Best Zero Percent Balance Transfers (Updated May 2011)

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As the economy improves, I expect to see a lot more activity in the balance transfer space. For the moment, there hasn’t been much change from April to May. Citi ended the Citi Dividend Platinum Select MasterCard’s promotion they launched last month (0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months and 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 12 months) but extended the limited time offer that included $100 cash back after $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. This matches compares very favorably to the Chase Freedom offer, which offers the same bonus and similar introductory periods.

Here are this month’s best 0% balance transfer offers:

0% Intro APR and $100 Bonus Cash Back

The Chase Freedom® MasterCard that we explained last month is still available:

Citi’s has a similar offer that has a similar introductory period, at 12 months for both balance transfers and purchases. Whereas the Chase Freedom card offers cashback, Citi offers points that you can spend in their Thank You Network.

  • This offer is for people with an excellent credit history
  • Excellent credit history means, among other things, that you have a credit history clear of bankruptcy and seriously delinquent accounts
  • “Best Overall Card” – CBS MoneyWatch 2011
  • Earn $100 Bonus Cash Back after you make $500 in purchases in your first 3 months
  • 0% Intro APR for 12 months on balance transfers and 6 months on purchases – no annual fee and cash back rewards never expire
  • 5% Cash Back on up to $1,500 spent on Gas, Hotel and Airline purchases from 7/1/11 – 9/30/11
  • You’ll enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months like grocery stores, dining, department stores and even home improvement. It’s free and easy to activate your bonus each quarter!
  • Unlimited 1% Cash Back on all other purchases without limits on what you can earn and up to an additional 10% Cash Back when you shop online at select merchants through Chase

Longest 0% Balance Transfer Period

The 18 month balance transfer period Discover More offer retains the crown as the longest balance transfer introductory period. The balance transfer fee is at an average 3% but that should be expected given the longer introductory period. As discussed last month, this card features all the perks of the Discover More card, including cash back bonuses.

  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months, then the variable APR of 11.99% – 20.99%
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the variable APR of 11.99% – 20.99%
  • 5% Cashback Bonus® in categories that change like travel, gas, groceries, restaurants, home improvement stores and more
  • Up to 20% Cashback Bonus at popular retailers when you shop online through Discover
  • Up to 1% unlimited Cashback Bonus on all other purchases
  • $0 Fraud Liability plus automatic mobile and email fraud alerts
  • No Annual Fee
{ 14 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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14 Responses to “Best Zero Percent Balance Transfers (Updated May 2011)”

  1. Ryan says:

    I’m a little confused. Why do these 0% balance transfer cards require excellent credit? Aren’t the people looking for these cards trying to reduce the interest they pay, so they can pay off their cards quicker (ie people that don’t have excellent credit).

    If someone has excellent credit, they probably don’t carry a balance, so why care about the 0% transfer?

    • mannymacho says:

      I guess that is one of the ironies of consumer finance. The zero balance transfer offers are extended because people with good credit have a high probability of actually paying back the card company.

      • Ryan says:

        But the card company doesn’t make any money off those people (minus annual fee if there is one). So why not target middle of the road people who pay each month, just not enough to pay it off completely. I imagine those people aren’t in the excellent credit range.

        • Steven says:

          Balance Transfer Fee

        • Shirley says:

          The people with excellent credit are probably just the first wave since what they actually want is MORE customers. There is always the chance that even a good payer will slip up somehow and incur a late fee, or overspend on a large item or something that is needed unexpectedly and carry that balance for a few months.

          Getting you in the door with enticing promos is half the battle.

          • Dan says:

            If your credit isn’t excellent, sometimes the credit card company will still approve you but will give you a reduced line of credit.

    • Alan says:

      Same reason why scholarships are given to people with good GPA.

      • Ryan says:

        I think that’s bad logic. Good GPA doesn’t necessarily correlate to income (ie needing a scholarship or not).

        • Texas Wahoo says:

          I think he’s suggesting that credit card companies want customers with good credit, so they try to entice them with 0% balance transfer deals. Colleges want student with good GPAs, so they try to entice them with scolarships.

    • govenar says:

      Someone could carry a balance and still have excellent credit. The credit score depends on whether you fail to make payments, not whether you carry a balance.

  2. Karen says:

    Pentagon Fed Credit Union has zero transfer fee with a fixed 4.99% rate for the life of the balance.

  3. Ruchika says:

    Credit should be avoided or should be paid on time. Balance transfer just delays the problem further until the problem becomes a snow ball.

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