Not a week goes by when I do not get a least 2 or 3 offers in the mail to transfer high interest credit cards to a new card. And they are enticing – 0% interest for 6 months, 6.9% interest until the balance transfers are paid off, no annual fees, shiny new credit cards with fancy graphics.
Do these balance transfers help you get out of debt?
Or do they simply keep you in debt longer by bouncing from card to card?
In most cases, they just give you one more credit card to use and watch the debt pile higher and higher. Unless you have the strength to cut up the old card, or hide it in a drawer and not use it, most people just keep using their cards.
Which is exactly why the credit card companies keep sending out these offers!
Are balance transfers a bad deal in every way?
Not at all. In fact if you only have a small amount of debt, they're a great way to keep your interest rates low. And if you have a lot of debt, some people make "credit card surfing" (moving from one card to another while chasing lower rates) part of their financial plan.
So it can work well, and it can save you lots of money.
But you have to be disciplined to be able to open a new credit card, with a low rate, and get rid of the old card.
And over time, if you keep using your old cards, you might find one day that you are in debt way over your head, and have so much debt you can not make the payments, or can not open a new card to transfer your balances.
So the best way to deal with credit card debt is to come up with a plan for paying off your debts, not moving it around. Transferring your balances may help you do this, by lowering your interest rates and allowing you to pay down the debts faster.
But balance transfers alone will not get you out of debt, so make sure you have a debt reduction plan in place while you are taking advantage of these great deals!