A balance transfer credit card is a card that you can use to transfer balances from a different credit card. These cards are meant to help you reduce the amount of debt you have overall. If you’re looking to use a balance transfer credit card in the most effective way, however, you need a plan before you open the card and start making payments. Here’s how you can use a balance transfer card most effectively.
1. Determine How Much Debt You Have on Credit Cards
First, you need to figure out how much debt you have on the credit cards in the first place. Look at all your open credit cards, then add all the balances up. You’ll be able to see what amount of money you have on credit cards at the moment across all your accounts. This is the number you’ll hopefully be looking to pay off on your new balance transfer card.
2. Decide How You’ll Pay Off the Balance
The easiest way to determine your ideal payments is to divide your full credit card debt, plus the balance transfer fee, by the number of months that you have to pay off your debt. For a card like the Citi Simplicity card, that would be your credit card debt, plus 5%, divided by 21. If you know you’ll get something like a good tax rebate in certain months, you can also add extra payments around that time.
3. Transfer All Balances Once You Open the Card
As soon as you open the card, you should start to talk to customer service about transferring your balances. Different cards have different requirements for how long they offer the balance transfer. Citi Simplicity offers four months for the 0% APR opportunity, but if you’re using a different balance transfer card, you should check their terms and conditions.
4. Avoid Making Other Purchases as You’re Paying Off the Balance
Although it’s typically possible to use a balance transfer credit card to make general day-to-day purchases, it’s something you should avoid if possible. These cards typically don’t have great rewards programs or other benefits, which means you’re just accruing more debt that you’ll have to pay off. Instead, try to keep at least one of your other credit cards open to use for your day-to-day purchases, ideally whichever one has the best rewards program for regular purchases.
If you currently have a lot of credit card debt, a balance transfer credit card is a great option that can help you cut down on debt and pay for it more easily. Many cards even offer a pretty long introductory offer with 0% APR. However, it’s crucial that you have a plan before you open your balance transfer card. You can use these four steps to figure out your debt, determine a plan for paying off the balance, transferring your balances, and staying dedicated to the payments that you need to make for a better handle on your debt.