A balance transfer credit card for debts larger than $25,000 requires careful consideration.
If you qualify and are confident you can make the payments, there are options for transferring balances onto a high limit credit card.
Keeping on top of different credit cards and loans with rising interest rates can be as frustrating as it is money and time-consuming. At times it may even feel like a mountain that you just can’t climb on your own. There are ways to get over that hill though, and a large credit card balance transfer may be what you need. With a large balance transfer you can consolidate your debt or simply get it to a credit card with a lower APR to make management easier and interest payments less. Navigating a large balance transfer may be a little overwhelming, but this guide should give you a good jumping-off point.
How does a large credit card balance transfer work?
Here are the steps for getting your debt moved with a large credit card balance transfer:
- Shop around and choose the balance transfer offer that suits your needs. Look at the credit card offers and see what fits your needs as far as APR lengths, fees, and rewards. The amount you can transfer will depend on the card you apply and qualify for; so the better your credit history, the better offer (longer intro period and higher limit) you will get. When you decide on a card, make sure you’re eligible for it.
- Figure out how much you want to transfer. Confirm with your lenders how much of your balance you can transfer, and be sure to incorporate any fees associated into your calculations.
- Submit your application. Once you’ve figured out which card you want to go with and the amount you want to transfer, gather the necessary paperwork, then fill out and submit your application.
- Wait for your application to be approved. If you apply with a bank you have worked with before this may be as soon as one or two business days, but typically will take between 5-7 days.
- Confirm transfer. Some lenders will require you to approve the transfer.
- Pay your debt down. Avoid making purchases on your new card, be sure to pay at least the minimum balance, and consider closing any accounts if necessary.
Is a large credit card balance transfer right for me?
When facing large debts at a high APR, spread across several lenders, it can be difficult to manage making minimum payments on every balance on time every month. Even if minimum payments are made, your balance can still grow due to high interest rates. By transferring those large balances onto a single credit card, you can consolidate all of your debt to one place and potentially receive a 0% APR to start.
Figuring out what it is you need in order to bring your debt into a more manageable form can take some research. In the case of a large credit card balance transfer it can take a measure of good creditworthiness to get the best out of any offers. While there are companies that can work with poor credit, you may not find their available cards or the limits to be to your liking. It’s important to look at the entire package, including the APR after the introductory period and any fees, when deciding on a credit card for a large balance transfer.
If your debt is $30,000, and you qualify for a card with an intro rate of 0% at 12 months, you would need to pay $2,500 per month toward your balance to pay it off within the introductory period. If this doesn’t sound like a payment schedule you could handle, consider a personal loan as another option.
What are the benefits of a large credit card balance transfer?
There are a few key benefits that come with a large credit card balance transfer. To help you identify them and figure out if a big move is right for you:
- Potentially having all of your debt in one place. Balances spread across several different lenders can make for confusion and frustration. Depending on the balance percentage that you can transfer it is possible to round up your debt into one place and cut the chaos.
- Introductory low or 0% APR. Swapping your balance to a different credit card can come with a rate that is less than your current APR and an introductory rate as low as 0%.
- Potential to pay off debt faster. A lower APR means less interest and smaller monthly minimums. Taking full advantage of a 0% introductory APR can mean paying your debt off even faster when you make more than the minimum monthly payments.
What to watch out for
- 0% interest rates often do not apply to new purchases. When you complete a balance transfer the amount that is transferred can be covered under a low introductory APR. This does not always mean that new purchases will also be covered, and they can accumulate interest if they are not paid off in full.
- Credit card companies may have a significantly higher APR after the introductory period. If you are unable to pay off the entire balance owed within 12 months it is possible that you could be faced with high interest charges.
- Balance transfer fees. A balance transfer may cost you. Be on the lookout for balance transfer fees from the lender who is taking on your balance. These fees are typically in the form of a percentage of the balance being transferred.
How do I choose a credit card for my large transfer?
It can be easy to get as intimidated by choices as the debt itself. Remember the key parts of a large credit card balance transfer that we highlighted before. Introductory period, the amount that can be transferred, rewards, fees, and post-introductory APR are all important to keep in mind when making a decision.
What features should I prioritize?
|Factors||Explanation||What to Expect|
|Balance transfer APR||An APR offered specifically for balance transfers. This is based on creditworthiness and varies based on the lender.||Try to find a card with a 0% APR for a long period of time. After the intro rate expires, rates revert to much higher, often more than 20%.|
|Length of introductory period||$When an extremely low APR is offered, it is usually done so for a limited period of time. This will be the amount of time you can benefit from the lower APR before it goes up.||6 to as high as 24 months|
|Revert rate||After the introductory period is up the APR reverts to a higher rate that is based on the lender and your creditworthiness.||If you have not paid your balance down in time, you’ll|
|Balance transfer fee||Making a balance transfer sometimes comes with a fee on the side of the new lender issuing the credit card the debt is being transferred to.||3% to 5%|
How do I decide if a large credit card balance transfer is worth it?
- Determine if your balance is big enough. Make sure that there is enough debt to warrant a large credit card balance transfer. If you have a huge amount of debt, it may make more sense to get a personal loan instead.
- Find out if there is a credit card that can take your full balance, or enough of it. There is the possibility that you will only be able to transfer a percentage of your debt with a large credit card balance transfer. Also, you’ll only be able to use the available credit limit you qualify for.
- Compare debt repayment with and without a balance transfer. Take a look at your current balance and see how long it would take to pay it off making your current or increased level of payment, and what the interest looks like on it. If there isn’t too much of a difference a large credit card balance transfer may not be worth the move, even if there is some gain in the short-term.
Calculate if a large credit card balance transfer it worth it:
To calculate the cost of a balance transfer when a fee is applied:
- Find the percentage that is charged for the balance transfer fee. It is usually between 3% and 5% of the balance you want to transfer.
- Multiply that percentage with the amount being transferred. With a $5,000 balance and a 3% balance transfer fee your fee is 5,000 x .03 = $150.
- The resulting number is the amount of money your transfer will cost.
Balance transfer fees aren’t the only calculations you want to do. Calculate the potential savings to determine if a credit card balance transfer for your large debt is right for you.
- Calculate the interest that you’re currently paying from month to month.
- Estimate the interest going forward for the length of the introductory period.
- Calculate the interest that you would pay on the balance transfer card for the length of the introductory period.
- Subtract the balance transfer interest total from the estimated total interest with your current lender.
- Rinse and repeat for other balance transfer cards with different introductory rates.
Taking the $5,000 balance, but this time with a 14% APR, we can estimate the interest that would accumulate over a period of time. For our example, we’ll use 30 days which will be represented as .08 in our equation (30 / 365). 5,000 x (1 + .14 x .08) = 5,056. $5,056 is the total of the principal and the interest, so to get just the interest subtract 5,056 – 5,000 = 56. The estimated interest is $56. This estimate is based on the annual percentage rate being equally distributed across the principal in a month and does not reflect the interest owed if there are payments made.
Balance transfer calculator
Your current credit cards:
Card that you are transferring to:
Intro Term (months)
Balance Transfer Fee
Your monthly repayment
At this rate, you will not pay off your debt.
At this rate you will pay off your debt during the card's intro period
At that rate you will not pay off your debt. You will need to make higher repayments.
Months that it will take you to pay off your debt:
With a balance transfer
Without a balance transfer
Money saved transferring debt to a balance transfer card:
Savings = $1,000
How do I apply for a balance transfer credit card?
So you’ve figured out the card that’s right for you and what you want to transfer, here’s what you’ll want to do next:
- Gather account information for all debts that you are going to transfer.
- Determine the amount that you want to transfer.
- Obtain any documents needed to verify your identity.
- Click on the link for the card of your choosing.
- Click on Apply.
- Enter in the requested information.
- Wait. After you submit your application it may take up to 10 business days for review and approval.
Some facts about large credit card balance transfers:
- Auto loans, student loans, mortgages, and credit card debt can all potentially be transferred to a credit card. You’re not limited to balances owed on credit cards.
- Debt transfer times vary based on the credit card, but usually post within 2-3 days.
- Making at least the minimum payments is essential to getting the most out of a 0% introductory APR.
- Creditworthiness is a typical requirement for a large balance transfer, but there are some lenders who will work with you even if you have poor credit.
What else do I need to know?
- Make your payments. Once you’ve transferred a balance don’t forget that there are minimum monthly payments even if there is a 0% introductory APR.
- Don’t make purchases. If you have a card that doesn’t extend the 0% APR to additional purchases and don’t pay them off before your monthly bill is due, you will be charged interest on those purchase at the revert rate.
- Revert rates can be lower than your current APR. Paying off your debt within the promotional period just isn’t feasible for you? Try finding a credit card with a lower APR to decrease interest payments.
- Make sure your payments are at least the monthly minimum. Not paying the minimum or more can lead to a penalty APR and late fees.
I’m approved! Now what?
Here’s what to do next:
- Keep an eye out for your new card in the mail. It takes 14 business days on average.
- Make sure to get in contact with your new lender right away if they need follow up information about getting your accounts transferred.
- Decided what to do with your old accounts. You can keep them open and keep those lines of credit open, or you can close them. Closing credit lines can impact your creditworthiness.
- Make payments and make them on time. Be sure you’re making at least the minimum monthly payments.