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If You Have to Carry a Credit Card Balance...

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Published: June 17, 2014

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Last time, we were talking about paying off your credit card balances with a 0% APR credit card. It is ideal not to carry a credit card balance. By borrowing money from a credit card and not repaying it within the grace period, you are paying a whopping 13%, 15%, sometimes even 20% or more compound interest. That is a huge number!

However, while credit card balance is evil, we have all been there. Sometimes, the amount of debt you owe is not easy to repay quickly. Other times, you might be forced to use credit cards in order to make ends meet during the times of financial hardship. If one of these situations describes where you are standing right now, do yourself a huge favor and forget rewards, cashback, miles, and points. Just forget that stuff until you find yourself in a position to pay your credit card balance in full monthly, without fail.

Here is what you could do if you have to carry a balance.

First, call all your high APR credit cards and ask them for APR reduction. Be polite and professional. If you aren't someone who is always late, they might give it to you just for the asking. They might offer you a choice, say, 3% APR for six months, or 6% APR for 12 months. Take the lowest APR, because you are still going to dump these cards later on.

Second, try to get Chase Slate and/or other 0% APR credit cards I mentioned in the previous post and transfer as much balance as you can over there. Even with 3% balance transfer fee (Chase Slate does not have the transfer fee), it is absolutely worth it.

Then, use one or more of the following low APR credit cards for the remainder of balance transfer and your everyday life.

Penfed Promise Visa Card

The Penfed Promise credit card offers you 7.49% APR for the first three years (9.99% thereafter). According to their website, there are also some nice benefits (listed below) including "no late fee" and no balance transfer fee. Please note that Penfed is a credit union, but you can join by joining one of the organizations they are associated with, like Voices for American Troops.

Features according to Penfed website (quote):
  • Absolutely no fees
  • No penalty APR
  • 7.49% introductory purchase APR for 36 months. After that, your APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate, and is currently 9.99%.
  • 4.99% APR promotional balance transfer rate for 48 Months on transfers made from April 01, 2014 through June 30, 2014 with no balance transfer fee. After that, the APR for any new balance transfers will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate, and is currently 9.99%.
What does "absolutely no fee" means? It means everything you like.
  • No annual fee
  • No late fee
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • No balance transfer fee
  • No cash advance fee
  • No over credit limit fee
You may notice the 4.99% APR and 3% transfer balance fee. True, that doesn't sound as catchy as 0% APR, but you're getting this rate for four years. If you have a considerable amount of credit card debt, this is a gift!

Simmons First Visa Platinum

The Simmons First Visa Platinum card offers a fantastic 7.25% APR, which might be the lowest industry APR, and there is no annual fee, as well. That's it, nothing much to add. This is a plain vanilla card, which is perfect if you need to carry your balance for some time before paying it off entirely.

Barclaycard Ring

Barclaycard Ring offers 8% APR with no annual fee. There is a reward Community program, which, to be honest, I haven't looked into. The reason why I haven't looked into the reward program is that this is your get-out-of-debt card, not a reward card. As such, if you do get something back from it, that is fine, but not a priority.

Check these products and see which one works best for you. Good luck!

This is a post by Andy Shuman, a credit and travel expert who blogs at He writes and blogs during and between trips that he enjoys free of charge mostly due to creative use of credit card offers. He believes that credit cards are much more than just a convenient way to pay for a purchase, and that the benefits of responsible credit habits can go far beyond getting the best rates for loans and mortgages.

Andy is the author of bestselling books from Lazy Traveler Handbook Series available on Amazon. When he's not traveling, he lives with his beautiful wife and daughter in Brooklyn, NY.

Questions? Suggestions? Keep them coming!

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