A balance transfer does count as a payment to the original creditor to which you owed the balance. The issuer of the balance transfer card will submit payment to the old creditor for the amount of the transfer. Once the first monthly statement comes for your balance transfer card, you will need to begin making payments to that card’s issuer.
Balance transfer timelines vary by issuer. It can take as few as 5 to 7 business days for American Express balance transfers and as many as to 14 business days for balance transfers with Bank of America, Capital One, US Bank and Wells Fargo. You should continue to make at least the minimum payment to your original creditor until the balance transfer posts to the new account. If a balance transfer posts after your old card’s due date and you didn’t submit a payment by then, you may be charged a late fee. Any additional payments you make will be deducted from the balance you transfer.
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.
A balance transfer is a good idea if it will save you money, and that is most likely if you have good or excellent credit and you make an affordable payment plan prior to applying. 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.
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