Budgets and Money

Are credit card balance transfers a good idea?

Searching for the best way to reduce credit card debt? While a credit card balance transfer might seem like a good idea, it could come at a cost. There are other options you should consider first.

Considerations for Credit Card Balance Transfer Offers

In theory, credit card balance transfer offers can help you save big by offering you zero percent interest on transferred balances for a limited amount of time (generally six to 12 months). If you feel your monthly interest charges are preventing you from making significant headway on paying down your credit card debt, these offers can be especially appealing.

However, it's important to understand the specifics of these offers before you sign up for a new credit card, or you might unknowingly end up paying a premium interest rate on all of your transferred balances - regardless. You could also get hit with transfer fees and other incidental charges that can add up fast.

When you're reviewing the terms of a new credit card offer, be sure to make mental note of...

  • The introductory interest rate
  • The length of the introductory interest rate offer
  • The interest rate you'll be charged once the introductory offer expires
  • Applicable balance transfer fees

As with any credit card offer, it's important to make sure you understand what happens in the event that you're late with a payment or miss one altogether - especially as that information pertains to your special introductory offer. It's also important to look at your budget to be certain that you'll actually be able to pay off your balance before the intro offer expires, or else you might be required to pay interest on the full amount transferred, as if the introductory offer never existed.

For these reasons, you should only take advantage of such credit card offers if you can commit to making more than the minimum payment required. If you can't afford to attack your balance more aggressively than you were before, you're only giving yourself a temporary respite from interest charges. Reexamine your household budget and see if you can reroute some of the more discretionary spending money towards your credit card bills.

If you have an empty credit card or two left after you've made your transfers, it's generally better for your credit if you keep them open. Making minimal purchases that you can pay off regularly each month before interest accrues, can be a great way to bolster your credit score. If you feel that leaving an empty credit card sitting around will be too much of a temptation, however, it may be in your best interest to close the account altogether.

If you need more information about making a budget or keeping your credit healthy, visit the Protective Learning Center.

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All Learning Center articles are general summaries that can be used when considering your financial future at various life stages. The information presented is for educational purposes and is meant to supplement other information specific to your situation. It is not intended as investment advice and does not necessarily represent the opinion of Protective Life or its subsidiaries.

Learning Center articles may describe services and financial products not offered by Protective Life or its subsidiaries. Descriptions of financial products contained in Learning Center articles are not intended to represent those offered by Protective Life or its subsidiaries.

Neither Protective Life nor its representatives offer legal or tax advice. We encourage you to consult with your financial adviser and legal or tax adviser regarding your individual situations before making investment, social security, retirement planning, and tax‐related decisions. For information about Protective Life and its products and services, visit www.protective.com.

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Credit Card Balance Transfers

Too much credit card debt can ruin a budget. If you've been struggling with getting rid of debt and wondering if a credit card balance transfer is a good idea, here are some basics that you need to know. For more information, visit the Protective Life Learning Center.

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