How To Choose A Balance Transfer Credit Card

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Key takeaways

  • A stability switch bank card will help you repay current debt by benefiting from an introductory 0 % APR.
  • Determine whether or not it is worthwhile to switch the debt contemplating that stability switch affords usually carry a price, and their common APR could be significantly increased in the event you do not repay your debt inside the introductory window.
  • Examine totally different card affords to find out which could work finest for you, retaining in thoughts that — even when stability switch playing cards provide introductory zero-interest durations — you do not wish to rack up further debt.

Citi is an promoting associate.

You’ve gotten many kinds of bank cards to select from, some providing stronger rewards and extra perks than others. A stability switch bank card is a sort of card designed that can assist you pay down current balances you’ve gotten on different bank cards.

With these playing cards, you safe a 0 % APR for a restricted time, and then you definitely shortly pay down as a lot debt as potential in that window. Steadiness switch playing cards include totally different introductory durations and a spread of APRs you’ll pay after the intro interval, so it is very important examine the assorted affords earlier than signing up. Rewards are additionally a consider figuring out long-term worth after you’ve paid down your debt.

Right here’s what to know when selecting a stability switch bank card, together with necessary issues.

1. Perceive how stability transfers work

Don’t cease studying after “0 % curiosity.” There are two key caveats you’ll want to find out about how bank card stability transfers work.

The primary is that 0 % affords are at all times for a restricted time. Despite the fact that they don’t final perpetually, some introductory provide durations could be fairly lengthy. One of the best stability switch bank cards provide as much as 21 months with out curiosity. After the intro interval ends, no matter stability you’ve gotten on the cardboard will begin accruing curiosity on the card’s common APR.

Let’s say you’ve gotten $1,000 left in your bank card on the finish of your introductory provide. If the common APR is 24 % and also you determine to pay $100 per 30 days till your stability is 0, it would take you 12 months to get there. That’s as a result of along with the $1,000 you borrowed, you’ll pay $127 in curiosity. This is the reason it’s splendid to repay your total stability earlier than the intro interval expires.

The opposite key consideration is the stability switch price. Most stability switch playing cards cost a price between 3 % and 5 % (typically with a $5 minimal) of the transferred stability. For instance, in the event you transferred $1,000 of debt to a card with a 5 % stability switch price, you’ll owe a $50 stability switch price. Use Bankrate’s stability switch calculator to make sure that paying the price is value it in comparison with how a lot you’ll save on curiosity. 

2. Know the way a lot debt you’ve gotten and contemplate options

Take the time to determine precisely how a lot debt you’ve gotten, and do not forget that it’s potential to consolidate debt from a number of bank cards onto one new stability switch card.

The quantity of debt you’ve gotten will even have an effect on how lengthy your debt compensation course of will take. In any case, it would take significantly much less time to repay $5,000 in bank card debt at 0 % APR than it will to pay down $10,000 in debt, $25,000 in debt and so forth.

Whereas many individuals consider stability switch playing cards as completely for bank card debt, you possibly can typically switch totally different sorts of money owed in an effort to consolidate your funds and reap the benefits of a 0 % APR. This varies by card and issuer, however you might be able to switch private loans, scholar loans, auto loans and even residence fairness loans to your new stability switch card.

You probably have a substantial quantity of debt to pay down, you also needs to consider whether or not a stability switch card is the precise instrument for you within the first place. Private loans can be used to consolidate and pay down debt, and lots of allow you to safe a low mounted rate of interest for 5 to seven years. Private loans additionally include mounted month-to-month funds and a predetermined compensation timeline, making them straightforward to funds and plan for. 

3. Test your credit score rating

One of the best stability switch playing cards are usually out there solely to shoppers with superb or wonderful credit score — or these with a FICO rating of 740 or above. Nonetheless, you may additionally be authorised with a very good credit score rating within the 670 to 739 vary.

Additionally, notice that stability switch playing cards for poor credit score exist — although they usually include much less enticing phrases and situations for paying down debt.

Both method, it’s clever to see the place you stand when it comes to your credit score rating earlier than you apply. Test your credit score rating free of charge to realize a greater understanding of the playing cards you would possibly qualify for. 

4. Examine card provide particulars

Relating to transferring debt from one card to a different, listed below are crucial components to think about.

  • Size of the intro interval. One of the best stability switch bank cards provide a 0 % intro APR for as much as 21 months on transferred balances.
  • Common APR. Concentrate on the rate of interest that can kick in on the finish of your introductory interval, as this may influence any remaining stability and future balances. Examine it to the typical bank card rate of interest proper now, which is above 20 %.
  • Charges. Steadiness switch charges are usually 3 % to five % of the switch quantity. You also needs to contemplate some other charges, together with if the cardboard comes with an annual price.
  • Intro APR on purchases. Some stability switch playing cards additionally provide a 0 % intro APR on purchases, though that is seemingly much less necessary once you’re targeted on paying down current debt.
  • Rewards and perks. Most of the prime stability switch bank cards provide money again on purchases, whereas others characteristic insurance coverage protections, buy advantages and extra. Be mindful, nevertheless, that making an attempt to earn rewards whereas paying down your debt can result in further issues down the street.

The underside line

A stability switch is usually a nice step towards debt administration, and one of the best stability switch bank card for you is determined by the quantity of debt you’ve gotten and the way shortly you’re capable of pay it off. Earlier than you apply, weigh the professionals and cons of utilizing a stability switch card — together with any further charges that include the cardboard and its rewards construction — in addition to potential options.

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