While the no-annual-fee SunTrust Prime Rewards card doesn’t offer 0% intro APR on balance transfers, it does offer a very low rate on balance transfers for three years with no balance transfer fee (as long as you make the transfer within 60 days). If while evaluating other cards you suspect you’ll still have debt to pay off after a 0% APR deal ends, a low rate for a longer-term might offer more savings.
Here’s an example: Let’s say you transfer $15,000 to a card offering 0% intro APR for 18 months on balance transfers with a 3% fee. The balance to pay off would be $15,450 including the fee.
If you make payments of $500 per month, you would have a $6,450 balance remaining at the end of 18 months. If the APR jumps to 19% after the 0% intro period, the balance would take an additional 15 months to pay off, and you’d pay $823 in interest.
On the other hand, if you transfer $15,000 to a credit card with no balance transfer fee and a much lower APR—say 3.25%—you would pay $665.86 in total interest over 32 months with payments of $500.
Depending on how much you have to pay off and the monthly payment you can make, taking a longer low-interest period could be cost effective.
Balance transfer offer: The interest rate for this card is the prime rate (currently 3.25%) for three years. Typically, credit card interest rates are the prime rate plus an additional percentage. For comparison, the current national average credit card APR is around 16%.
Keep in mind that this card’s interest rate is variable and can fluctuate as the prime rate fluctuates. While in May 2021, the prime rate is at 3.25%, in May 2019 it was 5.5%. However, the Fed plans to keep rates low, so you may not have to worry about a rate increase for the time being.
To get the most out of this card, transfer your balance in a timely manner: It has no fee for balances transferred within 60 days; after that, the fee increases to 3%.
Other important features: SunTrust provides FICO credit score updates and has no foreign transaction fee if you find yourself abroad, though watch out for the higher APR on cash advances.
Also, try to avoid new purchases. If you shop with the card, interest on new purchases will be charged to your account unless you pay off the whole balance (including the balance you transferred) by the end of the month.