Best Balance Transfer Offers for Spring 2012

Transferring balances can be a useful way to avoid high interest payments or to consolidate multiple balances into one account.  People with decent credit or better can usually qualify for balance-transfer oriented introductory offers from major credit card companies.  Virtually every company has some sort of deal that gives new card-holders a introductory period where they do not have to pay interest on balance transfers and purchases.  However, some of these deals stand out because of their lengthy 0% APR periods or their lack of balance transfer fees.

Here are the best balance transfer deals currently available.

Discover is known for their 0% introductory rates.  Virtually every qualified applicant gets some sort of 0% period, though this can vary depending on the applicant’s overall credit-worthiness.  In order to qualify for the longest introductory period, individuals must have an excellent credit score.  The Discover® More® Card has a couple of noteworthy 0% introductory options, starting with 18 months of interest-free payments on balance transfers.*  The 18-month deal comes with a 6 month 0% intro period for purchases.*  Another Discover® More® Card offer gives 0% intro APR for 15 months on both balance transfers and purchases.*  This will prove to be a better offer for people who want to use the card for balance transfers, but also plan to spend with it.

Discover’s “premium cards” currently have intros which are as follows: Discover® Motiva Card – 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers*, Escape by Discover® Card – 0% for 6 months on purchases and balance transfers*, Miles by Discover® Card – 0% for 12 months on balance transfers*, and Discover® Open Road Card- 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers.

Citi is Discover’s main competition when it comes to the length of interest-free balance transfer offers.  The Citi Simplicity® Card held the title of longest interest free period when it offered 21 months of 0% APR last year.  This has since fallen back to 18 months, which is still an impressive amount of time.  Citi is competitive with Discover when it comes to balance transfer fees as well.  Both companies have a 3% fee, lower than the industry standard of 5%.  The Citi Simplicity® Card is the most notable balance transfer deal in the company’s portfolio. Additionally, the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card also has some offers for balance transfer deal seekers.  Despite their premium-sounding names, these cards do not have an annual fee, so they are ideal for transferring high interest balances.

Another way that Discover tries to differentiate itself from Citi and its other competition is by offering limited time specials where the 3% balance transfer fee is waived.   These “limited time” offers usually take place early in the year and are worth keeping an eye out for, especially if you have a large balance that you need to transfer.

The best all-around offer, however, does not belong to either Citi or Discover.  The Chase Slate is the king of the balance transfer game for early 2012.  It currently offers a 15 month interest free period for balance transfers.  Not the longest on the market, but – get this – the Slate waives all balance transfer fees, meaning you don’t have to wait for some special deal or shell out $50 or $100 in balance transfer fees.  What’s the catch?  There isn’t really one, because the Slate does not carry an annual fee either.  This makes it the best choice for balance transfers currently on the market.

Keep in mind that, while transferring a balance might save money on interest payments in the long run, almost every offer, save the Slate’s offer, comes with a catch: a one-time balance-transfer fee that can be between 2% and 5% of the total balance transferred.  Companies handle these differently, some capping the fees at $50 and others letting them ride up to $200 before capping them.

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