What is a balance transfer card?
A balance transfer card allows you to transfer your existing balance to a new credit card with a lower interest rate. The interest rate is fixed for a period of time at an “introductory offer”.
Taking out a balance transfer can make it easier to manage your finances and pay off your debt. If you have a good credit rating and are looking to pay off the debt on your credit card, or even repair your credit rating, you could consider a balance transfer card.
All that being said, a balance transfer card is a good option for those who just want a low interest card.
The best way to use a balance transfer
The fixed period offered on a balance transfer can vary. When you’re looking at your options, it’s important to be reasonable with your repayments − especially when paying off existing debt.
To get the most from this product, ask yourself these questions.
- How long will it take to pay off your card? Can you do so over a short time frame? If not, look for cards with a longer introductory rate period to allow yourself more time to pay off the debt.
- What’s the revert rate of this card? After the fixed period of your balance transfer, the interest charged on any balance left over will usually be charged at a higher rate (e.g. the purchase or cash rate). It’s crucial you pay off your balance during the introductory period, to avoid interest payments outweighing any savings you make.
Mistakes to avoid when wiping away debt
Mistakes can be made with your balance transfer card that could hinder your chances of either saving money or paying off your card. The more common ones include:
- Continuing to apply and transfer to other balance transfer cards. Every credit related application you make is recorded and added to your file. Creditors monitor your movements and may note you as a bad investment if you’re avoiding the payment of debt by continuously moving your debt to new cards. This could put you in a sticky situation in the future if you are ever in need of credit.
- Continuing to spend big on your card, thereby increasing the balance you’re trying to pay off.
- Failing to understand your card’s terms and condition. For example, a 0% interest rate is extremely appealing. But, is there a transfer fee, annual or otherwise hidden fee you haven’t taken into consideration?
Forgetting to note your low-interest introductory end date. Time can pass quickly, and the date when your introductory period ends can slip through the cracks. Make sure you put your end date in your calendar and include reminders up until the date so you can prepare.