Ask an Expert: What Is the Best Balance Transfer Credit Card?

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A Money Talks News reader recently wrote me with the following question:

How can I find out how much the credit cards will actually transfer to their cards? I recently opened a card with Union Bank, and they transferred $720 of a $2,300+ Visa card. I also have $5,400 on another Visa (mostly medical costs). The $720 isn’t much help, I’m afraid.

I don’t want to open several cards for no real benefit, as it will only look strange on my records. I have enjoyed a decent credit score, and don’t want to mess it up by “card shopping.”

Thank you for any information you can give me. I should also state that I’m retired and one of those “fixed income” people.

Thanks again,

Jean

My response

Jean has several valid concerns. First, the amount of money that a credit card will accept as a balance transfer will be equal to the credit limit offered to you. This should be stated on the credit card statements. Some credit cards have no fixed credit limit, and cardholders must call the company to ask what their limit will be for a particular transaction.

Next, Jean expresses her concern that she doesn’t want to open several cards “for no real benefit.” Actually, saving money on interest payments is a real benefit. Credit card debts are unsecured debts that carry a high interest rate, and I would recommend taking every available step to reduce or eliminate credit card debt. If that means opening up multiple new cards for their balance transfer offers, so be it.

Finally, she mentions that she is retired and on a fixed income. That means that she will have a limit to the total amount of credit that she can be extended. To compensate for this limit, she can try to close any unused accounts. To do this, she should check her credit report to make sure that she is aware of every account that she opened in the past. In addition, she should make sure to include all of her sources of income on each credit application including any investments and government benefits.

So which cards should she consider? The Chase Slate is the only card with a promotional balance transfer offer and no balance transfer fee. Another great card is the Discover it card that offers both a promotional financing offer and some rewards.

Getting a grip on credit card debt is a very difficult challenge, but by utilizing 0 percent APR promotional balance transfers, cardholders like Jean can reduce their interest expenses.

Note: While we attempt to be completely objective when reporting on credit cards, this site may be compensated by issuers when a reader applies for a credit card through the links within credit card stories or on our credit card search page.

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