The content is accurate at the time of publication and is subject to change.
When you are first starting to embrace credit cards, balance transfers can come as something of a shock. There’s no reason to be fearful of the term, all it means is that you are able to take the balance from an existing credit card (let’s call it Card A) onto a new account (Card B). Hence the terms “balance transfer.” That in itself is easy enough to understand!
When you transfer your debt from Card A to Card B, you are usually then granted with a grace period to catch up with your new company. At that time, you will be paying a smaller-than-normal amount of interest on your debt, just to ease you in.
You could be very lucky and find yourself with one of those extremely low rates that are floating around, like even a 0%. This will not be a permanent fixture, keep well in mind. These grace periods tend to last, on average, a half to whole year. Afterwards, you will find yourself with a brand new rate and it’s best to be expecting that as to not settle in for a huge surprise.
Credit card balance transfers come in a variety of shapes and sizes to familiarize yourself with. And if you familiarize yourself adequately, you can end up saving an abundance of money in the process.
Before you agree to perform one, make sure you are wary of all the fine print and various details involved. Often balance transfers come with some fees tied to them, no matter how small they seem to be.
According to an article posted on the Daily Finance’s website, a lot of people tend to have tunnel vision with balance transfers and forget this critical focal point, which sometimes can make a world of difference (to your wallet, that is).
Also, be sure to shop around and make sure, if you’d like to do a balance transfer, that you’re making the best affordable move. Compare with others, etc.
What you will want to look at, in particular, are these characteristics: low interest, cash back, a low intro rate, the balance transfer itself, any sort of rewards you could rake in, miles/points attached and whether or not it is a student card (that is, if you need one).
And when you are tipping your toes into the water of balance transfers, be prudent not to apply for too many cards at once. Sometimes when that opportunity knocks, it’s very enticing to immediately open the door, but all those credit card company inquiries stand to hurt your credit history. Meaning: do not go crazy, but exercise restraint.
Also, give yourself time before closing an account, once your balance transfer has completed. A longer credit history, with older accounts, is favorable when card issuers examine your records. “Age” of the accounts in question goes a long way.