Best balance transfer credit cards May 2017
Avoid interest when repaying credit card debt and save on annual fees.
Interest-free balance transfer credit cards can be a great way to clear your debt faster without paying additional interest costs. However, some balance transfer credit cards come with annual fees as high as $395 p.a., so it’s important to make sure that the yearly cost of the card doesn’t outweigh the savings you’ll make.
This month, we’ve based our round-up of the best balance transfer credit cards on the products with 0% balance transfer offers with the longest promotional periods and the lowest annual fees. Read on to discover how you can cut down on interest and annual fees with your next credit card.
American Express Essential credit card
If you want to avoid annual fees altogether while repaying your debt, the American Express Essential credit card could be the way to go. This card offers 0% interest on balance transfers for the first 12 months and charges no annual fees for the life of the card. So, not only can you avoid interest while the promotional period is in place, but you can also save on additional yearly costs beyond the promotional period.
This card isn’t entirely cost-free, though. When you transfer your balance, you’ll be charged a one-off 1% balance transfer fee, which is relatively low compared to other balance transfer cards. While you won’t pay interest during the promotional period, you’re still required to make minimum monthly repayments of 2.5% each statement period. Of course, it’s best to pay more than that to ensure that you'll repay the entire debt before the promotional period ends. This is because when the introductory offer finishes, a higher revert rate of 14.99% p.a. will apply to the remaining balance in your account. This is lower than some revert rates though, which can sometimes sit at around 20%.
NAB Low Fee credit card
The NAB Low Fee card comes with a higher annual fee of $30, but it also offers a longer interest-free balance transfer period of 0% interest for 18 months. If you have a larger debt that you can’t clear within 12 months, you might find that the card with the longer balance transfer period and larger annual fee could still offer more savings. Depending on the size of your debt, you could potentially save enough in interest to offset the annual fee to make it worth it.
In addition to the annual fee, other costs include the 3% balance transfer fee and the revert rate of 21.74% p.a. As the revert rate is much higher, you’d benefit from using this card only if you are certain you can pay off your balance in full before the promotional period ends.
Citi Rewards Platinum credit card
The Citi Rewards Platinum credit card has one of the longest 0% balance transfer offers on the market, providing 24 months interest-free. You can cut costs further with the reduced annual fee of $49 for the first year. However, this annual fee reverts to a much higher $149 in the second year. This is important to note if you do intend to use the card for the entire 24-month interest-free period. You should ensure that the savings you’ll make in interest will exceed the combined annual fees to make the card worth it for you.
The higher standard annual fee could be attributed to the fact that this is also a rewards credit card. However, as you shouldn’t be spending and earning reward points while you’re concentrating on repaying your debt, you might find that you can’t justify the annual fee unless the interest savings are significant.
Other costs you can expect from the card include the 1.5% balance transfer fee and the revert rate of 21.74% p.a. once the promotional period ends.
HSBC Low Rate credit card
The HSBC Low Rate credit card is another no-frills option for cardholders who want to keep costs low. It offers a promotional deal of 0% interest on balance transfers for 15 months with a low annual fee of $55 p.a. Again, as long as your interest savings outweigh the cost of the annual fee, this card could be worth the yearly cost.
This card also comes with a one-time 2% balance transfer fee and a revert rate of 21.99% p.a. This is one of the higher revert rates in this round-up, so you’d want to make sure that you can pay more than the minimum repayment of 3% of your balance each statement period to clear your debt before the standard interest applies.
Each of these credit cards offers beneficial features for cardholders looking to save on credit card costs while consolidating their debts. However, for a fuller credit card comparison, check out our guide for more interest-free balance transfer options.