Credit Card Balance Transfers: Pros, Cons, Alternative
Credit card balance transfers are very tempting when seeking how to pay off credit card debt. It could mean a brand new card, 0% interest rate, and 12 more months to put off paying that balance.
Finding the best credit card debt help involves doing your homework first. Let's look at the pros and cons and a better alternative to credit card balance transfers.
It's pretty obvious that a pro would be a lower interest rate for a certain time frame. This can buy you some time in making the payments towards the balance.
Whatever credit score hit you take, you should be able to bounce back within a short period of time. Of course, this is contingent on your ability to make the payments and not max out the limit on your new card. Plus, there are strategies to fix your credit score when it gets dinged.
If it means opening a new card, your fico score will take a hit. New accounts account for about 10% of your credit score.
This is how lenders see it: New accounts mean new debt. New debt means higher risk. Higher risk means lower credit score.
You may end up paying a lot in transfer fees. 3% of the transferred amount up to a certain capped dollar amount is pretty common.
However, recently credit card issuers have been eliminating the cap. Be sure to read the fine print and know what fees you are paying.
Free Online Credit Card Debt Calculator
We have created a free online credit card debt calculator for our readers. Gather your debts, enter them in, and the DOLP number will automatically be generated. Our calculator will automatically sort your debts in pay off order.
Although you may be getting a new credit card, watch out for these additional pitfalls when considering credit card balance transfers.
Don't fall into a debt trap and let the debt pile up. A new card doesn't mean you get to start all over. If you end up running up the balances on both the old cards and the new ones, your financial situation and credit score will soon suffer.
Make sure the balance transfer is worth it. Yes, you should be getting a lower interest rate. However, make sure that you don't end up in a worse position with having to pay all the transfer fees. Your strategy may backfire. Remember, financial expenses, such as fees, are one of the eroding factors of money that strip away your wealth.
If you need your credit score to be at its best, don't apply for a new card. If you're looking to buy a home or finance a car, don't apply for a new card. Wait until those purchases are done to undertake this financial strategy.
A better alternative?
With all that in mind, is there a better alternative?
Is there a way that I could get a lower interest rate, buy me some time, but still keep my credit score in tact?