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Now that the holiday season is over, the debt hangover is kicking in for many consumers. As the bills start coming in, some consumers may wish their credit card payments were lower—and, for some, they could be.
If you do a little poking around, you'll likely find a card with a lower rate, so you'll be paying less interest. Depending on how much you owe and how much you're paying in interest on it now, transferring your holiday debt balance to another card could save you a substantial sum. Shop around for a low-interest card or one with a low-cost balance transfer offer, if you're pretty sure you'll pay off that balance before the teaser interest rate expires. Or try to negotiate a lower rate on your current card.
"Cardholders with good credit can try to negotiate a lower interest rate on their existing card, often successfully. But with so many low-rate balance transfer offers, you shouldn't hesitate to switch to the lowest-rate card you can get as a way to accelerate debt repayment," said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com.
Read More Pay off our debt? Not likely, say some
Here are three low-rate cards and balance transfer offers that have received top marks from credit card review sites like CardHub.com, CardRatings.com, CreditKarma.com and NerdWallet.com.
The average everyday interest rate on a low-interest credit card is currently a little more than 11 percent compared to a nearly 15.7 percent annual percentage rate (APR) for an average variable credit card, according to Bankrate.com. Some of these cards have zero percent introductory rate offers that will remain in place for a year or even 18 months. Those offers, and cards with ongoing low rates, can be a smart pick for consumers who are paying down a balance.
Low-rate cards, for which the APR will remain low for the life of the card, are a good alternative to the norm. The terms on the Barclaycard Ring make it the clear front-runner on most credit card review sites with an 8 percent variable APR for the life of the card and no fees for balance transfers.
If you wanted to pay off $1,100 in credit card debt over 18 months, you'd pay $141.75 in interest with an average credit card that charges 15.7 percent APR. With the Barclaycard Ring, you'd pay $70.98. That's a savings of $70.77
You may pay the least in interest by choosing a balance transfer card with a long introductory rate period and a low default APR after the promotional time is up. But don't forget to factor in fees—a cheaper transfer fee may result in better saving even if it takes a few extra months to pay it off.
If you have good credit, there are plenty of zero percent balance transfer offers that extend for 12 to 18 months. But you'll want a credit score of 720 or higher to qualify for the best offer, said Kenneth Lin, founder of CreditKarma.com, which provides free credit scores, credit card reviews and tools to compare cards.
Several credit card review sites list the Chase Slate card as a top pick for balance transfer cards—with its rare combo of zero percent APR, 15-month balance transfer offer and no transfer fee. But after that introductory period, the interest rate jumps to a variable APR of 12.99 percent, 17.99 percent or 22.99 percent for balance transfers and purchases.
Citi Simplicity, which has an 18-month term for its zero percent balance transfer offer may be an even better bet, as long as you pay off the balance in that time. With this balance transfer card, you will pay a balance transfer fee of 3 percent, which is pretty typical, but you'll get 18 months (instead of 15) to pay down that debt before the variable APR rises to 12.99 to 22.99 percent.
Paying off the $1,100 balance would result in $141.75 in interest over 18 months with the average variable rate credit card at 15.7 percent interest. But with the Citi Simplicity card, you'll pay no interest and just a $33 balance transfer fee. If you paid off that $1,100 balance using the card in 18 months, you'd save $108.75 in interest.