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Balance transfers are done when a person needs to shift all of his or her outstanding balance onto a new credit card. This can help because you will not have to pay the huge prevailing interest rate on the current credit card. Instead, the new credit card will have an initial interest free period, during which you do not have to worry about paying interest on the outstanding balance.
During the economic crisis, many companies stopped offering balance transfers to their customers. This is because there was a huge number of clients asking for such credit cards, in order to avoid paying their current huge interest rates. With the recession subsiding to a certain level, balance transfers are being offered to most customers who seek such an offer. The introductory periods are now often extended, with some credit cards offering more than six months.
The balance transfer fee is something you need to look out for. The average fee these days is somewhere between 4 to 5 percent. Some credit cards also offer three percent. Do be aware that a balance transfer can assist in sorting out your issues, by giving you time to repay the outstanding balance on the new credit card, but you will have to pay a fee for this service. Always verify the fee prior to opting for the balance transfer. For example, a fee of 5 percent on a $1000 transfer will cost you $50, so it can eat into the savings you hoped to make.
The length of the introductory period is another thing you need to look into. The length can vary between six months to even two years. A one-year period is common for most credit cards. Citibank credit cards offer an amazing 21 months as an introductory period. This is really good, as it will provide you with time to organize your finances and make the repayment.
The required initial down payment is another criterion that you need to look into. The amount of the initial down payment can be quite hefty, if you do not review beforehand. Sometimes, the bank will ask for a payment of almost twenty percent of the outstanding balance. You need to be able to raise a huge amount of cash in order to acquire the services of this new credit card.
Lastly, the annual fee is something you need to look into. All balance transfer credit cards come with an annual fee, this is because they are essentially zero percent rate credit cards for the introductory period. You need to read the fine print in order to understand how much it costs to maintain the balance transfer credit card. Always remember to read the fine print in order to understand the credit card better; you do not want to be laden with something that you are not ready to pay for.