Credit card debt can be difficult to manage, especially if a card carries a particularly high interest rate. If someone is only paying the minimum monthly payment, it is likely he or she is only paying on the interest accrued that month and never making progress on the principal. One possible option to pay down a high credit card balance is to transfer the balance to a credit card with a zero or lower interest rate. However, balance transfers come with their own set of risks, as well as benefits, which should be explored before someone chooses to pursue this option.
A balance transfer occurs when the outstanding credit card balance from one card is transferred to another one. This transfer is normally done because the new card offers a lower interest rate. Many cards even offer promotional periods of zero percent interest. The purpose of transferring the balance is this period with no interest accruing should give the debtor time to pay down or even completely pay off the balance. It is a simple solution to a complicated problem.
Many cardholders choose to utilize balance transfers if they hold several balances on multiple credit cards. They feel like they are juggling the minimum monthly payments on each card without ever truly making progress. By taking all these balances and transferring them into one card, it can be a way to consolidate debt and make payments easier. After the transfer, the debtor will only have one card to pay rather than multiple cards.
Balance transfers come with their own set of disadvantages and risks, however. Many times, the costs grossly outweigh the benefits of the transfer. Any of these promotional low rates come with a set time limit before the interest spikes back to a rate that may be even higher than the original card. Some of the cards also come with fees and penalties if the balance is not paid before the promotional period expires. If the consumer is not careful, he or she may end up not only with a rate higher than previously held but also zero progress made on the balance.
Some consumers make the mistake of transferring a balance to a new card and making payments while still using the card. If any progress is going to be made on the balance, it helps to not use the card and add to the balance. However, if the person relies on a credit card for daily expenses, it may be wise to use a different card while paying on the card with the balance transfer.
When a consumer applies for a new credit card, the cardholder should expect a hit to his or her credit score, as well. It may not be a significant drop, but it could be if the cardholder already has a poor credit rating. If the balance is not paid off at the end of the promotional period, the cardholder could end up with a card with a high balance and a bad credit score, thus negating the whole point of the balance transfer. It is for this reason the consumer should be sure that he or she can handle making large payments on the balance after the transfer is made. Do not apply for a balance transfer if you do not believe you are up for the challenge of paying down the debt.
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If you have questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.