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5 Things To Do Before a Balance Transfer

5 Things To Do Before a Balance Transfer

Transferring a big balance to a new credit card with a 0% APR offer can save you a lot of money when you are trying to pay down your debt. With so many great balance transfer credit cards to choose from – especially if you have great credit, but even if you don’t – it can seem like an easy thing to transfer a balance.

But before you make that call or submit that application online, be sure to do these five things to ensure a smooth balance transfer experience:

  • Make a list of your debts. Look at all your credit cards as well as your other debts including mortgage, car payments, and business loans. Get an idea of exactly how much debt you are trying to tackle. If you know how much you owe at the outset, it will be much more satisfying to see how fast you are paying it off after your balance transfer. Don’t forget to list store credit cards as well as consumer cards and any small business credit cards you may have.
  • Make a list of interest rates. This will be important if you are trying to decide which balances to transfer. You will save the most money by transferring balances with higher interest rates, so be sure you know which cards carry the steepest APRs. That way, if your debt is too much to be entirely transferred to the new balance transfer credit card, you’ll know which ones to prioritize.
  • Shop around for a new card. Don’t just apply for the first balance transfer credit card you see an offer for. Balance transfer offers differ in the length of the interest-free introductory period, the interest rate that will apply after the promotional period expires, and the balance transfer fee. Look for a card that gives you the best deal in all three of these categories. The better your credit history, the more offers you will find to consider. If you have an excellent credit score, you will be eligible for the longest 0% APR periods, the lowest ongoing interest rates, and the lowest balance transfer fees.
  • Make a payback plan. Look at the amount of debt you will be transferring, and the interest rate you’ll pay after the 0% period expires, and the total amount you’ll be able to pay each month. If possible, try to pay off the entire balance before the no-interest period ends. Do the math and see if this will be doable considering your income, other debts, and budget. Sign up for automatic payments in the amount you have decided you will be able to pay each month so you don’t have to worry about late payments. If you find you can afford to pay more one month, you can always make an extra payment.
  • Gather all your information. When you are filling out the application, whether over the phone or online, you’ll need the address of your current card issuer, the amount you want to transfer, your Social Security number, annual income, employer’s name and phone number, and the name of anyone who will be an authorized user on the new card. Have all this information ready so that your application will be quick and easy.
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