers that aren’t really free. Seriously.
For example, Coast Central Credit Union in Northern California has a page that’s titled “Free Balance Transfer” but advertises rates as low as 6.45%, which are also variable! That’s not free in my book.
Sure, it might be free to transfer your credit card balance, but it will still cost you in finance charges every month. Again, not free, any way you slice it.
This is a common tactic used by many banks, not just the one I mentioned. They advertise the free aspect of the deal front and center and do their best to downplay the other costs involved.
The main purpose of a credit card balance transfer is to reduce debt and lower your APR, so consumers may question digging into their wallet to simply move their debt from one credit card to the next.
But often times the savings of a balance transfer greatly outweigh the associated balance transfer fees, so it’s not necessarily a losing proposition if there is an upfront cost.
However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the time to shop around for a free balance transfer credit card to sweeten the deal. These are without a doubt the most elusive offers, but also the most generous.
At the end of the day, it never hurts to save even more money, especially when you’re looking to reduce your debt.
Free Balance Transfer Credit Card Offers
Let’s take a look at some of the free balance transfer cards currently available.
American Express EveryDay Credit Card – 0% APR for 15 months, no balance transfer fee, no annual fee. Doesn’t get much better than this.
Chase Slate No Fee Balance Transfer – 0% APR for 15 months with $0 balance transfer fee and no annual fee! Transfer must take place during first 60 days your account is open.
Edward Jones World MasterCard – 0% APR for 12 months, no balance transfer fee, no annual fee.
First Tennessee Platinum Premier Visa – 0% APR for 12 months, no balance transfer fee, no annual fee.
Logix Platinum MasterCard – 0% APR for 12 months, no balance transfer fee, no annual fee.
What is a free balance transfer credit card?
By “free balance transfer credit cards,” I mean those set at 0% APR that don’t have a balance transfer fee, cash advance fee, or an annual fee.
Or any other fees for that matter, aside from maybe late payment fees – you’re on your own there…
So if you do come across a balance transfer card, make sure it has no balance transfer fee, no annual fee, and 0% APR if you want it to be truly free.
And if it’s a no fee balance transfer, definitely pay close attention to ensure it’s got 0% APR and no annual fee or any other charges.
Many of the no fee balance transfer cards these days either don’t offer 0% APR or charge an annual fee. That means it’s not really free to transfer your debt, and your APR will be effectively higher than 0%.
For example, there are several no fee balance transfers out there that offer APR of 2.99% or 4.99%.
In these cases, it may actually be beneficial to just go with the industry standard 3% balance transfer fee in exchange for 0% APR.
Regardless, always be sure to dig through the fine print and credit card disclosures before agreeing to anything because a lot of advertisers throw around the word “free” with reckless abandon.
Free Balance Transfer Credit Cards Are Hard to Find
These days, it’s pretty difficult to find a truly free balance transfer credit card, as banks and credit card companies have tightened their belts quite a bit in the risk department.
If you do happen to come across what you think is a free balance transfer, there will likely be either a balance transfer fee, APR above 0%, meaning finance charges, or an annual fee of some kind.
In other words, not free! Repeat, NOT free!
However, there are a few available, as listed above. You just have to hope your debt is with a different card issuer as balance transfers can’t be made within the same bank.
Tip: Inquire with your local credit union about a free balance transfer. They offer the most free options of anyone out there.
In summary, a truly free balance transfer credit card should have the following:
– 0% APR on balance transfers for an extended period of time (no interest)
– No balance transfer fees
– No cash advance fees
– No annual fee
– No membership fee
– No account opening fee
– No fees of any kind
If it doesn’t meet ALL of these requirements then it simply isn’t free. Be sure to compare all the costs of the many offers available to ensure you get the best deal and pay off your debt the fastest.
Thanks for pointing out the fact that most balance transfers still have associated costs.