Is Now the Right Time to Pay Off Credit Card Debt?

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Last updated on December 18th, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has thrown the world into disarray. All aspects of daily life, from work to pay, are reeling from the COVID-19 virus – with no end in sight. One of the most significant areas of disruption is personal finance. Tens of millions of Americans currently find themselves furloughed, laid off, or facing the prospects of zero-hour contracts. Given the economic uncertainty, it may seem strange, but is now the right time to pay off credit card debt?

The Case for Consolidating Your Debts Today

While many might balk at the idea of consolidating their credit card debts and paying them off right away, the coronavirus pandemic has shown that the personal finances many thought were strong simply were not. And, while banks are providing relief from payments for customers, this is only a short-term solution. Eliminating pesky balances, such as credit card debt, is an excellent way to shore up family finances and provide some breathing space during uncertain times. One of the most popular methods for this is balance transfer credit cards. These cards operate by transferring part – or all – of an existing balance to the new credit card, then paying it all off at a lower interest rate.

Why Balance Transfer Cards Just Don’t Work

Balance transfer cards do typically feature an APR that is lower than, say, a rewards credit card. They also usually offer a 0% introductory APR promotion for a period of between 6 to 18 months. Once this period ends, however, the card’s “low APR” is still significantly higher than an installment loan – often by as much as 20%.

Is the Upgrade Card a Game Changer?

One of the more intriguing credit card offers covered by BestCards is the Upgrade Card. The card isn’t like anything else on the market today, combining aspects of a traditional credit card and an installment loan.

Upgrade Cash Rewards Visa®

Earn 1.5% Unlimited Cash Back

Upgrade Cash Rewards Visa®
  • Regular Purchase APR 14.99%-29.99% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee None
  • Credit NeededBestCards.com uses a variation of FICO Score 8, which is one of many different types of credit scores. A financial institution may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for a credit card.
    Excellent , Good , Fair
  • Processing Network Visa
Best Benefits
  • Earn a $200 bonus on your Upgrade Card after opening a Rewards Checking account and making 3 debit card transactions*
  • Earn 1.5% unlimited cash back on card purchases every time you make a payment
  • Combine the flexibility of a credit card with the predictability of a personal loan
  • $0 fees - $0 annual fee, $0 activation fees, $0 maintenance fees
  • No touch payments with contactless technology built in
  • See if you qualify in minutes without hurting your credit score
  • Access to a virtual card while you wait for your card to arrive in the mail
  • Great for large purchases with predictable payments you can budget for
  • Mobile app to access your account anytime, anywhere
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud liability
  • *To qualify for the $200 welcome bonus, you must open and fund a new Rewards Checking account and make 3 debit card transactions within 60 days of your Upgrade Card account opening. The bonus will be applied as a one-time credit to your account and will not otherwise reduce the amount of your regular monthly payments. The bonus credit will be posted to your Upgrade Card as a rewards credit within 1-2 billing periods following the third debit card transaction on your Rewards Checking account. Your Upgrade Card must be in good standing to receive a bonus.
  • Not available in DC, IA, WV, WI, NC, NH, HI.
Rates & Fees
  • Regular Purchase APR: 14.99%-29.99% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
Credit Card Deals

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Upgrade works by offering an initial credit limit of up to $20,000. This credit line operates just like a regular credit card and can be used anywhere in the world Visa is accepted. But, uniquely, cardholders can also transfer some – or all – of the credit line into existing accounts to pay off those balances, consolidating them into one simple payment. Where the Upgrade Card differs from balance transfer cards, however, is the balance is converted into installment payments of between 12 and 60 months. Even better, the card features an APR starting as low as 8.99%.

Does Upgrade Really Offer Savings Versus Traditional Credit Cards?

Given the bold claims of the Upgrade Card, the BestCards team analyzed the evidence to see how effective the card is versus one’s average credit card. Surprisingly, the math showed similar results to those on the company’s website. These results indicate that paying off a $10,000 balance using just minimum payments was not only quicker with Upgrade, but also significantly cheaper, as well.  The average cardholder with an excellent credit score can repay that $10,000 debt in as few as two years – saving over 25 years and $12,000 versus traditional credit cards.

Other Things to Know About the Card

The other major talking point for the Upgrade Card is the lack of fees of any variety. This includes:

  • Annual fees
  • Monthly fees
  • Late fees
  • Penalty APR
  • Over-the-limit fees

The card also boasts no foreign transaction fees, which is a pleasant surprise for those who also want to use the card as a travel card to take advantage of the exceptional interest rates.

Should You Refinance to Pay Off Credit Card Debt?

Given the financial uncertainty of the times, plus average credit card debt of around $8,000 per American, now might be the ideal time to reevaluate how balances and debts are being financed. The Upgrade Card is an intriguing offer for those with good-to-excellent credit that want to quickly eliminate debt with minimal payments.

For more information, please check out our comprehensive Upgrade Card review.

About: Cory
Cory Santos

Cory is BestCards.com's "Jack of all trades" and resident credit expert, covering all facets of the credit card space. Cory holds academic degrees in both the U.S. and U.K. In addition to credit cards, Cory finds that jogging, cats, and memes are essential parts of a balanced day.

Advertiser Disclosure

BestCards is an independent, Florida-based credit card comparison platform. Many of the card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which BestCards receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). BestCards does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace.

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