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This post is the second part of a two part series. If you missed the first part, read more about the pros and cons of a balance transfer and what it is here. Then come back to this post to learn how to do the transfer step-by-step.
In this post, I’m going to share with you how to use a balance transfer card based on my experience. If you want to learn the basics of what a credit card balance transfer is and why it ROCKS for crushing debt, go here.
A few years ago, I decided to go ahead and move forward with a balance transfer to pay off medical bills for my cat and I’m glad I did… it was RIDICULOUSLY easy.
I do want to mention that a credit card with a 0% intro period on balance transfers and new purchases shouldn’t give you an excuse to buy something new you can’t afford. But if you already have a credit card balance you’re aggressively paying off, it’s worth considering.
With the disclaimer out of the way, let’s get started.
1. Apply for the Card
Okay, duh. This is pretty obvious. First you choose a card and apply for the credit card on the website. Remember to weigh your options very carefully.
Applying for credit cards impacts your credit score so you don’t want to apply for each one under the sun. Read the fine print and make sure you understand the offer 100% before clicking the apply button.
The Chase Slate and Amex EveryDay cards are two ones I know of that currently offer 0% APR for a 15 month period with a $0 balance transfer fee.
You’ll find that many cards offer 0% interest but charge a balance transfer fee of 3% to 5%. Or they charge low interest (3% to 5% APR) with no balance transfer fee. However, the above are (currently) two twofer deals where you pay $0 for both interest and fees, if you qualify.
Credit card offers can change. But here’s a current a rundown of the terms for the Chase Slate balance transfer card that I used:
- 0% APR for 15 months on new purchases and balance transfers
- No balance transfer fee if you move yo’ money within 60 days
- No annual fee
- After intro period, APR is from 16.99% to 25.74% APR
2. Wait for Approval
After you apply, it can take a few days to get approved so don’t bite your fingernails off right away. When you do get approved, you’ll receive an email telling you what to do for the next steps, which is setting up the info of your account.
3. The Transfer
This is the point that I was always curious about: Just how does your new credit card get the balance of the old credit card? (Ok maybe this is only something money nerds think about). The answer is so simple it’s kind of ridiculous.
Once you’re approved for the Chase Slate card, it’ll ask you for the account number with the balance you want to transfer. You type it in and your balance will appear on the new credit card, but…
4. What Happens to the Old Card?
Be prepared. The balance on your old account won’t disappear right away. I’m assuming it’s because the transaction has to clear first before the balance is paid off, so don’t worry. I was a little panicked for a second when I saw balances on both cards. If you need help, you can call in to initiate the transfer.
As far as what you should do with old cards after the transfer, think about keeping it open. I kept the account I transferred from open because it was an old account that was in good standing so it had a positive impact on credit history. I once closed an account that I had since 18 because I didn’t know any better and lost out years of credit history.
Won’t make that mistake again.
The Overall Balance Transfer Experience
I’m very happy that I went ahead with this balance transfer when I needed it. It’s super easy. I didn’t have a huge amount of credit card debt, but it was still nice to know I didn’t have to pay interest while the debt was being paid off. Woop, woop!
Looking for more stories about saving money and repaying debt? Here are good places to start:
- How to Save Money When You’re Broke as Hell
- How to Lower Your Comcast Bill
- 100+ Things to Cut Out to Save Money on Monthly Expenses
- How I Increased Student Loan Payment By 500% on a Humble Salary
- 35-Day Holiday Savings Challenge
- How to Repay Debt With a Zero Sum Budget
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