Use our balance transfer calculator to see if you should transfer your balance to a lower interest credit card. This balance transfer calculator will show you the best way to distribute your debt and exactly how much you will save.
What is a balance transfer and why should I use one?
A balance transfer occurs when you move the balance of one card over to a different card. Most companies require a fee for balance transfers, though this may depend on the amount you’re transferring over. To complete a balance transfer, you need to hold accounts from two different companies. You can complete a balance transfer with an account you already own, or with an account that you’ve recently opened.
Balance transfers can be very beneficial if you’re trying to pay off credit card debt. Many companies offer enticing intro periods where you can enjoy 0% APR and limited balance transfer fees. By transferring your balance and taking advantage of a 0-interest period, you can pay off your debt without accruing more interest to pay off.
Using a Balance Transfer Card
If you’ve recently transferred your balance to a new card, you’ll want to focus on paying your balance off and try not to make any purchases throughout the intro period. Using the new card will just add more to your balance, making it more difficult to pay off.
Once your balance is transferred, stop using the old card. The best way to pay off your debt fast is to avoid increasing the balance. You don’t need to close out your old account, however. Keeping it open may actually help improve your credit by reducing your credit utilization ratio.
After you pay off your balance on the new card, you don’t need to close that card either; in fact, it may be more beneficial to keep it open and take advantage of any benefits, such as rewards points and cashback offers.
Balance Transfer Limits & Fees to Consider
Before you choose a card to transfer your balance to, look into the credit limit and other limitations. For example, you can’t transfer your balance from one Discover card to another, as banks will not approve transfer from the same company. However, you could transfer the balance from a Discover card to an American Express card.
Pay special attention to the card’s balance transfer fees. These will usually be around 3-5% of the total balance, and there may also be a flat fee on top of that. Shop around to find a card with the lowest balance transfer fee, or one that may waive the fee altogether for a certain period of time. While the card may seem attractive for a long 0% APR, it’s also important to look into the fees once that period is over. If you’re unable to pay off your balance before the intro period is over, you may be subject to more costly interest and annual fees.
Common Balance Transfer Use Cases
Pay off debt without interest: Transferring your balance to a 0% APR period card allows you to pay off your balance without accruing more interest. If you pay off your balance in time, you’ll save money in the long-term.
Take advantage of better card benefits: Transferring your balance could bring you more benefits in the long-run. Once your balance is paid off, you may have better card benefits to take advantage of. Shop for cards that offer points you can redeem for travel or shopping as well as exceptional cashback rewards.
Consolidate debt: If you’re able to apply for a credit card with a high limit, you may be able to transfer your balance from multiple cards. This can help consolidate your debt so it’s under one account and easier to manage.
Improve your credit: If your debt is manageable, a balance transfer can help you increase your credit quickly. Having multiple accounts is one factor of credit scores, and so is your credit utilization ratio. If you pay off your balance and have two cards open without a balance, your credit score will improve.
Understanding Credit Card Interest & Payment Terms
- Current balance: Current outstanding balance on your credit card.
- Interest rate (APR): The annual interest rate being charged for this credit card.
- Payoff goal (in months): Your goal for paying off this credit card. This is the number of months by which you would like to have completely paid off this credit card balance.
- Current monthly payment: The amount you are currently paying per month on this credit card. Please enter the amount you actually pay, not the minimum payment. This amount is used to calculate how long it will take you to pay off your balance.
- Additional monthly charges: Total new charges you expect to put on this credit card per month.
- Annual fee: Your annual fee for this credit card, if any.
- Major purchase: If you expect a major purchase beyond your normal charges, enter the amount to be spent here.
- Months from now: Number of months before your major purchase will occur.