Should I Make A Balance Transfer?

 

Q: I’m considering a balance transfer to an interest-free card. Is that a good idea?

A: Transferring some or all of your credit card debt to one that includes an introductory interest-free period can help you move toward a debt-free life. However, there are some things to be aware of. Consider these pros and cons:

Pros

Interest-free debt
Your biggest push for making a balance transfer is to get a break from the interest that’s added to your balance. Depending on the offer, that may be up to 21 months. Making a balance transfer will allow you to take a real bite out of your debt and make progress toward getting rid of it completely.

Convenience
The more monthly bills you need to pay, the greater the chance of missing a payment. A balance transfer lets you consolidate the balance on several different cards into one, decreasing the number of monthly payments you need to make.

Motivation
Taking this significant step toward paying down your debt may motivate more careful spending habits.

Cons

High interest fees
At the end of a predetermined amount of time with your new card, you’ll be hit with interest rates that are unusually high. While you may plan on paying down your balance before the interest rate kicks in, you may not be able to do so. Also, many balance transfer cards do not offer the same interest-free deal for new purchases.

Transfer fees
Most balance transfer offers charge a minimum of 3-5% of the balance you’re transferring. So, while you may not be incurring interest, the transfer isn’t always free.

You need excellent credit
If you’re considering a transfer, know that you often need to have a credit score of at least 700.

Increased monthly bills
Often, a company offering to accept interest-free balance transfers will only accept a portion of the amount, adding one more monthly bill to track. This increases your chances of missing a payment. If your entire balance can’t be transferred, give priority to your interest-free payment, but don’t neglect other bills.

Negative impact on your credit score
With the recent changes to the VantageScore system, having less available credit while using a small percentage of it is considered the smart choice. Opening a new card without closing an old one means you will have more available credit and may lower your score. Also, having lots of open cards will make lenders view you as a risk.

If you’re sinking in credit card debt but don’t think a balance transfer is for you, we can help! A personal loan might be a solid first step toward debt freedom. Call, click, or stop by an Insight Branch today, to hear about our competitive rates and options.

Have you ever made a balance transfer? Tell us all about it in the comments!

7 Easy Ways to Pay off Debt

DebtFree.jpgThere are several different approaches to pay off debt, and to say one is the best isn’t really fair or accurate. You need to choose a method that works best for you. The difficult part is designing your plan and sticking to it. That’s why we want to showcase an easy method that seems to work well for most people. Have you heard of the Snowball Method to pay down debt? Click here to read all about it. This method is a great way to pay down your debt because: 1. The process is laid out – you just need to fill in the blanks. 2. It is designed to help you see progress quickly, which keeps you motivated to keep going!

Here are some other great ways to pay down debt:

  1. STOP spending money on your credit card. Some people will go as far as to freeze their cards in a container of water. This forces them to wait out their impulsive decision, which often changes by the time the water thaws.
  2. If you have credit card debt with interest, start looking for lower or 0% APR balance transfer deals.
  3. Put all money from work raises or bonuses towards paying down your debt.
  4. Sell unwanted or unused items in your home. From clothing to furniture, there is likely something you have that someone else wants. Alternatively, sell items you receive for birthdays or holidays that you know you won’t use.
  5. “Fast” one of your more expensive luxury items for a period of time (a week or a month) and use the money you would have spent to pay down debt. For example: $5 McDonald’s breakfast x 5 days per week = $25 a week or $100 for the month.
  6. Change your expensive habits and reroute the money to pay down debt. For example: Smoking a pack of cigarettes at $6 per day is $2,190 per year.

Paying off debt isn’t easy. If it was, most of America wouldn’t be in debt. However, it isn’t the act of paying off debt that is hard, it’s changing our habits and committing to those changes. Are you willing to commit? Tell us about your journey to become debt-free below in the comment section. What is working for you? What are your challenges?