How to transfer your credit card balance to another credit card

How to transfer your credit card balance to another credit card

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If you don’t manage to pay off your credit card balance in full every month, you may not realise how much interest you’re paying. And if you never clear your balance, you could make big savings by transferring your balance to a 0% credit card deal. Find out how to transfer your credit card balance to another credit card.

How to transfer your credit card balance to another credit card

How much could you save?

  • If you have a credit card charging the average interest rate of 16% APR and you owed £2,000, you’d pay around £290 in interest after 12 months if you only made the minimum payments.
  • If you switched to a credit card charging 0% on balance transfers for 12 months, you’d be around £230 better off. You wouldn’t save the whole £290 because most credit card companies charge a fee when you transfer your balance to them, which is typically around 2% -3% of the amount you transfer. However, you would still be a lot better off overall.

SAVVY TIP: Work out how much you could save by logging onto the CardCosts calculator on the UK Cards Association website or by going onto whatsthecost.com, which has a useful credit card calculator. When you first type in the figures, it assumes you only make the minimum payments, but you can then increase the amount you pay so it calculates interest based on your own payment patterns.

Pros and cons of switching

Although switching to a 0% balance deal is a great way of saving money, there are advantages and disadvantages.

Pros:

  • It saves money in interest payments. This is especially useful if you can only make the minimum payments. If you only pay back the minimum amount on your credit card, you’ll only repay the interest plus a tiny bit more (typically 1% of the balance).
  • It gives you breathing space. A 0% deal can give you time to clear your credit card debt without interest racking up.

Cons:

  • It may encourage you to spend more. If you’re not very disciplined about your finances, having a 0% credit card may encourage you to spend money you don’t have.
  • The credit card providers are very picky. The credit card balance transfer market is quite competitive as I write this (in July 2016), but credit card providers are also being quite picky about who gets these deals.

SAVVY TIP: If you transfer your balance regularly and don’t close down credit card accounts that you transferred your balance from, prospective lenders may get nervous about the amount of credit you potentially have access to. The thinking behind this is that if you have relatively high limits on several cards and decided to max out on all of them, you could end up owing thousands of pounds.

Comparing credit card deals

To get the best balance transfer deal you need to look at:

  1. How long the card charges 0% interest on balances for.
  2. Whether you have to pay a balance transfer fee and, if so, how much.
  3. Whether there are any other incentives (e.g. 0% interest on purchases) and how long they last.
  4. How long you have to transfer your balance. Some cards let you transfer your balance(s) within the first 60 days, and will let you transfer an overdraft as well as a credit card balance, others don’t.
  5. The interest rate you’ll pay after the 0% deal runs out. The ideal is that you keep your card while the 0% deal lasts and close it down once it runs out, but it’s worth checking the interest rate you’ll be charged once the preferential deal runs out in case you haven’t cleared your debt in full.

Shopping around

With hundreds of different credit cards on the market, the easiest way to shop around for a 0% deal is to use price comparison sites. It’s always a good idea to compare the results from two or three different price comparison sites.

SAVVY TIP: Don’t just look at the results from one site because they may not compare credit cards offered by all the card providers and different sites sometimes come up with different ‘best buy’ deals.

Where to look: SavvyWoman’s best buy tables, which include best buys on balance transfer credit cards. Other comparison sites to try include: MoneySavingExpert, and uSwitch.

SAVVY TIP: Be aware that some price comparison sites put ‘top picks’ or ‘best sellers’ at the top of the page, rather than the cards with the lowest rates. These may not be the same.

Related articles:

How to pay off your debts double quick

Understanding your credit card rights under section 75

Using a spending diary; how to spend less and save money

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