Are you thinking of doing a credit card balance transfer? Now might be the time. A report by CreditCards.com shows that lenders are becoming much more generous with their balance transfer offers. BlackEnterprise.com sat down with CreditCards.com’s senior industry analyst Matt Shulz for more information.
BlackEnterprise.com: Why are lenders becoming more generous?
Matt Shulz: The economy has come a long way since the Great Recession. People are feeling better about their financial situations and have begun to break out their credit cards again. However, consumers haven’t gone wild either, judging by how low credit card delinquency rates and bankruptcy rates are. That has spurred a great deal of competition among issuers who are trying to entice the best customers to try out their cards. As a result, we’re seeing some generous offers out there.
BlackEnterprise.com: When’s the right time for a balance transfer? What are some do’s and don’ts?
Shulz: If you can do a balance transfer that will significantly reduce the interest you’ll pay over the life of your debt, it’s worth considering. But there’s a lot to think about before you pull the trigger. For example, how long will your introductory rate last? What will the APR be on the transferred balance once the introductory period ends? (It can sometimes be as high as your previous card.) Once you have the new card, do you have to transfer your old balance within a certain period of time or risk losing the deal? (Some cards have deadlines as short as 30 days to make that move.) What’s the fee that you will have to pay to do the balance transfer? (It’s typically 3% to 4%.) Is there an annual fee? What’s the card’s APR for new purchases? If I’m ever late with a payment, can my introductory period be revoked? (Typically, the answer, unfortunately, is yes.)
Knowing the answers to all of these questions can save you lots of headaches — and lots of money — so it’s absolutely crucial that you do your homework before diving in to a balance transfer. And of course, Job No. 1 for someone doing a balance transfer is to pay off the entire transferred balance during the introductory period. If you can do that, a balance transfer can be a great move and save you a great deal of money. If you can’t, then things get a little more complicated.
For more on this topic, see Credit Card Balance Transfer Offers Get More Generous.