Learning how to do a balance transfer can help you pay off your credit card debt faster, and it only takes a few easy steps.
Balance transfers can help you reduce your overall debt and eliminate multiple high monthly credit card payments. Many cards offer an introductory rate of 0% APR for 12 to 21 months, making it easier to pay down your balance without worrying about high-interest rates.
Many people turn to balance transfers on their debt relief journey, using it as a valuable tool to save money and pay down debt faster.
- Balance transfers allow you to move your debt from one credit card (generally with a high interest rate) to one offering a promotional interest-free period.
- To get the most out of your balance transfer, plan to pay off the full balance before the interest-free period ends.
- Always compare the interest rates on multiple cards before initiating a balance transfer to ensure you choose the one that’s right for you.
What is a Balance Transfer?
Balance transfers are, just as the name suggests, the transferring of the balance of one credit card onto another. Credit cards are notorious for their high interest rates, which make it a challenge to pay off the balance in a timely manner.
Unfortunately, many people open a credit card without realizing how easy it is to fall into the high-interest trap. When you use your credit card and fail to pay off the balance each month, it incurs interest.
That interest is a fee charged by the card company and is essentially a punishment for paying less than you owe. Depending on your rate, a substantial amount of your monthly payment can go towards the interest instead of paying down your balance.
The more you spend, the more you owe, the longer it takes to pay it off, and the more money the credit card company makes.
For example, let’s say your credit card has a 15% interest rate.
If your balance is $100 and you only pay $20, the card company will charge you daily interest on the remaining $80. To find the daily rate, divide the annual interest rate by 365.
So, .15/365 =0.041% is the amount of interest added to your remaining $80 balance. At the end of the month, instead of owing the card company $80, you will owe them $81.23. This is why it is important you know how to calculate interest on your debt.
While the interest payment may not seem that high, it quickly accrues as your balance increases, forming a vicious debt cycle.
How to decide if a balance transfer is right for you
If you’re looking for a debt consolidation option that reduces your monthly payments, balance transfers can be an amazing choice. However, there are steps you must take beforehand to ensure it’s the best choice for your situation.
Analyze your debt
Balance transfers work best for those with high-interest credit cards holding less than $10,000 in debt. This balance can be from one or multiple cards and even varying credit account types.
Check your credit score
Your credit score is one of the most important determining factors when seeking a trusted balance transfer card. Having an excellent or good credit rating from 670 to 850 provides more credit card options and generally a longer introductory period.
While some cards may offer you a balance transfer option if your score is lower than 670, they may reduce the length of the 0% APR introductory period. The less time you have to pay off your balance at a 0% rate, the higher your payments must be, making it challenging if you’re on a fixed budget.
Compare multiple cards
You don’t want to sign up with the first credit card you see; you want to take time to research and compare different companies. A few items you want to consider include:
- If there is a balance transfer fee – Many credit cards charge a balance transfer fee between 3% and 5% of the amount transferred. So, for example, if you transfer $4,000 of your debt, you would pay anywhere from $120 to $200 in extra fees. There are some cards that won’t charge this fee; however, they usually offer a shorter introductory period.
- The length of the introductory APR period – Generally, most credit cards offer a 12-month introductory APR period, but some can be as long as 21 months. The longer this introductory period, the better since it gives you more time to pay your balance before you begin accruing interest again. When choosing a balance transfer credit card, it’s important to check the regular interest rate since it is what you will pay if you can’t pay off your balance on time.
Pay attention to the details
While you want to consider the length of time you will have to pay off your balance, there are other details to consider. Be sure to keep your credit limit in mind since you can’t transfer more than what the balance transfer card allows.
You’ll also want to consider the type of debt you have. While many cards will only allow you to transfer other credit card debt, some allow you to include other forms of debt, including student and car loans.
How to do a balance transfer
Let’s explore how to do a balance transfer in only four simple steps.
Step 1: Apply for the credit card
Once you know which card you would like to use, you can apply online in minutes. All you have to do is enter in basic information like your name, address, income, and Social Security number, including the amount of the balance you want to transfer.
Some cards require you to input the balance and account number from the card you are transferring from, so be sure to have that on hand. Most cards will pull a hard inquiry from your credit report when you apply, so keep that in mind.
If you’re approved, it will notify you immediately; however, if not, you will receive a letter in the mail outlining why.
Step 2: Transfer your balance
While all balance transfer methods vary slightly, they are often simple. You can generally transfer your balance online with basic information, including the amount and card number from the credit card you’re transferring from.
Step 3: Wait for the transfer to finish
Balance transfers don’t happen immediately; it can take anywhere from a few days to weeks to complete. Be sure to continue making payments on your balance until it is successfully transferred to your new card to avoid late payments and added interest accrual.
Step 4: Complete your balance pay-off
Once you’ve successfully transferred your balance, it’s essential to pay it off during your introductory APR period. If you fail to do so, you will begin accruing interest on the remainder of the balance, re-starting the vicious debt cycle.
The best way to ensure you pay off your balance on time is to take the total amount owed and divide it by the length of the introductory period. This number is how much you need to pay each month to reach a zero balance.
Final thoughts on balance transfers and if one is right for you
In conclusion, a balance transfer is a strategic financial move that can help you reduce interest payments and pay down credit card debt more efficiently.
While it’s a valuable tool, it’s essential to assess your credit score, debt amount, and repayment plan to determine if it’s the right choice for you.
For some people whose debt load has become too high or they cannot comfortably make even the minimum payments each month, a balance transfer may not be a good solution.
The good news is that there are other solutions available.
At Americor, we understand the importance of managing your finances wisely.
As America’s trusted source for debt relief solutions, we aim to empower you with financial knowledge that can lead to informed decisions, whether it’s about savings, investments, or managing debt.
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If your debt has become unmanageable and you have difficulty making your debt payments each month, then you should consider a free consultation call with one of our certified Debt Consultants, who can provide personalized advice tailored to your specific needs.
By taking proactive steps today, you can put an end to your financial stress and work towards a brighter financial future.
Remember, there is always hope for debt relief, and our team of experienced professionals are ready to guide you on your journey to regaining control of your finances.
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