Q: I wanted to apply for an American Express card but I’ve had trouble finding their balance transfer offers. Am I missing something? Are they offering any for 2016?
A: Several years ago during the Great Recession, American Express, a CreditCardForum.com advertising partner, experienced significant credit losses and subsequently shied away from offering balance transfer options to consumers for a few years. Luckily, they righted the ship and came back into the market with a number of offers on their various cards last year.
It’s also a good sign (for the economy, anyway) that the other big money-center banks that issue credit cards like Citi, Chase and Bank of America are back to their old ways of tempting consumers to transfer balances with free money offers. Back when banks actually had a tangible cost of funds these types of offers represented a loss leader strategy that was justified if the account became profitable down the road. But, for the past few years banks have had almost free money given to them by the Fed and they can turn around and offer it to consumers without taking any hit to their profit margins.Go here to see the current offers: Featured balance transfer cards for 2016
While we’re on the topic, here a few things you will want to keep in mind when doing a transfer…
- Always make payments on time. I know this is common sense but I figure a friendly reminder never hurts. The last thing you want is to lose out on that long offer because of making multiple late payments.
- Remember you can’t use 0% interest credit card offers within the same bank. For example, even if there were some nice AmEx balance transfer offers available, you still would not be able to use them if the balance you’re transferring comes from another AmEx card.
- Expect to pay balance transfer fees. I hate to say it but as we all know, fees are the name of the game when it comes to banking these days. When you transfer a balance, expect to almost always pay a fee of 3% (sometimes more) of the amount. This is why it’s so vital you pick an offer that’s long, so you can avoid paying this fee multiple times. There is one offer in the market that doesn’t charge a transfer fee if you move your balances in the first 60 days – the Chase Slate card.
- High balances on an AmEx may not be the best idea, regardless. A number of members on Credit Card Forum reported having their credit limits cut in past years when they carry a balance using too much of their AmEx card’s credit limit (like more than 50%). So if you do go with an AmEx transfer offer you might keep this in mind, even though it may no longer be an issue.
Last edited February 2016