Citi Simplicity Review: Now 0% Balance Transfer for 21 Months

Citi Simplicity has one of the longest 0% balance transfer offers on the market. If you transfer credit card debt to Simplicity, you will get a 0% intro APR for an incredible 21 months. There is a 3% balance transfer fee. You should do the math (and we will help you later in this post) — but for most people the fee is worth paying. As the name implies, Citi has tried to make this card “simple.” That means no late fees, no annual fee, and no penalty APR. It also means no rewards. If you have credit card debt at a high interest rate, Simplicity can help you save a lot of money and become debt-free faster if you use it wisely.

Citi Simplicity® Card

APPLY NOW Secured

On Citibank’s Website

Citi Simplicity® Card

Intro Rate
0%
promotional rate
Fee
3%
APR
14.24%-24.24%
Transfer Period
21 months
Credit required
Good

Good

  • The ONLY card with No Late Fees, No Penalty Rate, and No Annual Fee… EVER.
  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers and Purchases for 21 months. After that, the variable APR will be 14.24% - 24.24% based on your creditworthiness.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • The same great rate for all balances, after the introductory period.
  • Save time when you call with fast, personal help, 24 hours a day – just say “representative”
  • Enjoy the convenience of setting up your own bill payment schedule on any available due date throughout the month.

How the Card Works

The card gets its name, Citi Simplicity, from its effort to keep things simple. There is never an annual fee, late fee, or penalty rate. There is an introductory offer of 0% for 21 months which includes balance transfers made within the first four months of opening the card and all purchases made during the 21-month period. After 21 months your rate will depend on your creditworthiness. Additionally, after the introductory rate ends, you will see the same interest rate for purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances.

The Introductory Offer

This is the longest 0% purchase offer that we have found on the market. If you need to finance a purchase, it will be hard to find a better deal. What we particularly like about this 0% APR is that the interest is waived, not deferred. Most store credit cards only defer the interest (and for far fewer than 21 months), and you would be hit with a big penalty if you don’t pay the balance in full before the promotional period is over. That is not the case with Citi Simplicity.

In addition to the 0% purchase offer, there is also a very strong 0% balance transfer offer. You will pay no interest for 21 months, but will need to pay a 3% balance transfer. If you think you can pay your debt in full within 6 months, a balance transfer is usually not worthwhile. However, if you think it will take longer than 6 months, the fee is usually worth it and you can use this calculator to see how much you can save.

Here is an example to help understand the math. If you are making a monthly payment of $300 on $10,000 of credit card debt at a current interest rate of 17% and you transfer it to the Citi Simplicity card, you will be charged a $300 upfront fee. However, during the 21-month promotional period you would save over $2,000 — making the $300 fee worthwhile.

What Happens After 21 Months

Even if you still have a balance at the end of the 21 months, interest will start to accrue on your remaining balance on a go-forward basis. There is no penalty, and no retroactive interest will be applied.

No Late Fee

Most credit cards charge a late fee of around $30 when you miss paying at least the minimum payment by the deadline. However, the Citi Simplicity does away with this fee and will let you choose your payment due date when you sign up.

However, just because Citi doesn’t charge a late fee doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences for making a late payment. If your payment is more than 30 days late, Citi would report that information to the credit bureau. This can have a negative impact on your credit score that can result in higher interest rates when you later apply for new lines of credit.

No Penalty Rate

Most credit cards in addition to charging a late fee will penalize you with an increased interest rate when you are late with a payment. This rate could be somewhere in the 30% range for purchases moving forward. The Citi Simplicity Card promises no penalty rate, meaning even if you are late with a payment, after all mistakes happen, you won’t be gouged with your credit card interest rate. However, if you bounce a check for payment, then you can be charged $35.

Same Interest Rate No Matter What You Use Your Card For

The Citi Simplicity card, keeping things simple, makes the interest rate for purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances all the same. Many other credit cards will have different interest rates for each.

Price Protection

It’s already been mentioned that the Citi Simplicity card does not offer any rewards programs. However, they do offer some price protection. It’s called Citi Price Rewind. After you make a purchase with your card, you can register that purchase with Citi. Then Citi will search for lower prices across hundreds of online retailers. If Citi finds it at a lower price within 60 days, you will receive the difference between what you paid and the lower price found, up to $500 per purchase and $2,500 per year.

The only downside is this benefit only applies to certain purchases. For example, it doesn’t apply to purchasing a car, but can apply for tires purchased. You can view the full list of what qualifies here. If you find a lower price yourself, then you can submit a Price Rewind Benefit Request.

How to Qualify for the Card

You need to have good or excellent credit in order to be approved for the credit card.

In addition to a strong credit score, you will also need to demonstrate your ability to repay the debt. Citi will look at your total debt relative to your income to ensure that you are not too deep into debt. This product is not a way for people in trouble to get a lower rate — it is a way for Citi to get borrowers with a good profile who want a lower interest rate.

What We Like About the Card

A very long 0% period.

At a 3% balance transfer fee, this is the longest balance transfer on the market. Time is money — and every additional month at 0% can represent considerable savings.

Fewer “gotcha” fees.

Although we hope you never need to take advantage of these benefits, the card has no late fees and no penalty APR. In order to avoid even the risk of a late fee, we strongly recommend that you automate your monthly payments. However, mistakes can happen — and we do applaud Citi for removing some of the most annoying fees.

Price Rewind — it is actually a nice feature.

Price Rewind is a feature that is not used enough. Citi will look for a better deal — and give you the difference if you overpaid. This isn’t just a promise — we have spoken with people who have benefited from this feature.

What We Don’t Like About the Card

There is a balance transfer fee.

In most cases, and for most people, the fee will more than pay for itself. However, there are other balance transfer deals on the market that don’t have a fee. Just make sure you do the math to ensure that the fee is worth paying in your situation.

The rate after the 0% intro offer is not low.

After the intro period is over, the go-to purchase APR is not low. It ranges from the teens to the 20s, depending upon your credit risk. Hopefully, the 21-month period is long enough to eliminate your debt completely.

How to Complete a Balance Transfer

After receiving your card, you should call the number on the back of your card to initiate the balance transfer. You will need to give the credit card number of the credit card that has the debt. You cannot transfer debt from another Citi credit card (including its co-brand cards).

Although it can take less time, Citi warns that a balance transfer takes at least 14 days to complete. And you will remain responsible for making all payments on your card until the transfer is complete. We recommend paying close attention so that you do not end up with any late fees on your existing cards.

Alternatives to the Card

If You Want to Avoid a Balance Transfer Fee

There are two options if you want to avoid a balance transfer fee: Chase and Barclaycard. Both are good options.

Chase is the largest credit card issuer in America. It offers a great balance transfer on its Chase Slate credit card. You can get 0% interest (on transfers made within 60 days of opening the card) for 15 months. There is no intro balance transfer fee and no annual fee. Just remember that you cannot transfer debt from other Chase products — including co-brand credit cards for airlines (like United and Southwest) or hotels (like Marriott or Hyatt).

Barclaycard is the American credit card division of Barclays Bank. Barclays is a large British bank. With Barclaycard Ring, you can get 0% for 15 months on balance transfer and no balance transfer fee — so long as you complete the transfer within 45 days of opening the card. Just remember: Barclaycard only accepts people with excellent credit.

Who Benefits Most from the Card

If you have a lot of credit card debt that will take a long time (more than 15 months) to pay off, this card is a great option. Over 21 months, the savings can be incredible. Just make sure you take advantage of the 0% period to attack your debt as quickly as possible.

FAQs

No — you do not need excellent credit. Citi will approve anyone with good or excellent credit.

Once the introductory period is over, interest will start to accrue at the standard purchase interest rate on a go-forward basis. Interest during the introductory period is waived — so you do not need to worry about a retroactive interest charge.

In the short term, your credit score will probably take a small hit (5-10 points) because you applied for new credit. However, over time, a balance transfer can increase your credit score with proper practices. This is because while new credit makes up 10% of your credit score, the amount you owe accounts for 30%. By using a balance transfer, you will reduce your interest rate. That should help you get out of debt a lot faster.

The post Citi Simplicity Review: Now 0% Balance Transfer for 21 Months appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

Barclaycard Ring Review: 0% Balance Transfer Until 2018

If you are looking for a balance transfer, this is one of the best offers available in the market. Barclaycard Ring has a 0% intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers made within the first 45 days of opening the card. Even better — there is no intro balance transfer fee. There is also no annual fee, so this is a great choice for anyone looking to get out of credit card debt cheaper and faster.

Barclaycard Ring™ MasterCard<sup>®</sup>

APPLY NOW Secured

On Barclaycard’s Website

Barclaycard Ring™ MasterCard®

Intro Rate
0%
promotional rate
Fee
$0
APR
13.74%
Transfer Period
15 months
Credit required
Excellent

Excellent

  • 0% Introductory APR for the first 15 months on purchases. Plus, you'll get a 0% introductory APR for 15 months on Balance Transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR will apply, 13.74%
  • No balance transfer fees
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No annual fee
  • Chip technology, so paying for your purchases is more secure at chip-card terminals in the U.S. and abroad
  • Free online access to FICO® Credit Score

How to qualify for the Barclaycard Ring MasterCard

The Barclaycard Ring MasterCard is only for people with excellent credit. If you have good (but not excellent) credit, consider the Chase Slate® card — another card with a very good balance transfer offer. Although banks keep their approval criteria to themselves, here is a good idea of what it takes to get approved by Barclaycard:

  • Have an excellent credit score.
  • Don’t have too much credit card debt.
  • You should be current on all of your accounts — no delinquency.

Credit card companies tend to reject people with high debt burdens. You calculate your debt burden by adding up all of your monthly fixed expenses and dividing the number by your monthly income. Your main expenses will be your housing, then any auto payments, student loan payments, and payments for any other credit lines or loans that appear on your credit report. If your debt burden is above 50%, you will find it difficult to get approved. Ideally, your debt burden should be below 40%.

If your debt burden is too high to get approved, or your score hasn’t quite reached “good” yet, you may want to consider applying for a personal loan instead. You’ll have an easier time getting approved and might get a lower APR than your high-interest card. You can use the loan to pay off your credit card debt, then make regular payments on the loan, which will help build your credit score over time.

You can shop for a personal loan from multiple lenders — without hurting your score — here.

Who is Barclaycard?

Barclaycard is the credit card division of UK-based Barclays PLC, one of the world’s largest multinational banking and financial services companies. If you’ve never heard of Barclays, it’s probably because the bank isn’t as big in the United States; however, the bank is no small fish. Barclays is also active in retail, wholesale and investment banking, wealth management, and mortgage lending. The bank is secure — it is the only big UK bank that didn’t require a bailout from the government.

Why we like the Barclaycard Ring MasterCard

Not only does the Barclaycard Ring MasterCard offer one of the best no-fee balance transfer options on the market — but it also has a much lower go-to APR after the balance transfer period is over.

With the Barclaycard Ring MasterCard you won’t pay any interest on balance transfers made within 45 days of opening the card for the first 15 months. After that period, Barclaycard applies a 13.74% variable APR to the remaining balance. There is no balance transfer fee, and the card has no annual fee.

Barclaycard waives the interest during the balance transfer period. You do not need to worry about deferred interest charges. If you still have a balance after the promotional period is over, there will be no retroactive charges or penalties. You will only pay interest, at the 13.75% rate, on the remaining balance on a go-forward basis.

The go-to APR is unique for two reasons. First, the 13.74% rate is pretty low compared to the 15% or higher APR consumers pay to use most credit cards, and significantly less than the more than 20% APR charged on most store credit cards. Even better — everyone approved will get the 13.74% interest rate. There is not a wide range of interest rates, which you typically find with other credit card issuers. However, this rate may vary with the market based on the prime rate.

Barclaycard has another interesting feature — charity giveback. A portion of Ring’s profits will be given to charity. And, as a Ring cardholder, you can vote on which charities get the money. We like that this card offers a great financial deal — and tries to give back to the community at the same time.

What to watch out for:

  1. You need to have “excellent” credit to qualify for the Barclaycard Ring MasterCard, so most people might not make the cut.
  2. Once you have the card, take care not to miss a payment or you’ll be hit with a $27 late payment fee.
  3. The introductory balance transfer offer is only for the first 45 days after you open the account. Don’t miss this window, or you’ll lose the balance transfer offer.
  4. Barclaycard still has high cash advance charges, so you should do your best to avoid taking one. You shouldn’t take a cash advance on a credit card anyway, as interest starts accruing immediately, and it can quickly become an expensive way to borrow money.

How to complete a balance transfer with Barclaycard

Completing a balance transfer with Barclaycard is easy. While applying for the product, you can provide the credit card number of the card you want paid off.

We have put together a step-by-step guide to help you through the process. The online process should take fewer than five minutes. If you have trouble completing the transfer online, you can always call the bank.

Beware: The balance transfer may take as long as four weeks to post to both of your accounts. Continue making payments to each creditor until you receive confirmation that the old balance has been paid off.

2 alternatives to the Barclaycard Ring MasterCard

You won’t qualify for the Barclaycard Ring MasterCard if you already have your debt with Barclaycard. Also, if you don’t have “excellent” credit, you will find it difficult to get approved. Here are a few good options to consider.

A similar offer for people with good credit

Chase has a similar balance transfer offer. A $0 introductory balance transfer fee with 0% introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and $0 annual fee. Plus, receive your Monthly FICO® Score for free.

For people who need more time to pay off their debt.

If you think you might need a few more months to pay off your credit card balance interest-free, you should consider the “Discover it – 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer.” If you have good or excellent credit, you have a good chance of qualifying for the Discover it card. You will have an introductory 0% APR on balance transfers for the first 18 months, with a 3% balance transfer fee.

Frequently asked questions about the Barclaycard Ring MasterCard

You will have 45 days from when you open the account to complete a balance transfer that qualifies for the 0% interest introductory period. Any balance transfer completed after the 45-day period will not be subject to the promotional 0% intro-rate.

If you don’t pay off the balance transfer during the introductory period, you will be charged 13.74% APR, varied based on the prime rate, on the remaining balance on a go-forward basis.

Yes, the introductory interest-free period applies to all charges made in the first 15 billing cycles as well as to balance transfers made within the first 45 days of opening the account.

You can transfer debts from MasterCard, Visa, American Express, or Discover Card accounts. If the debt you want to transfer is not on a MasterCard, Visa, American Express, or Discover Card account, you’ll need to call the number on the back of your card to make the balance transfer once you are approved for the card.

If you miss a payment, you will be charged a late payment fee up to $27.

The Barclaycard Ring MasterCard is a great option for those seeking to ditch high-interest credit card debt. It makes no sense to put your hard-earned money toward paying interest on your debt when you don’t have to. So, if you have excellent credit and high-interest debt to pay off, consider the Barclaycard Ring MasterCard.

The post Barclaycard Ring Review: 0% Balance Transfer Until 2018 appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

How Transferring a Balance Affects Your Credit Score

Are you thinking about taking advantage of a balance transfer offer? They’re awfully tempting and can be an excellent way to efficiently pay off your debt.

Thinking of taking advantage of a balance transfer offer? It can be an excellent way to pay off your debt. But how will transferring a balance affect your credit score? And of what potential pitfalls should you be aware?

It’s impossible to predict exactly how any one financial decision will affect your credit score. We can guess based on what we know about credit-scoring algorithms, and credit score simulators are can show you how a particular choice might affect your score. But so many factors influence your score that an exact effect is difficult to predict.

With that said, we can look at two areas of your credit score a balance transfer will most likely impact: your credit utilization and new credit inquiries.

Balance Transfers & Your Debt-to-Credit Ratio

Your credit utilization, or debt-to-credit ratio, is the second most important piece of your credit score, behind your payment history. It’s essentially a measure of how much you owe versus how much credit you have available.

Say, for instance, you owe $1,000 on a card with a $2,000 limit. In this case, your debt-to-credit ratio is 50%. (You can see how your debt is impacting your credit by viewing two of your scores for free on Credit.com.)

If you’re approved for a new credit card with a balance transfer offer, you’ll wind up with a higher overall credit limit. This could be a good thing, since it will push your debt-to-credit ratio lower.

In the above example, if you’re approved for a new card with a $1,000 limit, your total credit limit will be $3,000. As long as you don’t accrue more debt, your total debt-to-credit ratio will be about 33%. Since that’s better than 50%, your credit score should be fine. Plus, with a lower interest rate, you can presumably pay off the debt quicker. As your debt decreases, so will your debt-to-credit ratio, which means your credit score will climb.

What About New Credit Inquiries?

A balance transfer’s effect on your credit score isn’t all good. To open a new credit card, the card issuer will pull your credit score, which will most likely add an inquiry to your credit file and cause a small but temporary decrease in your score. The impact won’t likely be large unless you apply for several balance transfer cards at once.

The Possible Pitfalls of Balance Transfers

A balance transfer card can be good in some circumstances, but it has potential drawbacks. Here’s what to avoid if you opt for a balance transfer:

Taking on More Debt 

If you’re already dealing with credit card debt because of your spending habits, a balance transfer may be the wrong choice. Opening a new credit card gives you access to more credit, and with that access can come the temptation to spend. If you’re likely to reach your credit limits, a balance transfer card may not be for you.

Paying Too Much in Balance Transfer Fees

Most balance transfer cards come with a one-time fee. This fee may be worth it if it gets you out of paying loads of interest every month. But it might also cost more than you’re willing to pay. Be sure you know what the fee is upfront.

Maxing Out a Credit Card

Scoring algorithms like FICO’s look at both your overall credit utilization and your per-card credit utilization. So maxing out a balance transfer card to take full advantage of a low- or no-interest offer may negatively affect your credit score, even if opening the new card decreases your overall debt-to-credit ratio.

Should You Transfer a Balance?

Is a balance transfer right for you? If transferring a balance helps you save money and pay off debt faster, it’s most likely the right choice. Just be careful if you’re preparing to apply for a larger loan, like a mortgage. Even a small ding at the wrong time can hurt you. Still, transferring a balance and efficiently paying off debt will have great consequences for your credit score over the long term.

Image: Geber86

The post How Transferring a Balance Affects Your Credit Score appeared first on Credit.com.

Should You Refinance Your Student Loans with a Credit Card?

Using a balance transfer credit card can be a great way to lower the interest rates on your debt to help you save money and pay your debt off faster. Most people only think about doing a balance transfer with high-interest credit card debt, but recently I’ve been considering a 0% interest balance transfer credit card to help me pay off my student loan.

After making my final credit card payment to be credit card debt free, I started thinking about how I could use a balance transfer offer extended by my creditor to help pay off other types of debt I still have. Since the highest interest debt I have remaining is my student loan, this is what I’m considering refinancing with a 0% interest balance transfer. My student loan only has a remaining balance of about $6,000, which means I could transfer the entire balance to the credit card and pay it off before the promotional rate expires, if I pay it off aggressively.

Of course, there are lots of reasons why you could choose to refinance or consolidate your student loans. I was curious whether or not a balance transfer could be a viable option as well.

Here are some of the pros and cons you should consider before deciding to refinance your student loans with a balance transfer credit card.

Benefits of Refinancing Student Loans with a Balance Transfer Credit Card

There are several benefits you could take advantage of by refinancing your student loans with a balance transfer credit card.

A Lower Interest Rate

One of the main reasons people choose to refinance student loans is to lock in a lower interest rate. For example, my student loans are at 6.8%. If I do a balance transfer to a 0% interest credit card, I could save hundreds of dollars on interest through the end of the 0% interest rate period on the balance transfer.

But keep in mind that not all balance transfers are created equal. You might get all kinds of different balance transfer offers from companies trying to entice you to sign up for a new credit card, or even transfer a balance to a card you already have. Some of these transfer offers will be better than others. You might encounter offers that have a 1% to 3% interest rate for a certain period of time, usually 12, 18, or 24 months. But the best balance transfer offers have a 0% interest rate, obviously saving you more on interest than the others.

Pay Off Student Loans Faster

Transferring student loan debt to a credit card can save money, but only as long as you get the balance transfer paid off before the promotional interest rate expires. This time limit is a big motivation for people to pay extra on their student loans to make sure the balance transfer is paid off before it expires. If you struggle with being motivated to make extra payments, the reality that your interest rate may spike up to 15% or more after a few months may be just the motivation you need to get serious about paying off debt. It’s worked well for me in the past when I’ve transferred high-interest credit card debt to a 0% balance transfer credit card, helping me to pay off $5,284.18 much faster than I would have otherwise.

Drawbacks of Refinancing Student Loans with a Balance Transfer Credit Card

Although using a balance transfer to help pay off your student loans sounds like a great way to save money and pay your debt off faster, there are some potential downsides you should be aware of.

Balance Transfer Fees

A lower interest rate makes balance transfer credit cards an attractive option for those looking to refinance debt, but you need to consider more than just the interest rate before deciding to refinance your student loans with a balance transfer credit card. Make sure you consider the balance transfer fee that many credit cards charge. This can eat away at the amount of money you save on interest. Luckily, some credit cards do have a cap on this fee at $50 or $75, which can be helpful if you plan to transfer a large balance that would otherwise result in a fee higher than that cap. But at that point, it could be difficult to get your student loan transfer paid off before the promotional interest rate on the balance transfer expires.

There are balance transfers without fees, but your options may be limited. If you find a no-fee, 0% interest transfer option you qualify for, it’s almost a no-brainer to use it to pay off other debt.

Potential Loss of Savings on Interest

As mentioned, it’s imperative that you pay off your entire balance transfer before the promotional interest rate expires in 12, 18, or 24 months. If you don’t, the high interest rate after the transfer expires will quickly negate any interest savings you earned by doing the transfer in the first place. In fact, you may end up paying more in interest than if you’d skipped the balance transfer in the first place.

You May Not Qualify

In order to use a balance transfer credit card to refinance your student loans, you first have to qualify for one. In order to qualify for many balance transfer credit cards you must have a credit score of at least 680.

Applying Could Ding Your Credit Score

If you don’t already have a credit card with a balance transfer offer available, you may need to apply for a new card. Anytime you apply for a new line of credit, it will ding your credit score slightly. This may or may not be an important factor depending on what your score is and if you plan to apply for any other credit cards or loans in the near future.

Loss of Federal Student Borrower Protections

A final and very important consideration to think about before you decide to refinance your student loans with a balance transfer credit card is the loss of student loan protections you may have. If you are refinancing federal student loans, you will lose the protections that are offered to you as a borrower, such as:

  • Income-driven repayment plans
  • The opportunity for student loan forgiveness
  • Deferment or forbearance
  • Discharge upon permanent disability or death

Some credit card companies may be willing to work with you in an emergency situation, but chances are high that even in those situations the flexibility offered to federal student loan borrowers is far greater. In some cases, you may be better off not refinancing your student loans in order to maintain your borrower protections.

With most low or 0% interest balance transfer credit cards, you can’t miss a payment or pay late. If you do, your promotional interest rate may be void and you will be subject to the regular interest rate, which could be 15% or more depending on the card and your credit score.

Despite these drawbacks, doing a balance transfer to help pay off your student loans can be a good idea if your goal is to get out of debt quickly while saving money on interest.

The post Should You Refinance Your Student Loans with a Credit Card? appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

The Fastest Way to Pay Off $10,000 in Credit Card Debt

Before you read on, click here to download our FREE guide to become debt free forever! 

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 1.30.44 PM

Digging out of the debt hole can feel frustrating, intimidating and ultimately impossible. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be any of those things if you learn how to take control.

Paying down debt is not only about finding the right financial tools, but also the right psychological ones. You need to understand why you got into debt in the first place. Perhaps it was a medical emergency or a home repair that needed to be taken care of immediately. Maybe you’d already drained your emergency fund on one piece of bad luck when misfortune struck again. Or maybe you’re struggling with a compulsive shopping problem, so paying down debt will likely result in you accumulating more until the addiction is addressed.

Understanding the why and how of your debt isn’t the only reason psychology plays a role in how you should create your debt attack plan.

You also need to understand what motivates you to succeed. Do you want to pay down your debt in the absolute fastest amount of time possible that will save more money or do you want to take some little wins along the way to keep yourself motivated?

The common terms for these debt repayment strategies are:

  • Debt avalanche: starting with the highest interest rate and working your way down, which saves both time and money.
  • Debt snowball: paying off small debts first to get the warm and fuzzies that will motivate you to keep going.

Whichever version you pick needs to set you up to be successful in your debt repayment strategy. Now it’s time to find the proper tools to help you dump that debt for good.

The first step in crafting a debt repayment strategy is to understand what you’re eligible to use. Your credit score will play a big role in whether or not you’ll qualify for products like balance transfers or competitive personal loan offers.

A credit score of less than 600 will make it difficult for you to qualify for a personal loan and will eliminate you from taking on a balance transfer offer.

If you have a credit score above 600, you have a good chance of qualifying for a personal loan at a much lower interest rate than your credit card debt. With new internet-only personal loan companies, you can shop for loans without hurting your score. Use this tool to see if you can get approved for a loan without hurting your score. Click here to get rates from multiple lenders in just a few minutes, without a credit inquiry hurting your score. For people with the best scores, rates start as low as 4.80%.

If you have a score above 700, you could also qualify for 0% balance transfer offers.

[Click here if you’re looking to rebuild your credit score.]

Not sure what your credit score is? Click here to learn how to find out.

Now let’s talk about the financial tools to add into your debt repayment strategy in order to dig out of the hole.

Let’s say you have $10,000 in credit card debt, and are stuck paying 18% interest on it.

You already know that putting as much spare cash as you can toward paying down your debt is the most important thing to do. But once you’ve done that, so what’s next?

Use your good credit to make banks compete and cut your rates

MagnifyMoney’s Paying Down Debt Guide has easy to follow tips on how to put banks to work for you and get your rates cut.

You could save $1,800 a year in interest and lower your monthly payments based on several of the rates available today. That means you could pay it off almost 20% faster.

Here’s how it works.

Option One: Use a Balance Transfer (or Multiple Balance Transfers)

If you trust yourself to open a new credit card but not spend on it, consider a balance transfer. You may be able to cut your rate with a long 0% intro APR. You need to have a good credit score, and you might not get approved for the full amount that you want to transfer.

Your own bank might not give you a lower rate (or only drop it by a few percent), but there are lots of competing banks that may want to steal the business and give you a better rate.

Our favorite offer is Chase Slate®. You can save with a $0 introductory balance transfer fee, 0% introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and $0 annual fee. Plus, receive your Monthly FICO® Score for free.

Chase Slate Credit Card

learn more

If you don’t think Chase is for you, consider Discover, which offers an intro 0% APR for 21 months (with a 3% balance transfer fee). MagnifyMoney keeps the most complete list of the longest and lowest rate deals available right now, including deals with no fees. Just answer a few questions about how your debt and much you can afford to pay, and you’ll get a personal list of the deals that will save you the most.

promo-balancetransfer-halfIt also has six tips to make sure you do a balance transfer safely. If you follow them you’ll save thousands on your debt by beating the banks at their game.

You might be scared of a balance transfer, but there is no faster way to cut your interest payments than taking advantage of the best 0% or low interest deals banks are offering.

Thanks to recent laws, balance transfers aren’t as sneaky as they used to be, and friendlier for helping you cut your debt.

Sometimes the first bank you deal with won’t give you a big enough credit line to handle all your credit card debt. Maybe you’ll get a $5,000 credit line for a 0% deal, but have $10,000 in debt. That’s okay. In that case, apply for the next best balance transfer deal you see. MagnifyMoney’s list of deals makes it easy to sort them.

Banks are okay with you shopping around for more than one deal.

 

Option Two: Personal Loan

If you never want to see another credit card again, you should consider a personal loan. You can get prequalified without hurting your credit score, and find the best deal to pay off your debt faster. With just one application, you can get multiple loan offers with rates as low as 4.77% here.

Personal loan rates are often about 10-20%, but can sometimes be as low as 5-6% if you have very good credit.

Moving from 18% interest on a credit card to 10% on a personal loan is a good deal for you. You’ll also get one set monthly payment, and pay off the whole thing in 3 to 5 years.

Sometimes this may mean a higher monthly payment than you’re used to, but you’re better off putting your cash toward a higher payment with a lower rate.

And you’ll get out of debt months or years faster by leaving more money to pay down the debt itself.

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Apply Now

The post The Fastest Way to Pay Off $10,000 in Credit Card Debt appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

Can a Balance Transfer Hurt Your Credit Score?

 

When you are carrying a balance on a high-interest credit card, receiving a 0% balance transfer offer can be enticing. After all, shifting the balance from a high-interest credit card to a no-interest card means saving money on interest and paying down the balance faster.

But how will the balance transfer impact your credit score?

First, you should understand three crucial elements that go into determining your credit score: inquiries, credit utilization, and length of credit history.

  • Inquiries – How many new accounts have you opened lately? Whenever you apply for new debt, the lender performs a “hard inquiry” to determine whether they will approve your application. According to FICO, hard inquiries account for about 10% of your credit score.
  • Credit utilization ratio – How much do you owe? Your credit utilization ratio is calculated based on your total outstanding balances compared to your total credit limit. It is calculated both per card and across all of your credit accounts and makes up about 30% of your credit score.
  • Length of credit history – How long have you been using credit? This factor looks at the age of your oldest account as well as the average length of all of your credit accounts. The longer your history, the higher your score. According to FICO, the length of your credit history accounts for about 15% of your credit score.

How balance transfers can hurt your credit score

Balance transfer applications count as a hard credit inquiry

When you open a new account for a balance transfer, the lender will perform a hard inquiry. One hard inquiry is unlikely to have a large impact on your credit score. If you have excellent credit and haven’t applied for a card in the last six months, one hard inquiry may not impact your score at all. Inquiries could have as much as a ten-point impact, but that would be very rare. The typical impact of one hard inquiry is about five points. However, if you apply for several cards at once, the applications could have a big impact.

Balance transfers lower the average length of your credit history

Opening a new credit account will lower the average age of your credit accounts, which can negatively impact your credit score in the short term.

For example, if you have one 5-year-old credit card, one 3-year-old credit card, and one 10-year-old credit card, the average age of your cards is 6 years.

When you open a new credit card for a balance transfer, you now add a less-than-one-year-old account to your balance. At the most, your average credit age will drop down to 4.75 years.

How balance transfers can improve your credit score

All in all, the benefits of balance transfers can far outweigh the negatives.

You will likely lower your utilization rate

Opening new credit accounts decreases your overall credit utilization ratio, which positively affects your credit score over time. For example, if you have one credit card with a $5,000 limit and a $2,500 balance, your credit utilization ratio is 50%. When you open a second account with a $5,000 limit and transfer the $2,500 balance to the new card while leaving the old account open, your total available credit is $10,000 ($5,000 + $5,000), and your outstanding balance is still just $2,500. You’ve reduced your credit utilization rate to 25%.

What happens if the new account’s limit is just $2,500 and you transfer the full $2,500 balance? You’ve still reduced your overall credit utilization ratio. Now you’re using 33% of your available credit ($2,500 / $7,500). However, the negative is that there are still some points taken away if you max out one card. You didn’t have any maxed out cards before, and now you do. Credit scores are very sensitive to people who max out their credit cards as they’re seen as high risk. Maxing out a new card could reduce your credit score by about 30 points in the short term.

You will be paying off debt faster, improving your score dramatically

Where balance transfers get exciting is that more of your money is going to paying off the balance of your debt as opposed to interest. Ultimately, the best credit score comes from carrying as little debt as possible.

Using our previous example of the $2,500 balance on one card, assume that card had a 21% interest rate and you could afford to pay $220 per month toward paying it off. According to MagnifyMoney’s balance transfer calculator, if you did not take advantage of a balance transfer, the card would be paid off in 13 months, and you would pay $309 in interest. If you transferred that balance, even with a 3% balance transfer fee ($75), you could pay off that balance one month sooner and save $234.

In the end, your goal should be to pay off your debt as quickly as possible. Over the course of a year, as long as you stick to your strategy, you can eliminate that debt in a year, and your score will go up a whole lot faster than it otherwise would.

When to avoid balance transfers

The short-term impact of a balance transfer on your credit score should only concern you if you are planning on applying for a mortgage in the next six to nine months. During this period, every point on your score counts. Just a 0.2% difference in your interest rate can cost a ton of money over the life of your mortgage. In that case, wait until after you get the mortgage to do the balance transfer.

The bottom line

People are so programmed to think about their score that they sometimes lose sight of what they want the high score for. A higher score saves you money and gets you out of debt faster. Don’t focus on short-term fluctuations of 10 to 20 points. Use your good credit score to save money. That’s what it’s there for.

The post Can a Balance Transfer Hurt Your Credit Score? appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

Looking for a Balance Transfer Credit Card? Here’s 5 Things to Know

If you're looking for a balance transfer credit card, here are some things to keep in mind.

If you have found yourself dealing with high amounts of credit card debt, you might be feeling a little trapped. At times, it can seem like you are never going to get to the other side and become debt-free again. However, there are tools to use that can help you with your goals. One of the best ones is a balance transfer credit card.

A balance transfer credit card is exactly what it sounds like. It allows you to transfer a balance from one card to another. Typically this is done so that you can have a lower interest rate on your balance or take advantage of a short-term 0% introductory offer on transferred balances. However, before you make the decision to use a balance transfer credit card, consider these five facets.

1. Yes, Balance Transfers Can Save You Money

In fact, one of the biggest reasons why you should consider a balance transfer credit card is because of the money you could save. The higher your balance, the more money that could end up back in your pocket. To help give you a visual, let’s assume that you have a credit card balance of $10,000 and your current card has an annual percentage rate (APR) of 14%.

Now let’s assume that you make the decision to move your balance to a Chase Slate card (see full review here). With this card you would avoid paying a balance transfer fee, so long as you transfer that balance in the first 60 days of opening the account. (After that, you’ll pay a 5% balance transfer fee.) Plus, you would receive an introductory 0% APR for the first 15 months. If you were to make a $200 payment each month and received a 13.24% go-to APR, the lowest end of the Slate’s 13.24% to 23.24% variable APR range, you would be saving $3,200 in interest by the time the balance was paid off.

2. Transferring a Balance Isn’t the Same as Repaying Your Debt

Balance transfers can be extremely useful, but, keep in mind, they are not a replacement for repayment. When you complete a balance transfer, you are paying off one credit card with another. The only way that this works in your favor is if you repay the entire debt at a lower interest rate. Once you complete your balance transfer, come up with a plan to start eliminating the debt altogether. If possible, do it before that introductory 0% APR is over. If not, get your balance as low as possible before the go-to rate kicks in.

3. Be Aware of the Fee

The Chase Slate card is an exception when it comes to fees. Most other balance transfer credit cards will charge a fee of 2% to 3% when you go to transfer a balance, but some are as high as 5%. Before you make the decision to use a balance transfer card, you should crunch the numbers to make sure your savings on interest will justify the fee. You can learn more about the best balance transfer credit cards here.

4. Your Credit Score Might Drop … Briefly

Every time you apply for a new credit card, the issuer will run a credit pull — which generates a hard inquiry on your credit report. They do this to make sure you are a suitable borrower for the product you are applying for. Because of this inquiry, your credit score could decrease by a small amount. This should be a short-lived effect, however, so long as you don’t add to your debt. In fact, in the long-term, the new credit card could help your credit score, since that new credit limit will likely bolster your credit utilization — how much credit you have versus your total available credit. (Of course, this is predicated on you not running balances back up on both cards.)

5. Not Everyone Will Qualify for a Balance Transfer Credit Card

Even though you might want to complete a balance transfer, and it might be the best thing for your debt repayment plan, not everyone will be eligible. The best offers, in fact, will require applicants to have a good or excellent credit score to be approved. You can see where your credit stands by viewing two of your credit scores, updated every 14 days, for free on Credit.com. And, if you’re looking to improve your standing, you can find some ways to give your credit score a jumpstart in the new year here.

At publishing time, the Chase Slate credit card is offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

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The post Looking for a Balance Transfer Credit Card? Here’s 5 Things to Know appeared first on Credit.com.

How a Balance Transfer Check Works

If you’re struggling with debt, you’ve probably considered a balance transfer before. While the more popular way to go about actually transferring your balance from a high-interest credit card over to your zero or low-interest one usually just requires a quick five minutes to do so online or a call to a customer service rep, there is one other way the transfer can be done — via a balance transfer check.

If you go the balance transfer check route, you’ll be receiving the check directly from your credit card company in order to withdraw cash from your credit line. Once you have the check in hand, you’ll have a couple options:

  1. You could make the check payable directly to the company which holds your debt, or
  2. You can make the check payable to yourself in order to get a cash deposit.

In the second scenario, the only real difference is that you’ll be paying your debt off directly from funds transferred from your new balance card into your checking account rather than putting the debt onto the new card to pay off that way.

Still confused? Consider an example. Let’s say you owe $3,000 to a furniture store that you used to furnish your new pad, and you’d like to pay that debt off using a zero interest credit card. In order to go the balance transfer check route, you would simply apply for and open a new card, get a balance transfer check worth $3,000 from your new card made payable to yourself, and deposit it into your bank account. Once the money has cleared, you can pay off your debt to the store free-and-clear while paying off your balance transfer check debt on your new card in installments that don’t accrue interest for however long your introductory period lasts.

Of course there are positives and negatives that come with using a balance transfer check. For starters, not every company will even offer this option, and you’ll need to be sure to read through all the terms and conditions before deciding to use it. Sometimes these transactions take time, and most balance transfer deals come with strict deadlines in order to actually qualify for the zero interest, so you’ll need to watch out for that.

For more on the balance transfer check and whether it’s the right option for you, check out this piece.

The post How a Balance Transfer Check Works appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

How to Use a Balance Transfer Check to Deposit Funds into Your Bank Account

Pretty Young Multiethnic Woman Holding Phone and Credit Card Using Laptop.

If you’re struggling to pay debt on a high-interest credit card, you’ve probably considered a balance transfer. If you haven’t, you may want to.

A balance transfer is when you take a balance from Credit Card A with a high interest rate and transfer it to Credit Card B, which is offering a low or 0% APR promotional period.

There are a few catches to consider before jumping head first into a balance transfer. Some balance transfers have a fee of 3% to 5% per transfer, however, these fees are often much less than you’d pay in interest at existing rates. You’re also required to transfer a balance within a certain timeframe typically within 60 days for it to qualify for the deal. And you need to pay off the transferred balance before the intro period ends. Otherwise, your interest rate will hike to the standard post promotional rate, often 15% APR or higher, or in some cases you may even be on the hook to pay with retroactive interest.

However, if you follow the rules, a balance transfer can help you pay off your debt much faster – even debt that isn’t just on another credit card.

How to Transfer Your Debt onto a Balance Transfer Card

Transferring a balance from one credit card to another is pretty easy. You just hunt for a balance transfer card with favorable terms.

Once you apply and get approved, there’s usually a section in the online account management dashboard where you input the card number of the account from which you want to roll over the balance. Or you can call into a representative to initiate the transfer for you. Within a week or two, the balance will appear on your new account and be paid off from the old account.

Using a balance transfer check is another way to get your debt from one account to another. This option is particularly useful if you need to transfer a debt that’s not on another credit card.

What is a Balance Transfer Check?

A balance transfer check is like a typical check except it’s issued by your credit card company and used to withdraw cash from your credit line. You can write out a check directly to the company that has the debt you want to pay off. Or you can write a balance transfer check payable to yourself for a cash deposit.

Here’s an example. Say you open up a balance transfer card with a $15,000 credit line and you want to pay off the last $5,000 of your student loan. You make out a balance transfer check of $5,000 payable to yourself. Once you get the cash in your bank account, you pay off the student loan with your balance transfer. Then you enjoy an interest-free period on the $5,000 balance that’s now sitting on the balance transfer card.

The Good and Bad of the Balance Transfer Check

Besides using the balance transfer check to pay off debt, you may able to use it to obtain cold-hard cash. In this scenario, you would keep some of the cash or all of it instead of using it to repay a debt. This isn’t a good idea if you’re deep in debt. It’s not free money and you’ll eventually owe interest on it.

There are a few other things to keep in mind when using a balance transfer check. First, not all credit card companies offer balance transfer checks as a way to transfer money. If your sole reason for signing up for a balance transfer card is using a balance transfer check, you need to read through the terms or reach out to the credit card company to make sure it’s an option. Otherwise, you could end up with a balance transfer card promotion that serves no purpose.

Even if you do happen to find a credit card company that offers balance transfer checks, verify that the process of obtaining a balance transfer check will happen quickly. As mentioned above, balance transfer deals usually have a deadline. If you transfer a debt after the deadline, it won’t qualify for the promotion.

You also need to be sure you pay off the balance before the end of the promotional period, especially on debts like student loans. If you use a balance transfer to pay off a student loan debt at 8%, then dropping to 0% sounds great. But if you have a lingering balance of say $1,000 after the promotional period is up, your debt has gone from a high of 8% to probably 18%! Be sure you have an actionable and realistic plan to pay off the debt before using your balance transfer.

Beware of the Cash Advance Convenience Check

You’ve probably come across a convenience check offering a cash advance in the mail before. Sometimes credit card companies will send them out with your monthly statements. Or Credit card companies trying to get your business will send them via snail mail to persuade you into taking on more debt.

Where a balance transfer check allows you to transfer funds with a low-interest or no-interest promotion, withdrawing cash through a convenience check cash advance can be costly. Standard cash advance rates and fees may apply regardless of your balance transfer deal.

For a quick example, Credit Card A offers an intro special of 0% APR that doesn’t apply to cash advances. Going through with a cash advance could cost as much as 25.24% interest right away regardless of a promotional deal.

Be careful and read the fine print that comes along with all checks that come from a credit card company. Whatever check you use to initiate a balance transfer shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg.

Final Word

We can’t stress enough the importance of making sure a credit card company offers balance transfer checks if that’s the method you want to use. For the most part, transferring a debt from one credit card to another online is the most convenient way to take advantage of a balance transfer special which is something to consider.

If you plan to use a credit card check to increase your bank account balance, it may cost you. Do your homework before hastily writing out a check from your credit card company.

The post How to Use a Balance Transfer Check to Deposit Funds into Your Bank Account appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

How a Balance Transfer Affects Your Credit Score

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A balance transfer is an extremely effective way to cut down the amount of interest you pay on your debt. Applying for a balance transfer does require a hard inquiry on your credit, which is likely to impact your credit score.

But there’s no reason to freak out.

How Your Score Will Be Affected

According to FICO, a hard inquiry on your credit results in a score drop of about five points or less. Then, after a few months of appropriately using your credit by paying your debts on time, you’re likely to see your score bounce back up.

In fact, you may even see your score increase. This is because while new credit makes up 10% of your credit score, the amount you owe accounts for 30%. A huge component of the amounts you owe isn’t necessarily dependent on the actual dollar amount, but rather on your credit utilization ratio. To find this ratio, you divide how much you owe by your total available credit limit (across all cards).

Let’s say you had $7,500 in credit card debt, and it was your only debt. You only have one credit card with a $10,000 limit. You applied for another card that was offering you a reduced interest rate to entice you to do a balance transfer, and you took it. That card gave you an additional credit line of $5,000.

There was a 3% fee to transfer the $7,500, so now your total debt is $7,725. Where your credit utilization used to be 75%, now it is only 52%. You may owe a bit more money, but since your credit utilization went down, you’re likely to see your credit score jump up a little bit. The $225 extra will probably end up saving you money, but let’s walk through how.

How a Balance Transfer Can Save You Money

The fact that you now owe an additional $225 may make you cringe, but in all reality, the balance transfer will save you money long-term. In this example, you were offered an introductory interest rate of 0% for 18 months and then 15% APR after the promotional period ends. You currently pay 18% APR on your $7,500 debt and make monthly payments of $200.

If you don’t take the balance transfer and make the $200 monthly payment, it will take you 56 months and cost $3,604 in interest to get debt free.

If you take the balance transfer and make the same $200 monthly payment, you could be debt free in 43 months and only pay $900 in both interest and fees (that $225 to transfer the balance). You could even transfer the balance at the end of your first promotional period to another 0% APR offer with no fee for 15 months and be debt free in 40 months and pay $423 in interest and fees.

That initial hit on your credit score and $225 fee will save you $2,704 in interest with one balance transfer or $3,181 with multiple balance transfers.

Well worth the price.

When You Might Want to Wait

If you credit score falls below the “good” range, which would mean your score is below 680, it may be wise to wait before applying for a balance transfer. Financial institutions generally will not accept your application if you’re at 679 or below, but they will have to complete the hard inquiry in order to get that information. That means your score is still likely to drop, but you won’t be seeing any of the rewards of decreased credit utilization.

If you’re close to the cutoff, waiting until you hit that magic 680 number may be a good idea. While you’re waiting, be sure to do things that are likely to improve your score, like:

  • Paying at least your minimum payments on time every month.
  • Paying all your other bills on time so nothing delinquent pops up on your credit report.

As you pay your minimum payments on time every month, your creditor likely be reporting positive information to the credit reporting agencies.  At the very least, they won’t be reporting negative information.

If you make more than the minimum payment, your balance will go down faster which will lower your credit utilization, and we’ve already seen how that positively affects your score.

After your score increases, you’ll be more likely to qualify for the balance transfer with low or no interest rates. At that point, taking the small hit will be worth it.

Another time you may want to wait before applying for a balance transfer is if you are thinking about taking out a mortgage in the near future. This is one of the biggest purchases you’re likely to make in your life. The higher your credit score when you apply, the lower your interest rates will be, so even a small hit from a hard inquiry could increase your interest rates.

Go For It

If you qualify and are not thinking about making a massive purchase in the near future, taking the temporary, small hit on your credit score is more than likely worth the savings. Just be sure to pay at least the minimum due every month once you’ve made the balance transfer; otherwise your interest rates will jump back up, negating the advantage of this strategy.

A good credit score is something to be leveraged. The entire reason you want one is to enable you to save money. While it might be nerve-wracking to watch it decrease slightly, paying more interest than you have to is a bigger cause for concern.

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