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Tips for transferring bigger credit card balances

By Lucy Lazarony · Bankrate.com
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Posted: 11 am ET

Thinking about transferring several thousands of credit card debt to a new card with a rock-bottom introductory rate?

Consider your move carefully.

Consolidating multiple credit card balances onto a single card with a super-low introductory rate can be a nifty financial move. But there are plenty of snags to watch out for.

First off, you may not qualify for the credit card with the zero-percent balance transfer deal that you have your eye on. Those balance transfer credit card offers are reserved for folks with good or excellent credit.

And even if your credit is good enough to qualify for the card, your new credit line may not be big enough to handle all the credit card debt that you'd like to transfer.

You may qualify for a lower-than-expected credit line or the issuer of your new credit card account may decide to restrict balance transfers to only a portion of a your approved credit limit.

So the card that you'd very much like to consolidate $8,000 of credit card debt may only allow a balance transfer of $3,000. That could still be a good deal for you, just not the super deal you were expecting.

Want your next bigger balance transfer deal to go as smoothly possible?

Follow these tips.

Check your credit score. Before applying for a balance transfer card offer, take a peek at your credit score.  You can estimate your credit score using Bankrate's FICO score estimator.

Once you have an estimate of your credit score, shop for a card that matches your level of credit.

This balance transfer calculator will help you estimate just how much money you'll save by transferring balances to a card with a super-low interest rate.

Be sure to watch out for fees. Many balance transfer offers come with fees of 3 percent or 4 percent. And some cards charge balance transfer fees as high as 5 percent.

You'll want to weigh the cost of balance transfer fees before consolidating credit card balances onto a new card.

Be aware that a large balance on a single card may temporarily lower your credit score until you start paying down the balance. So you'll want to be as aggressive as possible with your payments after you complete a balance transfer.

Looking for ways to pump up your credit card payments? These tips will show you how.

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