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Combine credit cards with a balance transfer
Get a 0% intro APR period for up to 21 months to save on interest.
With a balance transfer, you can use just one card to combine multiple credit card debts. Depending on the card, you could get a 0% intro APR period on a balance transfer for up to 21 months. This could help you save money on interest while you pay off your debt.
How to combine credit card debts with a balance transfer
Transfer your balance from several credit cards onto just one card by following these steps:
- Find out the total amount of debt you owe. Some charges may not show up on your latest statement. Call each credit card company to get an accurate total of your outstanding balance, including interest, fees and pending transactions.
- Compare balance transfer credit cards. Look at a range of balance transfer offers based on factors, such as the length of the 0% interest period, the rate of interest that’ll apply after that period, balance transfer fees and annual fees. Consider credit cards with high credit limits if you have a lot of debt to transfer. Your limit is subject to approval.
- Check that your card debts are eligible. You can usually transfer debts from financial institutions that aren’t affiliated with your card issuer. When transferring debts, check that they are eligible based on the card issuer.
- Start the application. Apply for a balance transfer credit card online in around 10 to 15 minutes. Check that you meet the eligibility requirements, then make sure you have all the required details needed to apply.
- Include details of your existing credit card debts. During the application, you’ll need to provide details of the debts you want to consolidate onto the balance transfer card. This includes the account names, numbers and the total amount you want to transfer to the new account.
- Submit your application. Review the details on your application before you submit. Most online applications will provide a decision within minutes. If your application is successful, you should get your new card in around 10 days.
- Activate the card. Activate your new card by following the instructions provided by your issuer. Then the issuer will process your balance transfer. Expect six weeks for transfers to process. It’s important to make any required repayments on your account during this time.
- Confirm the transfers and close your old accounts. Once your balance transfers have been processed, you should see that your previous account balances are $0. Call your old credit card providers and consider closing the accounts to avoid any further fees or the temptation to use them.
Compare balance transfer credit cards
How can you combine credit cards from the same issuer?
Some credit card providers may allow you to combine your balance and credit limit between cards they’ve issued. This could be useful since you can’t make balance transfers within the same financial institutions.
However, to combine cards, you must close one or more credit card accounts and keep at least one. To find out whether this is possible with your provider, call customer support and request to combine your accounts. Note that even if card providers allow combining credit card accounts you could still be denied.
Should I combine my credit cards?
Combining credit cards may not always be a good idea, but in some instances it could be useful. For example:
- When you want to make a balance transfer within the bank. Card providers rarely allow balance transfers from within the bank. If you want to move balances within the card provider, combing cards would be the way to go.
- When a provider limits the number of cards. Some providers allow you to have a maximum of two or five of their credit cards. If there’s a card that you want to have but you already reached the limit, combining credit cards is one solution.
- You have too many credit cards. If you find it hard to manage your credit cards, combining them will leave you with fewer accounts to keep an eye on.
- You pay no interest on one card. If you have 0% intro APR on one card, combining balances could help you save money on interest without paying a balance transfer fee. But first, check with your provider whether this is an option.
- You rarely use the card. If you have a credit card that you don’t use much — and especially if it has an annual fee — it may be a good candidate to combine the balances with another card.
Pros and cons of combining credit cards
- Fewer accounts to manage. If you can’t keep track of all of your cards and payments, combining cards will leave you with fewer cards to manage.
- Higher credit limit. Card providers often merge your credit limits when you combine cards. So if you had a $5,000 credit limit on two cards each, after merging, you may have $10,000 on the remaining card.
- Could shorten your credit history. If you close an older credit card account, it may shorten your credit history and negatively affect your credit score. Credit history accounts for 15% of your credit score and your payment history accounts for 35%. The longer your credit history, the better.
- You may get a hard pull. Sometimes, card providers could do a hard pull before they combine your cards. This may temporarily drop your credit score by a few points.
Does combining credit cards hurt your credit?
It depends. If you are closing credit card accounts that you’ve had the longest, it may shorten your credit history. Considering 15% of your credit score is based on your credit history, cutting loose your oldest accounts could negatively affect your credit score. In this case, always consider closing the newer accounts first.
Also, closing a credit card account regardless of age will take away some of your available credit. This could lower your utilization rate, which could have a negative impact on your credit score.
What to consider before combining credit cards with a balance transfer
Here are some key factors to consider with this type of debt consolidation:
- Low or 0% interest promotion periods.
Balance transfer offers can be as short as six months or as long as 21 months. The more debt you have, the longer the balance transfer offer you’ll need.
- Standard interest rates.
This refers to the interest rate that’ll apply once the promotional period is over. Make sure this rate is one you can live with if you think you’ll carry a balance.
- Balance transfer limits.
Some cards restrict your balance transfer amount to a percentage of your credit limit, such as 75%. This could have an impact on your transfer if you have a lot of existing debt. But even if some cards let you transfer your balance up to your credit limit, there can still be a limit, often $15,000.
- Balance transfer fees.
Most cards charge a one-time fee for balance transfers, typically between 3% and 5% of the total approved transfer. For example, if you have two cards with a combined debt of $6,000, moving it to a card with a balance transfer fee of 3% would cost you $180. A 5% fee would be $300.
- Other balance transfer restrictions.
Your new card provider may impose its own set of rules around balance transfers. For instance, it may limit the number of accounts you can balance transfer at one time or the type of account you can move across. Ask your provider about any restrictions.
- Credit score.
As with all types of credit card, most balance transfer card applications will require that you have a good to an excellent credit score.
- Ongoing card features.
Also consider other features of the card, such as the annual fee and any complimentary extras that may ensure its suitability and sustainability as your long-term credit card.
A balance transfer can be very helpful when you’re struggling with multiple credit card debts. If you’ve decided to go ahead with this process, make sure you carefully research the market, compare available card offers and weigh up your options before choosing the right balance transfer credit card for you.Back to top
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