Best 0% APR and Balance Transfer Rewards Credit Cards?
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Hilary Stockton
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TravelSort reader John writes "Are there any cards with an intro 0% on balance transfers or purchases that you'd recommend?"

Good question--which 0% APR, 0% balance transfer credit card is a question that pops up regularly. As I noted in my Beginner's Guide to Miles & Points, I don't recommend applying for rewards credit cards and seeking to earn miles and points if you currently have credit card balances or carry other high-interest debt, since otherwise the value of the rewards you're earning will be negated (and then some) by the high interest charges you're paying. Also be leary of churning credit cards too soon before applying for a mortgage.

And not only should you always pay off your credit card bill in full every statement; if you really want the best credit score, you should aim for low utilization and pay off any major credit card charges even before your due date, at least on personal credit cards (business credit card utilization is, however, *not* reported on your credit score).

But what if you just need to make a major purchase that you want to get miles or points for and need or want the leeway to pay that off without accruing interest charges? Or what if you're a grad student who will be starting a well-paid job in a few months but in the meantime have some major expenses all in one month?

In the past I would have recommended the Ink Plus, since it used to offer a 6 month 0% APR intro offer, which was also useful for meeting minimum spend on the card--you just had to make your minimum payments, and as long as you paid off your charges in full before the 6 months were up, you didn't incur any interest charges.

Unfortunately, the current Ink Plus card does *not* have this 6 month 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers offer, so I can't recommend it as a 0% APR intro offer credit card. You can, however, get the Ink Cash card, which does offer a 6 month 0% APR intro offer. Just make sure you already have an Ink Bold, Ink Plus or Sapphire Preferred card, so that you can transfer points out to Ultimate Rewards partners such as United MileagePlus and Hyatt Gold Passport.

Instead, this is what I'd recommend:

1. Apply for Your Favorite Rewards Card and the Chase Slate

It's pretty hard to find a great rewards card that also offers a 0% APR on balance transfers with no balance transfer fee. For example, you might think that the US Airways MasterCard, which advertises a 0% APR for balance transfers, is a good bet, but the card actually charges either $10 or 3% of the amount transferred, whichever is greater--no thanks!

Instead, I suggest:

  • Pick the rewards card you really want to earn miles or points on with your major purchase(s) and apply for it. Check out our Best Travel Credit Cards for recommendations.
  • Also apply for the Chase Slate, which offers a 0% introductory Balance Transfer when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days the account is open. 
  • Make your major purchase(s) with your chosen rewards card
  • Transfer the balance from your rewards card to the Chase Slate before your rewards card bill is due and during your first 60 days of being a new Chase Slate cardholder
  • Make the required minimum monthly payments on the Chase Slate, and make sure to pay off the entire balance before the 15 month 0% APR deadline, to avoid interest fees


2. Chase Freedom: New Purchases Only, Fees Apply to Balance Transfers
  • 0% Intro APR for the first 15 months on purchases
  • Don't do a balance transfer, since you'll be charged 3% of the amount transferred
  • Although you don't want to do an actual balance transfer, you can instead use the Freedom's 0% intro APR to your advantage by buying Vanilla Reloads or Prepaid Cards (if you have a Walmart convenient to you) and loading them to your AMEX Bluebird, then using Bluebird to pay off any existing credit card balance you have on another card. Use Bill Pay or AMEX Bluebird Free Check Writing
  • Note that to transfer Freedom points out to Chase Ultimate Rewards partners, you'll also need to carry an Ultimate Rewards linked card, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold or Ink Plus
 
3. Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard
 
  • 0% Intro APR for the first 12 months on purchases
  • Don't do a balance transfer, since you'll be charged an APR of 14.99% or 18.99% depending on your credit
  • Although you don't want to do an actual balance transfer, you can instead use the Barclaycard Arrival MasterCard's 0% intro APR to your advantage by buying Vanilla Reloads or Prepaid Cards (if you have a Walmart convenient to you) and loading them to your AMEX Bluebird, then using Bluebird to pay off any existing credit card balance you have on another card. Use Bill Pay or AMEX Bluebird Free Check Writing
  • Annual fee waived first year; thereafter $89 per year
 
4. Citi Dividend Platinum Select Visa
  • 0% Intro APR for the first 12 months on purchases
  • Don't do a balance transfer, since you'll be charged 3% of the amount transferred
  • $100 cash back after $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • 5% cash back on average with purchases in-store or online at leading retailers through the Citi Bonus Cash Center, a network of over 400 merchants in-store and online
  • No annual fee
 
Do you have a favorite rewards credit card that offers an intro 0% APR for purchases and/or balance transfers?
 
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