- 1 how long does it take to transfer a balance from one credit card to another
- 2 What You Need To Know Before Applying For A 0% Balance Transfer Card
- 3 How Do Balance Transfers Work? — A Complete Guide + 6 Top Offers
- 4 The Right Way to Do a Credit Card Balance Transfer
how long does it take to transfer a balance from one credit card to another
Typically you can use credit card balance transfers to consolidate some, or all, of your other loan balances in one place. The interest rate might be lower. Some prefer to make one payment rather than multiple payments. There is typically a fee that is imposed by the card that is originating or creating the loan. This would be the credit card you are transferring the balances. That fee is typically in the 3% to 5% range.
While tempting and attractive on the surface, this plan typically leads to a worse situation then you are now.
It's a "tough pill to swallow", but your problem is that you spend too much money. Transferring money will not change this problem, it is your behavior that has to change in order to not accumulate more debt. It has to change further if you want to get rid of the debt in a timely fashion.
You would be far better served to forget about this transfer and get your life into control. Spend a lot less, earn more. Pay off the cards you have now and cut them up. Make a goal to be done in a year and figure out how to earn enough money to make that happen.
BTW I am a reformed over-spender that now owes nothing. Yep my house, cars, and rental property are all paid for. You can get there too.
Since you are not paying the full balance off each month you are carrying a balance from month to month. That balance is being charged some interest rate X.
With a balance transfer, the new credit card pays off that balance. As a result you now have a balance of the same amount (plus any processing charges) on the new credit card. Hence the balance has transferred from the old to the new. And you now pay the new credit card.
Ideally you do this because the new credit card is offering a reduced interest rate, saving you money. Though be warned often that transfer rate is a limited time deal and any left over after the window expires will be charged the higher rate.
Note: the question is tagged united kingdom, this is a UK focussed answer practices elsewhere may be different).
A balance transfer moves your debt from one credit card to another.
This can be a good way to get a debt onto a lower (often zero) interest rate. There will usually be a transfer fee but with a good balance transfer deal the effective interest rate even after taking the fee into account can be very good and there are even some deals with 0% interest and no fee. Indeed if you keep on top of things credit cards are often the cheapest way to borrow. Normally a balance transfer is done to a new card that is applied for specifically for the purpose but sometimes it can make sense to transfer a balance to an existing card.
However to take advantage of this you need discipline. You need to make absoloutely sure that you fully comply with the rules of the deal and in particular that you pay at least the minimum payment on time.
You should also be aware that the rate will usually jump up at the end of the interest free period, you could do another balance transfer but assuming you will be able to do that is risky as it depends on what market conditions and your credit rating look like at the time. Ideally you should have a plan for paying off the card before the interest free period expires.
In general you should be aiming to pay down your debts. Living beyond your means is very bad and carrying debt long term should only be done if you have an extremely good reason. You should regard the balance transfer as a tool to help you clear your debts quicker, not as a way to avoid paying them. If you go on a spending spree after your balance transfer you will just have dug yourself deeper in debt.
What You Need To Know Before Applying For A 0% Balance Transfer Card
February 10, 2016 by Paul Ritz
Having a bunch of high-interest credit card debt can feel like being surrounded by a pack of hyenas that just keep nipping away at your finances. There are several different ways to get these kinds of debts under control such as consumer credit counseling or getting a debt consolidation loan. However, in the case of consumer credit counseling it can take anywhere from three to five years to become debt free. And a debt consolidation loan just basically means moving your debts from one set of creditors to a new one.
We understand that paying off that high-interest credit card debt can be difficult because so much of your payment goes towards interest and not to the principal. As an example of this if you owe $5000 on a credit card at 15% APR and make just a minimum payment of $112.50 a month it would take you 266 months to pay off the debt and would cost you $5729.21 just in interest. And, again that’s because so much of your payment is going towards interest instead of reducing your principal.
One of the most popular ways to manage high-interest credit card debt that’s popped up in the past few years are 0% interest balance transfer cards. The advantage of these cards is that they provide anywhere from 6 to 40, yes 40, months’ interest-free so that all of your payments would go towards reducing your balance. In fact, if you were able to get one of the cards that offer 21 months’ interest-free you might be able to get your balance totally paid off before you are required to start paying interest.
If you’re thinking about using this method to get your debt under control, there are some things you need to know before you apply for one of these cards …
One of the problems with these cards is that many of the issuing will not tell you the amount of your line of credit or transfer limit until you’ve been approved for the card. If you don’t get a high enough limit on that balance transfer card to cover the whole amount you want to transfer, you can request a higher credit line after you’ve been approved. When this is the case, it may help if you explain that you want to use the money to pay off other balances.
If you have bad credit
One of the biggest drawbacks of these cards is that they are typically just for people with good or excellent credit. What can you do if you have only fair credit? It would still be possible to get one of these cards if you could get a friend or family member that has better credit to cosign with you. In fact, it would be a good idea is to check your credit score before applying for a balance transfer card. If you haven’t seen yours recently you can get it free from one of the credit reporting bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax, Experian) or on a site such as CreditSesame and CreditKarma. If you have a credit score above 661 you would likely qualify for a balance transfer card. On the other hand, if your score is below 660 may need to try to find a cosigner. According to an article published on NASDAQ.com, the average FICO score is 692.
You can transfer balances from multiple credit cards into the new balance transfer card so long as the sum of those balances doesn’t exceed the transfer limit you’re assigned. Keep in mind that there are credit card companies that will cap the amount you can transfer at a lower level than your total credit line. In addition, you generally cannot transfer a balance from one card to another with the same card issuer. For example, you would not be able to shift your Chase Freedom card balance to a new Chase Slate card. This means you may need to shop carefully to find a card where you will be able to transfer all of your balances.
Your credit score can be affected several ways when you open a balance transfer card. For one thing, a significant part of your credit score is based on the average age of your credit accounts. The longer the average age the better it is for your credit score. When you open a new card that shortens your average age and this will ding your score. This is why it’s important to keep your old cards. Second, when you apply for a new card this results in what’s called a hard inquiry on your credit report, which will lower your score. So don’t apply for several different cards in a short amount of time.
On the upside, getting that new card can help your credit score because it lowers what’s called your credit utilization ratio. If you’re not familiar with this term, it’s the percentage of the total credit you have available that you’ve used up. For example, if you have total credit available of $10,000 and have used $3000 of it, your credit utilization ratio would be 30%, which is very acceptable. Of course, your credit utilization ratio will stay low only if you use the new card to pay off your existing balances and not to create new debt.
While getting a zero percent balance transfer card could be of real help it could also turn into a real headache making it important that you follow these pointers.
For example, you need to keep your old card or cards open but don’t use them. If you close an old card this could hurt the average age of your credit accounts, which would damage your credit score. It will help if you keep those cards open but make sure you keep their balances at zero. According to an article published on NerdWallet, the average credit card debt is $15,762. If this is your balance, you have a long way to go in terms of bringing your card debt down.
Second, watch out for balance transfer fees. Most credit card issuers charge a transfer fee of 3% to 4% so make sure to factor this into the equation when adding up your potential savings.
It’s absolutely critical to make all of your payments on time. Miss just one payment during your 0% interest introductory period and the issuer will likely cancel the deal and raise your interest rate – to maybe as high as 19%.
Finally, make sure to keep track of your 0% interest-free period. The card issuers are not required to give you notice when your introductory period is about to expire. When it does expire you’ll owe interest which typically will be at a high rate on whatever balance you still have. Some of the credit card companies may even make you pay up all the interest you would have incurred during the 0% period. The moral of this story is to read the fine print and pay off the entire balance owed before your introductory period expires.
If you’d like more information about how zero balance transfer cards work and their pros and cons here’s a short video you should watch.
How Do Balance Transfers Work? — A Complete Guide + 6 Top Offers
By: Eric Bank • June 29, 2017
Opinions expressed here are ours alone, and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by any issuer. Site may be compensated through the issuer affiliate programs.
If you’re indebted to multiple lenders, oppressed by high interest rates, or simply looking to make your debt payments simpler, it could be worth it to make a balance transfer. This puts all your financial eggs in one basket, and can also give you a temporary reprieve from high interest rates. You’ve got to time it right, though, to get the most benefits and skip the potential costs.
When done the right way, a balance transfer can give your credit score a boost — but first you have to understand how it works and how it can work for you. Read on to learn more about balance transfers or use the links below to skip ahead to a particular area of interest:
A balance transfer is the movement of a debt balance from one creditor to another. This is typically a transfer to consolidate your credit card balances and other debts to a single credit card. The transfer is straightforward and can be set up when you first open the new credit card account or anytime thereafter. You still owe the money, but now the debt resides in one place instead of many.
A balance transfer typically offers the following benefits:
- Lower interest rates. This is especially true if the new account offers low or 0% introductory rates and your old debt was saddled with high interest rates.
- A lower total monthly minimum payment. This means more of your money can go toward overall debt reduction, as opposed to interest.
- Simplified bill paying. By transferring multiple accounts, you’re reducing your number of monthly bills.
Something to keep in mind is that you aren’t limited to transferring only credit card debt – many credit cards allow you to also transfer balances from mortgages, auto loans, student loans, and other debts by issuing you checks that you can use to transfer your non-credit-card balances.
Below are five steps for completing a balance transfer:
- Research the best zero-balance-transfer credit cards currently available for someone with your credit score. We provide six good options below.
- Apply for the card that seems like the best choice. You’ll need to evaluate fees, introductory periods, and interest rates.
- Specify your transfers from existing cards by entering the existing credit card numbers and account balances when you apply online. The issuer of the new credit card will approve and transfer these balances when it issues the new card.
- Notify the new card issuer via its website or over the phone and request the additional transfers, if necessary.
- Request checks tied to your new credit card and use them to transfer non-credit-card balances to your new credit card.
Most of this can be done easily online, but if you prefer to speak with a representative, you can call the issuer directly for personalized assistance. The balance transfer process can usually be done in a fairly short amount of time.
A balance transfer may affect your credit score, for better or for worse. That’s because several factors are used to determine your credit score:
- Payment history(35% of score): How well have you handled credit in the past, including missed payments, bankruptcies, and foreclosures.
- Amounts owed(30%): Your score partly depends on what percentage of your available credit is being used. If you open a new card and do a balance transfer without creating new debt, your credit score might increase as your percentage of credit used declines. For this reason, you shouldn’t close old credit cards — even if you no longer plan to use them. If you pile on more debt after performing a balance transfer, your credit rating could fall.
- Length of credit history(15%): Credit bureaus like to see a long credit history in which you’ve acted responsibly. This is another reason not to close a credit card after transferring away its balance.
- New credit(10%): Opening a new credit card, even if it’s just for the purpose of doing a balance transfer, will usually slightly depress your credit score for a few months.
- Credit mix(10%): A mix of credit card debt and installment loans will generally raise your credit score. If you use a balance transfer to pay off an installment loan, you may paradoxically cause yourself to be viewed as a riskier borrower.
All of these factors combine to create your current credit profile, and can affect each individual differently.
Balance Transfer Fees: How Much Are You Really Saving?
To know whether you will save money by doing a balance transfer, you have to compare the interest you would’ve paid by keeping the old balance versus how much you’ll pay in interest and fees for transferring the balance. This depends on the introductory and subsequent rates for the new card — and how quickly you intend to pay off the account balance.
The fee structure of a credit card that you would use for balance transfers has a few components:
- A transfer fee of 3-5% of the amount transferred. Some cards waive this fee for an introductory period.
- An annual fee. Not all cards charge one, and you may get the first year’s fee waived, but you could have one each year thereafter.
- An interest rate on transferred balances. Frequently this is 0% during an introductory period of anywhere between 6 to 18 months, depending on the card.
- An interest rate on new purchases and cash advances. These might be quite low during the introductory period, but could rise substantially afterward.
If you can’t pay the balance off before the higher rates kick in (after the introductory period expires), you might not be saving much money.
The Chase Slate credit card has been the best choice among no-fee balance transfer cards for the last several years. It’s fairly unique in that it charges no transfer fees during the intro period.
In other respects, its fees and interest rates are competitive with other cards aimed toward consumers with good or excellent credit ratings. Chase Slate does not offer cash-back or reward points, but does let you know your FICO credit score every month.
A good balance transfer card offers a 0% APR on transfers during the introductory period, which varies by card. Usually, the best cards with the longest introductory periods are reserved for consumers with excellent credit ratings. In terms of FICO scores, which range from 300 (worst) to 850 (best), an excellent credit score is 720 or higher.
The Right Way to Do a Credit Card Balance Transfer
What is a balance transfer?
It sounds like a question with a simple answer and. And, for the most part, it is. You’re transferring a balance from one credit card to another with a lower APR.
What gets more complicated is the question of what makes a good balance transfer? Do it right and you’ll save money. Do it wrong and it could end up costing you more than if you never bothered with the transfer at all.
You probably receive a lot of offers in the mail about balance transfers and you’re looking for more information on what is a balance transfer offer that you should take advantage of.
If you want to transfer your credit card balance to save some money and pay off your debt faster, follow these seven steps.
The better your credit score, the more likely you’ll qualify for a credit card that will make a balance transfer worth it. For instance, you need Good to Excellent credit to qualify for a 0% introductory APR.
That’s not to say a lower credit score couldn’t qualify you for an APR lower than the one you already have. But you need to know which of the credit score ranges you fall into so you know which credit cards to apply for.
The last thing you want to do is apply for cards requiring Excellent credit if yours is only Fair. You’ll most certainly be denied.
And every time you have to apply for another credit card, it will be listed as a hard inquiry on your credit report. That alone can put a ding in your credit score.
FICO credit scores are the most widely used by lenders. Those are the ones you most want to see. Beware, though, of free FICO score offers, as they usually require some sort of paid subscription service.
There are, however, free FICO scores offered by credit card issuers to their customers. Call your credit card issuer to see if you can get one. If not, your best bet is going straight to the source – myFICO.com.
Keep in mind that each of the three major credit reporting bureaus has a different FICO credit score on you. Since you’re never going to know which one creditors are going to use, it’s important to see all three.
If the cost of purchasing your FICO scores is too steep for you, there are educational credit scores you can see. These are offered for free through credit monitoring sites like Credit Karma, Quizzle, and Credit Sesame.
They may not be the exact numbers lenders see, but they’ll at least give you some idea of your credit range.
Before applying for a new balance transfer credit card, do your homework first.
Look at multiple balance transfer offers and see what is a balance transfer that you should sign up for.
A few things to keep in mind when comparing balance transfers
- Balance transfer fee
- Introductory APR
- Regular APR once the introductory offer expires
- How long the introductory APR lasts
- Whether new purchases are covered by the introductory APR, and for how long
- Level of credit you need to qualify for the card
Just because the APR on a new card is lower than the one you already have doesn’t necessarily mean it will save you money.
Transfer fees and carrying a balance beyond the introductory APR could actually end up costing you more money in the long run. In other words, you must do the math. When you’re figuring out what is a balance transfer offer worth considering, the numbers won’t lie.
Fortunately, there are plenty of online calculators that will do the math for you. Just be prepared to know the following specifics of both your current card and the new one(s) you are considering.
- Interest rate
- Annual fee
- Amount of your monthly payment
- Transfer fee
- Introductory APR
- Length of introductory APR
- Regular APR
- Annual fee
- Amount you plan to pay every month
Once you know what transferring to a new credit card could do for you, compare that to what you could do with the cards you already have.
This will be especially important to you if your credit doesn’t qualify you for a 0% or low APR.
Here are a few things you can do with the credit cards you already own.
Ask for a lower interest rate from your current issuer
Your credit card issuer is under no obligation to lower your interest rate. But, it can happen. Especially if the following is true:
- Your account has been in good standing for at least a year
- Your credit score has improved since you first applied for the card
- You tell them about lower interest rate offers you have from other credit card issuers
- You ask politely
Transfer to another card that already has a lower interest rate
What are the interest rates on your other credit cards? If there’s room for it, why not transfer the balance there? Are those interest rates even higher, or about the same?
There’s nothing stopping you from asking your current credit card issuers for a lower APR using the same approach described above.
If you’re not thrilled with the results of these possibilities, go ahead and apply for a new card.
6. Pay off the balance before the introductory period ends
If you’ve done the math, you know exactly how much you need to pay on the transferred balance every month in order to pay it off before the introductory APR ends. Stick to it!
Giving yourself a free pass to pay just the minimum one month makes it easier to do the same the next month. Before you know it, you’re too far behind on your credit card balance and won’t get it paid off in time.
New purchases may not be covered by the introductory APR. And even if they are, isn’t that kind of defeating the purpose?
Your goal should be paying down the transferred balance as soon as possible, not piling on more debt.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t be using your credit cards. Just use a different credit card for new transactions, maybe the one from which you transferred the balance.
Do yourself one big favor: pay off the balance every month on your new credit card. You’ll avoid major interest charges. And, you’ll avoid the risk of racking up a bunch of new debt and needing to do yet another balance transfer down the line.
If one of the new transactions you’re thinking about making are student loan payments, think again. While it may be possible to pay your student loans with a credit card under some circumstances, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.
A note of caution about returning your card to zero balance
If you’re concerned about transferring a balance to a new card – leaving all that credit available to you on the old card – cut up the old card and close it.
Despite the hit your credit utilization ratio might take, it may be worth it say goodbye to your old card altogether. Or, forget the balance transfer. Just keep chipping away at the debt on your current credit card until it’s paid off.
What is a balance transfer? Done right, a balance transfer can help make a dent in your credit card debt. Done wrong, and it can hurt you way more in the long-run.