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Transferring your credit card debt to a card that offers 0% APR on balance transfers can be a huge money saver. Yet the best balance transfer cards usually require good or excellent credit, leaving some in the lurch when it comes to taking advantage of these 0% APR opportunities.
One exception is the Aspire FCU Platinum Mastercard®, as applicants with fair credit may qualify.
With no interest for the first six months on balance transfers and new purchases, as well as a relatively low standard variable APR (8.15% to 18.00%), this federal credit union credit card can help you pay off high-interest debt (with a 2% balance transfer fee) or let you take advantage of promotional financing on an upcoming big purchase.
Aspire Federal Credit Union is a not-for-profit financial cooperative and you have to become a member in order to qualify for a card. Below, Select breaks down the rewards, benefits and fees associated with the Aspire Platinum Mastercard to help you decide if it's the right card for you.
0% for the first 6 billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers
8.15% to 18.00% variable
Balance transfer fee
2%, $5 minimum
Foreign transaction fee
See our methodology, terms apply.
What it does offer is no interest on purchases and balance transfers for six billing cycles (after, 8.15% to 18.00% variable APR). This gives you breathing room to pay off a large purchase or debt in six monthly payments without incurring any additional interest. While this isn't the longest intro 0% APR on the market, it can help you make a considerable dent in your debt.
If you have good to excellent credit, you may want to consider the Discover it® Balance Transfer, which also offers an introductory 0% APR period on purchases for your first six months and no interest on balance transfers for 18 months (after, 17.24% - 28.24% variable APR; there is a 3% intro balance transfer fee, then up to 5% on future balance transfers, see terms). The Discover it® Balance Transfer delivers even more value by letting you earn 5% cash back in different quarterly spending categories, after you activate, on up to $1,500 in purchases (then 1%) and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
The Aspire FCU Platinum Mastercard comes with no interest on balance transfers and purchases for six months. After your promotional financing period is over, its standard interest rates compare to some of the best low interest credit cards, at 8.15% to 18.00% variable APR. The balance transfer fee is 2% or $5.00, whichever is greater.
While there's no annual fee, there is a 1% foreign transaction fee. This is lower than the typical 3%, but if you anticipate traveling internationally quite a bit, there are several travel credit cards with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees, like the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card. (See rates and fees.)
You'll need fair to good credit to apply for the Aspire FCU Platinum Mastercard®, which makes it one of the more accessible balance transfer credit cards. But unlike most other credit cards, you'll need to sign up for a membership with Aspire Federal Credit Union to be eligible. Membership is available to employees of the credit union's Select Employer Group and their family members. You can also join if you first become a member of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center for free.
While joining a federal credit union has benefits, if you are looking for an alternative to credit union membership you may consider one of Select's best 0% APR credit cards. The Citi Simplicity® Card, for example, offers one of the longest interest-free periods at 0% intro APR for 21 months on balance transfers from the date of first transfer and 0% intro APR for 12 months on purchases from the date of account opening (after, 19.24% - 29.99% variable APR; balance transfers must be completed within four months of account opening). There is an introductory balance transfer fee of 3% or $5, whichever is greater for transfers completed within the first 4 months of account opening. After that, your fee will be 5% of each transfer (minimum $5).
To qualify for the best balance transfer credit cards, you will need good to excellent credit. A federal credit union is often one accessible option that gives you the benefits of lower interest while you work on raising your credit score.
To determine which credit cards offer the best balance transfer deals, Select analyzed 101 of the most popular credit cards that offer no interest on balance transfers issued by the biggest banks, financial companies and credit unions that allow anyone to join.
We compared each card on a range of features, including: annual fee, balance transfer fee, rewards program, introductory and standard APR, welcome bonuses and foreign transaction fees, as well as factors such as required credit and customer reviews when available.
For balance transfer cards, we used a Bankrate calculator to tally the interest rates and fees you could incur if you transferred $6,194, the average balance Americans carry on their credit cards in 2019, according to Experian.
If the average consumer with a $6,194 balance on their credit card pays $200 each month, they will spend $2,012 in additional interest, assuming the average 16.97% APR, according to the Fed. And it will take them 42 months — more than three years — to pay off that debt.
With four of the five cards featured on this list, if you take full advantage of the intro APR period and pay $200 per month, you'll pay less than $500 in interest. That's a significant savings.
For the cards that offered a rewards program, we also estimated how much cash back you might earn over a five year period. Select teamed up with location intelligence firm Esri. The company's data development team provided the most up-to-date and comprehensive consumer spending data based on the 2019 Consumer Expenditure Surveys from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can read more about their methodology here.
Esri's data team created a sample annual budget of approximately $22,126 in retail spending. The budget includes six main categories: groceries ($5,174), gas ($2,218), dining out ($3,675), travel ($2,244), utilities ($4,862) and general purchases ($3,953). General purchases include items such as housekeeping supplies, clothing, personal care products, prescription drugs and vitamins, and other vehicle expenses.
Select used this budget to estimate how much the average consumer would save over the course of a year, two years and five years, assuming they would attempt to maximize their rewards potential by earning all welcome bonuses offered and using the card for all applicable purchases. All rewards total estimations are net the annual fee.
It's important to note the value of a point or mile varies from card to card and based on how you redeem them. When we calculated the estimated returns, we assumed that cardholders are redeeming points/miles for a typical maximum value of 1 cent per point or mile. (Extreme optimizers might be able to achieve more value.)
When choosing the best balance transfer card, we focused on the card that provides consumers with the cheapest way to pay off their debt rather than the number of rewards they could potentially earn. When you're in credit card debt, your primary focus should be repayment. Earning rewards should be seen as a bonus, and you don't want to spend beyond your means in order to earn points.
The five-year rewards total and the interest rate and fees estimates are derived from a budget similar to the average American's spending and debt. You may earn a higher or lower return depending on your spending habits.
Information about the Aspire FCU Platinum Mastercard® has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
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For rates and fees of the Discover it® Balance Transfer, click here.