At a Glance
By transferring credit card balances you have to one single card, you reduce both the number of monthly payments and interest payments you need to make. In fact, many balance transfer cards even offer a 0% introductory APR to help you get your footing. This can help you lower your overall debt, save money. If done correctly the major takeaway will be that your finances will improve significantly overall.
What should you know before a balance transfer?
While a balance transfer can be an effective way to consolidate your debt, there are a few crucial aspects you should be aware of:
1. Length of intro APR offer
The introductory APR offer, whether 0% or an abnormally low interest rate, will expire in most cases after a certain amount of time. These 0% balance transfer credit cards can be extremely beneficial if you’ve been faced with high APRs in the past. Look for cards that offer as much as a year with this introductory rate, as it will give you the maximum amount of time possible to pay off the loan without accruing additional debt.
2. Types of debt you can transfer
All balance transfer cards are different and the type of debt you can transfer will vary from lender to lender. In many cases, you will be allowed to transfer auto loans, personal loans, and other various types of debt along with credit card debt. Therefore, before settling on a balance transfer card, identify the type of debt you have.
3. Balance transfer fee
Learning how to transfer credit card balances involves learning the fees that may be associated with this transfer. For an online transfer balance credit card, you may pay anywhere between 3-5% for the amount you transfer. So, if you transfer $1,000, you may pay between $30-$50 in fees. No balance transfer fee credit cards do exist, however, so do your research to see if the card you’re looking at does.
Pros and cons of a balance transfer
Regarding general financial advice for credit card debt balance transfers, it’s important to look at the pros and cons associated with this strategy. Evaluating whether a balance transfer is correct for your specific debt situation involves looking at all the following factors:
Pros of a balance transfer credit card
- Consolidated debt payments with a single interest rate
- Potential introductory APR of 0%
- Removal of potential yearly credit card fees on other cards
Cons of a balance transfer credit card
- The possibility of high fees depending on the balance transfer card and transfer amount
- Standard APR will kick in at the end of the introductory period
- Healthier credit scores or debt-to-income may be required to get such a card
Step-by-step guide to transfer a credit card balance
Assuming you’ve reviewed the above factors and determined that a balance transfer credit card is right for you, follow the below steps to learn how to apply:
1. Review your existing debts
As mentioned earlier, different balance transfer credit card lenders will allow you to transfer different types of debt. Therefore, choosing the correct balance transfer card that encompasses most of your debt should be a top priority. Review all existing debt you may have to determine which card is best for you.
2. Apply for a balance transfer card
Upon settling on a balance transfer card that’s right for you, the next step is to simply apply for the card! This is going to require personal and financial information such as your social security number, current and past address, income information, and more.
When learning how to get approved for balance transfer credit cards, preparing these ahead of time is one of the best first steps. Read more on this process of balance transfer cards here.
3. Request a balance transfer
After being approved for the balance transfer card, you will likely wonder how long does a balance transfer take? Simply request the balance transfer and the new credit card company will initiate the repayment of your old cards and the transfer to your balance transfer card.
Be aware that there is a grace period which, should you make charges before the end of the billing cycle, may cause the forfeiture of the introductory APR. Simply wait until the balance is complete and minimum payments are dictated before adding more expenses.
4. Pay off your balance
After your credit card balances have been transferred to the new card, it is important to start meeting your minimum payments and more if possible. Balance transfer credit cards are most beneficial when you use the introductory period to pay off the total debt without incurring interest on the balance you carry over. You can do a balance transfer from multiple cards, so do not be afraid to request a transfer for most of your debt.
As long as you do not exceed your new balance transfer credit cards limit, you should be able to transfer balances from multiple cards. Be sure to research what this limit is prior to transferring all your balances.
While you can use multiple balance transfer cards to consolidate your debt, it is best to consolidate one at a time and pay off your debt as you go. Otherwise, you may not be able to completely pay off the debt before the introductory APR expires.
Ensure your credit score meets the requirements of the lender who you are seeking the balance transfer card from. Additionally, provide all requested personal and financial information that is required for the application.
After your request to initiate a balance transfer has gone through, it typically takes anywhere from five to seven days for the transfer to complete.