Balance Transfer Credit Cards
Balance transfer credit cards are for the specific purpose of reducing your credit cards debt. Balance transfer cards allow you to move your existing debt that you’re paying interest on and move it to a new card with a lengthy 0% interest period. Accordingly, these cards are great for paying down your debt since most cards offer twelve or more months of 0% interest. Ideally, by the end of the offer period, you will have paid off all or most of your outstanding balance. To take advantage of this 0% interest period, you will likely have to pay a balance transfer fee of 3-5% of the transferred balance.
The most important factors to consider when looking for a balance transfer card is the length of the 0% balance transfer period and the regular purchase APR that comes after the introductory period ends. The best cards will offer a long introductory 0% interest period and low regular APR.
Typically you will not be able to transfer your balances from one card to a balance transfer card offered by the same bank. Accordingly, if you want to take advantage of a balance transfer offer, it’s best to spend your time comparing cards of banks that you don’t have an existing relationship with.
Why Use a Balance Transfer Card?
The savings! Normal credit card interest rates range from 15 to 25% whereas a balance transfer card will typically provide you with more than a year or 0% interest. Depending on the size of your outstanding balance, the savings can be quite significant.
The average American household has about $6,000 in outstanding credit card debt each year. As an example, the difference between 20% APR on that balance and 0% will save you $1,200 the first year! Instead of losing that money to interest, you can transfer your debt to a balance transfer card and use it to get yourself out of debt.
How to Perform a Balance Transfer
1. Apply for a balance transfer offer above.
2. Let the bank offering your new card know how much debt you want to transfer. Note this cannot exceed the credit limit of the new credit card.
3. Wait until the transfer is complete, which can take 1-2 business days.
4. Keep your old card open but make new purchases on your balance transfer card to avoid interest payments.
5. Pay down your debt by making payments on your balance transfer card.
Credit Requirements for Balance Transfers
Unfortunately, balance transfers are not available to everyone because getting approved depends on your credit score. Usually a Good or Excellent credit score is required to be approved for a balance transfer card.
Apart from credit card accounts, auto loans, student loans and personal loans can also be transferred.
Keeping all these details in mind should help you make the best decision in terms of acquiring the ideal balance transfer card. Furthermore, it is also important to note that the amount of debt that can be moved depends on the issuer. Taking factors such as the credit limit on the balance transfer card into account when deciding which balance transfer card best suits your financial needs. In most cases, however, an issuer will only disclose the credit limit of a card after your application has been approved.
A balance transfer card is a great start but you will also need a robust plan as to how you are going to pay back your debt. You can transfer more than just credit card debt to a balance transfer card. Many consumers use balance transfer cards to transfer debt from personal and auto loans too.