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When to Resort to Balance Transfer

When to Resort to Balance TransferWhen to Resort to Balance Transfer

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Balance transfer is a process in which you choose to transfer your existing balance from your old credit card to a new one. So if someone is paying down high-interest debt, they can go ahead and transfer their balance to a new card to save a significant amount of money on interest charges, that is if they make sure to do it strategically and after thorough research. For example, if you move your debt from your old account to a new credit card that has a 0% introductory APR offer on balance transfers, you may be able to pay all of your debt, or a large amount, with no interest fees.

However, you should know that balance transfers have their own additional costs and limitations. Generally speaking, when transferring your balance to a new credit card, you will usually pay a transfer fee of anywhere between 3% to 5% of the total amount transferred. And in some cases, if your balance transfer card’s limit is low, you might not be able to transfer your balance in full.

But in many cases, the advantages of balance transfer will outweigh the disadvantages. You can read this article to decide for yourself if transferring your balance is the right choice.

How Balance Transfer Works

When thinking about the process of a balance transfer, every credit card issuer will require certain steps. However, there are a few general steps that you can expect to take when transferring balance with any major credit card issuers:

  1. Find a credit card with a 0% APR offer on balance transfers: To qualify for the best balance transfer offers, you need to have a Good or Excellent credit score, a FICO score of at least 690. As you may already know, balance transfers between cards of the same issuer aren’t usually allowed. So for example, if you want to transfer your existing balance from a Chase card you own, you will not be able to transfer it to another Chase card.
  2. Initiate your balance transfer: If you are transferring your balance online (or over the phone), you will need to provide some information about the debt you're looking to move. Such information may include the name of the issuer, the amount of the debt, and your account information.
  3. Skip the process with a convenience check: In some cases, you may be able to initiate your balance transfers using convenience checks or the checks the issuer sends you in the mail. However, you should always be very careful when doing this; make sure to carefully and thoroughly read through the terms before initiating the balance transfer. You should check to make sure that it will be considered a balance transfer. Make sure also to understand the transfer fees in this case.
  4. Wait for the transfer to go through: Once your balance transfer is approved, the issuer will pay off your old balance directly; this can take two weeks or longer. Your old balance, in addition to the balance transfer fees, will all show up in your new account.
  5. Start paying down your balance. When your balance is added to your new account, you will have to start paying it down in monthly payments on this new account. In the best-case scenario, you will be able to pay it all during the introductory 0% APR period, which will allow you to save a lot of money.

Should You Resort to Balance Transfer?

To get your answer to this question, you should ask yourself first whether you can pay down your debt within the next three months; if so, it would be better for you to get rid of your debt rather than start another potential one. However, if you do not have the financial means to pay it off within such a short period, then a balance transfer can be your best option. The first thing you need to do is check if you qualify for a 0% APR offer, and if so, this may be the most cost-effective option to pay off your debt.

Another option you should consider is getting a personal loan; you should only consider this if you want a higher limit than the one a credit card may offer and do not mind paying interest. You can pre-qualify for a personal loan to check how much you can borrow and what interest rates you should expect; after weighing your options, you can decide whether a credit card or a personal loan is better for you.

Generally, a balance transfer is the most cost-effective choice if you believe that you would need a few months to pay down your high-interest debt. Of course, you need to have at least a "Good" credit score to qualify for a new credit card with an introductory APR of 0% on balance transfer. Getting such a card could be a great option to save you plenty of interest, which will help you pay off your balance relatively easily.

The Best Credit Cards for Balance Transfer

With so many credit card issuers on the market, it can be quite confusing and time-consuming to research them all and weigh the options. So, we have done the heavy lifting for you; we have done our research and picked the best options. All you need to do is read and decide.

Chase Slate Edge

  • This card has a 0% intro APR for 18 months from the date of account opening on purchases and balance transfers. After that, it has a variable APR of 15.24% to 23.99%.
  • Your balance will be subject to an intro fee of 3% of each transfer with a $5 minimum for the first 60 days.
  • This card's recommended credit score is Good to Excellent (690-850).

Terms and conditions apply.


Citi offers multiple credit cards that come with a 0% introductory APR, making them great for balance transfers. Our top two picks are:

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

  • This card has a 0% intro APR for 21 months from the date of account opening on balance transfers. After that, any remaining balance will be subject to a variable APR of 13.74% to 23.74% based on your creditworthiness.
  • You will pay balance transfer fees of 5% of the total amount transferred with a minimum of $5.

  • This card has no annual fee.

Terms and conditions apply.

Citi Rewards+® Card

  • This card has a promo period of introductory 0% APR on balance transfers for the first 15 months from the date of your first transfer. Any balance left after that will be subject to a variable APR of 13.49% to 23.49%.
  • This card has no annual fee.

Terms and conditions apply.

American Express

While American Express does not offer credit cards for the sole purpose of doing balance transfers, it has a few credit cards that offer an introductory 0% APR on balance transfers. Some of these cards are:

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

  • This card has a 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months from the date of account opening. After this period ends, the card charges a variable APR of 17.74% to 28.74%.
  • This card has no annual fee.

Terms and conditions apply.

Cash Magnet® Card from American Express

  • This card has a 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers from the date of account opening. After that, it has a variable APR of 14.74% to 24.74%.
  • This card has no annual fee.

Terms and conditions apply.

Mastercard® Titanium Card

  • This card offers a promo period of a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for the first 15 billing cycles of account opening. Billing cycles with Mastercard can be anywhere between 28 to 31 days. You must note that you need to complete your balance transfer within 45 days of account opening.
  • The card imposes balance transfer fees of $5 or 3% of the total amount transferred, typically the greater of the two amounts.
  • After the 0% APR intro period expires, any balance left will be subject to an ongoing APR of 14.99% (variable).
  • This card has an annual fee of $195.

Terms and conditions apply.

When Should You Not Transfer Your Balance?

Even though balance transfer is generally a good idea, one that can solve most of your financial problems, in some cases, you should consider looking for another option. Below are four instances where resorting to balance transfer can possibly add to your problems:

If you know that you struggle to pay on time

If you usually struggle to make payments on time, transferring your balance may only drown you in more debt; this is because if you are late in making your payment or if you miss one, your APR could be voided and could significantly rise from 0% to 30%. So, to avoid this, you need to trim your expenses and prioritize any credit card statements before any other payments. You can also enable auto-pay on your credit card so that it would immediately deduct the minimum payment before you spend your money on other things.

If your debt can be paid off quickly

If you think that you can pay off your debt in as soon as three months, then getting yourself in another debt may not be worth it. Most credit cards require transfer fees of 3% or 5% of the total amount transferred, which can leave you with a bigger financial problem.

If your credit score is less than Good

The best credit cards that offer relatively long periods of 0% APR usually require Good to Excellent credit scores (FICO scores of 690 to 850), as mentioned before. So, if you have a Fair or Bad credit score, you might not find credit cards with an introductory APR of 0%, and so, your balance transfer would be in vain.

If credit cards tempt you to overspend

If you know yourself to be someone who gets tempted to spend more with credit cards, a new credit card with a 0% APR may tempt you even more into overspending, which will leave you in more debt.

Disclaimer: may receive a commission from card issuers.
This article includes the author's opinions, reviews, and analyses alone that have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities. Please note that the information regarding each card's offer is believed to be accurate as of the date it was written and as card offers change regularly; reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information.

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