In Search of the Holy Grail of Credit Card Offers - 15 Month 0% Balance Transfers

Three years ago, credit card companies were throwing 0% APR cards at anybody who would take them. No fee balance transfer offers were common. Twelve month balance transfers were also the norm, and 15 month or longer transfer offers could be easily found. With the credit crisis upon us, however, longer term offers are becoming harder and harder to find. It turns that there are some great 15 month 0% APR cards available. I'll show you how to find them, but first, a few things to keep in mind.

Keep cards you use to transfer balances separate from your other cards

There is a potential gotcha with transfer offers that you must understand. If you make purchases with a credit card that you have also used to transfer a balance, the purchases are typically subject to interest charges. Some mistakenly believe that they can pay off the purchase balance to avoid finance charges, while keeping their balance transfer amount on the card. That's not how must credit cards work.

Instead, when you have two balances, one subject to finance charges and one at 0%, payments are allocated to the 0% balance until it is paid in full. Only then will your payments go to the balance subject to finance charges. That means that even a $20 purchase will accrue interest until your transfer balance is paid off. For this reason, I never make purchases with cards that I've used to pay off other debt. In fact, a cut them up! Once I've transferred a balance to the card, there is no need to keep it.

Keep on eye on transfer fees

The days of no fee balance transfers a gone. Today, you need to look at the specific terms of the transfer fee, which come in two flavors. The transfer fee will either have an upper limit, or it won't. Typical is a balance fee equal to 3% of the amount transferred, with a cap of about $75 to $90. What that means is that the most you will pay to transfer a balance to the card will be the capped amount. If the fee is not capped, you pay 3% of the entire amount transferred.

The difference between a capped fee and one that is unlimited can be significant. For example, let's assume you plan to transfer $20,000 to a 0% card. With an unlimited 3% transfer fee, your cost will be $600 (3% x $20,000). With a fee capped at $90, your fee will obviously be just $90. As you can see, the transfer fee can make a big difference.

Where can you find 15 month 0% APR cards with capped transfer fees?

So now we get to the real issue--where do we find 15 month 0% APR offer with reasonable, capped transfer fees. The answer is Advanta. Advanta offers these long-term balanc transfer offers with a capped transfer fee. My favorite is the Kiva BusinessCard, In addition to a 15 month 0% transfer feature, the card also offers up to 5% cash back on a variety of purchases. It even offers up to 5% cash back on charitable contributions made with the card. The Kiva card has no annual fee, and although it is a business card, individuals can apply.

As an individual, you can apply as a sole proprietor. Simply enter your name as the business name on the application, and enter your social security number for the tax id. It's as simple as that, and in many cases, you'll receive a decision on your online application in less than 60 seconds. You can follow the links below to get more information about the Kiva card and other balance transfer credit card options.