Anyone who has ever dealt with balance transfer credit cards knows that some of them tend to outshine the others. In fact, the difference between one balance transfer credit card and another can be like the difference between night and day.
So how do you determine which balance transfer credit cards are the good ones and which aren't? By looking for these four telltale signs.
1. A Low Interest Rate
Almost all balance transfer credit cards have a low interest rate when you sign up for the card, but the best balance transfer credit cards have interest rates that stay low.
Oftentimes consumers jump at the chance to transfer their credit card balances to a card with a impressively-low interest rate, not realizing that the rate jumps up after six months or so. If you do this, once the introductory period ends, you may be in worse shape than you were before.
If you have a $3,000 balance on your credit card and you're paying 16.99 percent, it can be tempting to search for balance transfer credit cards with a 0-percent introductory rate. But ask yourself -- what is the interest rate going to be when that 0-percent period is over? If it's higher than 16.99 percent, do you really want to transfer your balance to that card?
Instead of worrying about a low-interest introductory period, look for balance transfer credit cards that offer a low interest rate for the long term.
2. Whatever Happened to Grace?
Do you remember the good old days? Back when a 30-day grace period was the norm? Those days are long gone. Nowadays you're lucky if you get a 20-day grace period and some credit cards aren't offering grace periods at all.
Interest isn't the only thing you should concern yourself with when looking at balance transfer credit cards. Make sure that the credit card you apply for has a grace period of no less than 20 days.
3. They Want You To Pay What?
With balance transfer credit cards competing so hard for business, you'd think they'd be willing to bend over backwards to get your account. Not so...
Surprisingly enough, many balance transfer credit cards charge a balance transfer fee to transfer your debt. Usually the fee is calculated as a percentage of the balance being transfered and, depending on how high your balance is, that fee can amount to quite the pretty penny.
Do yourself a favor -- only apply for balance transfer credit cards that don't charge a balance transfer fee. Regardless of what the other credit card companies want you to think, they ARE out there.
4. The Importance of Online Access
Most credit card companies offer online account access nowadays, but the scope of that online access and what is required to get it often differs. Some balance transfer credit cards make you pay for online account access and others charge you a fee to make payments online.
Before applying for balance transfer credit cards, make sure that the cards you are interested in offer free online account access and don't make you pay for the privilege of online payments.
With credit card debt becoming the norm and so many companies offering balance transfer solutions, it's important that you find the credit card that fits you perfectly. Don't settle for just any old balance transfer card. Pay close attention to the above four tips to find the best balance transfer credit cards on the market.