5 To-Dos Before Transferring Your Credit Card Balances

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If you’re considering transferring big credit card balances to a card with a lower, or even 0% introductory interest rate, good for you. You already know it’s a chance to pay less in interest charges and whittle away at your debt. What you might not know are some of the following tips that can help you find the card that best fits your needs.

1. Check Your Credit Score

First and foremost, check your credit score. Some of the credit cards with the best balance transfer offers are aimed at people with credit scores of 700 or higher. (You can see where your credit stands by viewing your free credit report summary at Credit.com.) Checking your credit is important because you don’t want to apply for cards that you won’t qualify for. When your credit report indicates you’ve been applying for multiple new credit lines in a short period of time, your credit scores can take a dent.

2. Look for the Longest Free Financing Term

Once you know your credit score, you’ll want to find a card with the longest free financing term available so you’ll have as much time as possible to pay down your debt without incurring interest charges. The law requires that cards offering a 0% introductory balance transfer fee do so for at least six months. Some issuers offer the 0% rate for up to 18 months. You can find some of the best balance transfer credit cards here.

3. Check for Balance Transfer Fees

Once you’ve found a card with a good free financing term that you can qualify for, check to see what their balance transfer fee is. Most issuers charge at least a minimum of 3%. Note: Do the math. If you’ll end up paying more by transferring your balance at 3% than you would continuing the payments to your existing credit card, you should skip the offer.

4. Apply for Additional Cards if Needed

Keeping in mind the credit score information above, let’s say you’ve applied for a great card that you qualify for, but the company won’t let you transfer the full amount of your balance. Now is the time you might consider applying for a second balance transfer card for the remaining balance or see if your existing card company will offer you a better rate.

5. Look for Promotional Financing on Purchases

Some cards that feature 0% financing on balance transfers also extend those terms to new purchases. Just be careful not to use it to create more debt. Read all the terms of conditions of each offer carefully, since there may be caveats that make the deal less favorable, like retroactive interest if you don’t pay your balances off in full by the time the low-to-no financing offers expires.

Be sure to check out these tips for avoiding balance transfer credit card mistakes and also keep on top of all statement due dates. A missed payment is one of the quickest ways to damage your credit scores.

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