If you have credit card debt at some point in time you have probably considered doing a balance transfer. Perhaps you hold a substantial amount of debt on credit cards and want to get out from under the high-interest rates?
Or maybe you just want to take advantage of certain benefits that a particular credit card offers. No matter what your situation is, there are pros and cons to transferring a credit card balance. And that’s what this article will examine.
Most people who carry a hefty amount of credit card debt have at least considered a balance transfer to pay off the debt on cards that have high-interest rates. This is a very good reason to transfer debts from high interest credit cards and the main reason why so many end up doing it.
With interest rates that are super low, balance transfers can get you out of sticky situation, especially when your minimum monthly payments get to the point where it becomes unaffordable. It can offer you hope that you can get out of debt, or at least bring it down to a manageable level that you can handle on a monthly basis.
Should You Go With a Balance Transfer Credit Card?
The main question you should ask yourself before making the transfer is whether or not it will help you get out of debt, or will it end up putting me in a never-ending cycle of using balance transfers to keep me afloat. This is definitely something to consider as you look at all the details of the balance transfer offer.
Unfortunately, many people get caught up in that non-stop cycle of always needing help with their debt. That’s a terrible position to be in.
No matter how good the balance transfer is, in the end, it all comes down to being responsible for how you use your credit cards. No amount of transfers is going to get you out of debt unless you make a commitment to use them less. Always pay cash and only use your credit cards in an emergency, or for things such as business or travel purposes.
If you are thinking about doing a balance transfer, there are some things to consider that will help make your decision much easier.
0% Interest Does Not Last Forever
The first thing to understand is that the 0% introductory offer is not going to stay like that forever.
Depending on the credit card and the offer, it is important that you know exactly how long the introductory rate is good for. Usually, an introductory rate will end after 6 months but can be as long as 24 months. If you have the means to pay off the entire balance before the introductory 0% offer expires, then it is well worth it, especially if you’re paying 15% interest right now.
There will be a balance transfer fee that is around 3% of the total amount you are transferring. Each company charges different fees, but on a $10,000 balance, the amount at 3% would be a $300 fee.
Keep that in mind if you do decide to go through with the transfer because there are extra fees involved and they occur right away. However, if you can take advantage of the introductory 0% rate and pay down your debt within 6 months, then the added fee is definitely worth it.
Read the Fine Print
I know, we all hate having to read that fine print. But it’s a necessity, especially when it involves money matters.
Make sure you read all the details when doing a transfer. Balance transfers can actually harm your credit or cause you more debt if you plan on making additional high-end purchases or doing cash advances. This is where these credit card companies can get you if you aren’t paying attention.
Keep your old credit card open rather than closing it. Older credit cards on file that remain open will boost your credit score but closing them will harm it. Creditors look at the average age of all open credit cards, so, if you do close an older card it will hurt your score. Your score will also get hurt by doing too many credit card inquiries.
Balance transfers are great for someone looking to pay down debt quickly at a very low-interest rate. It may not be the best option if you are attempting to bide time because eventually the new card will have a much higher interest rate, plus you will have fees on top of it.
If you have a plan on how to tackle your debt, then a balance transfer may be a very good option. Whenever you’re dealing with credit, the most important thing to understand is that responsible use is the best practice. Without paying attention to that, no debt reduction scheme will help your finances fully recover.