Balance transfer cards can be great options if you’re overwhelmed by high interest rates or need to consolidate debt. However, obtaining one generally requires good credit. That’s because card issuers usually want to take on your debt only if they’re reasonably certain you have the ability to repay it.
Though your options are considerably constrained if you have fair credit (typically between 620 and 689), you’re not totally out of luck. Let’s talk about good card choices you can look into even with less-than-stellar credit.
What to expect from balance transfer cards if you have fair credit
Applying for a balance transfer card is a little different if you have fair credit. You won’t qualify for as many cards, and your card terms generally won’t be as attractive. Keep the following tips in mind while applying for a card:
- Don’t get fooled by the ongoing APRs
While you’re hunting for a new card, you might see APR terms like “13.24% to 23.24%, based on your creditworthiness.” You might think that’s great because you can potentially receive a 13.24% ongoing APR. However, with fair credit, you’re more likely to get an interest rate at the upper end of the APR spectrum. Try to pay off any transferred balance fully before your 0%-APR promotion expires.
- There’s more at play than just your credit score
As with any other credit card, your chances of approval don’t just revolve around your credit score. You may have sufficient credit to qualify for a balance transfer card, but your card issuer may look at other factors while evaluating your application — income or amount of outstanding debt, for example.
- Your credit limit may be lower than you expect
Credit card companies are in the business of making money, and their profitability depends on gauging their customers’ ability to repay debt. To this end, they set credit limits to manage their risk.
As someone with fair credit, you might receive a lower credit limit than what someone with strong credit might receive. In turn, this will affect how much debt you can transfer to your new card.
The best balance transfer cards for fair credit
As we’ve discussed, your options for balance transfer cards can be limited if you have fair credit. Fortunately, you still have a few good choices. The following are the best cards on the market that are accessible but also stocked with helpful features.
Applying for a balance transfer card
To apply for a balance transfer card, you typically have to be at least 18 years of age (in some states, the age limit is higher). While you’re applying, have the following information on hand:
- Your name, residential status, and residential address
- Your Social Security number
- Your email address, phone number, and date of birth
- Financial information like your annual salary and wages
Frequently asked questions
How will I know what my credit limit will be?
Because your credit limit will depend on a variety of factors such as your credit score and income — as well as your card issuer’s proprietary formulas for determining your risk profile — it’s unfortunately not possible to know your credit limit beforehand. Once you’re approved, your card issuer will let you know what your credit limit is.
What are the typical “fine print” details of a 0%-APR promotion?
Look out for balance transfer fees, which can cut into your savings from using a balance transfer card. Additionally, note when your 0% interest rate expires. If you still have a balance on your card when your APR promotion ends, the debt will start accruing interest at a potentially high rate.
How long does it take for a balance transfer to go through?
The exact timeframe varies depending on your card provider, but a balance transfer can take up to 10 days to be completed.