Easiest balance transfer credit card to get
Take advantage of a low or 0% APR on balance transfers and pay off your debt faster and cheaper.
A balance transfer credit card can be an essential tool for paying down debt – but only if you can qualify for a card with a competitive introductory APR, a long promo period and a low balance transfer fee. If you have poor or no credit, it can be more difficult to find a balance transfer offer that you’re eligible for. However, there are some cards on the market that offer less stringent eligibility requirements and may qualify as “easy” balance transfer cards.
Two ways to narrow down your search are to find cards that openly list credit score requirements and allow you to get pre-approved for the card before lodging your official application.
- Advertised requirements. Some credit card providers are very clear about minimum credit score requirements. You can easily narrow down your options by having your credit score handy to compare against the recommended minimum score. You can view your credit score by contacting one of the two credit bureaus – Equifax or TransUnion – or by using a reputable website that gives you access to your credit score.
- Pre-approval. When you get pre-approved for a balance transfer credit card, you stand a much higher chance of being approved when you submit your official application. Pre-approval, which is sometimes called pre-qualification, essentially says that the provider accepts the information you’ve provided as being within at least some of its underwriting standards. However, pre-approval does not guarantee approval. Your eligibility may shift between the time you get pre-approved and the time you actually apply, or you may not meet all of the necessary criteria once your information is verified.
When you’re looking to get a balance transfer credit card quickly, the first factor that comes to mind is your credit score. With impeccable credit, it’s easier to get a card — and get it fast. However, for those of us whose credit is less than perfect, there are still options.
If you don’t have time to build your credit score, keep your eye out for providers who accept applications from those with poor or no credit history.
1. Credit history and score.
Your credit habits and history provide a written record that allows providers to determine if you’re a good candidate to extend credit to. Are you someone with a long credit history? Do you typically make payments on time? Do you have loans in default? The answers to these questions indicate to providers how you will behave as a future borrower.
The better your score and payment habits, the less risky you appear to a provider — and the more money they will be willing to lend you. Higher credit scores generally mean your credit limit will be higher and your credit card options will be greater.
As you may know, the labels of excellent, very good, good, fair and poor are assigned to different score ranges by the two major credit bureaus: Equifax and TransUnion. These credit score ranges can vary between the two credit bureaus, which means your individual credit score can also vary between Equifax and TransUnion. While not set in stone, it is said that 650 is the “magic number” when it comes to a good credit score – anything lower and you may struggle to find providers willing to lend you money.
2. Amount and type of debt.
The balances you owe on other accounts is another hard number credit providers consider. If you carry large balances, it may be critical for you to have a good score to be eligible for the transfer.
These factors work together to “prove your case” to the provider — to show that you will be able to pay back your debt.
The type of debt you have is another indicator of your ability to use credit responsibly. A student loan or home equity line with low payments and low interest that you consistently pay on time offers a stronger case for your reliability than three store credit cards with maxed-out limits.
While carrying different types of debt won’t prevent you from being approved for a balance transfer, it is a reflection of your spending habits.
3. Debt-to-income ratio
This ratio is two numbers — the total amount you owe and the total amount you make — compared to give an indication of how significant your debt is. A provider will compare those two numbers to gauge your ability to repay the money you’ve borrowed and decide whether you can handle borrowing any more. Here’s how it’s calculated:
Debt / Income = Debt-to-income ratio
For example, if you owe payments of $1,100 every month and your monthly income is $4,000, your debt-to-income ratio is $1,100 divided by $4,000 — that’s 0.275 or 27.5%. So about a third of your income goes toward your debts.
Debt-to-income (DTI) ratio levels:
- Good: 36% or less
- Manageable: 37–42%
- Cause for concern: 42-49%
- Dangerous: 50%+
This is just a general outline and having a good or manageable DTI does not guarantee approval.
It may appear that income is covered in the debt-to-income ratio, but income is a significant factor on its own. For example, you may not have a large debt balance, but you could still be in a tight spot if your income is lower and your interest payments are relatively high.
This factor also indicates to a potential provider how well you’ll manage to repay your debt with your new balance transfer credit card.
Wondering how a balance transfer will affect your credit score? The answer isn’t as simple as saying it will definitely help or hurt, but it’s relatively easy to see the impact it will have based on your situation. The main parts that relate to balance transfers are your credit utilization ratio and your established credit.
Another term for credit utilization is the debt-to-credit ratio. When you keep your old card open and add on the credit of the new card, you have a lower debt-to-credit ratio than you did before you opened the new credit card. However, using either of the cards will raise your credit utilization again. Credit utilization is calculated by:
Total balance / Total credit limit = Credit utilization ratio
Established credit is calculated by taking the average length of time your accounts have been open. Older accounts often mean a well-established relationship with your creditors. Opening a new account will lower the average age, which isn’t as favourable.
When comparing different balance transfer offers, consider the eligibility requirements. If you’ve already been pre-approved or pre-approval is not an option, applying for the card is your next step. The application process usually only takes a few minutes and likely won’t require too much documentation. Be prepared to provide the following:
- Personal information. Your full name, date of birth, phone number, address and Social Insurance Number (SIN).
- Employment information. Your employer’s name and address, as well as your job position and your annual income.
- Finances. The amount you want to transfer and the account information for the credit card(s) you’re transferring your debt from.
Be sure to continue making your minimum monthly payments on your old credit card(s) during the transfer to avoid additional fees. You’ll need to make minimum monthly payments on any remaining balance your old card carries until it’s paid off completely, whether you want to close it or not.
Likewise, an introductory period doesn’t mean you can skip on minimum monthly payments with your new credit card. Be sure to keep on top of them or you may lose the promotional rate – and face big penalties.Back to top
Despite it being more difficult if you have a fair or bad credit score, you may not be out of luck when it comes to balance transfer card offers. If you’ve got a lot of debt, a balance transfer credit card alone may not be enough to get you out of debt. You may have to consider other options such as creating a strict budget or applying for a debt consolidation loan. Make a clear plan that you can follow and hold yourself accountable.
Aside from having a clear plan and budget, you can raise your chances of success by comparing your options to find the card that most closely matches your financial situation, debt load and spending habits..
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