0% Interest Cards With the Best Intro Periods in 2013

VISA credit card0% interest credit cards are a bit of a misnomer, since no credit card offers 0% interest forever. That would be cool, huh?

Credit cards billed as 0% interest cards actually refer to the intro periods these cards use as sign-up incentives. The best intro periods are the ones that charge no interest on purchases and balance transfers for a specific period of time.

Obviously, you want to to pay no interest for as long as you can, making the best 0% interest cards the ones with the longest intro periods. These cards are especially useful for consumers hoping to transfer their credit debt from one card with high interest to a new, zero interest credit card.

This is the most popular way to eliminate interest fees without paying back all of your credit at once. However, because some consumers have more credit debt than others (a recent report from the credit bureau TransUnion said that the average borrower owed close to $5,000 in credit debt alone), the best 0 interest credit cards are the ones with the longest introductory periods.

So if you’re hoping to save money on interest fees in the coming year, consider transferring your credit debt to one of the 0% interest credit cards below with the longest intro periods.

  • Discover itâ„¢ Card â“ 18 Month Balance Transfer

No 0% interest balance transfer card on the market today has a longer intro period than 18 months. That said, a full year-and-a-half is a generous amount of time to pay back your credit debt interest-free.

There are only a handful of 18-month intro period credit cards, and the new Discover itâ„¢ – 18 Month Balance Transfer Card is simply one of the best. An upgrade to their popular More ® Card series, Discover itâ„¢ offers cardholders a lucrative rewards program, with 5% cash back opportunities on rotating categories, and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

It’s also especially useful for jet-setters since it charges no foreign transaction fees (as opposed to the usual 3%), and there’s no annual fee and they’ll even waive the fee on the first late payment you make (it’s $35 thereafter).

But this credit card from Discover is most useful thanks to its 0% intro period. If you’re hoping to back credit debt over time, you literally won’t find a better offer than the one afforded by the Discover itâ„¢ â“ 18 Month Balance Transfer Card.

  • Citi Simplicity Card

No credit card with 0% interest for 18 months is better suited for the consumer looking to simplify and consolidate their debt than the Citi Simplicity Card.

Like it’s name, this Citi card makes transferring debt simple; no interest on purchases and balance transfers for 18 months, no annual fees and â“ best of all â“ no late payment fees! OK, you should really avoid late payments since they’ll hurt your credit score, but it’s nice to know your wallet won’t get docked, too.

The only knock on this credit card with no interest is that it doesn’t offer a rewards program. That said, this an easy credit card to monitor in terms of payments and fees, and is one of the very best if your main goal is to alleviate credit debt in 2013.

  • Slate from Chase â“ No Balance Transfer Fee

Finally, the Slate from Chase â“ No Balance Transfer Fee Card is popular because, like its name makes mention of, it’s the only card on the market today that doesn’t charge a fee when you transfer a balance.

The average balance transfer fee is 3% of the total balance you plan on transferring. (That’s also the rate used by the aforementioned 0 interest cards above.) Slate from Chase â“ No Balance Transfer Fee is the only card that offers a balance transfer to its card free of charge. Note that no fee balance transfers are only eligible when made within 60 days of the credit card account opening.

The intro period attached to this card is slightly shorter â“ 15 months â“ but the fact that it waives the standard balance transfer fee make it one of the three best 0% interest credit cards of 2013.

This guest post was written by  Jason Bushey. Jason is a personal finance blogger and the editor of Creditnet.com.

photo by dahlstroms

Avoid the Dangers of Using a Credit Card this Holiday Season

christmas debtMany people fall victim to holiday credit card pitfalls every year due to a lack of knowledge about credit, in addition to failure to adequately prepare for holiday shopping using a credit card.

Should you open a retailer branded credit card?

One of the major pitfalls of holiday credit card usage is that consumers often get convinced by retailers to open a department store branded credit card in order to realize about 10 to 15% savings on purchases at those retailers. While these savings may be tempting, most people don’t realize that the credit cards offered by these retailers generally feature a very high interest rate. If you, as a consumer, plan to carry a balance on this new credit card at all, then you will lose the amount of money that you originally saved by opening the card, and more. In addition to these high interest rates, opening new lines of credit too often in a small period of time has the potential to damage your credit score. As a rule of thumb, respectfully decline when retailers ask you if you want to open a new credit card with them to receive a discount on your purchases.

Set yourself a holiday shopping credit limit

Consumers can avoid putting too many gifts on credit simply by setting themselves their own personal limit, and keeping track of what they buy. For example, a consumer could set a personal limit of $500 to spend on credit during this holiday season, and when they reach that limit, they have to stop putting purchases on their credit card and instead start paying in cash. While its always tempting to spend a bunch of money to buy your friends and loved ones gifts, they will understand if you simply cannot afford to spend outside of your means. If you’re looking for a good way to monitor your spend, many credit card companies offer free mobile apps that allow you set up alerts that notify you when you’ve reached a certain spend.

How can using a credit card for your holiday shopping benefit you?

Using a credit card for your holiday shopping, however, can definitely benefit cardholders because of the vast amount of rewards that can be gained by putting purchases on your credit card. You should compare rewards credit cards in order to maximize the rewards you will receive based on your spending habits. As long as you know you can afford to pay off your balance without incurring large interest fees, you should put your holiday purchases on your credit card because most credit cards offer some sort of reward for each dollar spent.

photo by paparutzi

How I Paid off $6,000 In Credit Card Debt

credit card debtI didn’t have credit card debt for long. I didn’t suffer for decades. I never had creditors calling me, and I wasn’t in bad enough shape to get turned down for a loan. Yet, I still felt the weight of it every day. That’s the reality of credit card debt. Whether it’s $500 or $50,000, it’s still a nagging feeling, something extra on your to do list, and something that’s quite difficult to improve if you’re not willing to change habits and get in the right mindset.

How It Started

I got my very first credit card at age 22 for one purpose and one purpose only: to buy my husband (then fiance) his wedding ring. I didn’t have the money to buy something so expensive at the time, so I wanted to put it on a zero percent card and pay it over time. Of course, you probably know how it goes. Something that started out innocently enough grew into putting gas on it here or there and then we used it to fund a little bit of our honeymoon, etc. I’m not proud of how it started, but I do like to be honest about it.

When It Got Worse

We were managing our debt well enough and always paid above the minimum. I suppose I always felt that I was trying to get it back to zero, but I never sat down to figure out how much it would take. We both had steady jobs and were never late on a payment. Then, my husband decided to apply to medical school. We spent hundreds in application fees, and then when he got into a Caribbean school, we lost his income.

The Peak

As someone who is a personal finance blogger now, I shake my head knowing exactly what we did wrong. We didn’t track anything we were spending, which is just absolutely amazing to me now, as someone who plugs everything we spend into an excel spread sheet throughout the month. But that’s now, and we’re talking about then. We had good jobs and a comfortable life, but we didn’t have enough in savings, and we certainly didn’t have enough for international plane tickets to send the hubs to school. At the peak, we both maxed out a $3,000 card each.

Chipping Away At It

Before that $6,000 peak, we were actually trying to pay it down. Like I said, I was always aware of our debt, and I often felt the weight of it. I always paid above the minimum, and even managed to knock out a credit card for a TV we owned prior to my husband going back to school. (Yes, I know. Credit card for a tv = bad. My how things have changed.)

18 Months of Work

It wasn’t until 18 months ago that I laser focused my efforts on this challenge. For 18 months straight, I focused heavily on paying it off. I wanted it gone. I wanted it out of my life. We were accruing student debt due to my husband’s medical school tuition, and I didn’t want the credit card debt to get out of hand too. I started working as a freelance writer on the side. It was slow at first, but a year later, I am able to add a considerable amount of extra money to our monthly income. I have used this extra income every month to slowly pay off the debt.


I was hoping for victory by the end of this year, but it came sooner in the form of a promotion at work. That first paycheck was all I needed to finish off the credit card debt once and for all. I’m actually very proud of myself. While my husband certainly contributed to these efforts by not spending needlessly and not complaining about modest meals, I feel as though this is a personal victory too because it showed me how much can be accomplished with good old fashioned hard work. We now have $500 extra dollars a month (an amount I had been paying on our credit card debt for almost 10 months). It’s time to go to the next goal, which is paying down our student loan interest and maybe saving for a vacation. We’re so excited, relieved, and proud to be here saying we’re credit card debt free. If we can do it, we know anyone else can.

Who else is working on their goal of being debt free?

photo by vectorportal

Biblical View on Paying with Cash to Get Out of Debt

cash to get out of debtHow many times do you hear or read that Credit Card A pays X-percent on their rebate program, or Chevyotassan Motors is offering zero percent financing on their 2011 model Q cars? How about 90 days financing as good as cash?❠Or the favorite of all credit offers–buy now and pay NO interest until January 2013?

You can’t blame businesses for trying to grease the wheels of their sales by offering too-good-to-pass-up financing deals. And maybe these packages are even all that they say they are. Does that mean you should jump and buy if they are?

Not if you’re already in debt. In fact your plunge into debt may have started with just such an offer. You get into one easy payment planâ, which is followed by another and still more. Before too long you’re on a debt treadmill that you aren’t sure you can get off of.

Getting into debt is always easier than getting out of it. There are different ways to get out of debt once you have too much of it, but the foundation of it all is changing your financial behaviorâ”and learning to pay with cash. And by cash, I mean debit cards, checks, automatic debits and the Federal Reserve Notes in your wallet that most of us refer to as moneyâ.


Getting out of debt starts with not using credit anymore

Part of the problem with debt is that it’s cumulativeâ”if you’re adding new debt before you’ve paid off old debt, the pile is only getting bigger. The first, best way to get out of debt then is to stop taking on new debt, and the way to do that is to put away your credit cards, ignore the come-on loan offers and pay cash on the barrel.

Cash is the only way to guarantee that you’re living within your means. People get caught up in favorable terms, like low interest rates or zero interest rates or no payments for six monthsâ, ignoring the basic fact that even if you have no interest to pay, you still have a debt to be serviced. Worse, you’re still paying with money you don’t have.


Use of debt is a form of voluntary bondageâ”at first

The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.ââ”Proverbs 22:7

Slave is a heavy word, and in a world that’s been running on easy credit for several generations, it isn’t one we normally associate with borrowing. Yet if you’re in debt to anyone, you have entered into an arrangement that approaches slavery on some level. For example, you are legally bound to pay the loan according to the terms of the loan agreement, which is to say that you’ve given at least partial control of your incomeâ”and even you’re assetsâ”to the lender.

No matter what soft or emotionally comforting labels you may place on your debt, your freedom of action will be limited by the loan. If you have several loans, the servitude will be even greater. Bankruptcy and foreclosure occur when lenders have control over more of your resources than you do.

Even if your debt situation doesn’t require bankruptcy or foreclosure, it will still restrict your life. You may not be able to change jobs, do mission work or make a geographic move because of your debt obligations.

You’ll free yourself of those limits when you come to equate cash with freedom, and debt with bondage.


Debt says I can❠when reality screams I can’t!â

Credit has become something like a financial drive-through window; its purpose for existing is mostly to keep the economy running. Don’t have any money? No problemâ”drive up to the credit window, get a loan, then pick up you’re merchandise at the front desk.

We’re paying a steep price for that convenience. Credit gives us the option to buy what we know we can’t afford, and sooner or later you’ll use that option even when the little voice inside❠is telling you otherwise.

Even if you pay your credit card balances in full each month, you’re still living on a floatââ”paying this months bills with next months income. If next month has a major expense surprise, or if your income is disrupted, this month’s bills might not be paid next month, but carried into the following month where it becomes permanent debt. That can’t happen if you pay for this month’s expenses in cash. Everything you buy is paid for so there’s never any debt being carried forward.


Like anything else that isn’t good for us, debt is mostly a bad habit

One of the problems with debt is that today we have a benign view of it. It’s less of a thing or event than it is a lifestyle. You generally see people who are either debt adverse, and therefore debt free, or those who see debt as a convenient enabler to get them from where they are to where they want to be. For people in the latter category, credit becomes a habit, a way of doing business. What’s so bad about that?

And lead us not into temptationâ¦ââ”Matthew 6:13

Is it a sin borrow money? Probably not. But it’s pretty safe to say that it IS a temptationâ”one that draws us to spend money we don’t have, to buy things we often don’t need and to extend ourselves into bondage. How well are we able to resist temptation when we put ourselves so close to it?

If we can put some distance between ourselves and creditâ”maybe not to see it as a sin, but not to view it as holy eitherâ”we take ourselves out of harms way. Cash is the best way to do this.


The simplicity of cash to the rescue

You’ll enjoy the following benefits if you begin paying cash for all of your purchases:

  1. You’ll never spend more money than you actually have
  2. You’ll never get stuck paying last months bills this month
  3. You won’t live in fear that you might have charged too much
  4. Your debts will stop growing, and as you pay them, they’ll eventually disappear
  5. As your debts fall, you’ll have even more cash either to spend or to save
  6. If you choose to save your extra cash, your savings will eventually replace credit as your preferred source of extra money
  7. As your savings grow, you can pay cash even for major purchases, like repairs, furniture and even cars
  8. When every thing you own is owned free and clear, YOU’LL be free and clear!

So simple, yet so powerful. Pay cash from now on, pay your debts faithfully and even if you do nothing else, in a few years, you’ll be debt free.

5 Ways to Maintain a Clean Credit Score

clean credit scoreThe American public has been both confused and incensed at the debt debate, by not only at how prolonged and divergent both sides have been, but also at how the government allowed us to get into this unfortunate and avoidable situation. With a little bit of planning and diligence, bad credit can be avoided whether it belongs to the average consumer, or big government. It’s actually pretty easy to maintain a clean credit score.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and there are some simple steps you can take before your credit rating starts to plummet.


Know Thy Credit Score

Credit scores are based on a combination of factors. Five key factors are as follows: payment history, mix of credit, level of debt, credit age, and recent credit. Even if you pass the test in all of these categories, keep in mind that credit reports are not faultless. An error on your credit report is not an unusual occurrence. For this reason alone, it is imperative that you check your credit report regularly; besides simple error, there is also the risk of identity theft and credit card fraud.


Keep Thy Balances Low

While it can be gratifying to be extended to a higher credit limit, it is no reason to run out and max out your cards. Keep in mind that the higher a balance you are carrying, the less available credit is being offered to you. This will adversely affect your credit score. Every so often, lenders will raise your credit limit if requested to do so; if you’ve had a credit card for a couple of years without an increase in your limit, it may pay to call the lender and request one.


Limit the Amount of Credit Applications

While credit inquiries are only a small part of your overall score, (10%), they do in fact count. There is no need to go crazy filling out credit card applications. Carrying one each of the three major cards should suffice for most consumers’ credit card needs. The same holds true for loans; applying for loans will lower your score. Keep in mind that new cards or loans will also lower your credit age when averaged in with your current number.


Keep Inactive Credit Cards Open

Contrary to what many would believe, closing unused or old credit cards will actually lower your credit score. Credit age counts for 15% of your overall score. Closing an older credit card will shorten the length of your credit age, thus lowering your score. Many erroneously believe that this act will be to their advantage, but in the end, they suffer lower credit scores.


Pay Off Credit ASAP!

The old belief was that credit card companies prefer those who paid off only the minimum balance due on their cards: it makes sense because the lender makes more money off folks who handle their credit in this manner, given the high cost of interest. The sluggish economy, rising unemployment rates, and collapse of the housing market now have lenders making a slight adjustment in their thinking. The borrow-and-quickly-repay crowd is now their preference. Every bill you pay has the possibility of ending up on your credit report, even non-credit bills. While most won’t, should you happen to fall behind on your payments, it may very well end up  on your credit report.


Go Forth and Keep Thy Credit Score High!

So there you have it, a few simple steps that you (or elected officials in Washington) can take to derail the momentum of credit catastrophe and maintain a clean credit score. Of course, the politicians seem to feel they have averted the problem for now, but these tips are still worth keeping in mind. Ten years goes by quickly and Washington’s budget problems are never solved; they are only postponed.


How about you?  What has worked and what hasn’t for your credit score?  Share below with your experiences!


Alcohol Consumption Puts College Students in Credit Card Debt

beer moneyAccording to the Trends in College Pricing 2010 report compiled by The College Board, the average estimated undergraduate budget❠for a   student during the 2010-2011 academic year is $20,339 for a four-year public school and $40,476 for a four-year private school. These numbers factor in tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, transportation and miscellaneous expenses. But do those numbers include the $500 a year that Rachel Barrington of the University of Wisconsin claims the average college student squanders on alcohol?

Gayla Martindale’s estimate in her article, A Look at the Spending Habits of College Students, posted on the stateuniversity.com blog is somewhat jaw-dropping: Each year, American college students spend $5.5 billion on alcohol.❠That’s a lot of money to be pouring down the hatch, especially in light of the fact that most students enter the workforce after having earned their post-secondary degree, carrying debt that they accrued along the way.

So how is the average, financially-strapped college kid affording all of this booze?

Some students spend using credit cards. In fact, most students â“ some 75% of females and about 70% of males â“ have 1-3 credit cards. The cost of teenage alcoholism is high, from the expenses they incur during their drinking sprees to the toll it takes on their health.  Plastic is used by many to charge school necessities such as books, supplies, and even tuition. Credit cards are relied upon by students for discretionary spending as well. While it can be advantageous for a student to begin building his or her credit score while still in school, the risk is that the temptation is there to fund fun nights of drinking with friends while sinking into a pit of debt.

According to a 2009 article published by Sallie Mae, entitled How Undergraduate Students Use Credit Cards, Undergraduates are carrying record-high credit card balances. The average (mean) balance grew to $3,173, the highest in the years the study has been conducted. Median debt grew from 2004’s $946 to $1,645. Twenty-one percent of undergraduates had balances of between $3,000 and $7,000, also up from the last study.â

At California State University Fullerton, workers in their administration office claimed that their institution sees more students discontinue their education due to credit card debt more often than due to academic failure these days.

The National Association of Scholars (NAS) uncovered in a 2009 article that A recent survey of more than 30,000 first year students revealed that nearly half were spending more hours drinking than they were studying.â

That means many college undergrads are opting to drink away dollars that would better serve them by being put towards school-related expenses. In turn, perhaps less drinking would result in fewer students dropping out due to their insurmountable debt.

If it’s true that, as Caralee Adams reports in her article Lack of College-Educated Workers Will Hurt Economy, Americans that have graduated college with a bachelor’s degree earn an annual salary that is an average of 74% higher than those earned by workers with only a high school diploma. Students who focus on overdrinking during college, rather than studying, may be doing much more than merely drinking away time and money that could otherwise have been better spent. They could very well be drinking away their future earning power.

photo by greencolander

Top 5 Small Business Credit Cards

american express cardTransparency, accountability, and mutual responsibility❠describe the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009 in the words of President Obama. While this reform, passed by Congress on May 22, 2009, protects personal credit card holders from deceptive credit card practices, it continues to leave small business credit card holders vulnerable to hidden fees (late fees, over-limit fees, double-cycle billing), rate increases, and unclear language.

As a result, 18.8 percent of small businesses filed bankruptcy in 1998 due to contract and related disputes with creditors, followed by 554,000 new, small businesses closing and 35,000 new, small businesses filing bankruptcy in 2003, according to research studies managed by the U.S. Small Business Administration.


CARD Act Protections for Small Business Credit Cards

To address the need for the protection of small business credit card holders, the credit card rating company CardHub.com established a small business credit card study called CARD Act Protections. This study assigns a rating of 0-100 to the 10 largest credit card companies in the U.S. according to their compliance with the CARD Act Protections criteria. (Note that some of the credit card companies refused to participate in the study).

The five criteria included the following:

Interest-rate increases (APR penalty) no sooner than 60 days of cardholder delinquency on existing balances

Elimination of double-cycle billing

Elimination of universal default

Change in card-agreement terms no sooner than 45 days of providing notice

Assignment of payments (above the minimum) to the balance with the highest interest rate


Top Credit Cards for Small Businesses

Based on this criteria rating, one has the ability to determine the top credit cards for small businesses. Beginning with the highest rating, the top credit cards are listed as follows:

1. Bank of America Visa Business Credit Card

This small business credit card was the only one of the 10 major credit cards that scored a 100 percent rating for CardHub’s CARD Act Protections criteria. The specific features of this business card include the following:

25-day payment period

45-day minimum payment of rate changes

No rate increases on existing balances

No over-limit fees

Extended grace period on purchases

Mailing small businesses its one-page Clarity Communication❠letter that describes its rates, fees and payment information


2. Capital One

This small business credit card met 60 percent of CardHub’s CARD Act Protections criteria. Its need for improvement was in the area of eliminating rate increases. In addition to its good CARD Act Protections, Capital One Business Platinum offers attractive membership awards to small businesses, which include the following:

No annual fee

Introductory zero percent APR; 14.99-22.99 percent variable APR

No fees for extra employee cards

One percent cash back (with no monthly minimum)

Business-set spending limits

Reward points for travel


3. American Express

Third place in meeting 15 percent of CardHub’s CARD Act Protections criteria was American Express. One of its cards that offers excellent perks to small businesses is its SimplyCash Business Card. Some of the rewards are listed below:

No annual fee

Five percent cash back on office supplies and wireless services

Three percent cash back on fuel

One percent cash back on other purchases

Employee cards with business-set limits


4. Chase

In CardHub’s CARD Act Protections study, Chase offered decent credit card transparency and agreed to begin offering some of CardHub’s CARD Act Protections such as extending payment grace periods. Of most popularity, the Chase Ink Cash Business Card offers the following membership rewards:

Introductory zero percent APR; 13.24-19.24 percent variable APR

No annual fee

Earn 2% Cash Back on Dining and Gasoline  – When you buy gasoline or pay for dining out, you’ll earn an 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent annually

Customized credit line

100 percent bonus cash back


5. Discover

Although Discover had not practiced any of CardHub’s CARD Act Protections during the study, it adopted the practices of offering a 25-day grace period between the availability and payment of a bill as well as eliminating over-limit and pay-by-phone fees. One of the most noteworthy Discover small business cards is its More (SM) Card that offers the following perks:

No annual fee

Zero percent APR for the first 15 months; 11.99-20.99 percent variable APR

Five percent cash back on first $2000 on office supplies

Two percent yearly cash back on first $2000 of gas

One percent unlimited cash back

Free employee cards


Choosing the Right Credit Card

Overall, protection is a central need that is considered in rating the top five credit cards for small businesses. After choosing small business credit cards that meet CardHub’s CARD Act Protections criteria, small businesses will see a decrease in the statistics of closures and bankruptcies among small businesses that include law offices, restaurants, convenience stores, and salons.

It is also important to note that small business Credit Card Deals are significant in that they help small businesses to establish credit, to simplify bookkeeping (card statements outline business spending), to have emergency coverage, to receive employee cards that can be monitored, and to earn rewards.

(Joy is a freelance writer for a website that is able to compare everything from credit cards to car insurance. She enjoys learning about personal finance and helping educate others about the benefits of properly handling one’s finances. If she is not learning about personal finance, she can be found playing her new Wii Fit.)

photo by Images_of_Money