If we use them, they make money on the transfer fees ranging from 1% to 5%. If we don't pay off the balance and let it remain in the account after the promotion expires, the interest rate jumps to 15% or higher. In that situation, they are the big winners. I always tell myself that banks and credit card companies are not here to help us. They are here to make big bucks.
From my personal experience and observation, here's how I rate the offers. These are not the initial offers when we apply for the cards, but rather, these are the checks we get in the mails after we've become cardholders for some time.
- Barclay seems to be the best in terms of the fees and the length of the promotional period. I usually get the fees of 1% for 15 months.
- Chase comes in second. 2% fees for 12 months.
- Discover: 3% for 12 months.
- Bank of America: 4% for 15 months. I think I've gotten a 3% offer only once for the past 7 years.
- Citi: The worst. 5% for 12 months. Once in a while, when your stars are all lined up correctly, you might get a 3% offer. When I get the mails from Citi, I don't even bother any more. They go directly to the shredder.