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Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards to Pay Off Holiday Debt Interest-Free

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For many, the holidays are not just a time of giving and receiving—they're also a time for overspending. U.S. consumers say they plan to spend more than $1,600 on holiday purchases this year, some of which will go on credit cards.

As you finalize your New Year's resolutions of getting back to the gym or quitting a bad habit, consider adding paying off your holiday debt to that list.

Eliminating debt can be challenging if you carry a balance on a high interest credit card. For every two steps you take forward, it can feel like you're being pushed one step back. If your credit history is in good shape, however, you may be able to qualify for a balance transfer credit card with an introductory interest-free promotion. Getting a card with a 0% annual percentage rate (APR) intro offer of 12 months or more could be what you need to pay off that debt.

Depending on your situation and preferences, one card may work better than another. Compare these five credit cards to determine the right fit for you.

Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

If your current credit card balances are causing you a lot of anxiety, or you want as long as possible to pay them off interest-free, look no further than the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever from our partner. Its 21-month balance transfer promotion is about as long as you can get—that's almost two full years.

Just be sure to request your balance transfer within four months of opening the account. Also, note the a balance transfer fee of 5% of the transfer amount, with a $5 minimum. That fee is on the high end, but it could be worth it for the extra months of 0% interest.

If you also need an introductory 0% APR on purchases, the card offers 12 months. Once that promotion is over, though, both new purchases and unpaid purchase balances will automatically accrue interest until all balances, including your transferred balances, are paid in full. In other words, there's no grace period.

The biggest drawback of the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever is that it doesn't offer rewards. If paying off debt is your top priority, that omission may not matter much. But if you're looking for a new card that you can use after the 0% APR period ends, this one may not be the best option.

Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer

While not the longest 0% APR promotion, the Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer will give you a year and a half to pay off your balance, as long as you request the transfer within four months of getting approved.

The card charges a balance transfer fee of 3% or $5, whichever is greater, but its 2% rewards rate on new purchases (1% back when you make the purchase and another 1% back as you pay it off) can help you recoup that cost over time.

One downside to consider is that the card doesn't offer an introductory 0% APR on new purchases. So if you're looking for interest savings on what you buy, you're out of luck.

Discover it® Balance Transfer

The Discover it® Balance Transfer card offers another one of the longer promotional periods for balance transfers, at 18 months. The card's balance transfer fee starts at 3% but jumps to 5% at the end of the introductory period, which is typically a few months long (but check your terms to be sure).

The card doesn't assess a fee on your first late payment, but there will be a fee of up to $39 after that.

What makes the Discover it® Balance Transfer especially valuable, though, is its rewards program. You'll earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases in different categories each quarter, such as gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, select rideshares and online shopping, and more, up to the quarterly maximum of $1,500 each time you activate. Plus, you'll get unlimited 1% back on all other purchases.

What's more, Discover will match all the cash back you earn during your first year, effectively giving you a 10% rewards rate on bonus categories and a 2% rate on everything else.

Something to consider before applying is that the card's introductory 0% APR promotion on purchases lasts just 6 months. Also, Discover doesn't have wide acceptance internationally. So if you regularly travel abroad, consider bringing a backup card that's a Visa or Mastercard.

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card offers a shorter 0% APR period on balance transfers than others on our list, but it matches it with a 0% APR period on new purchases.

The balance transfer fee is 3% of the transfer amount during the 15-month promotional period, then is waived after that for transferred balances at the purchase APR. If you can manage to qualify for the card's sign-up bonus, it can help make up for the balance transfer fee; if you transfer $5,000 or less, it'll cover the full amount of the fee.

The card offers a flat 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make, making it a solid choice for a card to hold on to after the promotional period ends. Also, you won't pay a foreign transaction fee on purchases made abroad.

Despite its strong overall value proposition, the card may not be a good fit if you're looking for a longer 0% APR promotion to pay off your holiday debt.

Discover it® Secured

Most balance transfer credit cards require that you have good or excellent credit to qualify. If you don't fit that profile, you may not get an introductory 0% APR, but you could still get some relief.

With the Discover it® Secured, you'll get an introductory 10.99% APR on balance transfers for 6 months. That may not be ideal, but it's likely lower than what you're currently paying. Like the Discover it® Balance Transfer card above, this card's balance transfer fee is 3% of the transfer amount for the first few months after account opening, then jumps to 5% after that—review your card terms to see when the higher standard rate kicks in.

The card also offers 2% cash back on the first $1,000 spent at gas stations and restaurants each quarter, plus unlimited 1% back on all other purchases. As with the Discover it® Balance Transfer, the bank will match all the cash back you earn during the first year.

The biggest drawback to the Discover it® Secured is that you'll need to submit a security deposit to open the account—the minimum is $200, and your credit limit will be equal to your deposit amount.

If you have that amount of cash on hand, it may just be better to pay off the portion of debt you'd be transferring to the card anyway. But if you want to also use the card to build credit, it could be worth it. Also, note that you can get your deposit back as early as eight months after you open the account, so you don't necessarily have to wait until you close the account like you do with many other secured credit cards.

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