Now that New Year’s resolutions have been made and holiday credit card bills have started to arrive, many consumers will be searching for ways to save money in 2012. Taking advantage of 0% balance transfer credit card offers is one of the easiest and most effective ways to get a handle on credit card debt and prevent interest charges from piling up.
Fortunately, credit card companies are eager for new card-holders and many have rolled out special balance transfer offers this January. These offers range from short term, no fee balance transfer promotions lasting 12 months to long, low fee offers lasting up to 21 months.
Noteworthy 0% Balance Transfer Offers
January is a rare month in the balance transfer universe, as consumers are faced with two types of very good balance transfer options. The first option is the no fee balance transfer. Both Discover and Chase are offering fee free transfers that can save consumers 3% of every dollar transferred ($30 for every $1,000 transferred). However, these offers don’t last as long as many others on the market.
With the Chase Slate card, consumers can get a 0% APR no fee balance transfer for 6 or 12 months (based on a credit review). With the Discover no fee balance transfer offer, all approved applicants get a 0% APR for 12 months. This straightforward element makes it a stronger option for consumers who want to avoid fees and feel confident they can repay outstanding balances within a one year time frame.
Consumers unsure of the amount of time needed to payoff credit card debt are likely better off passing on short term no fee balance transfers and sticking with the longest 0% APR balance transfer offers. At present, Citi leads the pack here with the Citi Platinum card, which offers a 0% APR on balance transfers (and purchases) for an industry leading 21 months.
Apart from Citi, another pair of Discover balance transfer offers last either 15 or 18 months, rounding out the best long term balance transfer options available.
Average 0% Balance Transfer Durations and Fees
Even with standout credit cards that charge no fees or offer 21 month 0% periods, the average length of 0% balance transfer offers surveyed is only slightly above 12 months (12.2 months) a slight decline from the December 2011 average of 12.34 months. Due to the presence of two no fee balance transfer offers, average balance transfer fees have fallen to a multi-year low of 3.05%. This marks a 10% decrease from January of 2011.
The Direction of Balance Transfer Offers
If 2012 plays out similarly to 2011, the quality of balance transfer offers should deteriorate after the first few months of 2012. Typically, credit card companies offer up the best 0% deals early in the year then gradually pull back as consumer interest in 0% APR credit cards fades. Typically, no fee balance transfer offers are the first to go, followed by a reduction in the length of the longest 0% offers.