Credit consumers know this fact very well: holiday shopping swells debt loads entering the new year.
According to CardHub’s latest projections, consumers incurred an additional $60 billion in credit card debt in 2014.
Credit card issuers are responding by making 0% APRs on balance transfers “the most enticing they have been in more than six years,” CardHub reports.
But here is the downside: They are compensating for the longer 0% introductory periods by raising the rate for the regular APR on their cards by nearly 6 percent since 2013.
“It’s more important than ever for consumers to use a credit card calculator to ensure they’re actually getting a great deal, not just gravitating toward the credit card with the longest 0% intro period,” says CardHub’s fourth quarter 2014 Credit Card Landscape Report.
For those who keep track of rewards/cashback offerings, CardHub has good news. The initial bonuses for both cash-back and miles-rewards credit cards rose 14.26 percent and 10.00 percent respectively.
The increases indicate that competition among card issuers for the most creditworthy consumers is at a 10-year high.
CardHub also issued its picks for best cards in each credit segment. See below:
Best for Balance Transfers:
Slate from Chase — 0% on transferred debt for 15 months; 12.99% – 22.99% regular APR; no transfer fee or annual fee
Best for Financing New Purchases:
Citi Diamond Preferred — 0% on new purchases for 18 months; 11.99% – 21.99% regular APR; no annual fee
Best for Rewards:
Barclaycard Arrival — 40,000 bonus miles for spending $3,000 in the first 90 days (redeemable for $400 in travel-related expenses); 2 miles per $1 spent; no first-year annual fee ($89 thereafter)
Best for Fair Credit:
Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard — No annual fee, 2 points per $1 spent on gas, groceries and utilities, and 1 point per $1 on everything else.
Best for Non-Students:
Capital One Platinum Credit Card — Catered to people with limited credit history; no first-year annual fee ($19 thereafter); great for cost-effective credit building
Best for Students:
Capital One Journey Student Rewards — 1% cash back on all purchases, plus a 25% rewards bonus when your monthly bill is paid on time; no annual fee
Best Fully Secured Card:
Harley Davidson Secured Credit Card — $300 minimum deposit; credit line equal to deposit amount; no annual fee
Best Partially Secured Card:
Capital One Secured MasterCard — Minimum deposit of $49, $99, or $200, depending on credit standing; credit line may exceed deposit amount; $29 annual fee