You’re a hardworking professional with a financial status that’s good, actually better than just good.Pretty fantastic, in the scheme of things. Your credit rating is sound, so why would you bother with a balance transfer credit card?
Even if you have rock solid credit, there’s advantages to using balance transfer credit cards that you may not be aware of. Here’s a few good reasons to incorporate these types of credit cards into your financial planning.
1. Improve Credit Score
Your credit rating is based on what’s called credit utilization. In quick terms, credit utilization is the ratio of your credit card balances to credit limits. This information is listed on your credit report. Typically, you want to keep your credit percentage below 30 percent.
Transferring a credit card balance can boost your credit utilization a couple of ways. When you transfer an entire credit card balance, your previous credit card goes down to a percentage of 0 percent. This will lower your overall utilization, barring that you don’t run up a new balance on the old card.
Finally, opting for a balance transfer credit card with a 0 percent introductory rate, means you’ll be able to pay down the debt faster. Your utilization rate improves faster than if you had to pay interest on the outstanding balance.
Do remember that applying for new credit does hit your credit score slightly, but it’s minor compared to the benefit of improving your credit utilization.
2. Consolidating Debt Can Be Good
Even though you’re responsible with your income and investments, any debt, big or small, can be a burden. A balance transfer card allows you to shift any nagging debt to one card and if the credit card company is offering 0 percent or lower interest rates at sign up, all the better.
This way you are able to keep track of a single debt and can begin planning how to pay it off as fast as you can.
A few key things to make note of are to continue making payments as normal and not use the new credit card for any spending purposes.
3. Get a Bit of Interest Relief
Let’s be frank, if you could choose between paying interest versus not paying interest, you’d likely choose not to pay. Credit card interest is anywhere from 15 percent to 18 percent, always in the double-digits. That puts credit card debt as the most expensive type.
A balance transfer card at 0 percent APR, gives you a time line of six to 18 months to pay off the balance without paying interest.
Before you finagle for interest relief, create a smart plan to pay down your debt in full before the introductory period expires. Some credit cards apply the interest retroactively, so be careful! You don’t want to be caught in that vulnerable position.
Since you probably stay on top of timing, just be sure to know when the introductory period ends as well.
4. Move Multiple Balances
Consolidation means meshing together different amounts into a single place. If you plan to utilize a balance transfer card, use it wisely to move several balances into one. That could mean transferring other credit card balances, payday loans, car loans, or even a line of credit.
After transferring balances don’t close off the old cards. Canceling them will negatively affect your credit score. If there’s no annual fee on those cards, there’s no reason to get rid of them. Keep them locked away securely as you handle the consolidated debt.
5. Keeping Track of Money and Time
Lives can get busy. Having multiple balances consolidated into one card with a direct debit payment automatically going to that credit card frees you up to plan for exciting ventures in the future, whether it’s family vacations or a bigger purchase down the line, like a motor vehicle or a home.
Balance transfer cards are relatively low risk compared to having debt on a home equity line of credit, for example. The risk of that is losing your home, over simply wiping old debt clean and accumulating better credit utilization. The choice seems simple.