What is a balance transfer credit card?
A balance transfer credit card deal offers a low or zero rate of interest for a set period of time – typically between four and 18 months – on balances transferred to the credit card at the time of application. The debt that is transferred to the new card usually needs to be coming from credit card(s), store card(s) or personal loan(s) issued by a rival financial institutions.
Why use a balance transfer credit card?
A balance transfer credit card is an increasingly popular way to pay down credit card debt and unsecured personal debt while avoiding interest.
Credit card interest rates can be high – over 20 per cent in some cases. By transferring a debt to a new balance transfer credit card, you get a reprieve from high interest rates for a set period of time. That can give smart credit card users a chance to get on top of their debt and pay down their balance without incurring big interest charges.
What are the tricks and traps of balance transfer credit card deals?
Making a balance transfer offer work means being aware of a few common tricks and traps that unwary consumers can fall into.
– More spending makes your balance harder to repay
– Balance transfer credit cards often offer a zero or very low rate on balances transferred for a limited time. However using the credit card for purchases will incur the usual rate of interest charged on purchases, and add to repayments.
– The interest rate will revert to a much higher rate if the balance transferred is not completely repaid within the balance transfer offer period, the interest charged on the remaining balance transferred will revert to a much higher rate. Often this revert rate is equal to the card’s cash advance rate, a higher rate than the interest rate charged on purchases.
– Don’t be late with repayments
– Being late with repayments or not repaying purchases on your balance transfer credit card can trigger penalties like a suspension of the balance transfer rate.
– Beware of spending on your old credit card
– Once you have cleared your old credit card of debt by transferring the balance to a new credit card, you may want to use it to rack up more debt.
– You need to be careful not to fall into a cycle of spending and accumulating new credit card debt while you are trying to repay your old debt.
How to choose a balance transfer credit card
Balance transfer credit card deals are getting increasingly enticing as competition for between credit card issuers intensifies. Take some time to browse the market and compare products before making a decision.