3 Top Balance Transfer Credit Cards for 2017

By Matthew Frankel Lifestyle and Budget Fool.com

If you're starting 2017 with credit card debt, now's a great time to decide to pay it down and stop giving away your money to credit card companies. If you're struggling to make a dent in your balances or simply want to pay them off faster, a 0% APR balance transfer could be a smart move for you. With that in mind, here are three excellent balance transfer credit cards that could help you keep your New Year's resolution to get out of debt.

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If your credit card bills have gotten overwhelming, a balance transfer could help you get it under control. Image source: Getty Images.

The most time to pay off your debt, interest-free

The longest 0% APR period for balance transfers among major credit card issuers is offered by the Citi Simplicity card, which has a generous 21-month introductory offer. In the interest of full disclosure. I have a Simplicity card, which I originally used to consolidate and pay off debt that accumulated after my wife and I bought our first house. This is a long 0% APR period, when compared with most other cards. In fact, the industry average 0% APR period for balance transfers is 11.55 months, according to WalletHub's most recent Credit Card Landscape Report.

One caveat: The Citi Simplicity card does charge a balance transfer fee of 3% of your transferred balance, with a minimum charge of $5 per transfer. However, this can be well worth it. If your current credit card charges say, 17% interest, the interest savings will justify the fee in just a few months.

In addition to the balance transfer perk, the Simplicity card has no late fees and no penalty APR, and no annual fee.

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A rare no-fee balance transfer card

The vast majority of credit cards that accept balance transfers charge a fee for the service. As an example, a fee of 3% of the transferred balance or $10, whichever is greater, seems like a common balance transfer fee. And to be perfectly clear, the fee can be worth paying when you consider the long-term interest savings.

One notable exception is the Chase Slate card, which was recently named Wallet Hub's best 0% balance transfer credit card of 2017. While the 0% APR balance transfer period of 15 months is significantly shorter than the Simplicity card, the card has no balance transfer fee whatsoever for transfers made within 60 days of opening the account.

If you feel like you need the extra time to pay off your balance, the Citi Simplicity card is a great product. However, if you think you can get your balance paid off in 15 months or less, the Chase Slate could be the way to go.

Like the Simplicity card, the Chase Slate has no penalty APR and no annual fee and offers a free monthly FICO score.

A good credit card if you plan to make new purchases

While these are excellent credit card products, the problem with the two cards I've discussed is that neither one offers any rewards. Don't get me wrong: They are great for transferring balances and for making large initial purchases that you won't be able to pay back right away, but what about if you want to use your new credit card for everyday purchases as well?

One card that has a solid balance transfer offer and a good rewards program is the Citi Double Cash card, which is actually the top-rated cashback card in the WalletHub report I referenced earlier. You'll get 0% APR balance transfers for 18 months with a 3% transfer fee, but you'll also get cash back on all new purchases (not on transfers). The card earns cash back at an excellent 2% rate -- well, technically it's 1% when you make the purchases and another 1% when you pay the bill. Like the other cards in this article, the Double Cash card has no annual fee.

The bottom line on balance transfers

Whatever your personal credit card debt situation may be, one of these three products could help 2017 be the year you finally get your high-interest debt paid off. With a 0% APR balance transfer, 100% of your credit card payments will go toward paying down the principal, not putting money in the credit card company's pocket, which can help you pay off your debt much faster than you otherwise could.

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Matthew Frankel has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.