How to Get Longer Balance Transfer Periods
A balance transfer card is one that comes with a low introductory APR (for the creditworthy, it can be as low as 0 percent) for a certain period of time. The benefit of these cards is that you can transfer balances from higher interest cards and then pay the debt down faster and without expensive interest costs.
Knowing how to get longer balance transfer periods can be a game-changer for your financial management.
What are common 0 percent balance transfer periods?
Most credit cards that offer a low introductory APR for balance transfers do so with two time periods involved.
First, there’s the time period by which you must make the transfer. Some cards require transfers to be made within the first few months of opening the account for the introductory offer to apply.
Second, there’s the time period where the low APR applies. These offers can be for as short as a few months to as long as two years. Most tend to fall between 12 and 21 months.
The length of the introductory APR period is critical to maximizing the benefits of the offer. For example, if you have a balance on an existing card of $1,500 and you can only afford to pay $100 a month on it, you should look for a transfer card with at least a 15-month introductory period.
Getting longer balance transfer periods
The key to getting longer balance transfer periods really is shopping around. Doing your research can mean the difference between a card that offers 12 months 0 percent APR and one that offers 21 or even 24 months 0 percent APR.
Seek tip: Don’t apply for the first card you see because numerous applications within a short period of time can create a ding on your credit report. It also slightly reduces the chance that you’ll get approved for the card you want because many banks manage multiple card options and offers. A sudden slew of applications for all those cards from one person can look suspicious.
Instead, do your research and find the offer that best matches your needs and start with that.
Transferring balances more than once
It is possible to extend your balance payment over a longer period if you can string two balance transfer offers back-to-back.
For example, if you owe $5,000 on a high-interest credit card and you want to use the balance transfer game to pay your debt down faster, you might transfer that balance to a card with 0 percent APR on transfers for up to 15 months.
To pay the balance off during that 15 months, you’d need to pay $334 a month. What if you can only afford $200 a month? At the end of the 15 month, you still owe $2,000.
If you can get another balance transfer card with a 12-month period of 0 percent APR, you could transfer the $2,000 to it and finish paying it off without ever paying interest on the balance.
You would have to pay the balance transfer fee twice, which is typically 3 to 5 percent of the amount being transferred. That’s still a lot less that potential interest, so this method can work as long as you do detailed research and time everything just right.