Whether you already have more than one credit card or are considering getting a second, you may be asking yourself: “Can I pay off the balance of one card with another?”

While the short answer is “yes,” is it a good idea?

In some cases, moving a credit card balance onto another card (known as a balance transfer) makes good financial sense, because it can simplify your payments and may help you save on interest charges. However, sometimes paying one card off with another can lead to more financial problems.

Here are some things to remember if you’re thinking about moving the balance on one credit card over to another:

  1. Options for Paying Off One Credit Card With Another
  2. Taking Advantage of a Low Rate or Special Offer
  3. When a Credit Card Balance Transfer is a Bad Idea

1. Options for Paying off One Credit Card With Another

There are several ways to pay off one credit card (Card A) with another (Card B).

One option is to take a cash advance from Card B and then use the cash to make a payment to Card A. However, watch out for cash advance fees (which are typically a percentage of the withdrawal amount) and possibly a higher interest rate, which also may start accruing from the day you take the cash advance.

2. Taking Advantage of a Low Rate or Special Offer

Are you thinking of using one credit card to pay off the balance on another credit card because of a special low APR (or zero APR) offer? Known as a balance transfer offer, this may be a good way to reduce the interest you’re currently paying on a credit card balance.

If you’re considering accepting a balance transfer offer, read the fine print carefully. Watch for the following:

  • End date of the special rate offer — after this date, the balance on the card will revert to a different, higher interest rate
  • Whether additional purchases made on the card after a balance has been transferred will accrue interest at a higher rate
  • If there is a balance transfer fee for accepting the offer

3. When a Credit Card Balance Transfer is a Bad Idea

Sometimes, paying off one credit card with another can be a bad idea. It may not be wise if any of the following is true:

  • You have a tough time making the payments on your card.
  • You have difficulty sticking to your monthly budget and use your credit card for impulse purchases.
  • You don’t plan to stop using the first card, which could then result in credit card balances and interest accruing on both cards.

Answering “yes” to one or more of these questions could indicate you have a larger problem with managing your money. Contact a financial advisor to discuss the best options for your financial situation.

Think carefully before paying one credit card off with another. If doing so will help you save on interest, consolidate your payments and pay your debt off faster, it can be a good idea. Yet, before doing so, add up the credit card fees and interest you could be charged, to make sure transferring your card balance makes good financial sense.

Published January 20, 2017

Updated January 11, 2021

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