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Vacations are expensive affairs, with costs including lodging, transportation and car rentals adding up to a large bill. But they can get even more expensive while you’re traveling, because the vacation mindset can lead you to spend on excursions, fancy dinners and gifts for your loved ones back home.
If your recent vacation splurge left you with a spending hangover and a big credit card balance, you may be worried about all the interest you’ll accrue as you pay off your trip. Credit cards with strong balance transfer offers can help, providing a way to transfer your balance to a new card and pay off your balance interest-free.
To do this effectively, you’ll want to check your budget and see how long you think you’ll need and then compare different cards offerings to find the one that could benefit you the most. To help you get started, here are four credit cards that can help you pay off that vacation splurge.
Rewards: 5% cash back on rotating purchase categories, 1% cash back on everything else
Signup Bonus: Discover will match all cash back you earn in the first year.
Annual Fee: $0
Balance Transfer Fee: 3% of the transfer amount
APR: 0% intro APR for 14 months, then
Why We Picked It: You can pay off your vacation balance over time and earn cash back on purchases.
To Pay Off Your Vacation: You’ll get 14 months to pay off your vacation with no interest. You’ll earn 5% cash back on quarterly rotating spending categories and 1% cash back on everything else.
Drawbacks: If you don’t want to keep track of spending categories for cash back, this card requires too much effort.
Signup Bonus: None
Annual Fee: $0
Balance Transfer Fee: Intro: 0% intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable 14.24% APR will apply.
APR: 14.24% Variable
Why We Picked It: No foreign transaction fees and it has an international Chip and PIN.
To Pay Off Your Vacation: You’ll save with this card since it has one of the lowest interest rates.
Drawbacks: There is a profit-sharing feature called the Giveback program, but you have no control over it and there are no binding obligations for the card issuer.
3. Bank of America Credit Card
Signup Bonus: None
Annual Fee: $0
Balance Transfer Fee: $0 for balance transfers made within 60 days of opening your account. After that, the fee is $10 or 3% of the transfer amount, whichever is greater.
APR: 0% intro APR for 15 months, then variable 12.99% to 22.99%
Why We Picked It: This card is another strong choice for avoiding balance transfer fees.
To Pay Off Your Vacation: If you transfer your vacation balance over in the first 60 days, you’ll avoid all transfer fees. After that, you have 15 months to pay off your trip with no interest.
Drawbacks: If you don’t transfer your balance in 60 days, you may end up with a higher balance transfer fee than some competing cards.
Rewards: 1.5% cash back on every purchase
Signup Bonus: $150 bonus cash back when you spend $500 in the first three months
Annual Fee: $0
Balance Transfer Fee: 3% of the transfer amount, minimum of $5.
APR: 0% intro APR for 15 months, then 17.24% - 25.99% Variable
Why We Picked It: There’s a strong interest-free intro period and you’ll earn cash back on all purchases.
To Pay Off Your Vacation: You’ll get 15 months to pay off your vacation balance without interest. And, you’ll get 1.5% cash back to help you save for a future trip.
Drawbacks: Depending on your balance, the balance transfer fee may be higher than some other options.
Choosing a Card To Pay Off Your Vacation
With any balance transfer card, you’ll need to check the APR that activates after the 0% intro period. If it’s greater than the interest on your current credit card, you’ll have to be careful. If you don’t pay off your vacation before the intro period expires, a card with a higher APR will hit you with worse interest than you already have.
You’ll also want to evaluate the balance transfer fee. Some cards don’t have balance transfer fees, while others will charge a flat fee or a percentage of your transfer amount, whichever is greater. Depending on the cost of your trip, these fees can get expensive. If the card only offers free balance transfers for a short time frame, you’ll want to make sure to transfer your balance immediately.
Paying off your entire vacation within the intro period is what is likely to save you the most money, so you may want to calculate the monthly payment needed to do that. Using your card for everyday spending will add to your balance, so if your priority is to pay off your vacation, you’ll want to limit purchases on your card until the trip is fully paid off.
What Credit Is Required For a Card To Pay Off a Vacation?
Cards with strong balance transfer offers may require good to excellent credit. You should know your credit score before you apply to get an idea of if you’ll qualify. You can check two of your credit scores for free at Credit.com so you have a better idea and don’t get hit with that inquiry just to get denied.
At publishing time, the Citi Simplicity, Discover it, Barclaycard Ring Mastercard and Chase Freedom Unlimited credit cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).
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