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Consolidate and conquer debt with a large balance transfer

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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 to a large credit card balance transfer:

    1. Shop around and choose the balance transfer offer that suits your needs. Look at the credit card offers and find what fits your circumstances 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’ll get. When you decide on a card, make sure you’re eligible for it.
    2. Figure out how much you want to transfer. Confirm with your new lender how much of your balance you can transfer, and be sure to incorporate any fees associated into your calculations.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. Confirm transfer. Some lenders will require you to approve the transfer.
    6. Pay your debt down. Avoid making purchases on your new card, be sure to pay at least the minimum balance and consider the pros and cons of closing any remainging accounts.

    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 or some 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. You can also consider a personal loan as another option for a different payment schedule that may be more manageable.

    Learn about personal loans

    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’s 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’s 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’re not paid off in full.
    • Credit card companies may have a significantly higher APR after the introductory period. Not paying off the entire balance owed within 12 months could lead to high interest charges on the remaining amount.
    • Balance transfer fees. A balance transfer may cost you. Be on the lookout for balance transfer fees from the lender that’s taking on your balance. These fees are typically in the form of a percentage of the balance being transferred.

    Scrutinize that fine print. Look for fees, APR rates after the introductory period and whether or not the introductory APR applies to transactions other than the balance transfer.

    Compare balance transfer cards

    Generally, a good to excellent credit score is recommended if you want to apply for one of the cards below.

    Name Product Introductory Balance Transfer APR APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for Purchases Annual Fee Minimum Credit Score
    0% for the first 14 months (then 13.74% to 24.74% variable)
    13.74% to 24.74% variable
    $0
    Fair (660-699)
    Earn 5% cash back in rotating categories each quarter like gas stations, restaurants, Amazon.com, wholesale clubs and more, up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Plus unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
    0% for the first 18 months (then 15.24% to 25.24% variable)
    15.24% to 25.24% variable
    $0
    Good (700-739)
    Earn 1% cash back for payments on purchases, on top of the 1% cash back on purchases. No annual fee.
    0% for the first 18 months (then 15.74% to 25.74% variable)
    15.74% to 25.74% variable
    $0
    Good (700-739)
    This is the only card with No Late Fees, No Penalty Rate and No Annual Fee - Ever. Give it a try and apply to find out what the Citi Simplicity® Card can do for you.
    0% for the first 12 statement closing dates (then 14.99% to 24.99% variable)
    14.99% to 24.99% variable
    $0
    Good (700-739)
    Earn more cash back for the things you buy most.
    0% for the first 12 billing cycles (then to variable)
    13.74% variable
    $0
    Good (700-739)
    A low, variable APR on purchases, balance transfers and cash advances.
    17.74% to 24.74% variable
    $0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
    Good (700-739)
    Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    Compare up to 4 providers

    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?

    FactorsExplanationWhat to Expect
    Balance transfer APRAn 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 one that’s much higher.
    Length of introductory periodWhen an extremely low APR is offered it’s 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 rateAfter the introductory period is up the APR reverts to a higher rate that’s based on the lender and your creditworthiness.Usually 20% or more
    Balance transfer feeMaking 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’s enough debt to warrant a large credit card balance transfer. It may make more sense to get a personal loan instead for a huge amount of debt.
    • Find out if there’s a credit card that can take your full balance, or enough of it. There’s the possibility that you’ll 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 short-term gain.

    Calculate if a large credit card balance transfer it worth it:

    To calculate the cost of a balance transfer when a fee is applied:
    1. Find the percentage that is charged for the balance transfer fee. It’s usually between 3% and 5% of the balance you want to transfer.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    1. Calculate the interest that you’re currently paying from month to month.
    2. Estimate the interest going forward for the length of the introductory period.
    3. Calculate the interest that you’d pay on the balance transfer card for the length of the introductory period.
    4. Subtract the balance transfer interest total from the estimated total interest with your current lender.
    5. Rinse and repeat for other balance transfer cards with different introductory rates.

    For example:

    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 (30 / 365) in our equation. 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 doesn’t reflect the interest owed if there are payments made.

    Balance transfer calculator

    Your current credit cards:

    Amount Owing

    APR

    Card 1

    Card 2

    Card 3

    Card 4

    Card 5

    Card that you are transferring to:

    Intro APR

    Intro Term (months)

    Ongoing APR

    Balance Transfer Fee

    Annual Fee

    Your monthly repayment
    $500

     
     
    Critical
    At this rate, you will not pay off your debt.
     
    Recommended
    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
    12 months

    Without a balance transfer
    15 months

    Money saved transferring debt to a balance transfer card:

    Savings = $1,000

    By moving forward with a balance transfer credit card and transferring the maximum amount, you could be saving $1,000 on fees and interest charges.
    You will save an infinite amount of money as you will not pay off your debt on your current cards at that rate.
    In this case, a balance transfer card is not the best option. You might want to consider a personal loan to help consolidate your debt. You can find out more here.
    Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this calculator, the results should be used as indication only. Certain assumptions have been made around the repayments made. This calculator is neither a quote nor a pre-qualification for a credit card

    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:

    1. Gather account information for all debts that you’re going to transfer.
    2. Determine the amount that you want to transfer.
    3. Obtain any documents needed to verify your identity.
    4. Click on the link for the card of your choosing.
    5. Click on Apply.
    6. Enter in the requested information.
    7. 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 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 you 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 and those lines of credit open, or you can close them. Closing credit lines can impact your credit score.
    • Make payments and make them on time. Be sure you’re making at least the minimum monthly payments.

    Bottom line

    Your ability to get out of debt is directly affected by your ability to make a smart plan and follow through. While a large balance transfer may help you realize that plan, it’s important to consider just how much it will help and any setbacks that it may entail. Make sure to compare your options before you select a card and account, and look at more than just the intro APR and the amount you can transfer.

    Frequently asked questions

    Adrienne Fuller

    Adrienne Fuller leads the publishing team at finder.com. She has one goal: to deliver the accurate and transparent information she wishes she had when she made some of life's important financial decisions. When she's not helping folks save money, she's hiking with her two Catahoulas around her home in San Diego.

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    10 Responses

    1. Default Gravatar
      JoshuaJune 25, 2018

      I have 2 credit cards. One has 3300 on it and the other 2000. I want to Do a balance transfer onto a new card but I’m having a problem finding a company that will give me that high of a limit. How can I get a credit card that will give me a high balance so that I can transfer both credit card into the new one ?

      • finder Customer Care
        joannebeltranJune 26, 2018Staff

        Hi Joshua,

        Thanks for getting in touch with finder. I hope all is well with you. :)

        While it is possible to transfer debts from one or more card, you’d need to find out first how much credit limit you’ll be approved for the new balance transfer card by contacting the bank. Typically, the total amount you can transfer will depend on the new card’s balance transfer limit, which is usually a percentage of the credit card limit. From this page, you can learn more about balance transfer limits on credit cards.

        Also, if you like to check your options for credit cards with a higher credit limit, you can find them here.

        I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

        Have a wonderful day!

        Cheers,
        Loraine

    2. Default Gravatar
      LargeMay 22, 2018

      I need a credit car with a zero balance transfer and a limit of 22,000. How do I find this without having to apply for a new cc each time?

      • finder Customer Care
        nikkiangcoMay 23, 2018Staff

        Hi Kylien

        Thanks for your message and for visiting finder.

        Here is the page for 0% BT credit cards. We suggest reviewing the card you’d like to apply for. Click on MORE INFO and you’ll see the information on the limit of the card as well.

        Hope this was helpful. Don’t hesitate to message us back if you have more questions.

        Cheers,
        Nikki

    3. Default Gravatar
      MoniqueJanuary 10, 2018

      Where can I find a credit card where I can balance transfer 19,000 over with a 0 APR for a year to 18 months and that deposits cash as I have one other debit to pay but they don’t take credit cards for payments so I would need cash deposited to my checking account to pay that one off. Is there such a thing where you obtain a card as mentioned above and don’t have to start paying for 4 months? I need something like this so it can work for me. I quickl y await your reply. Thank you

      • finder Customer Care
        RenchJanuary 11, 2018Staff

        Hi Monique,

        Thanks for your inquiry.

        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.

        For example, 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.

        If you have a huge amount of debt, it may make more sense to get a personal loan instead. You may know more debt consolidation loans on this page and compare your options.

        Best regards,
        Rench

    4. Default Gravatar
      ChrisNovember 26, 2017

      I have three cards that have roughly 10k a piece on them. I’m finally in a good place were on able to make $3500 payments or more every month and I’m looking to transfer all of that money onto one card with a 0% transfer fee and the possibility of being able to have 12 months of interest free payment. I know Then you cannot make recommendations on certain cards, but what’s your best advice for me to do?

      • finder Customer Care
        asiasantiagoNovember 28, 2017Staff

        Hi Chris,

        Thank you for your inquiry.

        You are on the right page. As reviewed, your 3 credit card balances can be possibly transferred onto a single card. Initially, making at least minimum payments is important to get most of the 0% introductory APR.

        Take note, the amount you transferred depends on the card you apply or qualify for. It is best to contact a lender to discuss your eligibility.

        We also have a page that will give you a guide on no fee and 0% interest balance transfer credit card.

        I hope this information helped.

        Cheers,
        Asia

    5. Default Gravatar
      TamiSeptember 20, 2017

      I have a $25,000 debt that I need to transfer to another credit card was 0% interest. The intro for my debt expires in 90 days so I’m starting to look now if I keep the debt on the card I have now the interest will be 25% to continue to pay it off.

      I don’t know how to go about researching cards that would be right for me if I run too many applications to find out what credit line they will give me it will hurt my credit what is the best way to approach this?

      • Default Gravatar
        GruSeptember 20, 2017

        Hello Tami,

        That’s a great question.

        You are actually on the right page to help you make an informed decision. Unfortunately the best way to predict what kind of credit limit you can get is to apply for the card. And you’re right, that could hurt your credit to do too many pulls and applications.

        To make the best decision you may want to consider your current situation – do you know your credit score, and where it falls into the FICO range of Fair, Good, or Excellent? Do you know the number of cards you have now, and your debt-to-limit ratio on each? If you don’t have a strong track record of making your minimum payments, have a high debt-to-limit ratio, or less than a Good or above credit score, you very well may not be approved for a card with a limit of $25,000.

        What you could do initially is to review and read through what each card offers (details, restrictions, etc) and narrow down your choices to 2 or 3 to limit the number that you apply for. Even if you don’t qualify for a limit of the full $25,000, even transferring the balance that you do qualify for will help save on interest on that portion and could be worth it.

        Cheers,
        Gru

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