Guest Sign UpLoginNew PostSections ₦0What's Up?DownloadsShopChatToolsAdvertise
Join the Publishers' Program. Get paid for writing.
Recharge DSTV, GOTV, StarTimes, & PREPAID METERS on

Mr A

The Basics of Credit Card Balance Transfers

A credit card balance transfer is a financial strategy that allows you to move your credit card debt from one credit card over to another, usually with the goal of securing a lower interest rate. It can be an attractive option for those struggling with high-interest credit card debt or looking to simplify their finances. This article will help you understand credit card balance transfers, key terms, various types, pros and cons, and ways to save money when transferring balances.

How Does a Balance Transfer Work?

Step 1: Applying for a new credit card: To initiate a balance transfer, you typically need to apply for a new credit card with a promotional interest rate, often 0% or a low fixed rate, and a specific balance transfer limit.

Step 2: Requesting the transfer: Upon approval of your new card, you'll provide the necessary information to your new card issuer, including the account number of your existing card(s) and the amount you wish to transfer. The new issuer will handle the actual transaction process.

Step 3: Paying off your balance or managing multiple debts: After the balance transfer, you'll likely have a new monthly payment to make on the balance transferred. You should aim to pay off the transferred balance during the promotional period (usually 6 to 18 months) to maximize the benefits of the lower interest rate.

Key Terms to Understand

Balance transfer fee: This is a one-time fee charged by the new card issuer for transferring your balance. It typically ranges from 3% to 5% of the transfer amount.

Promotional interest rate: This is the interest rate offered by the new card issuer for transferred balances, which is often 0% or a low fixed rate for a specified period.

Balance transfer limit: This is the maximum amount the new card issuer will allow you to transfer. Your balance transfer limit may be lower than your new credit card's overall credit limit.

Promotional period: The promotional period is the length of time during which the promotional interest rate is applied to the balance you transfer. The promotional period typically ranges between 6 to 18 months.

Types of Credit Card Balance Transfers

0% Introductory APR Balance Transfers

This type of balance transfer offers an introductory 0% annual percentage rate (APR) for a specified period (e.g., 6 to 18 months). These offers are designed to help you save money on interest and pay off your balance faster. However, if you do not pay off the balance within the promotional period, the APR will increase to a standard rate.

Low Fixed Rate Balance Transfers

Instead of a 0% APR, some credit card issuers offer a low fixed interest rate for balance transfers. This rate will not increase after the promotional period but is usually higher than the 0% introductory rate. These offers may be more suitable if you anticipate needing more time to pay your balance.

Standard Balance Transfers

A standard balance transfer does not offer any promotional incentives such as 0% APR or low fixed rates. The interest rate on the transferred balance will likely match the card's standard APR. This option may still be beneficial if you’re transferring from a higher-interest card to a lower-interest card.

Pros of Credit Card Balance Transfers

  • Lower interest rates: The main advantage of credit card balance transfers is the potential to save money on interest charges due to lower interest rates. By paying less interest, more of your monthly payment goes towards your principal balance.
  • Consolidation of debts: Consolidating multiple credit card debts onto one card can simplify your finances, making it easier to manage payments and avoid missed payments.
  • Quicker debt repayment: With a lower interest rate, you can potentially pay off your balance faster, as a larger portion of your payment will go towards the principal balance.

Cons of Credit Card Balance Transfers

  • Balance transfer fees: A balance transfer fee of 3% to 5% of the transfer amount can be an added expense, offsetting some of the savings in interest charges.
  • Impact on your credit score: Applying for a new credit card can result in a temporary dip in your credit score due to a hard inquiry on your credit report.
  • Potential to increase debt: If you continue to use your existing credit cards and accrue new debt after a balance transfer, you could end up in a worse financial position.
  • Loss of promotional interest rate: Missing a payment or exceeding your credit limit on the new card may void the promotional interest rate, subjecting you to a higher interest rate.

Saving Money on Balance Transfers

To maximize the benefits of balance transfers, consider these tips:

  • Pay off your balance during the promotional period: Make a plan to pay off the balance before the promotional interest rate expires, as interest rates may rise significantly after the promotional period.
  • Choose a card with a higher balance transfer limit: If you have a large balance to transfer, ensure you choose a card with a balance transfer limit high enough to accommodate it.
  • Avoid using your card for new purchases: New purchases typically won't have the promotional interest rate, and might even accrue interest immediately. To save money, avoid using your new card for new purchases until you've paid off the transferred balance.
  • Evaluate the balance transfer fee: Compare the cost of the balance transfer fee with the amount you'll save on interest to ensure the balance transfer is financially beneficial.
Credit card balance transfers can be a powerful tool to help manage your finances and reduce interest charges. Remember to consider the pros and cons, choose the right balance transfer for your needs, and make a plan to pay off your transferred balance on time to maximize the benefits.

Follow @JalingoHQ on twitter.

Related Topics

Top SectionsSee More

This forum does not have any topics.

Top Posters This Month (500 Credits)
(See More)