How to complete a balance transfer

If you’re interested in consolidating your debt but you aren’t quite sure where to start, check out our detailed guide to learn about the intricacies of balance transfers.

While coming to the decision to do a balance transfer may be relatively easy,  figuring out exactly how to go about it can get a bit confusing. A balance transfer is a great way to move your high-interest debt to a new card with a low or 0% APR, but there are a lot of choices available when it comes to benefits and rewards. Read over our guide to learn more about how to choose  and compare balance transfer credit cards, how to apply, and what to do with your old account once your balance transfer is completed.

Things to consider when shopping for a balance transfer credit card

You can use our comparison table to compare the offers on the market and discover which one offers you the most value. Remember to consider the following things when looking for a balance transfer credit card:

  • Promotional APR length. The typical time frame for the intro 0% APR is 6-15 months, although there are some cards that offer up to 21 months with no interest. It’s best to try and pay off all or most of your debt during the promotional period.
  • Balance transfer fees. Keep in mind that most balance transfers carry a fee of 3% to 5%. Make sure to calculate this into the total price to see if a balance transfer would be worth it for you.
  • Balance transfer limit. Some cards will only allow you to transfer a certain amount at a time. If you have a large balance, you may have to complete the transfer in separate transactions and you might end up paying more in fees.
  • Rewards. Make sure to check if your card comes with any kind of rewards or benefits such as interest-free days, travel rewards, or 0% APR on purchases.
  • Credit rating. Your credit rating will play a huge part in which balance transfer credit cards you will qualify for. If you have fair or poor creditworthiness, be sure to do your research to find a card with more lenient approval criteria. Click here to check out our suggestions.
  • Revert APR. If you are late or miss a payment, you may lose your promotional 0% APR and be stuck paying the revert rate interest. To get the full benefits of your balance transfer card it is imperative that you make all your payments on time.
  • Confirm how much you can transfer. You may only be able to transfer up to a percentage of the available credit limit, such as 80% or 90%. Confirm what the exact payout figure will be when you complete the transfer. Factor in direct debits, annual fees, interest payments, etc. so you don’t have a remaining balance in your old account.

Choosing the right balance transfer credit card

If you have decided that a balance transfer is best for you, you will then need to find a card to suit your needs. Check out our comparison table to view some of the balance transfer cards on offer. When shopping around, the two most important things to consider are the promotional APR length and the balance transfer fee. You’ll want to aim for a card that has a long promotional period, at least 15 months, and low or no fees. It can be difficult to find cards that don’t charge any balance transfer fees, one of the few is the Chase Slate Balance Transfer Credit Card. Ideally, you should be able to eliminate most, if not all, of your debt during the interest-free period.

Once you’ve found a card you want to apply for, you’ll need make sure to gather the necessary information. Most importantly, you will need the account information for the card that you are transferring the debt from, and the exact amount you wish to transfer.

Applying for a card and completing the balance transfer

Now that you’ve chosen the perfect card, it’s time to submit your application. If you meet the eligibility requirements, you will have to make arrangements to transfer your debt. You can do this one of two ways, either

⇒By phone: Once you receive your card in the mail, call the number on the back of the card and a customer service representative will assist you in completing the transfer.

-or-

⇒Online: You will need to sign up for online banking once you receive your card. Once you’ve made your account, follow the online instructions to complete the transfer.

Make sure to complete the transfer as soon as possible. If you wait longer than 60 days, you may lose the promotional 0% APR. It typically takes between 5-7 business days to be approved. If you haven’t heard back after this time, contact the bank to find out if there’s an issue. You may be asked to provide more information.

Confirm transfer and what to do with your old cards

After confirming your transfer you may or may not want to close your old accounts. If your old bank charges any membership fees, you can contact them to close your old card and avoid any further charges. If you have old cards that aren’t accumulating any charges, you don’t necessarily have to close those accounts. You can just keep those cards in a drawer somewhere to curb spending. Having open lines of credit that you aren’t using can help improve your credit rating.

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