If your debt is overwhelming, you might consider transferring your credit card balance to another card. If the card has a low interest rate (or better yet, zero interest), you can put more toward your principal and get out of debt sooner. It’s not a move to make lightly, though. Here are a few balance transfer rules to follow.
Credit cards frequently offer balance transfer promotions. They encourage you to transfer your balances for free, offering a 0% introductory annual percentage rate (APR) for 6-12 months (sometimes longer). It should go without saying that you want to read the fine print and make sure the card doesn’t charge a balance transfer fee. In some cases, it may be worth it, but it could also offset your savings. Credit.com explains how the process works in general:
In theory, customers transfer their balance from an interest-bearing card to the new one, then work to pay off their debt before the promotional APR ends (and the new one kicks in). Of course, not everyone’s a pro at this, and if you’re not careful, you can damage your credit and still be stuck in debt.
They outline a few rules to follow to make sure you get the most out of your transfer and don’t destroy your credit in the process:
Pay off your card before the promo ends
The point of a balance transfer is to work down your debt before the promotional period ends and you’re saddled with a crazy high interest rate. Once you schedule a balance transfer, you want to work as hard as you can to pay off that balance before the promo ends.
Don’t put more on the card
Along the same lines, if you add more to your balance, you might have trouble paying it off before the promotional period ends, and you’ll be back in the same spot. Worse, you could lower your credit score, making it hard to sign up for another card to transfer that balance again.
Read the fine print
Obviously, you want to know what you’re getting into and thoroughly read the fine print. Some balance-transfer cards will end the promotional rate when you make a late payment. You will also want to know what your card’s APR will be once the promotional period ends.
The Golden Rules of a Balance-Transfer Credit Card [Credit.com]