If new debt from the pandemic has you stressed about the future, you’re not alone. A September 2021 poll from Bankrate showed that well over a third (42 percent) of consumers with credit card debt added to their revolving balances during the pandemic.
Nearly half of those respondents (47 percent) said their new debts were directly related to the pandemic. Regardless of the source of your debt, when you’re facing ballooning credit card bills, what matters most is what you do next and whether you can get a handle on monthly payments before the problem gets any worse.
Here’s the good news: Though major credit card issuers—including American Express and Chase—dropped their balance transfer offers in a hurry when the pandemic began, many of the best offers are back in full force. This means indebted consumers can transfer balances and consolidate debt at 0 percent APR for a limited time, a move that can help them avoid interest while paying down debt faster.
If you’re currently struggling with credit card debt and looking for a way out, these offers can give you a leg up on the debt repayment process. Find out which balance transfer credit cards have reintroduced their money-saving offers and what you should look for in a card before you sign up.
Balance transfer cards for dropping pandemic debt
This isn’t a complete list, yet the cards below currently have 0 percent APR offers for balance transfers (and purchases, in some cases):
|Balance transfer card||Introductory APR||Rewards rate||Annual fee|
|Discover it® Balance Transfer||0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months, followed by a variable APR of 11.99% to 22.99%
Also, get an intro 0% APR on purchases for 6 months from account opening
|Earn 5% back after activation on up to $1,500 spent in quarterly bonus categories, then 1% back (up to $1,500 in quarterly purchases, then 1%)
Earn 1% back on other purchases
|Citi Simplicity® Card||0% intro APR on balance transfers for 21 months, followed by a variable APR of 14.74% to 24.74%
Also, get an intro 0% APR on purchases for 12 months from account opening
|Citi® Double Cash Card||0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months, followed by a variable APR of 13.99% to 23.99%||Earn 2% cash back for each dollar you spend—1% when a purchase is made and another 1% when you pay it off||$0|
|Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card||0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, followed by a variable APR of 14.99% to 24.99%||Earn 2% cash back for each dollar you spend||$0|
|U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card||0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 20 billing cycles, followed by a variable APR of 14.49% to 24.49%||N/A||$0|
|Bank Americard® Credit Card||0% intro APR for purchases and balance transfers (initiated within the first 60 days) for 18 billing cycles, followed by a variable APR of 12.99% to 22.99%||N/A||$0|
Saving money with a balance transfer is pretty straightforward, but you can save more if you run the numbers ahead of time and pick the best card. While your savings will depend on how much debt you have, your current interest rates and other factors, the example below can give you an idea.
Imagine you have $9,500 in credit card debt at a 22 percent APR, and you currently pay $425 per month. With this rate and amount of debt, your current trajectory requires you to make 30 more months of payments. You would also fork over $2,836 in interest over that time period.
Now, imagine you found a balance transfer credit card that gives you an introductory 0 percent APR for 20 billing cycles in exchange for a 3 percent balance transfer fee. By transferring all your debt to this card, you would start the debt repayment process off with a balance of $9,785 (your original balance plus the 3 percent fee).
If you were able to bump your monthly payment up to $489 per month, you could become entirely debt-free within 20 billing cycles without paying a dime in interest. At the same $425 monthly payment, however, it would take you a little over 23 months to pay off your debt, and you would pay interest on the small remaining balance for the last three months of the process.
Either way, your savings could add up to thousands of dollars with a balance transfer card. If you’re curious how much you might be able to save considering your debts and interest rates, try out Bankrate’s balance transfer calculator.
How to pick a balance transfer card
Balance transfer credit cards all work differently, with some offering rewards and others focusing on helping consumers out of debt. You’ll also notice that some balance transfer credit cards extend an intro 0 percent APR to purchases—a perk that can be useful if you have a large purchase coming up and want to pay it down over time.
Before you choose a balance transfer card, you need to think about different components that can affect your bottom line. Here are some of the main considerations you’ll want to keep in mind.
- Decide if earning rewards is important to you. Some cards with balance transfer offers also let you earn cash back on purchases, making the card valuable long after the balance transfer period is over. But it’s rare to find a card with both an ultra-long balance transfer offer and rewards, so decide which is most important to you.
- Compare introductory balance transfer offers. Ideally, you’ll pick a credit card that gives you enough time to pay off the high-interest debts you currently have.
- Look for a card with a 3 percent balance transfer fee. There are some balance transfer cards charge a 5 percent balance transfer fee, but the best offers come with a 3 percent fee (with a minimum charge of $5). By choosing a card with a lower balance transfer fee, you can minimize the costs involved in debt consolidation.
- Compare fees and interest rates. While most balance transfer cards come with no annual fee, you should make sure to compare other fees and interest rates charged once your introductory period ends.
- Choose a new card issuer. Most card issuers don’t let you transfer debts from one of their products to another. With that in mind, someone who has credit card debt with Citi would want to do a balance transfer with another issuer, like Chase or Discover.
The bottom line
Balance transfer credit cards are back in full force. The right card for you depends on how much debt you have and how long you need to pay it off. Make sure to compare balance transfer offers based on their cardholder benefits, introductory rates and other features to find the right fit.