September of 2012 saw another month of consistently valuable balance transfer offers. In this case, as in recent months, there has been no significant shift in the average length of promotional balance transfer offers or the average balance transfer fee.
The Current State of the Market
It appears as if banks have reached an equilibrium that has produced 0% APR balance transfer offers with an average duration of just over 13 months, according to the SBT index. Furthermore, the SBT index still shows that the average balance transfer fee remains at 3% of the amount transferred.
Leading Credit Card Offers
Earlier this year, Discover had a limited time offer for a no fee, 0% APR balance transfer product. Since it is no longer available, Chase Slate continues to be the only no-fee, 0% APR balance transfer card on the market. This product offers a 15 month 0% APR on both balance transfers and new purchases. Nearly all other products have maintained a 3% fee, with the exception of Bank of America which charges 4%. This makes Chase Slate the best balance transfer offer for most consumers.
When it comes to duration of promotional financing, Citi continues to lead the way with multiple products featuring 18 months of interest free financing on both balance transfers and new purchases. These products include their Diamond Preferred and Simplicity MasterCards.
In addition, there are also a handful of reward card products that also feature promotional balance transfer offers. For example, the Chase Freedom card offers a 0% APR for 15 months on balance transfers and new purchases while returning 1% cash back on most purchases and 5% cash back on spending at bonus categories of merchants that change each quarter.
The Citi Dividend Platinum Select card offers 12 months of interest free financing on both new purchases and balance transfers and a 5x bonus on purchases from certain categories of merchants. Both the Citi Dividend and Chase Freedom cards feature $100 in cash back after making $500 in purchases within three months of opening an account. Both cards have no annual fee but do charge a 3% balance transfer fee. For those with smaller amounts that need to be transferred, these products can make more sense than the no-fee Slate offer.
This type of market complacency remains a win for credit card users who are growing accustomed to the persistence and abundance of these offers. At the same time, banks might begin to vary there terms as we go into the fourth quarter in order to remain competitive. But the continued stability of this market only points toward the consistent profitability that these offers represent for the banks as well as the savings delivered to cardholders.
For additional information, please see our rankings of 2012’s best balance transfer offers here.