Taking Advantage Of 0% Balance Transfer Credit Card Offers
If currently carry a balance on your credit cards, chances are you are spending hundreds, if not thousands of dollars a year on interest. How much money you waste every year will vary based on how much credit card debt you have, but, according to studies, the average American household carries approximately $8000 in credit card debt. At a modest interest rate of 12%, this would translate into $960 a year in interest expenses. If the interest rate is higher, say 16%, carrying a balance on your credit card could be costing you over $1200 a year in interest!
0% APR balance transfers provide an excellent solution to consumers who carry debt. With one of these offers, you can enjoy an entire year without interest to help you pay down your current debt and prevent compounding interest from moving your credit card balances into the stratosphere. Here we will discuss the benefits of 0% balance transfers.
The best type of 0% offers are for no fee balance transfers. Buried in the fine print of nearly all credit card applications is the balance transfer fee. This nuisance fee applies to 3% of all balances transferred. Over the past year, balance transfer fees have risen quite a bit. Generally, the maximum dollar amount does not exceed $75-$99 per transaction. However, a few sneaky companies have put no limit on fees.
Fortunately, with a no fee balance transfer, you can avoid these fees. In some instances, the fee to transfer a balance can add up to $100 or $200 on an $8000 balance transfer, depending on how many different cards you need to transfer balances from.
Because there are a limited number of no fee balance transfer credit cards on the market, the next best option for balance transfers is to find a credit card that offers a 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 1 year. While the number of these offers is becoming somewhat limited, finding a credit card that offers 0 APR balance transfers as well as a 0 APR on purchases is easier than finding a no fee balance transfer credit card.
To select the best balance transfer credit card, begin by looking at the dollar cap on fees for each transaction. This can be especially helpful if you are simply transferring a balance from one credit card. For example, if you have an $8000 balance on a single card, your maximum balance transfer fee will be $75 to $99, or around 1% of the transaction.
The effect of balance transfer fees grows when you have many small balances on multiple cards, as each card you transfer will be counted as a single transaction with a 3% fee. For example, if you have one credit card with a $2000 balance, two credit cards with a $1000 balance and a third credit card with a $4000 balance, your total balance transfer fee will be $195 or 2.4% of the balance.
Even though paying a balance transfer fee isn’t the most pleasant of experiences, the savings you can reap with 0 balance transfers more than offsets this annoying fee. For example, if you are transferring $8000 from a single credit card with a 15% interest rate, your total interest savings, including fees, will be close to $1100. Now, even if you have to transfer balances from multiple credit cards, and thus pay multiple fees, you will still be saving over $1000 on interest. Plus, this doesn’t even take into account the amount of money you will save with your 0% interest rate on purchases.
Aside from 0 balance transfers, there is one last type of balance transfer offer. This is the fixed APR balance transfer. For some people, it may be worthwhile to use 0 balance transfers for a number of years, transferring your debt from one company to another until the balance is repaid. However, there is always the chance you may not get approved for a 0% rate in the future. If you would prefer to avoid this risk, a fixed APR balance transfer may be right for you.
With a fixed APR balance transfer, you pay a set rate until your balance is repaid in full. For example, a typical fixed APR balance transfer offer will provide a 5.99% interest rate for life. A few credit cards offer no fee fixed APR balance transfers, but the majority do not. Thus, if you opt for a fixed APR balance transfer over a 0 APR balance transfer, your interest rate in the first year will be closer to 8.99% with fees. However, if you know it will take you many years to repay your balance, the long term rate of 5.99% can provide great savings and the security of knowing your interest rate won’t be going through the roof anytime soon.
Overall, the best option for consumers looking to lower their credit card interest rates is a 0 APR no fee balance transfer. However, since these offers are difficult to come by, the next best option is to find a credit card that offers 0 APR balance transfers and a 0 APR on purchases as well. Lastly, consumers looking to pay down their debt over the long term may want to consider a fixed APR balance transfer. However, as with any type of credit card, always look for one with low or no balance transfer fees.