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Best credit cards for paying off debt in 2022

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Person holding credit card
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On average, Americans carry $5,525 in credit card debt, according to Experian. Secured debt — including mortgage debt — is typically considered “good debt,” since it’s backed up by an asset that should increase in value over time. Secured debts like mortgages and auto loans also tend to come with competitive interest rates that can make slowly paying these loans off a reasonable choice.

However, credit card debt can be especially problematic, partially due to the exorbitant interest rates credit cards can charge. With that in mind, many consumers look to a specific type of credit card — called a balance transfer credit card — to dig their way out once and for all.

If you’re dealing with debt and need a leg up when it comes to paying it off, a credit card that offers a 0 percent APR for a limited time can help. Keep reading to learn about the best credit cards that help you pay off credit card debt faster and with lower costs.

BankAmericard credit card: Best intro APR offer

  • Rewards rate: None
  • Intro APR on purchases: 0 percent intro APR for 21 billing cycles
  • Intro APR on balance transfers: 0 percent intro APR for 21 billing cycles on balance transfers made in the first 60 days
  • Regular APR: 14.24 percent to 24.24 percent variable
  • Balance transfer fee: 3 percent (min. $10)
  • Welcome bonus: None
  • Annual fee: $0

The BankAmericard® credit card offers one of the longest introductory APR periods on the market on both purchases and balance transfers. Though the card doesn’t feature ongoing rewards or even a welcome bonus, there’s no annual fee or penalty APR, either. You can, though, take advantage of a handful of BankAmericard benefits, including $0 fraud liability, free access to your FICO credit score and the potential to earn rewards through Bank of America’s supplementary BankAmeriDeals program.

Keep in mind, in order to take advantage of the introductory balance transfer APR, you must transfer your balance to the card within your first 60 days of card ownership. Further, a standard 3 percent balance transfer fee (minimum $10) applies.

Citi Double Cash Card: Best for cash back rewards

  • Rewards rate: Unlimited 1 percent cash back as you buy, plus another 1 percent back when you pay for your purchases
  • Intro APR on purchases: None
  • Intro APR on balance transfers: 0 percent intro APR for 18 months
  • Regular APR: 16.24 percent to 26.24 percent variable
  • Balance transfer fee:3 percent intro fee ($5 minimum) for transfers completed within the first four months, then 5 percent ($5 minimum)
  • Welcome bonus: $200 cash back after spending $1,500 on purchases in the first six months of account opening
  • Annual fee: $0

The Citi® Double Cash Card is essentially a 2 percent cash back card with a long intro APR on balance transfers, to boot — and it’s a great cash back card regardless of its intro APR offer. Note, you’ll want to transfer your balance to the card within the first four months, or your balance transfer fee will heighten two percentage points.

The Double Cash also semi-recently added a welcome bonus offer, which requires about $250 in spending per month for six months to earn. Other Citi Double Cash Card benefits include various protections ($0 fraud liability, 24-hour fraud protection, Citi Identity Theft Solutions and Lost Wallet Service) and access to Citi Entertainment.

Citi Simplicity Card: Best for late payment protection

  • Rewards rate: None
  • Intro APR on purchases: 0 percent intro APR for 12 months on purchases from the date of account opening
  • Intro APR on balance transfers: 0 percent intro APR for 21 months on balance transfers made within the first four months
  • Regular APR: 16.99 percent to 26.99 percent variable
  • Balance transfer fee: 5 percent or $5, whichever is greater
  • Welcome bonus: None
  • Annual fee: $0

The Citi Simplicity® Card stands out due to the fact that you won’t be charged a late fee if you make your payment late, and the card also refrains from charging a penalty APR after a late payment. These two features make it a great option for anyone still working on using their card responsibly.

Note, the balance transfer fee is higher than the standard 3 percent charged by most other balance transfer cards, but you will get an exceptionally-long offer on balance transfers. Also, take into account that you’ll need to transfer your balance within the first four months. If you fail to do so, you’ll lose the zero-interest offer and pay a variable APR between 16.99 percent and 26.99 percent.

Other basic Citi Simplicity benefits include liability and identity theft protection as well as account activity alerts.

Wells Fargo Reflect Card: Best for encouraging on-time payments

  • Rewards rate: None
  • Intro APR on purchases: 0 percent intro APR for 18 months from account opening (up to 21 months with on-time minimum payments during the intro period)
  • Intro APR on balance transfers: 0 percent intro APR for 18 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers (up to 21 months with on-time minimum payments during the intro period)
  • Regular APR: 15.99 percent to 27.99 percent variable
  • Balance transfer fee: 3 percent intro balance transfer fee for the first 120 days ($5 minimum), then 5 percent ($5 minimum)
  • Welcome bonus: None
  • Annual fee: $0

With the Wells Fargo Reflect® Card, you can gain an extra three months to pay off your debt or new purchases by using your card responsibly (in other words, by making on-time payments). Additionally, you can take advantage of a lower introductory balance transfer fee when you transfer your balance within the first 120 days.

Like most of the cards on this list, you won’t earn rewards or a first-year welcome bonus, but a few useful Wells Fargo Reflect benefits include Visa Traditional benefits and cellphone protection against damage or theft (when you pay your bill with the Reflect).

U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card*: Honorable mention

  • Rewards rate: None
  • Intro APR on purchases: 0 percent intro APR for 20 billing cycles
  • Intro APR on balance transfers: 0 percent APR for 20 billing cycles (must be within first 60 days)
  • Regular APR: 16.74 percent to 26.74 percent variable
  • Balance transfer fee:3 percent ($5 minimum)
  • Welcome bonus: None
  • Annual fee: $0

The U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card deserves a spot on our list of the best cards for paying off debt thanks to its lengthy offer on both purchases and balance transfers. Further, the balance transfer fee is reasonable, and it comes with benefits like cellphone protection, Visa fraud protection and free credit score access.

How to select the best credit cards for paying off debt

Using a credit card to pay off debt may seem counterproductive, but the 0 percent introductory terms some balance transfer cards offer can make this strategy a smart move. After all, paying off credit cards in full is considerably easier when you don’t have to make interest payments each month, and the savings can be substantial — even after accounting for balance transfer fees.

If you’re considering a card that offers a 0 percent APR for a limited time, these tips can help you find the right one:

  • Decide if you want a 0 percent APR on purchases, balance transfers or both. It’s easy to see that some cards offer an intro APR on only balance transfers, while others include purchases as well. If you want to save money on purchases you make with your card for a limited time, look for an option that offers a 0 percent APR on both.
  • Figure out how long you need to pay off your debt. Compare the length of the introductory offers available, keeping in mind that the longest zero-interest term on the market is 21 months. If you need as much time as possible to pay off your credit card debt, look for the longest offer you can realistically qualify for.
  • Determine if you want to earn rewards. Not all balance transfer cards offer rewards. If you want to earn rewards with a 0 percent APR credit card, you likely can, but you’ll typically wind up with a shorter introductory offer.
  • Compare fee structures. Make sure to compare cards in terms of fees, including annual fees, balance transfer fees and late fees. Also, take note of the ongoing variable APR, and remember any debt leftover will accrue interest at this rate when your introductory period is over.

The bottom line

Paying off debt becomes considerably easier when you get the chance to avoid interest for a year or more. After all, the average credit card interest rate is over 18 percent, and avoiding this added charge each month means that every dollar you pay on your credit card goes directly toward the principal of your balance.

That being said, using a credit card payoff calculator to figure out how long you might need to pay off your debt can be helpful. Also, make sure to compare your picks to our list of the best balance transfer credit cards before you apply, just in case another card piques your interest.

*The information about the U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

Written by
Holly D. Johnson
Author, Award-Winning Writer
Holly Johnson writes expert content on personal finance, credit cards, loyalty and insurance topics. In addition to writing for Bankrate and CreditCards.com, Johnson does ongoing work for clients that include CNN, Forbes Advisor, LendingTree, Time Magazine and more.
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