If you are one of the millions of consumers carrying credit card debt, you may be looking at balance transfer offers. Some credit card issuers even offer enticing zero-interest promo periods for up to 18 months. However, after the promo period ends, card rates can rise substantially.
With a household average of $7,849 in credit card debt, many consumers could save hundreds of dollars in interest by transferring balances from high- to low-rate cards. However, there are a few important details to keep in mind before switching.
For one, fee-free transfers are rare. Most of the zero-interest offers charge at least 3% of the amount you transfer and some charge more. For example, a 3% transfer fee means you would pay $150 to transfer a $5,000 balance.
A smart balance transfer can help you pay off debt at lower interest rates, but only if you have the discipline and the cash to pay off the balance as soon as possible. Instead of being tempted by a low transfer rate which quickly can skyrocket, your best bet might be to simply apply for a low-interest credit union card.
Here are some other things to consider in a credit card balance transfer:
How can I avoid paying high interest on the transferred balance? Pay the balance in full before the promotional period ends to avoid paying higher interest rates when the offer expires. If you make only the minimum payment and continue to carry a balance or to add to the balance with purchases and cash advances, you will just perpetuate a cycle of debt.
Is everyone eligible for a zero-percent offer? No. Card issuers offer these sweet promotions to borrowers with exceptional credit.
Can I transfer other debts to a credit card? Some cards allow balance transfers of other types of debt, for example, car loans and even mortgages, as well as credit card debt. Credit card debt typically counts more on your credit score because it isn’t secured by collateral, so the shift could have a harmful effect on your credit standing. Car and home loans are available at far lower rates than credit cards, so it makes little sense to transfer the debt.
Make sure you also address your reason for being in debt in the first place. Beware of using the transfer as an opportunity to take on more debt.
In the end, you are wise to shop around for the best sustainable rate on any loan. Louisiana USA is your smartest choice. Check out our rates and apply online at louisianausa.org/loans/credit-cards or call today at (225) 292-8910.