bank rates

Credit Cards Trying To Woo, Wow Again

stack of credit cards up closeIt looks like the credit card companies are getting back into the lending business.

After a long dry spell, a growing number of credit card issuers are trying to entice consumers to borrow again. They’re offering some of the longest 0% introductory periods on both purchases and balance transfers I’ve ever seen.

You’ll probably need good to excellent credit to qualify, but if you do, now is the time to take advantage of these deals.

None of the cards mentioned here have annual fees.

Probably the best deal I’ve seen is on Chase’s Slate card.

Chart showing quarterly Fed survey of senior loan officersYou get 0% on both purchases and balance transfers for 15 months. Not only that, but if you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, there’s no balance transfer fee.

That could save you hundreds of dollars, depending on the size of the balance, not to mention what you’ll save on interest charges.

After that, the balance transfer fee rises to 3%, but that’s still below what most other banks charge.

After the 0% period ends, the APR on Slate rises to 12.99% to 22.99%, depending on your credit history.

Citigroup seems to be the most eager to attract customers. It has several cards with 0% introductory offers of a year or more.

The longest is 18 months on the Citi Diamond Preferred Card. There is a 3% balance transfer fee, but that’s still pretty low compared to most other cards.

After the intro period ends, the APR rises to 11.99% to 21.99%, depending on your creditworthiness.

Citi also is offering 18 months of 0% interest on its Simplicity Card. That card also promises no late fees or penalty APRs if you’re ever late with a payment. There’s a 3% balance transfer fee.

After the intro period ends, the APR rises to 12.99% to 21.99%.

If you’re interested in any of the above cards, you should know that they’re of limited value once the 0% intro period ends. None of them offer rewards on spending.

If you want a card that offers both good spending rewards and a long no-interest period, check out the Citi Dividend Platinum Select Card.

There’s a 0% APR on both purchases and balance transfers for a full year. After that, the APR ranges from 12.99% to 22.99%.

It also has good rewards and a generous introductory bonus.

You earn $100 in cash back after you spend just $500 on the card in the first three months. You also earn 1% back on all of your purchases.

There is a maximum annual limit of $300 in rebates, but you’d have to spend $30,000, or $2,500 a month, before you maxed out the rebates, so that shouldn’t be an issue for most people. You also earn 5% cash back on purchases in revolving categories that change each quarter.

Whenever you take advantage of offers like these, it’s critical that you pay off the balance before the intro period ends, otherwise you’ll get stuck paying interest at the higher rate. Even just one month’s finance charge could hurt. For example, if you’re carrying a $3,000 balance, one month’s interest at 15.99% would total about $40.

If you want a low-rate balance transfer and not have to worry about paying it off within a certain period, Pentagon Federal Credit Union is currently offering a great deal.

You get a 4.99% APR for the life of the balance, no matter how long it takes you to pay it off, plus there’s no balance transfer fee. The offer expires Sept. 30, after which the APR rises to a still low 9.99% and the transfer fee increases to 3%.

PenFed periodically offers great deals like this. Plus, it has some of the most generous rewards cards around.

You don’t have to be a member of the military to join PenFed. You can also join by becoming a member of one of two charities that support the military and their families. There’s a nominal ($15-$20) fee to join either, but it’s well worth it.

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