The best balance transfer cards have zero percent introductory rates. This allows you to move existing credit card debt to a new card and pay it off over time without the worry of added interest charges. Paying less interest means that more of your payments go towards paying off the principal balance.
Balance transfer credit cards are a helpful tool but are usually limited to individuals with good to excellent credit. There are plenty of solid credit cards for those with fair credit, but options are limited when it comes to balance transfer cards. Keep reading to learn more about the best balance transfer cards for fair credit, factors to consider when choosing a card, and tips to improve your credit.
Best Balance Transfer Cards for Fair Credit
The easiest balance transfer card to get depends on your credit score. Most balance transfer credit cards require good to excellent credit to qualify. Options are few and far between if you have fair credit, but they do exist. Here's a look at the best balance transfer cards for fair credit.
Navy Federal Credit Union Platinum Credit Card
The Navy Federal Credit Union Platinum Credit Card comes with an intro 0% APR offer of 12 months on balance transfers. After the introductory period ends, the card carries an ongoing variable APR of 5.99% to 18%, based on creditworthiness. Also, unlike many balance transfer cards, you don't pay balance transfer fees with the Navy Federal card.
There's a lot to like about Navy Federal's balance transfer card, including no annual fee, rental car collision damage waiver, cell phone protection, and travel and emergency assistance.
The card only requires fair credit to qualify. Keep in mind that you must be a Navy Federal Credit Union member to apply for the card. Membership is limited to current and past armed forces servicemembers, their family members, and select other individuals.
Keypoint Credit Union Visa Classic Credit Card
The Keypoint Credit Union Visa Classic Credit Card is another balance transfer card for individuals with fair credit. The card comes with 0% intro APR for 16 months on eligible balance transfers.
There is no annual fee on the Keypoint Classic card, but it charges 2% fees on all balance transfers. The ongoing APR, following the introductory period, is 15.99% 17.99%, based on creditworthiness.
You must be a Keypoint Credit Union member to be approved for the Classic credit card. Membership is limited to individuals who work at eligible member companies, family members, and those who live, work, attend a school or religious institution in select California Bay Area communities.
TDECU Classic Mastercard
The TDECU Classic Mastercard offers 0% intro APR for 12 months on balance transfers. The card has no annual fee and ongoing APR ranging from 7.99% to 17.99%, based on creditworthiness.
TDECU is the largest credit union in Houston, Texas. Membership is open to individuals who work and live in the Greater Houston, Victoria, Dallas-Fort Worth, and the Gulf Coast areas. The TDECU Classic Mastercard is only available for credit union members.
Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students
This Bank of America card is designed specifically for college students but offers an extended introductory APR offer. Cardholders receive 0% intro APR on balance transfers and new purchases for 15 statement periods. The card also has no annual fee and comes with a $200 cash bonus offer after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days from card opening.
After the introductory period, the ongoing variable APR is 13.99% to 23.99%, based on creditworthiness. Also, there is a 3% balance transfer fee with this BOA card ($10 minimum).
The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students also earns cash back rewards. You can choose one spending category (choices include gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings) to earn 3% cash back. Grocery store and wholesale club purchases net 2% cash back, and other purchases earn 1% cash back.
Wells Fargo Cash Back College Visa® Card
Another student credit card, the Wells Fargo Cash Back College Visa Card comes with 0% intro APR on balance transfers and new purchases for six months from account opening. The ongoing variable APR is 11.15% to 21.15%, based on creditworthiness, after the introductory period ends.
Like the other cards on this list, the Wells Fargo Cash Back College Visa Card carries no annual fee. Balance transfer fees on the card during the intro period are $5 or 3% of the balance transfer amount, whichever is greater.
The Wells Fargo card earns 3% cash back on the first $2,500 spent on gas, grocery, and drugstore purchases during the first six months and 1% cash back on other purchases. It also
comes with extra perks like cell phone protection and free access to your credit score.
What to Look for When Choosing a Balance Transfer Credit Card
Not all balance transfer cards are created equal. The best balance transfer cards typically offer more than just no interest for an extended period. Here are factors to consider when choosing a balance transfer credit card.
Credit requirements: If you have fair credit, a balance transfer card's credit requirement should be the first thing you look at. Since you won't qualify for most balance transfer cards, you need to keep your eyes open specifically for credit cards for fair credit.
Intro offer: Compare intro offer lengths to find one that will allow you to pay off your card balance before it ends. Intro APR offers vary in length, ranging from six months to as long as 24 months.
Balance transfer fees: Many balance transfer cards charge a transfer fee between 3% and 5%, but some cards waive fees. High balance transfer fees could mean paying more than you would have paid in interest charges on the original card.
Credit limit: You may or may not know what kind of credit limits are available before applying for a card, but it's an important factor to consider. If the balance you want to transfer is larger than your credit limit, you won't be able to move your entire balance over to the new card.
Do Balance Transfers Hurt Your Credit Score?
Balance transfers themselves don't help or hurt your credit score. A balance transfer just moves the existing balance over to a new card. You can save money through a balance transfer, but it has no bearing on your credit score.
When you apply for a new credit card, the credit card company performs a hard credit inquiry that could temporarily lower your credit score. So, if you apply for a balance transfer card to move over existing debt, your application will trigger a credit check. The balance transfer itself, though, doesn't affect your credit.
You can also use a balance transfer to improve your credit score. Making on-time payments will help your cause. So will paying off your debt, which lowers your credit utilization ratio, one of the primary factors that affect your credit score.
How to Improve Your Credit
Credit card companies and other lenders use credit scores as a benchmark when approving credit and loan applications. Improving your credit score can open the door to new opportunities like card approvals, lower interest rates, and higher credit lines. Here are some things you can start doing today to improve your credit.
Pay Your Bills on Time
Payment history makes up 35% of your FICO credit score. Try to keep a clean record by always paying your bills on time. One way to ensure your payments are always on time is to set up automatic monthly payments on your accounts.
Reduce Your Debt
The amount of debt you have in relation to available credit also plays a significant role in determining credit scores. Work to pay down your debt, including from credit cards, to give your credit a boost.
Limit Credit Inquiries
Most large purchases, like a car or house, require a hard credit inquiry. The same goes if you apply for a loan or a credit card. Your credit score drops a few points each time someone performs a hard credit inquiry, so try to limit any new inquiries while improving your credit.
Get a Copy of Your Credit Reports
Having inaccurate information on your credit report can hurt your credit. You can get free credit reports from all three credit bureaus each year at AnnualCreditReport.com. Review your credit reports for any mistakes or missing information that could be hurting your credit. If you find any errors, contact your lender or credit bureau to dispute them.
The best balance transfer credit cards are reserved for individuals with good credit or better, but there are still a few cards available for those with fair credit. Do the math to see if a balance transfer makes the best sense for your situation and whether the attached fees are worth paying to save money on interest.
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