Balance transfer checks are checks that draw funds from a credit card’s credit line, rather than from a checking account. Credit card balance transfer checks can be used to pay part or all of the balance on another credit card or loan when the lender will not accept payment with a credit card directly. When you use a balance transfer check, the credit card’s standard balance transfer fee and balance transfer APRs usually apply.
How long it takes to finalize the transfer depends on how long it takes the check to process. Plus, there are a few more things you should know about credit card transfer checks if you want to use them right.
Here’s how balance transfer checks work:
What they are: Checks that let you transfer a balance from a lender that won’t accept credit card payments.
How to get them: Credit card companies sometimes send balance transfer checks to cardholders in the mail. You may have to call to request them. In some cases, balance transfer checks may not be available. For example, Chase does not give them to new cardholders, and Amex does all balance transfers online.
Interest rates: Balance transfer checks are subject to a card’s standard interest rates. There may be a 0% introductory APR for balance transfers, after which the remaining balance accrues interest at the card’s regular APR.
Fees: Standard balance transfer fees, which can be as high as 3% to 5%, apply to balance transfer checks. There is no additional fee for using a balance transfer check in most cases.
Other types of credit card checks: Convenience checks allow purchases or cash advances using funds from your credit line. Expect a cash advance fee and expensive interest that starts accruing immediately.
The best credit cards for balance transfer checks are simply the best balance transfer credit cards overall from issuers that offer the checks. That’s because balance transfer checks use a card’s standard balance transfer rates and fees.
Some good card choices include Wells Fargo Visa Platinum, Discover it Balance Transfer and Citi Simplicity. They offer long 0% APR periods, low fees or both.
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