After three months of inactivity, balance transfer offers have improved for the first time since the first quarter of 2012. While average balance transfer fees held steady at a near post-crisis low of 3%, average 0% APR promotional lengths jumped to a post-crisis high of 13.1 months. This is a decent 4% improvement from the Q2 average of 12.68 months and is a result of improvements on US Bank balance transfer promotions introduced into online marketing channels.
Above Average 0% Offers
With the recent improvements to US Bank offers, just about every major bank is offering at least one above average 0% credit card. The lone exception remains Wells Fargo, as they continue to offer paltry 6 month balance transfer promotions online.
As has been the case throughout most of 2012, Chase continues to offer a stellar 0% APR no fee balance transfer with a 15 month 0% duration via the Chase Slate credit card. This is the only major credit card that offers a 0% rate and waives balance transfer fees. And, with a 15 month intro period, it is only three months shorter than the longest offers.
The Longest Balance Transfer Offers
While Chase Slate offers the only no fee card on the market, Citibank and Discover do offer cards with slightly longer introductory periods. Citibank’s Diamond Preferred and Simplicity cards provide 18 month 0% balance transfer promotions that carry low 3% fees. The 0% rate on these cards applies to both purchases and balance transfers.
Discover also offers a card with an 18 month balance transfer duration. However, unlike the Citi cards, it only offers a 0% rate for 6 months on purchases.
Other cards that exceed the 13.1 month SBT average include the Discover More Card – 15 months on purchases and balance transfers – and the Chase Freedom card, which offers the same intro period as Discover as well as a $100 cash back bonus to new applicants.
Given the generally accepted position that the Federal Reserve will continue to hold rates close to zero for the foreseeable future, it seems unlikely that balance transfer promotions will fall off significantly in the near future. Nevertheless, should the economy continue to falter, banks may pull back on the longest balance transfer offers or, in what would be worse for consumers, tighten approval criteria and thus make it more difficult for cardholders to get approved for new cards, sticking them with high interest credit card debt.
For more information on current offers, please see our ranking of 2012’s best balance transfer offers here.