Is A Balance Transfer The Right Option For You?
When you’re trying to eliminate a large credit card balance and improve your credit reports and scores, you may be considering transferring your balance to a new credit card.
Balance transfers can be an effective way to cut your interest charges to make monthly payments more affordable and pay off your debt more quickly. Balance transfer credit cards typically offer a zero percent introductory rate for a predetermined period of time. During this period, you will pay little to no interest on the balance you transferred, which allows you to make larger monthly payments toward your principal.
Zero interest can seem like a good deal for those who are heavily in debt, and if you strategize your payments, it can be. However, there are several considerations to weigh in before you make this decision.
How Long Does The Teaser Rate Last?
A zero percent interest rate is one of the most common reasons borrowers transfer their balance. The goal is to try to pay off the amount owed in full before this introductory period ends and your regular interest rate kicks in. For this reason, it’s important to find out how long the teaser rate lasts, and determine if you will be able to pay off your balance within this time period.
Intro rates may last anywhere from three months to 24 months. Examining your balance and dividing the amount owed by this time period can give you a better idea of what your monthly payments will be and whether they are feasible, according to U.S. News and World Report.
For example, if you owe $6,000 and choose a card with a zero percent interest rate that lasts for 12 months, your monthly payment will be roughly $500. However, if you owe $12,000 and your teaser rate term is still only 12 months, a $1,000 monthly payment may be more difficult to manage. In that case, you may be better finding a card with a 24-month teaser rate.
Can You Transfer The Full Balance?
Some cards have restrictions on the amount you may transfer. This means that if you owe $24,000 on a credit card, you may only be permitted to transfer $10,000 to the balance transfer card you have chosen.
While it may be still be preferable to transfer a portion of your balance to a new zero percent interest rate card, it can be more convenient to find a card that allows you to transfer the full amount. This is largely because it easier to keep up with a single payment.
Are There Any Fees?
Many balance transfer credit cards impose a balance transfer fee, which can range from 1 to 5 percent of the amount you transfer, according to CNN Money. While fees should not be a reason to turn away from a card altogether, it is important to weigh your options before making the decision to pick a certain product. Consider that you have a $10,000 balance and you transfer the amount to card with a 3 percent fee. An additional $300 will be tacked on to the balance you transfer.
What Is The Standard Rate?
In the event that you fall behind and cannot pay off the full balance before your teaser rate ends, it’s important to know the standard interest rate. Because balance transfer cards make nothing in interest during the teaser period, they may impose higher standard interest rates. Once this kicks in, you may start accruing large interest charges quickly if your balance is not paid off.
Balance transfer cards can be a great tool to escape debt. Shopping around and choosing the right type of card for your balance and repayment goals can help ensure that you eliminate your full balance once and for all.