Good balance-transfer credit cards

FRESNO, Calif.

Fewer credit-card applications are being turned down, according to a just-released Consumer Reports national survey of cardholders. But you need to choose carefully.

One out of three people surveyed said they had a problem in the past year with things such as a new annual fee, higher interest rates, or fewer rewards. Meanwhile the sheer volume of credit-card offers is up, with enticing low initial interest rates and attractive cash-back offers. Consumer Reports says before you jump at an offer, check out the fine print.

If you carry a balance on your card, the key features to look for in a new card are low balance-transfer fees and low interest rates. And make sure you know how long that new interest rate will last. Consumer Reports checked out a variety of cards in mid October and found three good deals for people who want to transfer a balance and don't plan to pay it off right away.

Iberia Bank Visa Classic charges a 2 percent balance transfer fee and just 1.99 percent interest for six months on balances transferred.

Simmons First Visa Platinum has no balance transfer fee and charges a 7.25 percent variable interest rate on transfers and any new purchases.

The PenFed Promise Visa has no fees of any kind and a low 4.99 percent interest on balance transfers for 24 months. You do need to join the PenFed credit union. Membership is free for members of the military and employees of the U.S. government, among others, but anyone can join for just a few dollars.

The average interest rate on new cards is about 14 percent, so those cards are well worth considering. Cards that offer rewards can look enticing, but Consumer Reports says they generally have higher interest rates. If you don't pay off your balances every month, the interest could easily wipe out any rewards you might earn.

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