If you are like most consumers, you are trying to pay off a balance on a credit card or two. Given the high interest rates on credit cards, that's often hard to do.
By transferring a balance from a high interest credit card to one that has no interest charges, the payoff can occur much faster. There are several credit cards that are specifically designed for balance transfers, giving the cardholder a few months of 0% interest.
Lately, these introductory periods have gotten longer, so if you are not taking advantage of them, you're leaving money on the table.
How much can you save? Let's do an experiment to find out.
Let's suppose you have a $10,000 balance on a credit card that charges 15.9% interest. You have found $500 a month in your budget to apply to paying off the balance, so how many months will it take?
Using a credit card payment calculator at Bankrate.com, we discover that it will take two years – 24 months.
But suppose you were able to roll the entire $10,000 over to a credit card with 0% interest. Making the same $500 a month payment, you would pay off the balance in 20 months – four months sooner, saving $2,000 in interest payments.
But is any credit card going to give you 20 months of 0% interest? We know of two that will.
The Citi Simplicity card offers a 0% rate on balance transfers for 21 months, meaning you would pay no interest during our hypothetical payoff period. Other perks of the Citi card include no late fees, no penalty rate, and no annual fee.
With just about any balance transfer card, there will be a fee involved in moving a balance from one card to another, which will cut into your interest savings. The Citi Simplicity card charges $5 or 3% of the transferred balance, whichever is greater.
In our experiment, that would amount to a fee of $300, meaning the total savings from the transfer would be $1,700.
Citi Diamond Preferred
The Citi Diamond Preferred card also has a 21-month 0% interest on balance transfers. Like the Simplicity card, it has no annual fee and charges the same balance transfer rate – $5 or 3% of the transferred balance.
Cardmembers also get 24/7 access to personalized concierge service, providing help in booking hotels and flights and finding entertainment.
Both cards are good options for saving on interest costs while paying off debt. However, you'll need a pretty good credit score to get either one.
If you want to avoid a balance transfer fee, the Chase Slate is the card for you. The 0% interest introductory period is a little shorter – 15 months instead of 21 – but there is no fee to move the balance. Credit score requirements are also a bit less than for the two Citi cards.