Step By Step Guide to Getting a Balance Transfer Credit Card
If you’ve decided a balance transfer credit card is right for you, following these steps can help the process go smoothly. A balance transfer is a great way to take advantage of a special introductory rate that can help you pay down your credit card debt faster.
Are All Credit Cards Eligible for A Balance Transfer?
Most credit cards are eligible for balance transfers, however, not all consumers meet the credit score requirements. Your creditworthiness will determine whether or not you can move forward with a transfer. If your score is below 670 you’ll want to focus on repairing your credit before shopping for a balance transfer credit card.
Getting Started: What You Need To Do A Balance Transfer
Your balance transfer will get off to a good start if you are organized and have everything you need upfront. In most cases, you’ll be able to apply for the card online and submit all your documents digitally. Read this step by step guide to familiarize yourself with the process and make sure you have everything you need before you apply.
7 Steps To Getting a Balance Transfer Credit Card
Step One: Check Your Credit Score
Balance transfer credit cards require a minimum credit score of 670. You’ll want to check your score before you apply to make sure you qualify.
Step Two: Decide How Much to Transfer
Decide how much money you want to transfer to your new balance transfer credit card. You’ll need to apply for a card that has a balance large enough to accommodate your transfer. Keep in mind, you can do multiple transfers to the same balance transfer credit card as long as you don’t exceed the card’s limit.
Step Three: Make a Budget with Payoff Plan to Estimate What you Can Afford
Update your monthly budget spreadsheet and calculate how much money you can afford to put toward your balance transfer credit card each month. Remember, this amount should be more than the minimum payment on the card because you’ll want to make the most of your introductory offer. Paying down the debt as quickly as possible will save you a lot of money in interest.
If possible, plan to cut back on spending elsewhere during the introductory period and put that money toward paying down the debt.
Step Five: Compare Offers
Once you know how much money you need and what you can afford to pay each month, it’s time to begin shopping for your balance transfer credit card. There are lots of resources out there and sites that compare credit card offers. Make sure you are doing your research with reputable sources that are up to date.
Many websites that compare credit card offers to receive affiliate bonuses that incentivize them to direct your certain offers, that doesn’t mean those offers aren’t good, it’s just something to be aware of. Always cross-check the numbers from affiliate sites with the lender before you apply.
Step Six: Apply for Offers
Apply for the best offer first. You can also apply for several other offers but be careful not to space this out or continue applying for the same type of offers cards if you’ve already been denied. Lenders will need to do a hard pull on your credit report and that can affect your credit score. Most credit bureaus will count multiple inquiries as one if you apply within a 14 – 45 day period. This allows you to shop for the best terms and apply for more than one card without hurting your credit score too much.
|Balance Transfer Application Checklist|
Account number for your existing balance
The exact amount you wish to transfer
Social Security number
Proof of income
Step Seven: Get Accepted and Transfer Your Balance
Once you have been accepted for your new card, you can transfer your balance. Get off to a good start by setting up automatic payments on your new account. You may also want to set reminders in your calendar so you can review your account monthly and increase or decrease payments as needed throughout your repayment.
Make the Best of Your Balance Transfer Credit Card
- Don’t Use the New Card for Other Expenses
- Make Your Payments on Time
Credit card companies set strict credit score qualifications for balance transfer credit cards because they want to ensure you will be able to manage the debt responsibly. However, even if you qualify for a good offer, balance transfer cards can be costly if not managed properly. It’s important to make all of your payments on time. Some balance transfer introductory rates will be canceled by the lender if your payment is late!
Also, it’s not recommended to use a balance transfer credit card for new expenses during the introductory period. This can slow down your repayment and negate the value of your introductory rate savings.
Alternatives to a Balance Transfer
A balance transfer can be a great option for you if you meet the credit requirements and have the means necessary to pay down the balance as quickly as possible during the introductory period. However, you should explore all your options before making a final decision.
Credit card balances can be paid off with debt consolidation loans or through debt relief programs. Debt consolidation loans may be an option for you if you don’t qualify for a balance transfer card with a high enough limit to cover all of your debt. If you are behind on your payments, have a lower credit score, or simply want to pay down your debt for less than you owe, a debt relief program might be the right choice for you.
Exploring all of your options is a great way to make an informed decision about your debt.