Here is what you need to consider before applying for a balance transfer credit card:
- From which card(s) will you be transferring? Most issuers won't allow you to transfer balances to another one of their credit cards. For example, you cannot transfer your balance from one Citi card to another Citi card. So make sure you choose a different bank than your current card.
- How long is the introductory period? Most cards on the market charge a transfer fee of 3%. That is why it's important to seek out the absolute longest 0% APR offers, but it's also important to factor in the long term go-to APR once the intro period expires.
Featured Credit Cards for Balance Transfers & Purchases(this list is constantly updated with the latest featured offers from our advertising sponsors)
How to get the most out of your balance transfer offer:
Avoid late payments: Thankfully, the credit card reform that went into effect back in 2010 protects consumers against rate hikes during the first year, except under some exceptions (like making a payment 60 days late). So just make sure you always pay at least the minimum on-time. Setting up auto payments are an easy way to do this.
It's now OK to make purchases on the card: Before the reform, payments were applied to balances with lower interest rates first (i.e. 0% balance transfer offers). Now, payments are automatically applied to the higher rate balances first (like standard APR purchases) after the minimum payment amount is paid. That means it now makes sense to use the card for spending, but if you want avoid interest, make sure to pay the total amount of new charges during each cycle. The ability to do this is beneficial if the credit card offers rewards you want to take advantage of.
Try and choose a card you will want to keep. Of course the purpose is to save money on interest, but it doesn't hurt to consider the benefits. If there are two balance transfer deals for the same duration, you might as well go with the one that offers the best rewards and benefits... so you will actually still want to keep it around after the debt is paid off! Another reason to do this is because part of your credit score is based on the average age of your accounts - the older the better. This is why it's best to avoid opening and closing accounts on a frequent basis.