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- Credit card balance transfer offers have become shorter and more expensive in recent months.
- Just three 21-month 0 percent intro APR cards for balance transfers remain on the market.
- Apply soon if you want to lock in these offers to pay down your debt.
If you need to pay down some high-interest credit card debt and hope to use a 21-month intro APR balance transfer card, your options are quickly shrinking. With Bank of America reducing the BankAmericard® credit card’s* intro offer from 21 months to 18 months, just three credit cards now provide a 21-month balance transfer offer. Here are the cards with a 21-month 0 percent balance transfer APR that are still available.
Cards that offer 21 months of 0% APR for balance transfers
These are the cards with some of the longest intro APR periods for balance transfers currently available.
Citi Simplicity® Card*
As the name suggests, the Citi Simplicity is a feature-lite credit card primarily designed for one purpose: balance transfers. It comes with a 21-month 0 percent intro APR on balance transfers and a more modest 12-month 0 percent intro APR on purchases. It charges a 3 percent balance transfer fee, which is standard for this type of card. After the intro period ends, the ongoing APR is 19.24 percent to 29.99 percent variable. What makes the Simplicity a good choice is its few fees: It doesn’t charge a late fee, annual fee, or impose a penalty APR. But missing a payment can still hurt your credit score.
If you were hoping for rewards, a signup bonus, or other perks, you’ll need to look elsewhere. Once the card’s introductory period is over, there’s little else about the card that will deliver value to your wallet.
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card*
The Citi Diamond Preferred is nearly identical to the Citi Simplicity for all intents and purposes. It offers the same 21-month 0 percent intro APR on balance transfers and 12-month 0 percent intro APR on purchases. The difference between the cards comes down to the balance transfer fee and ongoing APR: You’ll enjoy a slightly lower ongoing APR at 18.24 percent to 28.99 percent variable, but you’ll also pay a more significant balance transfer fee of 5 percent.
This more expensive fee means the Citi Simplicity is the superior choice between the two Citi cards for achieving its primary goal: balance transfers. The lower interest rate on the Diamond Preferred is largely insignificant, as you should avoid carrying a balance on your credit card whenever possible.
Wells Fargo Reflect® Card
The only card on our list not issued by Citi, the Wells Fargo Reflect also offers a 21-month 0 percent intro APR on qualifying balance transfers made within 120 days from account opening. Then the ongoing APR is 18.24 percent, 24.74 percent or 29.99 percent variable. Unfortunately, Wells Fargo recently increased the balance transfer fee from 3 percent to 5 percent (minimum $5), placing Reflect behind Citi Simplicity regarding upfront balance transfer cost.
Where the Reflect pulls ahead, however, is the purchase intro offer: you’ll receive the same 21-month 0 percent intro APR on purchases as you would on balance transfers (then an 18.24 percent, 24.74 percent or 29.99 percent variable APR). This makes the Wells Fargo Reflect one of the most flexible options for saving on interest between the three cards, though it also lacks any ongoing value once the intro period completes.
Which 21-month 0% intro APR card should I get?
All three 21-month intro APR cards on the market have similar features: once your intro period is over, there isn’t much more value to squeeze from the card, and you can safely lock it away in a drawer. However, they have minor differences that can make one better than another depending on what you value.
Citi Simplicity: Best for transferring large balances
The Citi Simplicity is the only 21-month intro APR card with a 3 percent balance transfer fee. Depending on how much money you’re transferring, this can result in significant savings right off the bat.
For example, the average credit card debt in the U.S. is $5,910. If you were to transfer $5,900 to the Citi Simplicity, its 3 percent balance transfer fee would tack on another $177 to your balance, costing a total of $6,077 to pay off. But a card that charges a 5 percent balance transfer fee would add $295 to your balance, totaling $6,195.
Wells Fargo Reflect: Best for also paying off purchases
While paying down debt might be your primary focus, any expensive, unexpected purchases that come up are better served with the Wells Fargo Reflect. If you pay off your balance transfer well before the intro APR period ends, you can use the rest of the intro period to save interest on purchases. The card is especially worth considering if you’re transferring a modest sum, as its 5 percent balance transfer fee can add quite a bit to your payoff amount.
Citi Diamond Preferred: Best for low interest after the intro period
The Diamond Preferred may fall short compared to the Reflect and Simplicity cards. It has more fees than the Simplicity and a shorter intro offer on purchases than the Reflect. Where the Citi Diamond Preferred does shine is its ongoing APR: it’s lower than the other cards’ ongoing rates. If you want a low-interest card when the intro period ends, then the Citi Diamond Preferred is your best bet.
21-month 0% APR card pros and cons
Cards designed solely for balance transfers or avoiding interest on purchases are a boon to cardholders who may carry a balance or want to pay off debt. But here are these cards’ advantages and disadvantages.
- Paying down debt: 21 months to pay off debt is the longest period you’ll find on any card. Having almost two years to pay down a balance can be a boon to many people.
- Large purchases: The best 0 percent APR cards also offer an interest-free period for purchases, so you can finance large expenses over time.
- Credit utilization ratio: When you open a new card, your available credit increases. As long as you don’t make purchases with your new card and focus on paying down debt, your credit utilization ratio will decrease, which may help your credit score.
- Fewer features or rewards: Dedicated balance transfer cards tend to lack the same perks available on a rewards card, such as cash back, a signup bonus or travel-related features.
- Balance transfer fees: Most balance transfer cards charge a fee on your transferred balance, typically between 3 percent and 5 percent of the transferred amount. Depending on how much money you transfer, this can result in a significant extra cost.
- Credit score requirements: Some of the best balance transfer offers require a good credit score (FICO score 670) or better. This is unfortunate, as cardholders with poor financial health are most likely to benefit from a long balance transfer period.
Alternatives to a 21-month 0% intro APR card
Opening a 21-month balance transfer credit card is a great first step to paying down your debt. But if you don’t qualify for one, or your credit limit is too low for your needs, you still have debt repayment options. Here are a few suggestions:
- Debt repayment strategy: Using the debt avalanche or debt snowball methods don’t require opening a new credit card. These strategies build momentum through prioritizing debt by interest rate or amount so you can focus on one account at a time.
- Debt consolidation loans: A debt consolidation loan works similarly to a balance transfer card. It lets you move your separate debts into a single account, simplifying your payments. The biggest advantages debt consolidation loans have over balance transfer cards is you may be able to borrow more money with a loan and you can combine multiple debts under one payment plan and interest rate. The most common type of debt consolidation loan is a personal loan, but home equity loans are another option.
The bottom line
A balance transfer card is one of the best ways of paying down your debt interest-free with minimal hassle, and a 21-month intro period can give you the most wiggle room to make your payments comfortably. Given the recent trends in balance transfer cards shortening their intro periods or raising balance transfer fees, you may want to apply soon if you’ve had your eye on a particular offer.
*The information about the BankAmericard® credit card, Citi Simplicity® Card and Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.