How to Handle Credit Card Balance Transfers

By Eliza Daglish on July 10, 2013

Credit Card Balance TransferWhile credit card debt seems to be on the decline, millions of people still possess thousands of dollars of debt that may be spread out across multiple lines of credit. With a variety of different credit cards in existence, most card holders are bound to have varying interest rates from card to card. One of the best ways for card holders who are serious about debt reduction to pay off their balances quicker is through a credit card balance transfer, but there are a few tips and pieces of advice you should know prior. Below, we will discuss what to do before, during and after any balance transfer so that you can gain the most of this process.

Pay Your Bills on Time

Much like traditional interest rates, balance transfer offers come with their own terms and conditions. If you wish to have access to the lowest interest rates possible, then you will need to have all of your current card balances up-to-date, with no missed payments for at least six months prior. Some card holders will already have the ideal card to which any balance can be transferred (such as those with introductory 0% APR offers), but those who need to obtain a separate card in order to take advantage of lower interest rates will not want late payments to botch their chances.

Know Your Responsibilities

In many cases, a balance transfer can come with additional terms and conditions that would not apply to normal credit card use. Most cards will charge you a flat fee for a balance transfer – usually between three to five percent – but some cards for those with excellent credit may offer a fee-free balance transfer option. In virtually all cases, balances cannot be transferred between two cards with the same bank or issuer, so this is yet another element to consider. Finally, be sure to verify the terms and conditions of pay-off: some cards will charge you extra interest if the transferred balance is not paid off within a certain time-frame.

Have a Plan of Action

Once you transfer any credit card balance – no, before you transfer any credit card balance – a solid plan is needed in order to avoid the same mistakes that led to the debt in the first place. Without proper planning, you will end up delaying these financial obligations without resolving the problem. Anyone who has considered a transfer of credit card debt must have a reasonable month-to-month plan in place – how much extra will you pay toward the balance each month and whether or not savings in interest will be applied toward your debt.

Request the Transfer

Once all considerations are taken care of, you may then call the card issuer (for the bank that will be receiving the debt) and request that they initiate the balance transfer. They will need the account information and the amount being transferred in order to do this. Once the debt has been transferred, you only now have to worry about maintaining the obligations set forth prior – pay your bills on time, apply the extra savings to the remaining debt and you will be on the path toward fiscal solvency in no time.

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