As the Content Specialist and author of the Learning & Guidance Center, Yanna enjoys motivating others by uncovering all that's possible in the world of finance. From financial tips and tricks to ultimate guides and comparison charts, she is obsessed with finding ways to help readers excel in their journey towards financial freedom.
Having a financial cushion in place to cover expensive purchases and sudden emergencies is what a credit card is great for. But having a credit card or multiple credit cards with a hefty balance or a super-duper high-interest rate on top can be too much to bear.
So, what do you do? If your first instinct is to panic and feel helpless, I promise you you’ll be ok! And don't worry - you’re not alone in this situation.
A credit card balance transfer can be the perfect solution, but there are some things you need to know and learn before taking this route.
First and foremost -abalance transfer does not eliminate your debt.You still have to pay it, you just get to consolidate your debt and transfer funds from one or multiple credit cards to another credit card, but you ultimately still have the balance.
It’s important to note balance transfers aren’t for every cardholder, either! There's a chance you could pay a balance transfer fee, use your entire credit limit transferring the balance so there’s no cushion for emergency spending, and more.
These are all points financial experts - especially experts here at Charlotte Metro - advise credit cardholders. Psst... luckily, we never charge a balance transfer fee (or annual fee... or cash advance fee) but there’s still some other factors to look out for when considering a balance transfer.
you're approved for an introductory 0% APR or low APR credit card
The idea of doing a balance transfer is to transfer that hefty balance onto a credit card that'll help you save money in interest. These kinds of credit cards are introductory 0% APR* credit cards and credit cards that already have a low APR. To qualify for these types of credit cards with most lenders, your credit score should be 670 or higher.
If you need help improving your credit score, here are tips and tools you can use.
YOU want to take advantage of better terms and perks
Oftentimes, people have credit cards and don't pay attention to the terms and the fees until they are charged. Doing a balance transfer to a credit card can be the answer to all of that.
You might also want to transfer your balance onto a card that gives you perks like cashback, rewards, or other sweet deals. By consolidating your credit cards to the one that gives back to you, you’ll ensure you’re getting the most out of your spending.
YOU’RE READY TO CONSOLIDATE DEBT FROM MULTIPLE CREDIT CARDS
Having more than one credit card must be difficult to manage - especially if you’re not tracking your credit card expenses. You’ll have more than one billing cycle, more than one payment due date, and more than one credit limit. This can be overwhelming! Not to mention, if you're not careful and end up defaulting on your payments, it can have a negative impact on your credit score.
With a balance transfer onto another credit card, you can consolidate your debt making it easy to manage and track your balance. Plus, it'll be easy because you'll have one payment per month to worry about. Isn't that great?
you're READY TO GET OUT OF DEBT FAST
Doing a balance transfer to relieve debt is a big reason why so many choose this route. A lower interest rate means less money to pay off the balance each month. This ultimately gives the credit cardholder more flexibility to put there are funds towards other expenses if they need.
The one thing you must be vigilant of when transferring your balance to a better credit card is to keep your spending temptation in check. If you wind up using the credit card and add more debt to your balance it'll be hard to pay off.
Learn about other debt-payoff practices here:
can a balance transfer affect your credit score?
Not necessarily. The balance transfer transaction itself doesn't negatively affect your credit score but applying for a new credit card could. In addition, what you do once that balance is transferred to the new card can affect your credit score.
Applying for a new card means the lender will conduct a hard inquiry which will shave your credit score down a few points. If you want to increase your credit score when doing a balance transfer, only apply for one credit card. You'll see a positive credit score impact when you transfer all of your funds onto one credit card with a low credit score and you work to reduce the balance.
QUICK TIP: The goal you should keep in mind when doing a balance transfer is to keep it low. On revolving credit, such as a credit card, make sure to keep your utilization under 30%.
how long does a balance transfer take?
All lenders operate differently than others so the timing may vary, especially if you're transferring a hefty amount from one credit card to the other. Typically it takes 5 - 7 days to complete the transfer but you may find some lenders taking 14 to 21 days to transfer. Contact your lender to learn their specific process.
ready to do a balance transfer? here's what's next
When choosing a credit card to transfer your current debt, make sure you look for one that includes one or more of the following:
Low-interest rate: As I mentioned before, the idea of doing a balance transfer is to transfer that hefty balance onto a credit card that'll help you save money in interest. When doing a balance transfer, you want to choose a credit card with an introductory 0% APR (or low-interest rate) to transfer funds to. Since the 0% APR promotion doesn't last forever, make sure the regular rate is doable. You want a rate that will help you save money in interest, not cost more. Check out these tips to help increase your chances of receiving a low-interest rate on a credit card.
Balance transfer fees: Do your research when searching for a credit card. Look for one that has no balance transfer fees. Since many lenders charge a balance transfer fee, you may come across a fee that's 3% - 5% of the transfer amount.
Annual fees: This is another fee that you may come across. Many lenders charge an annual fee to keep the account open.
QUICK TIP: Have you seen Charlotte Metro's balance transfer credit cards? It’s totally free! Yup – you read that right. We never charge a balance transfer fee (or annual fee… or cash advance fee). And when you open a new Charlotte Metro Visa Platinum or Platinum Rewards credit card you'll unlock 0% APR1 for the first 12-months, giving you more time to knock down your balance without accruing additional interest!
what if i'm not ready to do a balance transfer?
That's A-O-K! As I mentioned earlier, balance transfers are not meant for every cardholder and there are other ways you can pay down your debt. Start by checking out the 7 steps you can do to pay down your debt. Psst... there's a freebie waiting for you too.
If you have any questions or comments, our Customer Service Representatives are here for you. You can send an email, give us a call at 704.375.0183, or visit any of our branches.
ok, so here's the fine print
1During the first twelve (12) months from account opening, the rate for purchases and balance transfers will be 0.00% Annual Percentage Rate (APR). After the twelfth (12) month, your balance for purchases and cash advances will adjust to the rate in your credit card agreement. As of the first day of each month, the APR for variable-rate Visa credit cards ranges from 7.65% to 17.95%. This rate will change with the market based on the Prime Rate. Rates are subject to change without notice. APR may vary depending on a review of your credit score and other underwriting factors. Balance transfer amounts may not exceed your approved credit limit. Standard underwriting terms and conditions apply.
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