Credit card debt can add up fast, especially right after the holiday season. But for anyone looking to tackle their debt in 2021, there are a handful of credit cards that can help you wipe out a big balance without getting dinged with expensive interest charges.
The average credit card APR is 16.28%, but you could be paying even more if you have a less than stellar credit score. These interest charges can hinder your ability to repay debt since any payments you make go toward your principal balance and interest.
But if you move your debt to a balance transfer card that offers no interest for up to 20 months, you can save a large chunk of money and pay off your credit card faster. With an intro 0% APR balance transfer card, any payments you make will go toward your principal balance.
Here’s how you can save money with a balance transfer, some helpful tips for choosing the best balance transfer card and CNBC Select's recommendations for the best balance transfer cards.
A balance transfer card is a great way to temporarily avoid interest charges while you repay debt. If you’re aggressive with your repayment plan, you can manage to save hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Let’s take a scenario where you have a $5,000 balance and pay $200 each month toward that debt. Assuming you have the average 16.28% APR, you’ll pay $1,149 in interest charges, and it will take you 31 months to repay your debt.
But if you transfer your balance to the U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card — which offers a 0% APR for the first 20 billing cycles — and maintain the same $200 monthly payment, you’ll only wind up paying about $193 in interest and fees (that’s $43 in interest and a one-time $150 balance transfer fee). Plus, you’ll be able to pay off your debt in 26 months. After the intro period, a 13.99% to 23.99% variable APR applies, but for our calculations we assumed the average 16.28% APR.
Overall, you’ll save roughly $956 and pay off your debt five months faster if you open a balance transfer card.
While a balance transfer is pretty straightforward, you’ll have to look out for a few things before moving your debt to a new card. Here are some tips that can help you find the right card.
Balance transfer cards come in all shapes and sizes, with some offering rewards and others offering a long intro 0% APR on both balance transfers and new purchases. Here are CNBC Select’s picks for the best balance transfer credit cards.
0% for the first 20 billing cycles on balance transfers and purchases
13.99% to 23.99% variable
3%, minimum $5
2% to 3%
2% cash back: 1% on all purchases and an additional 1% after you pay your credit card bill
No current offer
0% for the first 18 months on balance transfers; N/A for purchases
13.99% - 23.99% variable on purchases and balance transfers
Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
0% for the first 18 months on purchases and balance transfers
14.74% to 24.74% variable
3%, minimum $5
0% for the first 6 billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers
8.15% to 18.00% variable
2%, $5 minimum
See our methodology, terms apply.
Information about the Wings Visa Platinum Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.