Earlier this week, Citibank did something I never imagined would occur. They increased the length of the 0% balance transfer offer on the Citi Platinum Select credit card to 21 months AND dropped the balance transfer fee on this offer to 3% from 5%. Having spent the last six years of my life analyzing credit card offers, I can say without question this is truly the best 0% balance transfer offer EVER!
From the start of the credit crunch until late 2009, most credit card companies were busy increasing interest rates. Balance transfer offers that once lasted 12 to 15 months were reduced to 6 months while balance transfer fees, which were once zero, gradually increased from three to four to five percent.
During 2010, some credit card companies reversed part of this trend as 0% balance transfer offers were increased from six to twelve and then to a recent high of 18 months. However, high balance transfer fees accompanied these longer durations. Until now.
I am not entirely sure why Citibank has suddenly become the most generous credit card company. However, I am pretty sure this particular deal will not last very long. As someone who has seen credit card companies behaving badly, I am of the impression that Citi may be trying to stir up buzz on the offer. Then, in a month or two, I think they may increase the balance transfer fee to a more sensible four or five percent. Until this happens, now is the time transfer every high interest credit card balance you have.
Just how much you can save with this offer will vary based on how much more than the minimum you pay every month. I used a balance transfer calculator to figure out how much someone with $5,000 in credit card debt with a 14% interest rate could save during the 21 month balance transfer period. The result was a mind boggling $1200. And that’s the savings after fees. Of course, savings will be less if you repay your balance quickly, but for those of us struggling to pay down credit card debt, it is hard to justify not taking this opportunity to save money on interest.