At a Glance
For many people around the world, a balance transfer credit card offers many benefits that make it an option worth considering. However, choosing the right balance transfer credit card can be difficult without knowing how balance transfer works, along with the finer details of this card type. Learn everything you need to know in order to choose the best balance transfer credit card for your wallet.
In this article, you’ll learn:
Know how balance transfer works
First and foremost, it’s important for a person to understand how credit card balance transfer works in order to determine whether it’s the right type of card for them. The way in which balance transfer works is that a person who signs up for a new credit card can transfer an existing balance on a credit card over to their new card. This transferred amount will likely incur interest at a predefined rate for balance transfers.
Learn more: How Does Credit Card Balance Transfer Work
Check your debt and consider alternatives accordingly
After looking at how balance transfer actually works, the next step in choosing a balance transfer card for you wallet is checking your existing debt and evaluating alternatives. In some cases, the fee or APR for balance transfers to a new card may be too high considering the amount of debt you have. In this situation, consider alternatives such as debt consolidation loans which often come with lower interest rates than credit cards.
Check your credit score
Before taking out any type of debt, regardless of whether it’s a balance transfer credit card or something else, a person should check their credit score in order to be sure they can afford more debt. Additionally, the last thing anyone wants is to apply for a credit card only to be denied due to a low credit score.
Know how 0% APR intro works
For some select credit card balance transfer offerings there may be a 0% introductory APR offer available. This means that for the defined period, a person will not have to pay any interest on the amount of funds that have been transferred. However, if the introductory period ends and there is still debt left unpaid, the remaining amount will begin to incur interest.
Consider a balance transfer fee
Something many people often fail to consider when learning how to choose a balance transfer credit card is the fact that there may be a fee associated with the amount being transferred. This fee is often between 2% and 5%, which may not sound like a lot of money but when there is significant debt being transferred it can add up. For example, take someone transferring $10,000 to their new card. This person may be charged a fee between $200-$500 for making that transfer, which is worth remembering.
Learn more: Balance Transfer Fee
Check on current credit card issuer
Keep in mind that credit card issuers do not often allow a person to transfer debt between the same card issuer. For example, if you already own a Citi card and are considering picking up another, you may not be able to transfer funds over to the other card depending on the terms and conditions of that card.
Compare card offer details
Perhaps the biggest factor in how to pick the best balance transfer credit card is to simply compare the card offer details for different cards. The most notable factors to consider are as follows:
1. Length of intro period
For cards with an introductory APR period on balance transfers, see which card offers the longest intro period. The longer the period, the better the card in general for those who are transferring a large amount of debt. Be aware that cards with a long introductory APR period typically require better credit.
As mentioned, balance transfer fees are common on balance transfer cards. Therefore, when thinking about when should balance transfer credit card debt, look at the various fees you may be charged for making the transfer to certain cards.
3. Intro APR on purchases
Finally, a balance transfer credit may also offer an introductory APR period on purchases in addition to on-balance transfers. This means that any new purchases made with the card will also not incur interest if the balance accrues over time, at least until the introductory period ends.
Check various rewards and perks offered
Many credit cards that offer balance transfers also offer additional perks to cardholders. These can vary from large welcome bonuses in the form of cash-back to rewards credit cards which allow a person to accrue points for the purpose of travel redemption, food redemption, or general shopping redemption. Consider these different categories when thinking about the different balance transfer cards you can take out.
In general, the most important factors to consider when thinking about different balance transfer credit cards are the balance transfer APR, purchase APR, applicable fees on balance transfers, and additional perks offered by the card.
The length of time it takes to pay off a balance on a balance transfer credit card will vary depending on how much debt has been transferred. Keep in mind, though, that if a card does not have an introductory APR period, you may be paying large amounts of interest on the amounts you transferred.
Assuming the card you are transferring your existing debt to has an introduction 0% APR period or, at the very least, a lower balance transfer APR rate, it’s perfectly feasible that a person could save money on interest when transferring funds.
Generally, other credit card balance is the type of debt that can be transferred to another credit card. Transferring debt in the form of a loan often requires a debt consolidation loan, rather than a balance transfer credit card.
Transferring debt from one credit card to another can certainly be a good idea if it saves a person money on less interest. However, transferring debt does not get rid of debt, which is why it’s still important to use healthy credit habits to reduce the amount you owe.