The best balance transfer credit card for fair credit is the Keypoint Credit Union Visa Classic Credit Card because it offers an intro APR of 0% for 16 months on balance transfers made within 60 days of account opening, and has a $0 annual fee. The balance transfer fee is 2%. Plus, you don’t need to be eligible for a certain credit union to qualify for this balance transfer credit card for fair credit.
If you have fair credit or average credit, you probably won’t qualify for any of the best balance transfer cards on the market. Those are reserved for people with good credit. With fair credit, you’re more likely to end up with a high-interest rate, high transfer fee and low credit limit.
Still, if a balance transfer is a priority, there are a few cards to choose from. Secured credit cards, however, are not good balance transfer cards for people with fair credit because they don’t let you transfer more than the amount of your refundable security deposit. If you have the money for the deposit, you can just pay off your debt directly and save yourself the 3% to 5% transfer fee.
Balance transfers don’t hurt your credit score directly, but transferring a balance can indirectly cause credit score damage. When you apply for a balance transfer credit card, 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 even allow you to rack up more debt than you can afford, if you’re not careful. Both of those things can hurt your credit score.… read full answer
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
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. Transfers to new accounts may take longer than existing accounts. Continue making payments on your original account in the meantime to avoid hurting your credit score.
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.
Adding a new balance transfer card will reduce the overall age of your accounts, which can have a slight negative impact on your score.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Applicants need a credit score of 700 or higher to have a good chance at being approved for a good balance transfer credit card. Most 0% balance transfer credit cards require at least “good credit” for approval. There are exceptions, though. If you’re a student, there is no minimum credit score needed for a balance transfer credit card. Some student credit cards offer great balance transfer deals and don’t require applicants to have any prior credit history. Other than that, however, the selection will be limited.… read full answer
Credit card companies generally don’t want to take on a customer’s debt until they have proved themselves reliable to repay amounts owed. Good credit seems to be the proven threshold for major credit card companies. You’ll find cards with 0% balance transfer APR periods from all of the 10 biggest credit card companies right now. For example, the Chase Slate card requires “good” credit or better for approval and offers 0% for 15 months on balance transfers, with a $0 balance transfer fee. That makes the balance transfer free for 15 months, since there’s no annual fee either.
It’s much harder to get approved for a balance transfer card with below-average credit. People with limited or no credit history could be in luck, however, if they happen to be in school. Some student credit cards offer 0% APR periods on balance transfers, such as the Wells Fargo Cash Back College card (0% for 6 months) and the BankAmericard student card (0% for 18 months).
People with “fair” credit—640 to 699—who meet certain criteria, such as being in the military, could potentially qualify for a balance transfer deal as well. USAA offers several credit cards with 0% APR balance transfers to people with fair credit. But the cards are only open to applicants who are USAA members, meaning people who’ve been in the military or who have eligible military family members. For example, the Wounded Warriors USAA Rewards card only requires fair credit and USAA membership, and offers 0% for 12 months on balance transfers.
Aside from that, some credit unions also offer balance transfer credit cards for fair credit. Credit unions are membership-based nonprofit organizations, and usually have specific requirements for becoming a member. If you qualify for TDECU membership, the TDECU Classic Mastercard offers 0% for 12 months on balance transfers with a $0 balance transfer fee, which is a good deal. So, consider looking for credit unions in your area that offer balance transfer cards if you have below-average credit.
People with bad credit scores, or scores under 640, won’t have much luck finding a balance transfer credit card that will be of much help. Unsecured cards for bad credit do exist, but you’ll usually pay a steep price in fees for even having these cards, and they typically don’t allow balance transfers. If you have bad credit, you should start rebuilding your credit with a secured credit card. Use the card responsibly and steadily make on-time payments, and over time, you’ll have a score that will qualify you for a better credit card.
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