No, balance transfers do not increase your credit limit. You cannot transfer a balance that exceeds your account’s credit limit, and issuers will either reject such a balance transfer request or accept only a partial transfer.
Many credit cards offer introductory 0% APR periods on balance transfers to new cardholders, and you can often request the transfer on the application itself. Unfortunately, if you request a balance transfer as you’re applying for a new card, you won’t know your exact credit limit until after your application is approved. However, some issuers may periodically extend balance transfer offers to existing cardholders. These offers usually disclose your balance transfer credit limit.
It’s important to note that most balance transfer offers include a balance transfer fee. The fees are usually 3% to 5% of the amount transferred, so make sure you have enough available credit to cover the cost of both the balance transfer and the transfer fee.
Balance transfers do not affect your credit score directly. While balance transfers themselves aren’t reflected on credit reports, and thus aren’t directly used to calculate credit scores, balance transfers can change your financial picture in ways that could alter your credit score temporarily.
You can use WalletHub’s free credit score simulator… read full answer to forecast how a balance transfer might affect your credit score in particular. You can also learn more about how balance transfers affect credit scores in general below.
Here’s how balance transfers affect your credit score:
High credit utilization rate:
It’s best to use less than 30% of a credit card’s credit limit. However, a balance transfer can wind up consuming much more than that, which isn’t great for your credit score.
When you apply for a balance transfer card, the issuer will pull a copy of your credit report. Known as a hard inquiry, this will lower your credit score slightly, but only temporarily.
Average age of accounts:
A new balance transfer card will reduce the average age of your credit card accounts, which could knock a few points off your credit score.
Future credit score increase:
Your credit score should recover with time. Making payments on time is crucial to maximizing your credit score after a balance transfer, however, as is avoiding serious debt in the future.
To stay on top of your credit throughout every stage of a balance transfer, sign up for a free WalletHub account. You’ll get daily credit score updates, 24/7 credit monitoring, and personalized credit improvement advice.
The amount that you can transfer to a credit card depends on the credit limit you’re approved for. A balance transfer entails using your new credit card to pay off a debt owed on another account, usually a credit card from a different issuer. So you can generally transfer as much as your available credit – your limit, minus amounts owed – will allow.… read full answer
It’s frustrating that you won’t know how much of your balance you’ll be able to transfer before applying for a balance transfer credit card. But a credit card company can’t tell how big of a credit line you’ll qualify for before thoroughly reviewing your credit history, income and debt obligations. Some credit cards may list the minimum credit limit you will get if approved in the terms and conditions, though.
You need a credit score of 700 or higher on the 850-point FICO credit scoring scale 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 21 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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