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Are you strongly considering the idea of applying for a balance transfer credit card? While you’re aware of the many benefits – primarily the ability to consolidate your credit card debt – you don’t want to proceed until you’re 100 percent confident that it’s the right decision.

Before you do anything, here are 15 balance transfer frequently asked questions (FAQs) to answer. With the answers guiding you, it’s much easier to decide what to do next.

1. Why are you interested in a balance transfer credit card?

Don’t go down this path because you think it’s the right thing to do. Go down this path because you’ve done your homework and you know that a balance transfer credit card can help you eliminate debt, save money, and improve your finances.

2. What’s the best way to apply?

Just the same as any credit card, you should compare offers and apply online. This is the fastest and most convenient way of getting started.

Even if you’re in a hurry, don’t force yourself to make a quick decision. You want to be sure that you’re applying for the right card.

3. Where can you find answers to your questions?

In addition to the internet (such as this article!), you can contact credit card issuers by phone or live chat to learn more about their balance transfer offers.

There is no such thing as a silly question, so don’t be afraid to reach out in search of additional knowledge and advice.

4. How much does it cost?

A balance transfer is not typically free. Instead, you’ll pay a fee of approximately three to five percent of the total amount you’re transferring onto the card.

So, if you’re transferring $20,000, expect to pay a fee between $600 and $1,000. Knowing this upfront will help you calculate your savings.

5. Which balance transfer credit card offer is best?

There is no right or wrong answer, as no two consumers are facing the same situation.

The best thing you can do is compare offers online, paying close attention to the terms and conditions associated with each one.

6. How long does the introductory rate last?

This is one of the primary benefits of a balance transfer credit card. The longer the introductory period the longer you’ll have to pay down your balance without any finance charges getting in the way.

Most balance transfer credit cards have a zero percent introductory rate that lasts somewhere between 12 and 24 months.

7. What happens once the zero percent rate expires?

At that point, any balance you carry is subject to the rate attached to your offer.

Learn more about this upfront, as you don’t want to assume that you’ll pay off your balance before the rate expires.

8. Are there any drawbacks of a balance transfer credit card?

This all depends on your situation and what you’re trying to accomplish.

For example, you may not like the idea of paying a balance transfer fee, but the ability to save on finance charges could cancel this out.

Make a list of pros and cons, as they pertain to your situation, so you can make the best possible decision.

9. Are there any alternatives to a balance transfer credit card?

Yes, there are other ways to consolidate debt. For example, you could use a personal loan or home equity line of credit to bring all your debt under one roof.

There’s no way of knowing what’s best until you compare the finer details of each option.

A balance transfer credit card may be just what you need, but it’s important to be 100 percent certain before applying.

10. Do you need a good credit score to qualify?

Generally speaking, a good or excellent credit score will improve the likelihood of an approval.

Fortunately, even if you have average credit, you may be able to find a balance transfer credit card that works for you.

The key here is to keep an open mind as you compare offers.

11. Is this a form of debt consolidation?

Yes, a balance transfer credit card is a form of debt consolidation, as you’re taking multiple balances and bringing them together under the same credit card.

12. Will you save money?

This comes down to many things, including: the balance transfer fee, how much of a balance you’re transferring, and your ability to pay off the balance before the introductory rate expires.

Calculate a variety of scenarios upfront to ensure that you’re putting yourself in position to save money.

13. How long does it take?

While not always the case, most balance transfers are processed within one to two weeks.

If you’re interested in this, contact all parties involved for a better idea of the timeline and what to expect.

14. Will a balance transfer hurt your credit score?

The main thing to concern yourself with is the fact that too many balance transfers make it look like you can’t pay your bills.

The lesson here is that you shouldn’t get into the habit of using a balance transfer credit card to move around debt.

15. How long will it take to pay off the balance?

This depends on the amount of debt and how much money you pay every month.

Since you don’t have to worry about finance charges for the time being, you’re in better position to make immediate progress.

Your goal should be to pay off your balance before the introductory rate expires.

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