A balance transfer could just be what you need to help you get rid of existing credit card debt in a more manageable fashion. It is a smart financial move that seeks to help cut down the amount of interest you incur on your credit card balance, hence letting you get out of debt quicker. While a balance transfer does not make your debt magically disappear, you sure need commitment and discipline to make it work even though it offers temporary relief from sky-high interest payments.
Before you make a balance transfer, figure out how much you need to transfer to a balance transfer credit card and have a quick look at your current interest rates (i.e. APR). You may consolidate balances from multiple credit cards, just to make paying off your debt a more streamlined process. That said, the credit line that is extended to you by your credit card company will determine how much you can actually transfer to your new balance transfer credit card.
Some balance transfer credit cards offer a 0% introductory APR for balance transfers for a period of time while others may offer a lower APR compared to your existing credit card that's carrying a balance.
When you do a balance transfer, your aim is to seek out a lower interest rate than what you are paying currently. The APR essentially determines how much interest you are liable to pay on the balance you carry.
Additionally, keep in mind most balance credit cards come with a balance transfer fee. Most balance transfer credit cards charge 3% of the full amount you transfer, with a minimum of $5.
Ideally, you would want to shoot for a credit card that offers a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for a long period so you can get as much relief from high interest payments as possible. The key is to pay off all your balance within the 0% introductory APR period - this could be 12 months, 15 months or 18 months (or anywhere in between) depending on the balance transfer credit card you transfer your balance to. After the 0% introductory APR period, a higher APR will apply.
Do your homework - read the fine print and terms and conditions. Calculate to see if a balance transfer would indeed be the best financial option for you to pay down your debt.
If the answer is a resounding yes, you can apply for a balance transfer credit card after choosing the right one for yourself. We at GET.com have listed down some of the best balance transfer credit cards you can consider below.
After you have been approved for the balance transfer card, contact the credit card company to let them know you have a balance transfer request. This can usually be done over the phone or online. It can take some time for your credit card company to process the balance transfer, so make it a point to continue making payments punctually on your existing old card until you receive confirmation that the balance transfer has gone through.
Be disciplined and pay off your debt punctually to save money on interest payments and make the balance transfer work to your advantage. Start making payments on your balance transfer credit card, as well as any remaining balance on your old card if you did not move the entire balance over to the balance transfer card.
Aim to clear your debt as quickly as you can, and avoid getting into debt going forward. Credit cards can be rewarding, but you always have to remember to use them responsibly and within your means.