A 3% balance transfer fee is a good deal when it is paired with a 0% balance transfer APR. Nearly all credit cards with 0% balance transfer APRs have balance transfer fees of 3%, and you can still save a lot of money by reducing your interest rate even when there’s a fee.
When you initiate a balance transfer, the transfer fee is usually charged as a percentage of the transferred amount and then added to the balance. For instance, if you transfer a $6,000 debt to a credit card with a 3% balance transfer fee, you will be charged $180, so the new balance will be $6,180. But the fee may be worth it if you pay less in interest overall, and the longer the 0% APR offer, the less interest you should pay.
The simplest way to avoid balance transfer fees is to apply for a credit card that does not charge one. Getting a credit card with no balance transfer fee that also offers a low balance transfer APR is actually the best overall way to reduce the cost of existing debt and pay off what you owe sooner.… read full answer
Best Options for Avoiding Balance Transfer Fees
Find a low APR credit card with no balance transfer fee. The best credit card with no balance transfer fee is the Union Bank® Platinum™ Credit Card because it offers a $0 balance transfer fee along with a balance transfer APR of 0% for 15 months.
Compare personal loans with no origination fee. No-fee personal loans for debt consolidation are available to people with fair credit or better, though people with bad credit scores might also be able to get one if they have a cosigner.
Make a budget and a debt-payoff plan. The best way to avoid transfer fees is to avoid having to do a balance transfer in the first place. With that in mind, make a budget that maximizes monthly debt payments in order to pay off what you owe now as quickly as possible, then focus on keeping your spending in check to avoid racking up a big balance again in the future.
Finally, don’t rule out cards with balance transfer fees completely. If the card has a long-lasting introductory 0% balance transfer APR, it might be the option that saves you the most money overall, even considering the transfer fee. You can use WalletHub’s balance transfer calculator to help determine which option is best for you.
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.
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, 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.… 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
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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