March continues to be a good month for consumers seeking long term 0% balance transfer offers, as a number of credit cards have increased the duration of 0% APR deals. However, due to the expiration of a limited time no fee balance transfer offer from Discover, average balance transfer fees increased slightly this month. Despite this increase, consumers have a wide range of balance transfer offers with reasonable fees to choose from, including a number of unusually long offers.
The Longest Balance Transfer Offers in March
Although Discover’s 24 month 0% APR balance transfer card was slated to end on February 28th, Discover opted to continue this offer due to high consumer demand. The 24 month Discover More Card offer is 6 months longer than its closest rivals, a trio of Citibank balance transfer cards which offer 0% rates for 18 months. The key difference between Discover’s 24 month offer and Citi’s 18 month offers can be found in the fine print. Discover is currently charging a 5% balance transfer fee, while Citi charges a 3% balance transfer fee.
Consumers debating between the Discover and Citi offers will need to carefully consider these fees in order to ascertain which deal is best for them. With the Discover Card, a $1,000 balance transfer racks up $50 in transfer fees. With the Citibank cards, the same transfer costs $30. Thus, consumers who can repay the bulk of their outstanding debt in 18 months or less will save more by opting for the shorter, 18 month balance transfer and paying a smaller fee.
For complete details on these offers, please see the 0% APR balance transfer section of SmartBalanceTransfers.com or our report on March’s Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards where you can learn more and apply online.
Average Balance Transfer Offers in March
The average length of 0% APR balance transfer credit cards surveyed in March is 11.64 months, a very slight .04% increase over January and February of 2011. Two factors influenced this increase. First, Citibank extended the introductory rates on two versions of its Citi Dividend Card, one of which includes a $100 cash back bonus for new applicants. The second factor was the elimination of two balance transfer cards with below average introductory rates that had been offered at www.bankofamerica.com.
Average balance transfer fees increased in March as well, though not substantially, from 3.36% to 3,47%. A key factor here was the termination of Discover’s no fee balance transfer offer, which had helped bring the average down in January and February.
Apart from Discover’s 24 month balance transfer offer and the trio of 18 month balance transfer offers available from Citibank, Chase and Capital One are the only other companies offering above average balance transfer offers. Chase, via the Chase Slate Card, offers a 0% APR for up to 18 months on balance transfers. This, however, is a bit of a complicated deal, as some applicants may be approved, but only offered a 0% APR for 6 months. Applicants do not learn the length of their introductory rate until after they have submitted applications. Capital One also has a balance transfer deal that lasts approximately 15 months – until May of 2012- which is available on their Platinum Prestige Card.
March is another good month for consumers seeking balance transfers, though not as good as February or January due to the absence of a 0% APR no fee balance transfer credit card. Unfortunately, it appears as if Discover’s no fee offer was simply a marketing test, and those who were not lucky enough to be guinea pigs likely will not have an opportunity to take advantage of a similar offer in the near future.
Nevertheless, a good number of credit card companies continue to offer historically long 0% introductory periods. Thus, even though paying a balance transfer fee is once again a necessity, the extra months provided by these 18 and 24 month deals more than make up for this upfront cost.
For additional information on current offers and to apply for a money saving balance transfer, please visit the balance transfer comparison section of our website here.