Balance Transfer Credit Cards: A Way To Consolidate Debt

Credit card debt is a fact of life for millions of Americans. Once you have credit card debt racked up, it can be difficult to get rid of. Balance transfer credit cards provide a solution to this problem. By understanding how they work, you can use balance transfer credit cards to help you get out of debt.

How Balance Transfer Credit Cards Work

Balance transfer credit cards allow you to transfer the amount due on other credit cards to their card. Many offer a low interest rate or a 0% APR introductory rate on the transferred amount. This way, you can avoid paying hundreds of dollars on interest. By making payments each month, you reduce the balance and save on interest expense.

Understand the Fees

Balance transfer credit cards come in many shapes and sizes. Some charge a fee to transfer balances; others do not. Some offer low interest rates for a certain period of time; others allow a fixed low interest rate on the balance until it is paid off. Certain balance transfer credit cards come with a rewards program or additional perks. While balance transfer credit cards offer a great rate on the initial transfer, some include a high interest rate on new purchases. The payments you make will first be applied toward finance charges, then the transferred amount, and finally the new purchases. Your best bet is to find a balance transfer credit card that offers 0% APR on new purchases for the length of the promotional period. You may be surprised at how may credit card issuers are offering 0% APR on both the balance transfers as well as on new purchases for up to 12 months.

Study your Finances

Before you apply for a balance transfer credit card, be sure that you understand your financial situation. Look through your credit cards and the interest rates on them. If you are carrying balances with high interest rates, you may be spending hundreds of dollars each month on interest. It could take years to pay off the initial amounts placed on the cards. By transferring the balances to a credit card with a low interest rate, you can pay off the amounts faster. Also, balance transfer credit cards allow you to consolidate your debt. Keep in mind that some balance transfer credit cards only offer a low interest rate for a certain period of time. Many cards have a high interest rate or variable interest rate that kicks in after six months or a year. If you haven’t paid off the balance by then, the higher interest will continue to increase your debt and work against you. If at all possible, you will want to pay off the credit card debt that you transfer within the grace period.

Transfer Away

After you have done your research and understand your finances, you are ready to apply online for a balance transfer credit card. Pick one that suits your needs. Then set up a system to pay off the balance. Balance transfer credit cards can provide the first step toward getting out of credit card debt. By placing all of your credit card debt in one place, you can make just one easy payment each month. You also will be able to enjoy paying 0% interest for a period of time on your balances. With a little planning, you will soon be on the road to zero credit card debt and good money management.

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