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How to manage a new credit card after you have done a balance transfer

How to manage a new credit card after you have done a balance transfer

You’ve conducted your balance transfer, but what now? Here are some tips on how you can manage your new credit card and consolidate your debt

Balance transfer credit cards can be an efficient way to free yourself from high interest to start consolidating your debt. Conducting a balance transfer is a simple process, but repaying your debt before the promotional offer runs out can be the tricky part. If you’ve just conducted a balance transfer, here are a few tips to follow to ensure that your consolidation goes successfully and smoothly.

Pay attention to the details of the promotional offer

There are a few key details of the offer that you should pay attention to after you’ve conducted your balance transfer:

  • Offer length. Balance transfer offers generally sit between 6 and 24 months. Once your card has been approved, the balance transfer promotional period begins. The sooner you begin repaying your balance, the longer you’ll have to take advantage of the low interest offer. Set phone and calendar reminders to prompt you to make regular repayments and to flag how long you have left.
  • Promotional rate. Most Australian providers offer cardholders 0% balance transfer offers, but if it does charge a low interest rate, it’s important to understand how much your balance will grow each month and how you’ll need to factor this into your repayments. Creating a payment plan will help simplify the process and reduce your chances of failing to repay your entire debt by the end of the promotional period.
  • Revert rate. Like all good things, the low promotional rate on your balance transfer doesn’t last forever. Once the promotional offer ends, the revert rate will kick in and start collecting interest on your remaining debt. The revert rate is generally the much-higher standard cash advance or interest rate. To avoid growing your debt with interest once the offer expires, make regular repayments, don’t use your card for purchases and keep an eye on when the offer ends to ensure you don’t have a remaining debt at that point.
  • Minimum repayment. You may have a 0% interest rate, but you’ll still need to make minimum repayments each month. How much you’ll have to pay will vary from card to card, but this amount rarely allows cardholders to repay their entire debt by the time the promotional offer ends. If you want to avoid collecting high interest once the promotion expires, you should aim to pay more than the minimum amount each statement period.
  • Work with a budget. Consider the size of your debt, the length of the promotion and the interest rate to calculate how much you’ll have to pay each month to ensure that your entire debt is repaid by the end of the offer. If not, your remaining balance will begin collecting the higher revert rate and you could get stuck in the debt trap once again.

What is a balance transfer fee?

Decide what to do with your old cards

Opening a balance transfer credit card doesn’t automatically close your old cards. Though you may not want to cancel them just yet, as it may have an impact on your credit score. Both your credit utilization rate and the age of your card can positively or negatively affect your credit rating.

  • Credit utilization rate. This is your debt-to-limit ratio – if you have a $1,000 limit and a balance of $800, you have a rate of 80%. There are no hard and fast rules for how long you should try to keep your rate, but many money experts recommend that you should shoot for under 30% as a goal. As you can see, if you transfer one or several balances to your new card and use most or all of your limit, your credit score may take a hit.
  • Age of card. Credit bureaus like to see that you have had a long relationship with your credit card. The older your card, the better.
  • Annual fee. On the other hand, if your old cards have an annual fee and you do not plan on using them any longer, you may want to consider closing them if you do not want to keep paying the fee every year.

Is a balance transfer credit card right for me? Key considerations

Don’t use your balance transfer credit card for purchases

  • Repayment hierarchy. The sole purpose of getting a balance transfer is to consolidate your debt. Using your balance transfer card for purchases completely contradicts your debt consolidation aim. Balance transfer credit cards often charge high interest on purchases and depending on their terms and conditions, your repayments could automatically go to whichever debt is collecting the least interest. So if you use your card for purchases, your payments will go towards your balance transfer debt, while the balance for your purchases accrues interest.
  • Interest-free days. Interest-free days are only active if you’re not carrying a balance at the end of the statement period, so you won’t be able to cut interest costs that way.
  • Emergency purchases. If you want a card for emergency purchases, you might want to consider applying for a different card with a low interest rate on purchases and do your best to keep the other card for consolidating only.

After the offer ends

If you’ve found yourself with a remaining debt at the end of your promotional period, you might want to consider doing a second balance transfer. However, if your credit history shows that you were unable to repay your debt during the promotional period, this may means lenders are less likely to approve your application. Applying for too many credit cards and rejected applications can have a negative impact on your credit file, so this is also something important to consider if you’re considering using a second balance transfer as a back up.

Balance transfer credit cards can be a worthwhile consolidation tool, but only when used properly. Plan your strategy, make regular repayments and follow the above simple tips to ensure you get the most out of your balance transfer.

Comparison of Balance Transfer Credit Cards

Rates last updated February 22nd, 2018
Name Product Product Description Intro APR for Balance Transfer APR for Purchases ( Purchase Rate ) Annual fee
Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®
Enjoy 40000
bonus miles after you spend on purchases in the first 90 days — that's enough to redeem for a $400 travel statement credit toward an eligible travel purchase.
0% Intro APR for 12 months (with whichever is greater: $5 or 3% balance transfer fee)
17.24%, 21.24% or 24.24% variable
$0 annual fee for the first year ($89 thereafter)
Barclaycard Ring™ Mastercard®
A low, variable APR on purchases, balance transfers and cash advances.
10.24% variable
Barclaycard CashForward™ World Mastercard®
Get a $200 cash rewards bonus after you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days after account opening.
0% Intro APR for 15 months (with whichever is greater: $5 or 3% balance transfer fee)
15.99%, 20.99% or 23.99% variable

Have we missed anything in the comparison table? Tell us

Compare up to 4 providers

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6 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    JoseFebruary 7, 2018

    What to do with a card after the balance transfer is paid in full, and if the card interest is high and the card has no rewards benefits?

    • Staff
      RenchFebruary 20, 2018Staff

      Hi Jose,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      That’s great that you have already paid your balance transfer in full. Whether to use or not your credit card after you’ve settled your account depends entirely on your own decision after considering your overall financial situation.

      If you think that you’d need to close your account, you may so by contacting your bank’s customer care and they’d be happy to assist you.

      Just in case you’re considering to apply for a new card, you can check and compare credit cards with low interest on this page and credit cards with rewards here. Please review the card’s eligibility requirements and its features and consider whether the card/product is right for you.

      Best regards,

  2. Default Gravatar
    MelNovember 8, 2017

    Can you cancel a balance transfer card after you’ve paid off the entire balance? Without it affecting credit score.

    • Staff
      DanielleNovember 8, 2017Staff

      Hi Mel,

      Thank you for contacting finder. We are a comparison website and general information service, we’re more than happy to offer general advice.

      If you’re closing an account with positive account history, positive credit data stays on your credit report for 10 years from when the account is closed. This allows good credit information to stay longer than negative, giving you the change to improve your financial situation. See more information here.

      I hope this helps.


  3. Default Gravatar
    nadineAugust 30, 2017

    transfer from capital one to chase bank will capital one know about the transfer and close my account

    • Staff
      LiezlAugust 31, 2017Staff

      Hi Nadine,

      Thanks for your question. Capital One will know about the balance transfer since they will receive the payment from your new credit card. However, a nil balance on your old card will not automatically close your account unless you’ll instruct them to do so. You can read more about credit card balance transfer on this page.

      Kind regards,

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