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Credit cards bring back no-fee, no-interest offers

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Kathy Willens/AP/File

(Read caption) This 2011 file photo shows a JPMorgan Chase bank building in New York. Chase is one of the issuers offering introductory zero-interest credit cards with no-fee balance transfers for new customers.

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It was the great deal you were never supposed to see again: credit cards with a zero percent introductory interest rate and no transfer fee, unlike the 2 to 3 percent typically charged by card issuers. Credit-card legislation in 2009, known as the CARD Act, had outlawed so many of the industry's profitable but anticonsumer practices that issuers weren't supposed to be able to afford offering truly zero percent loans anymore.

Nevertheless, these deals are making a comeback, at least for now. The benefit to consumers is undeniable.  

Take the No Balance Transfer Fee Slate Card from Chase.  It’s currently the best free balance transfer credit card on the market, thanks to a 15-month, zero-percent introductory interest rate with no transfer fee.  If you have roughly $6,500 in credit card debt and are paying a 15 percent annual percentage rate (APR), as the average cardholder did at the end of 2011, you would save around $950 in interest by transferring your debt to this card and paying it down before the regular APR kicks in.

 A standard zero-percent balance-transfer card would shave off nearly $200 of those savings because of the balance transfer fee.

Of course, paying down that much debt that quickly is not feasible for everyone. Before transferring a balance to any card with a low introductory interest rate, you should use a credit card calculator to determine whether you can afford to pay off the debt before high regular rates kick in.


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