Credit cards have many positive features. They’re secure, convenient, and can earn you rewards for your spending. But there’s one aspect of credit cards that’s most despised: debt and the difficulties consumers face to get out of it.
Because credit cards are so easy to use, you can get yourself into trouble by making more purchases than you can afford. When interest and fees are added, you can find yourself under a crushing load of debt.
Credit card features to get out of debt
It makes sense that there is a strong demand for credit cards that can help customers get out of debt. Here are some of the features to look for when your first priority is paying off your balance:
0% APR promotional balance transfers
Credit card users who incur debt will start accruing interest at rates that are frequently between 10-20%. Over time, this can dramatically add to the cost of the purchases, and prolong the amount of time needed to repay the principal.
The biggest problem with these 0% promotional financing offers is that most require a 3% balance transfer fee, which can be a lot of money if you have a large credit card balance. However, the Slate Card from Chase is the only 0% offer on the market with no balance transfer fee. Just be aware that only cardholders with excellent credit will qualify for these offers.
More tools to get out of debt
Several Chase credit cards offer an innovative program called Blueprint at no extra charge. This feature includes powerful budgeting and goal setting tools that empower you to pay your balance off on a schedule you create. Blueprint allows you to avoid interest by paying some of your charges in full while carrying a balance on others.
Other types of features that can help you get out of debt are incentives to make payments on time and above the minimum while staying within your credit limit. The Journey Student Rewards Credit Card from Capital One offers 25% bonus cash back each month.
The Citi Forward for College Students offers a 2% APR reduction when you make a purchase, stay under your credit limit, and pay on time for three billing periods in a row. This equates to a .25% reduction each quarter, but this reduction can only be earned up to eight times.
Like any tool, credit cards can be used to make life easier, or to make things worse. By choosing the right card to help get out of debt, you can pay off your balance as quickly and easily as possible. Once you have your debt under control, you can continue to use credit cards as tolls to reach your financial goals, including saving and investing for your future.
Even though credit cards are most commonly associated with debt, there are some cards that can help you save and invest some of your money. By tying a rewards program into a savings or investment vehicle, you can use your credit card rewards to build up savings, rather than to earn frequent flier miles, hotel points, or cash back. Here are four great options:
1. Fidelity Investment Rewards American Express Card
This card offers 2% cash back rewards towards a qualifying Fidelity cash management account, brokerage account, Fidelity-managed 529 college savings account, or retirement account. For every $2,500 earned, cardholders will receive $50 direct deposited into the account of their choice, or the deposit can be divided between up to five different accounts. In addition, other family members can link their card to your account. There is no annual fee for this card.
2. Upromise MasterCard from Sallie Mae and Barclaycard
This card features 5% cash back on purchases from the Upromise online shopping portal, participating restaurants, and online travel partners. 2% cash back is also earned from participating department stores and eligible movie theaters, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. Cash back rewards are used to help pay down eligible student loan accounts or can be saved towards a college savings account.
3. Sallie Mae MasterCard from Barclaycard
This card offers 5% cash back on the first $250 cardholders spend per month on eligible gas and grocery purchases each. In addition, cardholders also earn 5% cash back on the first $750 spent per month on eligible book purchases. 1% cash back is then earned on all other purchases. The rewards earned never expire, and there is no annual fee for this card.
4. Bank of America Cash Rewards
This retail banking giant offers a rewards credit card that gives additional cash back to customers who deposit their rewards in a Bank of America savings or checking account. With their BankAmericard Cash Rewards card, cardholders earn 3% cash back on gas, 2% cash back at grocery stores, on a maximum of $1,500 on eligible purchases each quarter. 1% cash back is earned on all other purchases.
In addition, cardholders receive a 10% customer bonus when they redeem their cash back into a Bank of America savings or checking account. Furthermore, there is the potential for Bank of America Preferred Rewards clients to increase that bonus to between 25% and 75%. There is no annual fee for this card, and new applicants receive 12 months of 0% APR financing on both new purchases and balance transfers, with a 3% balance transfer fee.