How to Complete a Balance Transfer
Eager to pay off your credit card balance? Balance transfers can save you money on interest charges by rolling your existing balance with another creditor onto a card with a lower APR. But for many cardholders, not knowing how to complete a balance transfer keeps them from taking advantage of this cardholder benefit.
The good news: A balance transfer is easier than you might think. Here are a few easy steps to determine whether itâ€™s right for you, and, if it is, how to make it happen.
Pay off debt faster with a balance transfer.
Examine your current financial situation
Credit cards with promotional balance transfer offers can make sense for some credit card users. These offers may allow you to move your existing balances to a new credit card with a low balance transfer APR for a limited amount of time, although most credit cards will impose a Â balance transfer fee on the transferred balance. A typical fee is around 3%. Cardholders should weigh the cost of any balance transfer fees against continuing to pay off their balances at the existing interest rate.
To determine whether a balance transfer is right for your circumstances, cardholders also should consider the length of the promotional period and the APR that will apply to the balance transfer amount if it is not paid off within the promotional period. You should understand what happens if you donâ€™t pay off the balance during the promotional period and what your minimum payment will be.
Request a balance transfer
Once youâ€™ve chosen a balance transfer card, apply and get approved, itâ€™s time to request your balance transfer. You can request balance transfers over the phone or online, and it may take at least 14 days after your account is opened to process balance transfers and send payments to your other creditors.Â You should continue to make all payments to youâ€™re the other creditor until you confirm that the balance transfer was completed.Â You will need the account information for the cards that you want to transfer the balance from, and youâ€™ll need to specify the amount you wish to transfer. In general, itâ€™s best to prioritize transferring the balances with the highest interest rates.
Once you have requested a balance transfer, you’ll want to double check that everything went according to plan. In addition to confirming that the proper amounts were transferred successfully, you’ll want to keep an eye on your old accounts for the next 30 days so you can pay off any interest that may have accrued between the time you requested your balance transfer and when the transaction was completed.
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Pay as much as you can
To save as much money as possible on interest charges, pay off as much of your new balance as you can before the promotional rate expires. For example, if you have a $5,000 balance to transfer and a o% introductory rate for 18 months with a 3% balance transfer fee, you can pay off your transferred debt in 18 months with a $287 monthly payment â€” and not a dime in interest, assuming you donâ€™t make any new purchases on your new balance transfer card.
Knowing how to complete a balance transfer can help you consolidate your credit card debt while saving money on interest charges. With the right approach and careful planning, the process can go more smoothly than you might think.