Consolidating Credit Cards: How To Effectively Use Balance Transfers

Posted by Nick Niesen on October 29th, 2010

The practice of transferring the balance of one credit card with a high interest rate to another credit card with a lower interest rate is a fairly common way to consolidate debt, but very few people know how to make effective balance transfers. The goal of balance transfers is very simple: to save money. If you are not, then you are probably not utilizing balance transfers effectively.

The following factors will determine how and when you should make balance transfers so that you maximize the benefits.

Credit History

If you have a poor credit history, then you have a lower chance of securing a credit card with a low interest rate. Credit card companies base their decisions upon consumers? credit scores and collection accounts, so it will help if you are familiar with your credit report. That way, you aren?t applying for several credit cards at once, thus planting those applications on your credit report.

Those with high credit scores can usually obtain a credit card with a low APR (annual percentage rate) or even a 0% APR. Many credit card offers include 0% interest on balance transfers for the first six-to-twelve months, which can save you hundreds of dollars immediately.

Credit Card Balance

A high credit card balance will make it more difficult to execute a single balance transfer. Most credit cards have limits on how much debt you can transfer at one time; sometimes the limit is as high as $10,000, while others might be as low as $2,000. Do your homework before applying for credit cards and find out what the balance transfer limit will be. That way you aren?t obtaining a credit card for which you will have no use.

Balance Transfer Fees

Many credit card companies charge fees for balance transfers, which are typically around 3% of the transfer amount. Although most credit cards have caps on the fee amount for a balance transfer, you should always read the terms and conditions to make sure. Compare the fees that credit card companies charge, and choose one that offers a low or no balance transfer fee.

Debt Management

Sometimes, it isn?t the credit card that?s the problem. People who lack the ability to effectively manage debt will not reap the rewards of balance transfers. Even if you take debt from several different places and put it into one account, you are still going to owe the money.

Keep a folder that contains all of the information you have about your credit card debt. Research balance transfers carefully, and when you have chosen the right card, begin to manage your debt. Decide how much of the debt you will pay off each month, and stick to that, no matter what other problems or temptations might crop up in your life. Balance transfers won?t help if you never begin to pay off the debt.

Balance transfers can be valuable tools if you know how to use them effectively. Pay careful attention to your debt and do proper research on the management of that debt. While credit cards can ultimately be your best resource for debt management, they can also cause a wealth of problems if you are not prudent in your solutions.

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Nick Niesen

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Nick Niesen
Joined: April 29th, 2015
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