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How To Transfer Your Credit Card Balance

Transferring a balance from one credit card to another isn't rocket science. The real science lies in finding the best credit card offer available so as to take advantage of  low introductory interest rates. In addition, there are a number of other equally important tips to consider prior to executing a credit card balance transfer. Almost all of them deal with finding the right "one." I would liken it to dating before marriage. You would never want to put marriage first and dating second. Chances of failure increase almost exponentially if you fail to do your homework and check out various "offers" before you make a decision. Get my drift?

Find "The One..."

When finding the right card--as in relationships--there is almost never a one-size-fits-all solution. With the multiplicity of options for low interest and no interest credit cards, there will certainly be "different strokes for different folks." Here are some specifics pointers to help as you begin your search:

  • Be sure you know the introductory or teaser rate for the card, when that rate expires and by how much it increases.
  • Qualify the card company by making sure the teaser rate will apply to balance transfers. Some do not, so applier beware!
  • Pay close attention to annual fees, late fees, overdraft fees and balance transfer fees. If you are not careful these fees can quickly negate or greatly deaden any potential savings you could have gleaned from processing a card balance transfer.
  • Know whether you qualify for the low, advertised rate. Some card offers--like many of the women I've dated--are disrespectful of those with less than perfect backgrounds (not to say my background is tainted in any way...). There are balance transfer credit cards for fair credit available, but these cards are usually targeted at consumers with great credit scores.
  • Be educated on the rules. Know if a late payment will immediately take you out of the low interest rate grace period right away. Many cards have this provision, so be careful.

Once you've found your match, it's time to tie the knot (figuratively speaking, of course).

Transfer the Balance

Transferring the balance itself is generally just procedural. Once you have found the best offer available to you, simply fill out the balance transfer form--either online or by hand--and send it to the new credit card company. After you have performed this simple task, be sure you adhere to the following words of wisdom:

  • Be sure to continue to pay your old card's monthly minimums so as to avoid the smack of a late fee.
  • Before your old card goes "out of sight, out of mind," (like my old girlfriends) be sure you've checked with BOTH card companies that the balance transfer has been fully executed and that the old card's balance is now at zero.

Congratulations!  You have now successfully completed a balance transfer and should save a load of money as you pay off your old credit card debt at no interest. Happy transferring!

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Logan Abbott's picture

Logan Abbott is a personal finance and credit card expert with over 5 years of experience writing about each topic. He is a graduate of the USC Marshall School of Business, and also contributes to other online finance publications. He has been quoted in the New York Times, San Diego Union Tribune, TheStreet, and more.

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