WARNING: No Balance Transfer Fee Offers Aren’t Always A Bargain

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Credit card companies may be targeting consumers with great credit with a host of new perks recently, but CreditCards.com warns against falling for 0% balance transfer fee offers. In a study looking at offers from 37 lenders, the site found offers to waive these fees for as many as 21 months.

But there’s a catch: Companies are also charging much more for balance transfers once the offer period ends. 

They’ve got customers who carry balances and have a healthy credit score in their crosshairs, rolling out more than 1 billion mail offers to consumers in the third quarter of 2011 alone.

Earlier this month, Cardhub.com’s Credit Card Landscape Report found credit card companies were more than willing to extend 0% introductory rates for new customers in the last quarter of 2011, and offered 60% more cash back rewards offers. 

“After the CARD Act, we thought zero per cent balance transfer offers would just go away,” Linda Sherry, director of national priorities for Consumer Action, told the site. “But it turned out that wasn’t true.”

Another way they’ve compensated for keeping the waiver alive is by nixing the usual $50-$75 balance transfer fee caps. 

CreditCards.com’s survey found 12 cards offer the fee waiver for six months, three for a year and seven for 15 months. 

Citi Platinum Select MasterCard, the Citi Diamond Preferred Card and the Citi Simplicity Card all offer the waiver for 21 months. 

Of those that charge for balance transfers, charges range from 3 to 5 per cent. 

There’s no denying perks like fee freebies are a welcome trend as people are undoubtedly still feeling the post-holiday pinch, but just be sure you pay attention to the fine print before signing up for a new card.

Creditcards.com has this advice: 

Make sure your credit limit is sufficient to cover the balance you want to transfer. Follow whatever rules you need in order to avoid getting slapped with late fee charges, which some lenders punish by revoking low APR introductory rates. 

And don’t just jump on a new credit card because they advertise a sweet deal on fees or some other rewards perk. 

“Consumers might never see the excessively generous zero per cent offers of pre-recession years, but those with good credit who follow these tips might be able to score an attractive deal now – or an even better one in the future,” the site says.

It pays to have good credit. Now see the top 10 banking trends you’ll see in 2012 >