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Looking to pay off your credit card debt but have fair credit? Here's the best card for you

Most balance transfer cards require good or excellent credit to qualify, but one credit union card stands out for people with fair credit.

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If you're looking to pay off your credit card debt, you may have thought about applying for a balance transfer card.

CNBC Select has ranked the best balance transfer credit cards, and while most require good or excellent credit (scores 670 and above), there's one credit union card that stands out for people with fair credit.

Below, we take a look at the Navy Federal Credit Union Platinum Credit Card and unpack why it is the best choice for people with fair credit who want to do a balance transfer. But first, we look at exactly how balance transfers work and how you can even qualify for this credit union credit card.

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How do balance transfer cards work?

Balance transfer cards give you a promotional interest-free period (anywhere from six months to 21 months) to pay off your credit card debt. Transferring your debt from your current credit card to a balance transfer card lets you apply your payments directly to your balance — and not to expensive interest fees. 

If used responsibly, these cards are an effective way to pay down your debt faster. Of course, this works best when you pay off your balance before the introductory 0% APR period ends, so you don't end up accruing interest on the new balance you transferred over.

Most balance transfer cards usually require a 2% to 5% fee (or a $5 minimum) for each transfer, but there are some balance transfer cards with no fee

You can transfer balances at any time, but the introductory 0% APR period begins when you open the account and generally lasts for six months. For this reason, it's in your best interest to complete a transfer sooner rather than later to maximize the 0% APR offer.

Does your credit score affect which balance transfer cards you can qualify for?

Your credit score plays a big role in whether or not you qualify for a balance transfer card since many issuers want to see that you have good credit before granting you more time to pay off your debt, and at no interest.

If you do qualify for a balance transfer card, your credit score will then help determine the amount of debt that you can transfer. It will either be a percentage of your total credit limit or a set dollar amount. While each credit application is different, generally speaking, a good credit score qualifies you for more credit and higher balance transfer limits. 

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Why the Navy Federal Credit Union Platinum Credit Card is the best choice for people with fair credit to pay off their debt

The Navy Federal Credit Union Platinum Credit Card is a balance transfer card where applicants with fair credit have a better chance of qualifying. Even though its promotional interest rate is just 0.99% (as opposed to 0%), if you're struggling with high-interest debt these 12 months of savings could help you get ahead. And if you aren't able to pay your balance off in full before the introductory APR period ends, the variable interest rate is relatively low, at 8.99% to 18.00%. 

Unlike many balance transfer cards, this one does not charge a balance transfer fee (typically 3%), giving you another opportunity to save. Additionally, there is no annual fee for the Navy Federal Credit Union Platinum Credit Card and no foreign transaction fee.

Before applying, note that this is a credit union card. Membership to the Navy Federal Credit Union is required. However, in addition to current and retired members of the armed forces, Navy Federal Credit Union membership is also available to their families and household members and Department of Defense civilian personnel.

By becoming a member, you'll also gain access to a slew of other valuable financial products that can save you money, such as Navy Federal Credit Union personal loans and Navy Federal Credit Union VA loans.

Navy Federal Credit Union Platinum Credit Card

Information about the Navy Federal Credit Union Platinum Credit Card has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    None

  • Welcome bonus

    None

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0.99% intro APR on the balance transfer for 12 months from account opening; Expires on Jan. 02, 2023

  • Regular APR

    8.99% to 18.00% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    None

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Good/Fair

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Applicants with fair to good credit may qualify, which is more lenient than most balance transfer cards

Cons

  • Intro APR period is not 0%
  • Credit union membership is required (must have military affiliation)
  • No welcome bonus
  • No rewards program

Bottom line

While many balance transfer cards require good or excellent credit, there still are options for those with less than stellar credit, such as the Navy Federal Credit Union Platinum Credit Card. If you aren't eligible for the card, you might want to consider using a personal loan for debt consolidation. Getting a personal loan can be easier than a credit card and typically offers a lower fixed-rate APR.

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Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
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