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12 Tips On Transferring Credit Card Balances That You Won’t Want To Miss

12 Tips On Transferring Credit Card Balances That You Won’t Want To Miss

Transferring credit card balances can be a great move financially. It can get you out from under exorbitant interest rates and give you a fresh start on making payments. Some credit cards even have low introductory rates from zero percent to 5 percent that can make paying off your balance easier and faster. That said, transferring credit card balances is a slightly convoluted process that you should be more educated about before proceeding. Here are some tips to help you figure it out.

1. Your debt will get bigger before it gets smaller.

Back in the day, transferring balances used to come at a rate with a maximum fee. That means you’d pay 3 percent or something like that for a certain amount but no more than $50-$75. These days, transfer caps are gone. If your balance is small then this isn’t a big deal but if you have thousands of dollars in credit card debt, the transfer fee can add up quickly. It is unavoidable but make sure you know how much will be added back onto your debt when you transfer the balances.

2. The introductory interest rates can be a trap!

Like we mentioned, some credit cards come with introductory rates between zero percent and 5 percent. These typically last for 6-12 months. If you cannot pay back your balance before the introductory rate, then you should pay attention to what the regular rate will be. These higher rates can range from 12 percent to 18 percent or even higher depending on your credit. Do yourself a favor and sit down with a calculator and make sure you’re actually saving yourself money by switching over!

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3. If you don’t pay your dues, they’ll make you pay in other ways.

While we’re on the topic of introductory rates, let’s talk about what happens if you don’t pay your bill. Pretty much all credit cards will cancel your introductory rate and give you the regular rate if you fail to make payments on time. Remember folks, there is no grace period when transferring credit card balances. Do not skip a payment or it can cost you!

4. Don’t neglect your debt while transferring credit card balances.

The process of transferring balances from one credit card company to the next can take some time. Experts say that it can take a month or longer for the process to complete. During this time, you’re still responsible for paying your bill every month. We’ve already discussed what can happen if you don’t make payments on time. Don’t sabotage yourself!

5. The best rates are reserved for those with good credit.

Sadly, those of us with bad credit don’t get the same features with new credit cards that people with good credit will receive. You may see credit cards that brag about having low introductory rates but if your credit is bad then those rates probably aren’t meant for you. It’s not uncommon for people with bad credit to be forced into taking less appealing offers like no introductory rates and higher APRs overall. You can still apply and try for things like introductory rates but don’t base your financial future on credit card features you may not be eligible to receive.

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6. Even more introductory rate confusion.

Some credit card companies will only give you the introductory rates for the amount of your balance. This means any purchase you make could be subject to the regular APR. For example, let’s say you transfer your balance of $3000 to the new credit card at the introductory rate of zero percent and then you go buy a laptop for $500. The $3000 would have the zero percent introductory APR while the laptop would be subject to the regular APR. Here is the kicker. Since most credit card companies apply payments to a split-rate account to the balance with the lower interest rate, that means that $500 will continuously increase until you pay off the $3000.

7. Don’t be a transfer junkie.

After reading through here, you may be thinking of getting a credit card with an introductory rate and then transferring to a new credit card with a new introductory rate in a year. It sounds like a good plan but you can be penalized for doing this. If you transfer your balances too many times, your credit can be penalized. Since paying off a credit card is supposed to increase your credit score, doing anything to prevent that is actually counterproductive.

8. Slash your cards.

This isn’t a technical tip but rather a figurative one. Due to all of the confusion and complexity of transferring credit card balances, it’s probably in your best interest to just hack up the cards. The accounts can remain open but let’s face facts here. If you’re in the kind of financial crunch that can motivate one to transfer balances, then you should probably not give yourself an opening to make it worse. Cut up the cards, pay off the debts, and many of the pitfalls we discussed today don’t apply to you.

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9. Take your time and find the best deal

This applies to everything, ever. Finding a credit card with a 12-month introductory APR of zero percent may sound great, but paying 18 percent APR after that could be very bad. Meanwhile, there may be a card out there with a flat 12 percent rate that would be a better deal in the long run. Shop around, do the math, and find the deals that will save you the most money. Do not get suckered into a bad deal because of an appealing opening offer. Finally, be especially careful of the old bait-and-switch tactic. An example of this is being pre-approved for a certain card with a certain balance and a certain rate but when you go to officially apply, you end up with something much worse than that. Unfortunately, this does happen.

10. Don’t try too hard or you’ll never get it done.

As with any other loan process, applying for a new credit card requires a credit check. It’s pretty much common knowledge that if you ping your credit over and over again then it will cause your credit to go down. If you can’t secure a credit card after a couple of tries, it’s best to give up and try again in a few months to avoid harming your credit because otherwise you may lower your credit which will just make it harder to get another credit card!

11. If you don’t slash it, then don’t spend it.

Earlier we suggested that you slash the old and new credit cards and we stand by that advice. However, we also understand that you may need to keep one of them around for emergencies. Spending $250 on a credit for shoes is a horrible idea but spending $20 in gas to get home because you don’t get paid until the next day is totally understandable. Should you decide to keep your old or new credit cards around, we recommend you don’t spend anymore money than absolutely necessary.

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12. Why are you in this situation to begin with?

If you’re transferring credit card balances then you are in some sort of financial trouble. Generally, the only two reasons people transfer balances is to switch to a card with a lower rate or because they’re experiencing problems with their current credit card and need a fresh start. In either case, look into what caused this problem. While transferring balances can save you money in the long run, it won’t save you that much money month to month. If you’re having trouble paying your credit card now, you’ll have trouble later too. Fix the underlying problem and you may be able to avoid this whole mess!

Wrap up

The bottom line is simply this: be educated. Make sure you read everything before you sign any paperwork. Don’t let fast talking customer service reps try to rush you. This is your money and your life and if you don’t feel in control of the situation then take a step back and assess the situation. There are no shortcuts so work hard and get it done.

Featured photo credit: Digital Trends via digitaltrends.com

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Published on September 17, 2018

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

2. When you want something big, wait

Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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So, you get the itch.

You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

Here’s where you have to take a step back.

Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

3. Live smaller than you can afford

You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

4. Practice smart grocery shopping

Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

Create a grocery budget

Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

Make a list… and never deviate

Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

Eat before going grocery shopping

It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

5. Cancel your gym membership

Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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