The average balance transfer fee for credit cards is 2.53%. A balance transfer fee is a charge that a cardholder typically must pay when they transfer debt to a credit card. This charge is usually a small percentage of the transaction amount or a small fixed cost, whichever is higher. For large transfers, the percentage fee will almost always be higher, since the fixed cost is usually only $5 or $10.
A balance transfer is a good idea if you need months to pay off high-interest debt and you are able to qualify for a 0% balance transfer credit card deal. Most balance transfer cards require a 700+ credit score, and most also have high regular APRs, making it important to repay what you owe before the 0% period ends. You generally need good credit or better to get a 0% balance transfer credit card. Most balance transfer cards have very high regular APRs, making it important to repay what you owe before the 0% period ends.… read full answer
You’ll also want to make sure the new card’s balance transfer fee is as low as possible. The average fee is just under 3%. But, from time to time, there are credit cards that have both 0% APR on balance transfers and no balance transfer fee.
The best way to get a balance transfer fee waived is to apply for a credit card with no balance transfer fee, whether that fee is waived permanently or for a limited time. Some of the best balance transfer credit cards waive their balance transfer fee for the first 60-365 days the account is open. For example, the Union Bank® Platinum™ Credit Card waives its usual 3% ($10 min.) balance transfer fee for transfers requested within 60 days of opening an account, which also benefit from an introductory APR of 0% for 15 months.… read full answer
Applying for a low-interest credit card that gives everyone the opportunity to avoid paying a balance transfer fee is the best option because you’re going to have a difficult time convincing a credit card company to waive its balance transfer fee otherwise. Longtime customers with a good payment history who threaten to take their business elsewhere might have a shot, but most people don’t have much leverage to negotiate.
Notable Credit Cards That Waive Balance Transfer Fees
Keep in mind that balance transfer fees aren’t the only thing you should think about when looking to transfer a debt. The length of any 0% APR intro periods for balance transfers, the card’s regular APR, and your anticipated payment timeline should all be part of the calculations. To figure out which offer will save you the most money, check out WalletHub’s balance transfer calculator.
No, balance transfers do not hurt your credit score directly, though transferring a balance can indirectly lead to credit score damage. When you apply for a balance transfer credit card, for example, it will generate a hard inquiry on your credit report, causing a slight dip in your credit score.
If you transfer a balance to an existing credit card account, however, there is no hard inquiry and no credit score damage. A balance transfer could still result in high credit utilization, though, and allow you to rack up more debt than you can afford to repay. Both of those things can hurt your credit score.
So, the act of transferring a balance itself won’t affect your credit, but it will indirectly alter several key components of your credit profile, from utilization to the age of your accounts. These changes might lower your score a bit in the short term. But over time, interest savings and the ability to pay off your debt faster should make transferring a balance a net positive for your credit score.
How Balance Transfers Can Help or Hurt Your Credit Score
Credit Inquiries Hurt: If you apply for a new balance transfer card, the resulting hard inquiry will likely cause a slight dip in your credit score for up to 12 months.
Lower Account Age Hurts: Adding a new balance transfer card will reduce the overall age of your accounts, which can have a slight negative impact on your score.
Increased Utilization Hurts: Keep an eye on how the transfer affects your account’s credit utilization. Making a transfer will usually add 3%-5% to your debt due to balance transfer fees. If your utilization is over 30% of your credit limit, that’s not good for your score.
Missed Payments Hurt: If you don’t continue to make payments to your original creditor while the balance transfer is being processed, your credit score will suffer. Balance transfers can take up to three weeks, or be completed in just a few days, after you make a request or apply for a card.
Reduced Utilization Helps: If you leave your old credit card(s) open, adding a new card will reduce your utilization ratio across all accounts, assuming no additional spending. The utilization on the card you transferred the balance from will drop, and it will increase on the card you transferred the debt to.
Low Interest Helps: Balance transfer cards often have 0% introductory APRs. This gives you the chance to pay off your balance faster, since the full amount of your payments will go to the principal rather than interest. This is good for your score long-term.
Less Debt Helps: A balance transfer can help you reduce your debt load. That’s important because how much debt you owe is a key ingredient in your credit score. The less, the better, since people with little-to-no debt are in a more stable position financially.
Balance transfers won’t hurt your credit by themselves. But they affect other elements of your credit that could bring your score down a little temporarily. Still, the benefits will outweigh the negatives in the long run, as long as you plan to repay most, if not all, of your balance during your card’s low introductory APR period.
Where people get into trouble is trying to use a balance transfer to support unsustainable spending habits, thinking 0% balance transfer credit card offers are always available. They’re not, and learning that the hard way is a very expensive mistake. So make sure to use a balance transfer calculator to make a payment plan.
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