How to Use Priceline to Save on Travel

I don’t know about you, but one of my most exciting resolutions for this year is to travel more. In order to make this a reality, though, I need to be able to save money wherever I can on the trips that I plan for my family.

One of the biggest tools in my money-saving arsenal is to use an online travel agency site, like Priceline, anytime I’m ready to book. This can help me save tons whether I’m trying to find flights, hotels, rental cars, or even book a cruise or vacation package.

While Priceline is a pretty straightforward platform to use for travel booking, there are a few features that can save you even more money than you’d expect.

Express Deals show you star level and location, not the name of the hotel. Image source: Priceline.

Express Deals

Once upon a time, Priceline had a tool called Name Your Own Price. This allowed you to bid for flights, hotels, and rental cars, finding companies who would accept the offer(s) you were willing to make. It was a bit of a gamble and you were essentially “buying blind,” but the tool was a great opportunity to save.

Unfortunately, that tool was phased out a few years ago for flights and rental cars. It’s now only available for hotel stays and only accessible through the Priceline mobile app.

However, if you’re still itching to save money — and don’t mind buying blind — there’s another option. You can still save big using Priceline Express Deals … saving up to 60% off, in fact.

With Express Deals, you are able to pick up incredible prices on hotels, as long as you’re a little flexible (and trusting). All you need to do is choose your destination city and travel dates, and Priceline will help you find a great deal on a surprise booking.

While you won’t be able to choose the exact hotel you’ll get through Express Deals, you can choose the amenities you need and even the hotel quality you desire. You’ll see the price you’re paying as well as your overall savings. As soon as you book the room, you’ll be told where you’re staying (but, be careful because these are non-refundable purchases). And you can switch to the map view and see exactly where your hotel options are located.

A screen shot of the Priceline Trip Builder tool

Priceline lets you package airfare, hotel, and more. Image source: Priceline.

Trip Builder (new)

Sometimes, you just need a hotel room. If you’re planning a big trip or family vacation, though, you’ll need a lot more: hotel rooms, rental cars, and even flights.

Thanks to Priceline’s new Trip Builder feature, you can bundle all of those travel needs into one convenient package and save significant money.

With Trip Builder, you can combine any two or three needs from flights, hotels, and a car. If you’ll be bouncing around, you can add multiple hotel stays to the bundle and further boost your savings.

Your Trip Builder booking will all be listed under the same confirmation number, making it easier than ever to track all of your reservations in one place. You’ll also enjoy some of Priceline’s best deals in the process, leaving more jingle in your pocket for things like souvenirs and experiences.

Best Price Guarantee

Every once in a while, I’ll book a room or a flight for an upcoming trip, only to notice that the price goes even lower the very next day. Sometimes, that price continues to drop, reminding me of how much money I lost out on.

Luckily, you can learn from my mistakes. That’s because if you book a flight, hotel room, rental car, or cruise through Priceline, you’ll be covered by their Best Price Guarantee.

With this guarantee, you can receive a 100% price adjustment if the price of your reservation drops in the 24 hours after you book. If you booked an Express Deal, Priceline will not only give you double that — 200% of the difference! — but you’ll also have all the way until midnight the night before you travel to file your Best Price Guarantee claim.

There are some requirements, of course: the lower-price itinerary must be publicly accessible (no military discounts or special pricing platforms), the details must match exactly, and some airlines are excluded (Spirit, British Airways, and KLM, to name a few).

Even still, this guarantee means added peace of mind when you travel. And perhaps even extra savings in your pocket after you’ve already booked.

Double up on savings

Want to make your Priceline experience even more lucrative? Then double up on the savings.

There are a few ways to do this. You can:

  • Visit Priceline’s website through a shopping portal such as Rakuten (which is currently offering up to 5% back on your bookings)
  • Use a travel rewards credit card to earn extra miles or points on your reservations made through Priceline
  • Join Priceline’s membership program, giving you access to additional members-only discounts and easy trip management
  • Get the Priceline Rewards Visa credit card, which offers 5x bonus points back per $1 spent on purchases

In fact, you can use more than one of these within the same booking, earning you maximum rewards, and saving as much as possible.

When booking a trip, sites like Priceline make it easy to shop around, compare prices, snag discounts, and manage reservations. You’ll have access to deals and promotions that you might not be able to find elsewhere, while also offering a best-price guarantee each time you book.

The more you save on your travel today, the more you can put toward additional trips in the future. And I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to start seeing more of the world in 2020.

–By Stephanie Colestock


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Everything you Need to Know to Buy Discounted Gift Cards & Save Money

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more information.

Buying discounted gift cards is one of my favorite ways to save money and stay on budget. You can hack your way into saving hundreds of dollars a year by buying cheap gift cards. 

Discounted gift cards are gift cards that are sold for less than whatever the value on the card is. 

Most people have gift cards they’ll never use sitting around their house just collecting dust. I mean, we all have that grandparent who thinks we love Applebees or an out of state friend who assumes every city has a Publix, right? 

This means billions of dollars worth of gift cards go unused every single year!  

Their loss can be your gain. Instead of collecting dust, these people choose to sell their unwanted and unused gift cards for cash online. 

They sell you their $50 Applebees card for $30. They get cash for a gift card that would go to waste otherwise and you get a gift card to your favorite restaurant at a great discount. It’s a win-win for everyone. 

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How to Use Discounted Gift Cards

Discounted gift cards can be used just like a regular gift card you purchase at the store. 

Ways to use discounted gift cards: 

  • Birthday gifts
  • Date nights
  • Shopping at your favorite stores
  • Baby shower gifts
  • Wedding gifts
  • Big-ticket items
  • Groceries
  • Gas

How to Buy Discounted Gift Cards 

The best place to buy discounted gift cards is online through a gift card deal site.  These sites are 3rd party sites like that connect the buyer and seller. You purchase the gift card through the gift card deal site and the buyer will send you the gift card. 

Physical cards are mailed directly to you. 

E-gift cards are emailed to you. 

5 of the Best Sites to Purchase Cheap Gift Cards

You can buy discounted gift cards on a number of reselling sites but you run the risk of buying an empty card or getting scammed in some other way. When you go through reputable gift card resellers you may pay a little more but you’ll have the piece of mind that your card will work. And if for some reason it doesn’t, you’re protected.


Raise has a great selection of gift cards on their site. You can save an average of 12-15% on gift cards purchased through their site. You can even set up alerts to your favorite stores and restaurants. They will email you when a gift card you requested becomes available. 

Raise offers a 1-year money-back guarantee to protect you from buying a gift card for less than the value stated at the time of the purchase. 

Click here to get $5 when you make a purchase within 30 days of signing up. After you sign up, you can earn $5 for every friend you refer when they make a purchase within 30 days too. This is great savings hack to save even more money on gift cards. 


While it doesn’t always have the biggest discounts, Cardpool does have the largest selection. I find cards here that I can’t always find on Raise. They have a wishlist feature that will email you when the card you want becomes available. 

Cardpool also has a 100-day purchase guarantee if your gift card is less than the stated value at the time of purchase. is the most well-known gift card deal site and also has a huge selection. Be sure to navigate to the discount portion of its site because they mostly sell regular gift cards now (meaning at full face value without a discount). also has a rewards program known as G-Money Rewards. You can earn 8 points per dollar and redeem the points on future gift card purchases. Every 100 points are equivalent to $1 off your purchase. This is a great hack to save even more at your favorite restaurants and stores. 


CardCash has the most sales and discount codes to use on its site. If you sign up for their email list you’ll get notified of deals every week. They also have a 45-day purchase guarantee if the gift card you purchase doesn’t add up to the value. 

Gift Card Granny

Gift Card Granny is a website that allows you to buy gift cards for varying amounts. So some of the current value of the gift cards are less than face value. 

Ex: $25 gift card with $19.29 left on the card. 

They have a unique feature on their website that allows you to test the value of the gift card which limits the risks to you. Gift Card Granny offers you a referral credit of $5 for every friend who signs-up using your referral link.

Make Sure It’s Worth It

Using discounted gift cards isn’t for everyone. It’s a saving method that’s nice when you can use it but it shouldn’t be a primary part of your money saving strategy.

Before purchasing the gift card, make sure it’s worth your time and money. It may not be worth your time to get a gift card that’s only a 10% discount on a $20 card. You’re only saving $2. 

Calculate the amount you’re saving before purchasing the gift card to make sure it’s a good deal for you. 

Ex: You want to buy a laptop from Best Buy. You buy a $200 gift card from a gift card deal site. The savings is 25%. You will save $50 by purchasing the $200 gift card. So it’s worth the time and money to save $50. 

You can expect to save an average of 10-35% on gift cards from these deal sites. 

7 Ways to Maximize Your Savings

There are a 7 ways to maximize your savings without spending a ton of time. This isn’t a magic bullet for savings. I never spend more than 15 minutes a month looking for discounted gift cards, they’re just a nice “cherry on top” for savings. 

You can still save a ton of money using discount gift cards as a savings hack to save even more money – especially on big-ticket items. 

<img data-attachment-id="5089" data-permalink="" data-orig-file="" data-orig-size="1080,1080" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}" data-image-title="How to get Cheap Gift Cards" data-image-description="

Do you want to get gift cards at less than the value? You can get discounted gift cards to help save you money on your favorite things!! #moneysavingshacks #moneysavingstips #discountedgiftcards #moneyhacks #howtosavemoremoney #shoppinghacks #frugalshopping

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1. Look at the top discounts first

Always sort your view by the largest discount. This will help you not get distracted by the smaller discounts and save you a ton of time. After you figure out which gift cards you want to purchase, then plan out your date nights, grocery runs, etc. based on the best deals.

2. Look up coupons 

See if they have any coupons you can stack to save even more money. Honey is a free Chrome browser extension that will figure out the applicable coupons for you. No more searching high and low to find a coupon that “might” work. 

It automatically cycles through the coupons and figures out which one will save you the most money. Since it’s free, it’s definitely a no brainer!

3. Sign up for email alerts on gift cards

Most discount gift card sites have alerts set up for your account. You can go in and choose the parameters for your gift cards, like the dollar amount and store/restaurant names, and they will email you when a gift card with those parameters becomes available. 

This can also save you a ton of time. For example, if you always grocery shop at Target, you can just have an alert set for Target. When you get the email, you can just go in and buy it without going in and searching for minutes on end for your gift card. 

You just click the link in the email and it sends you right to the card you’re looking for. 

4. Buy the gift cards through a cashback site called Rakuten

You can also get cashback from Rakuten so if you haven’t gotten your $10 bonus for spending $25, here’s your chance! Rakuten is simple and easy to use. 

You just sign-up for your free account. When you’re ready to shop, you log into your Rakuten account and search for Raise (or the other gift card site you’re using), and click on the shop button. 

Rakuten does the rest for you. They will calculate your rebate automatically and add it to your account. You will get paid when they do their next payout cycle. It doesn’t cost you any additional money and the best part, it’s totally free to use. 

<img data-attachment-id="5096" data-permalink="" data-orig-file="" data-orig-size="1080,1080" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}" data-image-title="How to get Cheap Gift Cards" data-image-description="

Do you want to get gift cards at less than the value? You can get discounted gift cards to help save you money on your favorite things!! #moneysavingshacks #moneysavingstips #discountedgiftcards #moneyhacks #howtosavemoremoney #shoppinghacks #frugalshopping

” data-medium-file=”″ data-large-file=”″ loading=”lazy” width=”600″ height=”600″ data-pin-title=”How to get Cheap Gift Cards” data-pin-description=”Do you want to get gift cards at less than the value? You can get discounted gift cards to help save you money on your favorite things!! #moneysavingshacks #moneysavingstips #discountedgiftcards #moneyhacks #howtosavemoremoney #shoppinghacks #frugalshopping” src=”” alt class=”wp-image-5096″ srcset=” 600w, 300w, 150w, 768w, 1080w” sizes=”(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px” data-recalc-dims=”1″>

5. Stack the gift cards with in-store savings

Some stores have in-store coupons and customer loyalty programs. You can stack the savings from the in-store coupons, customer loyalty programs, in-store sales, and gift cards to really rack up on the savings. 


You can use your Old Navy Cash and a gift card at the same time. 

You can use your Target My Circle coupons with a Target gift card at the same time. 

Use your phone number at Ulta (to get points), an in-store coupon, and a discounted gift card for maximum savings. 

6. Search for your favorites on each website

All of the deal sites all have different cards at any given time and it doesn’t take long to search for your favorite stores/restaurants on the site. These are stores/restaurants you visit frequently and know you’ll visit to use the gift card. 

7. Buy gift cards each month to save

You can buy gift cards each month to save for a big-ticket item. If you want to buy a $500 TV from Best Buy, you can buy a gift card every month to use towards the TV purchase. 

This will also help you save a little bit of money too because you’re buying the gift cards for less than the value. You could buy a $100 gift card to Best Buy for 5 months and then pay with the gift card for your TV. 

NOTE: Just make sure to verify the amount of your gift card as soon as you get it because you only have a window of time with each deal site to file a claim if for some reason the card doesn’t equal the value that the buyer stated in the description at the time of purchase. 

What Not to Do When Buying Discounted Gift Cards

There are also a few things you shouldn’t do, or at least be aware of, before using discounted gift cards.

Make sure the store doesn’t have any exclusions on the maximum number of gift cards per single transaction

One time when I was purchasing airfare to Bali I bought ten $100 gift cards to save a little extra. I get to the website to buy my tickets and there’s a max of THREE slots for gift cards.

I was mortified.

I had to call the airline and thankfully I was able to use all the gift cards but I spent over an hour on the phone reading every 16 and 10 digit code for every card.

The moral of the story is, check gift card policies before you buy the gift cards. All the companies I mentioned offer guarantees on their cards for a period of time but it’s still your responsibility to check policies.

<img data-attachment-id="5095" data-permalink="" data-orig-file="" data-orig-size="1080,1080" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}" data-image-title="How to get Cheap Gift Cards" data-image-description="

Do you want to get gift cards at less than the value? You can get discounted gift cards to help save you money on your favorite things!! #moneysavingshacks #moneysavingstips #discountedgiftcards #moneyhacks #howtosavemoremoney #shoppinghacks #frugalshopping

” data-medium-file=”″ data-large-file=”″ loading=”lazy” data-pin-title=”How to get Cheap Gift Cards” data-pin-description=”Do you want to get gift cards at less than the value? You can get discounted gift cards to help save you money on your favorite things!! #moneysavingshacks #moneysavingstips #discountedgiftcards #moneyhacks #howtosavemoremoney #shoppinghacks #frugalshopping” src=”” alt class=”wp-image-5095″ width=”413″ height=”413″ srcset=” 600w, 300w, 150w, 768w, 1080w” sizes=”(max-width: 413px) 100vw, 413px” data-recalc-dims=”1″>

Don’t search discounted gift card sites on Google without doing your research

The gift card sites in this post are tried and trusted by me. I can’t speak for the other sites on Google. There are other sites I haven’t mentioned here that have tons of complaints against them from anything from customer service issues to not receiving their cards. 

Don’t use these sites. Use the ones I’m telling you that I’ve tried. I have had great luck with them and will continue to use them month after month. 

Buying cheap and discounted gift cards are a great money savings hack to save even more money each month. You can save hundreds over the course of a year using discounted gift cards. 

Just buy the ones you know you’ll use. You won’t be saving any money if you buy a gift card that just sits around and collects dust. 

If you want to save even more money, check out my free spending detox challenge. You can learn to save a ton of money and break bad money habits for good. 

The spending challenge can also help you break the paycheck to paycheck cycle and gain control of your money. It’s a free 7-day money saving challenge. Go on and sign-up here. 

<img data-attachment-id="4221" data-permalink="" data-orig-file="" data-orig-size="1000,1500" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}" data-image-title="Discounted-Gift-Cards" data-image-description="

Do you want to get gift cards at less than the value? You can get discounted gift cards to help save you money on your favorite things!! #moneysavingshacks #moneysavingstips #discountedgiftcards #moneyhacks #howtosavemoremoney #shoppinghacks #frugalshopping

” data-medium-file=”″ data-large-file=”” loading=”lazy” data-pin-description=”Do you want to get gift cards at less than the value? You can get discounted gift cards to help save you money on your favorite things!! #moneysavingshacks #moneysavingstips #discountedgiftcards #moneyhacks #howtosavemoremoney #shoppinghacks #frugalshopping” data-pin-title=”How to get Cheap Gift Cards” src=”” alt class=”wp-image-4221″ width=”301″ height=”452″ srcset=” 1000w, 200w, 400w, 768w” sizes=”(max-width: 301px) 100vw, 301px”>

<img data-attachment-id="4398" data-permalink="" data-orig-file="" data-orig-size="700,1350" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"1"}" data-image-title="How to Save Money on Christmas Shopping with Gift Cards" data-image-description="

Do you want to save money on Christmas shopping? You can buy your Christmas gifts with discounted gift cards to save even more money on Christmas. #moneysavingtipsforchristmas #christmasshopping #christmashacks #moneysavingshacks #howtosavemoneyonchristmaspresents #christmasgiftsonabudget

” data-medium-file=”″ data-large-file=”″ loading=”lazy” width=”311″ height=”600″ data-pin-title=”How to Save Money on Christmas Shopping with Gift Cards” data-pin-description=”Do you want to save money on Christmas shopping? You can buy your Christmas gifts with discounted gift cards to save even more money on Christmas. #moneysavingtipsforchristmas #christmasshopping #christmashacks #moneysavingshacks #howtosavemoneyonchristmaspresents #christmasgiftsonabudget” src=”” alt class=”wp-image-4398″ srcset=” 311w, 156w, 700w” sizes=”(max-width: 311px) 100vw, 311px” data-recalc-dims=”1″>

Jen Smith is a personal finance expert, founder of Modern Frugality and co-host of the Frugal Friends Podcast. Her work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Lifehacker, Money Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, Business Insider, and more. She’s passionate about helping people gain control of their spending.


9 Simple Ways To Get Free Diapers

9 Ways Get Free Diapers

9 Ways Get Free Diapers

Looking for free diapers and low-cost baby products?

Diapers are expensive and a pain in the budget. Babies need roughly 8000 diapers before they’re potty trained, costing parents $2000 or more.

So we’ve put together some simple and legitimate options to help you save money. When you combine these methods together, you can literally save hundreds of dollars.

Try these easy tactics to get free diapers. It only takes a few minutes to fill out a form or sign up for a program, and the savings you’ll enjoy is truly worth it.

Table of Contents



Let’s start with the low-hanging fruit – free stuff from Target.

Target Baby Registry – Set up a baby registry at Target and you’ll get free diapers and wipes from The Honest Company and plenty more.

You’ll also receive a cool gift bag stuffed with free samples and a $50 coupon book with savings at major outlets like Starbucks and Liz Lange.

Here’s just some of what you get:

  • Munchkin Latch 4 oz. baby bottle
  • Baby Aquaphor diaper rash cream
  • MAM newborn pacifier
  • Johnson & Johnson Head-to-Toe lotion
  • A 10-piece sample pack of baby wipes from The Honest Company.
  • Pampers samples of diapers and wipes.
  • Lanisinoh disposable nursing pads and breastmilk storage bags
  • Johnsons’s “Baby’s Firsts” guide to first-year milestones
  • Babyganics Moisturizing Daily Lotion sample tube
  • Mustela Hydra Bebe body lotion sample
  • Zarbee’s Naturals baby immune support vitamins
  • 10% off any nursing bra and/or camisole.

Two:  Sign Up for Amazon Family

Amazon Mom Family

Amazon Mom Family

Amazon Family (formerly Amazon Mom) comes with a free 30-day trial, or you can access it for free if you’re already a Prime member.  Just create a child profile to begin and save up to 20% on diaper and baby food subscriptions.   You’ll also get additional discounts on other family products.

Amazon Family is part of Prime so all shipping is free.

Refer your friends and get an additional $10 in Amazon credit to use for free diapers.

Three:  Get Free Amazon Cards for Diapers



Wouldn’t it be great to get free Amazon cards and then use them for diapers and other baby products?

Good news – Swagbucks and InboxDollars give you that opportunity.  Here’s how it works.

Swagbucks gives you rewards points for various online actions, such as using their search engine, taking surveys, watching videos and playing games.  Then just redeem your rewards for Amazon gift cards (or cards from other stores) or as cash through PayPal.

Signing up is free and you’ll even get a $5 sign up bonus.

TIP:  Download the app and perform many of the tasks on the go.  You can easily earn $25 each month in Amazon cards with minimal effort.

InboxDollars is another loyalty company offering rewards for shopping online, taking surveys and watching videos. Redeem your points for an Amazon card to use on anything you want.

Four:  Get Free Diapers by Signing Up with Diaper Companies

Huggies Rewards Program

Huggies Rewards Program

Diaper companies know that most parents find one diaper brand they like and use them exclusively as long as their child needs diapers.

Naturally, these companies want you to be loyal to their brand, and not to their competitors.  So they’ll happily give you free diaper samples to earn your loyalty.

Huggies Rewards program offers free diapers and wipes when you redeem Huggies points.  You can get 500 free points just for signing up here.

When you make a purchase of Huggies diapers or baby products, upload your receipt to their site to get more points added to your account.

Huggies recently lowered the number of points needed to acquire coupons for free diapers and baby products so saving money is easier than ever.

In addition to Huggies, check out the rewards programs at the other major brands:




More Free Samples

Honest Company – Jessica Alba’s environmentally safe company will send you 7 premium diapers and 10 baby wipes. The diapers contain no chemical bleaches.

Dollar Diaper Club – Get a free trial and they’ll send you 6 organic diapers and 10 wipes.

Everyday Happy – Receive a free trial box of premium diapers and a package of bamboo wipes.

Simply Right – Sign up on their website and this Sam’s Club brand will send you free diapers and wipes.

Five:  Smart Couponing for Free Diapers

Clipping Coupons

Clipping Coupons

Check your local paper and online for diaper coupons and look for diaper sales at your local stores.  By timing your coupons with diaper sales, you can really save on diapers, or even get them for free.

Here are a few places online where you can clip baby diaper coupons.

Huggies coupons

Luvs coupons

Pampers coupons

Six:  Use Referral Programs for Diaper Money

baby diapers

baby diapers

A couple of companies offer lucrative referral programs that could add up to a lot of free diapers and wipes. gives you $5 in diaper credit for each person you refer to their site.  Sign up for their referral program here.

If you have an active Facebook or Instagram account, ePantry has a referral program.  Post to your accounts and earn $8 for every mom you sign up.

Occasionally ePantry runs promotions offering up to $20 per referral.

Seven:  Charities and Government Programs Helping with Diapers and More.

Free baby diapers

Free baby diapers

The National Diaper Bank Network helps low-income families with free diapers.  The non-profit network has chapters nationwide so those in need can pick up diapers locally.

This is a great complement to food stamps and WIC, which do not provide diapers. aims to assist the needy with a variety of needs.   Here is their free baby diapers resource list of organizations everywhere that are ready to help.

Eight: – Save by using cloth diapers

Cloth Diapers

Cloth Diapers

Washable cloth diapers are an environmentally friendly option for your child.

They can also help you save money, especially if you have, or plan on having, more than one child in diapers.

Nine:  Call Pediatrician or Hospital for Freebies

Pediatrician and hospitals give diapers

Pediatrician and hospitals give diapers

Hospitals often give you stuff you need for your newborn, such as a free diaper bag or car seat.  Check with your hospital before your due date to see what is available to you.

Your OB/Gyn doctor and pediatrician are also great resources to consider for free baby diapers, bottles, and formula samples.  They can steer you in the right direction and they usually have baby samples right there in their office.

Like It?  Share It!

If this post was helpful, please share it with others who might like it too.  Thanks!

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Pros and Cons of 0% Interest Balance Transfer Credit Cards

sWoman credit card

Woman credit card

Transferring your debt to 0% interest balance transfer credit cards seems like a no-brainer right?

You’ll pay no interest for a promotional period of time so 100% of your payment will go to the principal.

Sounds like a win to me.  And quite often it is a win.

But not always.

When you know all the pros and cons, you can accurately determine if transferring your debt to a balance transfer card makes sense for you.

With that in mind, I’ve put together this complete list of pros and cons to help you decide if you should transfer your balance.

Do your due diligence and weigh all the pros and cons of a balance transfer credit card to make sure it will really help you save money while paying off your debt faster.

Table of Contents

how you transfer your debt to a balance transfer credit card the right way.

A 0% balance transfer card can save you money

Clearly paying less interest on your credit card debt will save you money.

Just remember to run the numbers, taking into account the balance transfer fee and the promotional and standard interest rates.  I recommend using a good credit card payoff calculator.

Here’s an example of good balance transfer numbers:

Say you have $5000 in credit card debt which requires you to pay 30% interest.

If you pay $300 a month, you will pay off that card in 22 months.  It’ll cost you $1,549 in interest for a total of $6,549.

On the other hand, if you transfer that balance to an 18-month, 0% interest credit card your numbers would look like this:

You would pay the same $300 a month for only 17 months, paying $0 in interest for a total cost of $5,000.

Most credit card companies charge a 3% balance transfer fee, which in this example works out to $150.

That means you would save $1,549 dollars minus the $150 balance transfer fee for a total savings of 1,399 with the added benefit of paying off your debt 5 months sooner.

In the interest of balance, we’ll run the numbers on a balance transfer that doesn’t add up to such an obvious benefit once we take a look at the cons.

You can enjoy better terms and even get rewards

The credit card landscape is extremely competitive, and companies are trying harder than ever to capture your business.

Why does this matter?

If you have lousy terms with your current credit card, such as high fees or a short grace period, you can dump that credit card and enjoy better terms with someone else.

Shop for not only the best introductory interest rate but also for a better interest rate once the promotion period ends.  Also look for credit card rewards on new purchases.

Here’s the thing:

If you’re going to go through with a balance transfer, make sure the new company treats you better than your current one.

Consolidate your credit card debt to make your finances simpler

Consolidating your credit card debt makes budgeting a little easier and more convenient.  Just having all your debt in one place makes it easier to manage and pay down your debt. What’s more, transferring your balance to a 0% card can create space in your budget, which is ideal if you’re trying to stop living paycheck to paycheck.

The Cons of Balance Transfer Credit Cards You Need To Know

The APR is only temporary

Never forget, the banks are making a bet on you.

They are willing to give you an attractive promotional rate and they are counting on you not paying off your balance on time.

If you don’t pay off your debt before the promotional rate expires, you’ll be hit with the considerably higher revert rate.  Don’t be surprised if this rate is in the 25%-30% range.

But you don’t have to get stuck with this rate.  Instead, do your homework ahead of time and make sure the revert rate is not excessive.

Even better, only get a balance transfer rate if you know you can pay off the balance during the promotional period.

Balance transfer accounts can be very expensive

Typically banks charge a balance transfer fee of 1% to 3% as well as the annual service fee.

In the “Pros” section above, we showed you an example of a balance transfer credit card which saved you money.

Now let’s take a look at a balance transfer that’s not quite a slam dunk like before.

Let’s say you have a credit card with a $3,000 balance in which you are paying 20% interest.

If you are paying $140 per month, you will pay off the debt in 27 months, including $742 in interest.  In total, you will pay $3,780 in this scenario.

But what if you found a balance transfer credit card offering a 12-month promotional period with 0% interest and a standard 3% balance transfer fee.

You could transfer your balance for $90 and pay down $1,680 of your debt in the first 12 months.

Your balance (initial $3,000 plus the $90 transfer fee) of $3090 would be $1,320.

Now the bad news:

The promotional period ends and the bank pumps the interest up to 30%.

If you continued paying $140 per month, you would pay off the debt in a total of 23 months.  Your total out-of-pocket expenses would be $3,320, including only $204 in interest fees.

To recap this scenario:

Current credit card: You would pay a total of $3,780 over 27 months with your current credit card at 20% interest.

Balance transfer credit card:  Including the balance transfer fee, you would pay $3,320 over 23 months.  You would save 4 months payments and save $460 dollars.

Don’t get me wrong, $460 is a nice sum and at first glance, and it may seem worth it to do the transfer.

But when you consider all the potential cons we’ve mentioned, $460 may not be enough of a benefit to outweigh the other factors.

The point is, run the numbers and make sure the risk/reward ratio works in your favor.

Balance transfers are not always included.

Don’t assume every 0% APR offer is good for balance transfers.  Nearly all of these offers are good for new purchases made on the card.  But the same is not always true for balance transfers.

In other words, sometimes the 0% APR offer applies to balance transfers, sometimes it doesn’t.

I can’t emphasize this enough;

Before you consolidate your debt on a new card, check the terms and conditions carefully to ensure balance transfers are also eligible for the promotional rate.

Balance transfers can potentially hurt your credit score

Your credit score can take a hit when you open a new card.  Your score will drop if the balance of the new card is over 30% of the card’s limit.  Not to worry, making your payments on time will negate this penalty soon enough.

Here is another credit score consideration:

In order to minimize the risk of running up debt, many people close their old account after the balance transfer is completed.

This is wise and it is what we usually recommend.

But there is one exception:

If you’re going to be applying for a home loan in the near future, it’s probably smarter to keep the old account open because closing accounts usually hurt your credit score.

Final credit score consideration:

Closing accounts with zero balance will actually raise your credit utilization percentage, the amount of balance you carry versus the amount of credit you have available to you.

The truth is, the lower your credit utilization – the better your credit score will be.  So, closing your old card could hurt your credit score.

That’s not all.

Closing an old account may hurt your length of credit history, which can also negatively affect your score.

In other words, closing your first credit card account may hurt the length of credit history and, consequently, your score.  Conversely, closing a more recent account would not affect your score in this way.

Bottom line?

If you’re not getting a mortgage anytime soon, you probably shouldn’t worry about the credit hit too much.

Paying off debt, and staying out of debt, are the bigger, more important goals here.

Late payments can kill your APR

Sadly, that enticing 0% promotional interest rate can be lost in the blink of an eye.  All it takes is one late payment.

Read the disclosures carefully to make sure you understand the terms of a credit card offer.  The card issuers often have the sright, to not only end the introductory period but also to hit you with a hefty penalty APR, usually in the staggering neighborhood of 30%.

You are exposing yourself to potentially more debt

As I mentioned before, the banks are betting that you won’t be able to resist making more purchases and racking up more debt.

So if you’re going to do a balance transfer, vow to yourself that you are doing so strictly to help you pay off your debt.

Cut up your cards, or hide them in a safe place, so you won’t be tempted to use them for impulse buys.

Should you get a balance transfer credit card?

Transferring your debt to a 0% interest credit card only makes sense if the purpose is to pay down debt.

Even then, there are pros and cons to consider when deciding if you should or should not get a balance transfer credit card.

The Bottom Line About Balance Transfer Pros and Cons

The truth is, if you’re considering transferring a credit card balance for any other reasons besides saving money and getting out of debt faster, you probably should not do it.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking the balance transfer is all that needs to be done to get your finances back on track.  If you don’t have a plan to pay down debt and stay out of debt, a balance transfer card will probably be counter-productive and lead to more debt.

But the bottom line is this:

When it’s done the right way as part of a debt reduction plan, and only after you have run the numbers and read the terms and disclosures, a balance transfer credit card can be a very effective tool to save money and pay off debt faster.

Like it?  Share it!

Was this article helpful?  If so, please consider sharing it so that others can benefit from it too.  Thanks!

Related: Busted! The Myths of Balance Transfer Credit Cards

Pay Off Credit Cards Sooner With Bi-Weekly Payments (Saves $1000’s)

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5 Printable Budget Planners That Can Save Your Finances (and Your Sanity)!

5 printable budget planners that make budgeting a breeze
the #1 tool to simplify your monthly budget
the secret shortcut to making the perfect budget
how to make a rock solid budget
5 printable budget planners to save your finances

The top 5 budgeting methods turned into simple and easy printable budget planners. Just print & go!

I find that so many times, I read about a good idea, something I want to try, and I end up making it a lot harder than it needs to be! I see a recipe for the best bread to make with kiddos, and I go out and try to figure out how to get the grain to grind into flour to make the bread!

Drastic? Yes! Just plain silly? Yes! I make things a lot harder than I need to. Just buy the dang flour! We will get great results from using regular flour.

Do you ever make things harder than they need to be?

The same example could be used for budgeting, and specifically the actual budget planner. People grab spiral notebooks, scratch paper, napkins, or whatever to write it all down. They think it’s great and tell themselves budgeting is easy. Then they realize through the month that their budget is missing a bunch of things, and the layout doesn’t make sense, and before you know it…

“I hate budgeting! It doesn’t work for me!”  

When in all actuality, you just had to go a bit deeper and find a printable budget planner (aka just buy the flour). These are already tried and tested forms from money nerds who might be slight perfectionists when it comes to their nerdom. Now that you found the budget templates, you need to find the best budget planner to get started on today!

5 printable budget planners to save your sanity

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Why are there different budgeting methods?

Just as someone likes to read a book, others like to read magazines or in their kindle app. Some people like strict guidelines, and others like some wiggle room. It’s all personal preference and what works for your personal situation.

As a budgeting beginner, you may want to try a few different budgeting methods and see what you find to be the best.

The information you put on the form will be the same dollar amounts. Yet, it will be in a different layout with different budget planners, with importance placed on different elements.

For example, some budgets place saving money as a priority, and some don’t. With some, you spend your money in cash, and with others, you can use whatever you want.

Having options ensures that you will find the best fit for you!

What makes a monthly budgeting planner the “best”?

Some key things make a method the “best” for you. But remember, it may not be the best for your friend. So don’t try to force something that isn’t working for you!

Your budget planner should…

  • Be on one page so you can see everything at once (don’t overcomplicate it).
  • Have you come out to $0 at the end of the month or a positive number. Constantly overspending your budget isn’t good.
  • Be tweaked! Nothing is a perfect fit on the first try. It may take you a few months to get all the kinks smoothed out.
  • Not confuse you or be too complicated. If it takes you half a day to plan your budget, then something isn’t right.
  • Reflect your financial goals! If your goal is to save to buy a house, then why is your clothing budget $200 a month?

When should you switch budgeting methods?

It’s time to try a different method when…

  • You are hating your money life
  • You have no idea what’s going on with your money
  • You are constantly overspending

That will be the key with all of the budgets! That you come out at the end of the month with a $0 or a positive number! If you are continually overspending, it may not be a “budget problem,” but an “I want everything” issue that you’d need to dig in to.

Heck, it would be great to afford everything that we wanted, but that’s probably not possible for 99.9999998% of us!  (dang it!)

Remember, almost every budget will need to be tweaked and adjusted. Nothing comes out perfect the first time! By month 3, you should have it down (if it’s a good method for you).

Sometimes you don’t need to switch budgeting methods, you just need to switch out your tools. A great tool can be a physical budget planner, like the mini books, or folios. These planners help guide down a path, and can be a great resource to help broaden your financial perspective!

Simple monthly printable budget planner

The simple monthly budget planner is as simple & easy as it gets in regards to a printable budget planner. You take income minus savings, minus debt repayments, minus the items you must spend, and then you have your discretionary spending.

There aren’t any preset spending categories to confuse you or add fluff. The main point being you lead the way with specific expenditures and savings buckets!

All you need to do is make sure that the bottom left-hand section, the Monthly Budget Snapshop, has a positive number (or $0) as the last number in the actual column.  

simple budget printable budget planner pages

Cash envelope printable budget planner

Earlier, I mentioned financial goals, and if you those, you most likely will need to be saving money. My very favorite way to save money is through sinking funds!  One of the easiest ways to do this is through cash envelopes!

In a nutshell, you say, “I want to go on vacation.” So each payday, you portion out a set amount of money directly into your vacation fund (a separate bank account ideally). Then in a few months or a year, depending on where you want to go, you will have the money saved! Sinking Funds use a Pay Yourself First model, as you pay your sinking funds before paying any discretionary bills. Here, your goals are your most important financial obligation!

The cash envelope printable budget planner for sinking funds considers this. The very first section, after your income, are your SF’s! This is important, as you want your must spends at the top of the list (while there’s money left), and then the least important expenses are down at the bottom of the list.

I know this goes against traditional budgeting methods, where you pay your bills first. But honestly, if that were working so well, then 37% of Americans wouldn’t be in credit card debt (source).

If you want a different result, you need to try a new way of doing things!

cash envelope printable budget planner pages

The zero-based budget planner

The zero-based budget method is the method that I personally use for my family. I have combined a bunch of different practices into this one method, and it absolutely works! I have detailed the process out more in Part 4 of your Ultimate Guide on How to Budget – it’s a Better Budget.

**If you want the full step by step guide, the Better Budget is what you’ll want. But if you’re looking for just a zero-based budget form (with no step by step guide) then this works great!

With a zero-based budget, as the money guru, Dave Ramsey says, “You give every dollar a job!” Because each and every dollar could be earning you money or putting you closer to your goals! No sense in leaving money out there to do nothing!

This printable budget planner lays out the most common spending categories, which is great as then you don’t forget any of your bills (either regular or one-off bills, like an Amazon subscription or your gym annual fee).  

You start with income and then work your way down the line until you have everything filled out. This form has the spending categories and line items set up in a very specific order. The items at the top are things you must spend money on. As you go down the list and get to the bottom, the items are more non-necessity expenses (aka things to cut if you don’t have enough money).

Then at the very bottom of the sheet, your total should be $0. If it’s negative, then check your math; if it’s not positive or zero a second time, then it’s time to trim the budget! If it’s a positive number, then putting extra in your savings is always a good idea! Especially if you don’t have a fully-funded emergency account.

zero based budget printable budget planner

Again, if you’re looking for the full meal deal of budgets (with all the bells & whistles) then go here to check out the Better Budget!

The 50/30/20 printable budget planner

The 50/30/20 Budget Planner is a great method to start with, especially if you’re just getting started with budgeting and want a general picture of where your money “should” be going. I say should because this is a framework that multiple experts agree upon.

Yes, it’s your money, you earned it, so you should be able to do what you want with it. Yet, you came here for guidance, so I’m going to give you the generally accepted norms for budgeting percentages.

With the 50/30/20 budget, you like a framework but still want flexibility.  

You input your monthly take-home income at the top (not gross) and then dole out…

50% for needs 

  • housing
  • utilities
  • insurance
  • debt minimum payments
  • food

30% for wants

  • subscriptions
  • gym
  • eating out
  • clothes

20% for savings

  • 401(k)
  • IRA
  • emergency fund
50/30/20 budget printable budget planner pages

The budget by paycheck printable budget planner

The budget by paycheck planner method is simply dividing your month (the income, bills & expenses) in two. Instead of a full one month budget, you have two mini month budgets (approx 2 weeks).

Unlike the others, this method may mean that you call some of your credit cards and bill companies and ask them to move your bill “due by date.” Which is totally common! Don’t think that you are stuck with the exact date they gave you!  

With this method, you would ideally take your total bill amount for the entire month and have 1/2 of them (by dollar amount, not by the number of bills) due at the beginning of the month and then half at the end of the month. This way, you always have money left over from paying bills, and you never have too much month left and not enough money.  

I know it can sound confusing, but having a monthly calendar and writing in your bills can make it much easier to understand. Remember, we all learn in different ways! Be it auditory (reading this blog out loud so you can hear it), simply reading it, by watching someone else do it, or by actively doing it (kinesthetic learning).  

Sometimes, if a concept is confusing at first, I will read it a few times. Then do something else for a few hours (or a few days) and let it marinate in my brain a bit. In the background of doing other things, my brain continues to process this info, and eventually (hopefully), when I come back to it, it makes more sense. OR, I think of a different way to ask my question, which pops up a new and different answer!

budget by paycheck printable budget planner pages

My best advice on which is the best budget planner

If you’re brand new to budgeting and don’t have an immediate need (aka bank collectors are at your door), then try the 50/30/20. It’s a great place to start because it gives good common-sense guidelines on spending amounts by a percentage of your income.

Yet, if you’ve tried budgeting before, and ended up frustrated and annoyed, then maybe it wasn’t a “you” problem. Maybe it was just the budgeting method you tried. Remember, even those that find the “right” way for them have to do it still do a decent amount of tweaking in the first three months, and then they find a rhythm and pattern.

An easy way to find the best budget planner is to try them all! Seriously, just grab the printable Budget Planner Sampler Pack, grab your financial numbers, fill out the printable budget planners, and see which form…

  • Makes the most sense to you
  • One that you will be likely to stick to in the long run
  • Isn’t too complicated for your lifestyle
  • Keeps your financial goals up in front

The printable Beginning Budgeter’s Planner Sampler Pack has each of these budget templates in there so you can try them out. I’ve made this pack so it would be super easy for you to experiment with budgeting and finally find the right fit. I fully believe in the corny saying…

“If at first, you don’t succeed, try, try again.”   (ya, super corny, but it fits!)

beginning budgeter's budget sample pack printable budget pages

For the DIY budgeters

I get it, I totally do. Sometimes you just need to put pen to paper and scratch it out on your own. Yet, you can still grab my free budgeting templates, which has 13 pages of free printable worksheets for you to get started!

At the end of the day

Budgeting can be hard initially, especially when you feel like you don’t “get it.” But I am living proof that anyone can learn about and master their money! (I used to buy shoes like they were tic tacs!) I found some ways that worked for me, Googled a bunch of stuff, I used available resources, and I practiced and practiced some more!

Again, there’s no need to make things harder than they need to be. Be smart and use things that others have already worked the kinks out of! Using a printable budget planner could mean that you get the hang of things 6 months sooner, and you reach your financial goals that much sooner! So do it! Buy the dang flour! 

free budgeting templates signup

It doesn’t matter which printable monthly budget planner you try, just start! Start right now!