Debt is a reality that many of us have to face in our day-to-day lives. If you’re trying to pay off credit card debt that has gotten out of hand, using another credit card is generally not an option. However, there is a loophole — you could utilize a balance transfer credit card to help pay down your debt.

Now, whether or not getting a balance transfer credit card is the right solution for managing high-interest credit card debt is entirely up to you. But with the right 0 percent intro APR offer and a certain level of discipline, it could be a worthwhile option.

Why you can’t pay a credit card with a credit card

Paying off a credit card with a credit card simply isn’t possible. Credit card issuers tend to only accept the following payment types when you pay your bill each month: checks, electronic bank transfers and money orders. While this may be disappointing, it’s possible you may be able to use a balance transfer credit card to transfer a balance from one credit card to another credit card.

If you utilize this option, be sure come up with a plan to pay down your debt and not accumulate more debt. If your debt becomes out of control, it’s only going to cause more issues. Your debt will become harder to manage and pay off, and odds are, you’ll face high-interest charges on your new credit card — much like the first credit card.

But with the right balance transfer credit card, you can transfer your debt and pay it down (or pay it off entirely) during an introductory interest-free period. These 0 percent intro APR offers typically last anywhere from 12 to 21 months, which could provide you with plenty of time to pay down your debt before the regular variable APR kicks in.

What to consider before transferring a balance

To get the most out of using a balance transfer card, you’ll want to look for cards that have no annual fees and offer cash back rewards. Here are a few other considerations to keep in mind:

  • Is there a balance transfer fee? Balance transfer fees typically range from 3 percent to 5 percent of the total balance you transfer to your new card. For example, for every $10,000 you transfer, you’ll need to pay an additional $300 or $500 in fees. If you are looking to transfer a much smaller balance, there’s typically a minimum charge in place, anywhere from $5 to $10.The balance transfer fee you’ll pay depends on which credit card you choose, so keep this in mind while you’re browsing for balance transfer cards.
  • When does the 0 percent intro APR offer end? To get the most out of your balance transfer card, ensure you can pay off the entire balance before the 0 percent intro APR period ends. Once this period inevitably comes to an end, your balance will start accruing interest at the variable rate. It’s important to know how long your offer lasts so you can create a plan to pay off your debt before the regular APR starts.
  • How will your credit score be impacted? Usually when we’re stuck with debt, our credit score is negatively affected. Paying off debt with a balance transfer card will also affect your credit score in a few ways. Applying for a new card will trigger an inquiry into your credit report, which will temporarily lower your score a bit. But a new card may also help to lower your credit utilization ratio, which may help your score to improve over time.
  • What will your new credit limit be? Unfortunately, when it comes to credit limits, there is no guarantee that you’ll be approved for an amount that’s sufficient for large balance transfers. If you’re looking to transfer a large balance and your credit limit falls short, you’ll be stuck paying off two balances.

Tips for paying off debt with a credit card

While a balance transfer card may be a tool to help you pay off debt, it’s not a magic solution. Paying off debt and keeping it under control involves a number of important steps. Here are some of the big ones:

Know how much you owe

When debt starts piling up, it’s often easier to ignore what you owe than to crunch the numbers. However, the first step to getting out of debt is knowing the full amount in black and white. So, sit down with all of your bills — car loan, medical bills, credit cards, etc. — and make a list of what you currently owe for each bill. Make sure you note any interest rates that will be added on as well (these are an important factor in paying off your debt).

Make a debt payoff plan

There are a variety of balance transfer cards out there that will offer you a 0 percent intro APR period to help you pay off the debt you’ve transferred. The best balance transfer cards offer 0 percent intro APR periods for 12 to 21 months, after which you’ll be responsible for any remaining balance plus added interest. Before transferring your debt, take the time to figure out how much you will need to pay each month to pay off the debt before your 0 percent intro APR offer ends. If you need some help crunching the numbers, try out our credit card payoff calculator.

Create a payment schedule

Once you’ve calculated how much you’ll need to pay each month to pay off your debt, make a payment schedule — and stick to it. Late fees are only going to add to the debt you already have, so it’s important that you pay your bills on time. If you have the option, set up automatic payments to ensure consistent payments and help avoid late or missed payments.

Handle high-interest debt first

If you are dealing with debt from multiple places, handle your high-interest debt first. A balance transfer card’s 0 percent intro APR period will give you a chance to pay off that debt without having to worry about paying high interest for a while. For other debts, continue to pay your minimum payment each month until the high-interest debt is taken care of.

Use available tools

Paying off debt starts with knowing where you stand. Consumers can get a free copy of their credit report from or from any of the three credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian or TransUnion. Additionally, most banks provide free access to credit scores, which is an easy way to quickly check and monitor your current score.

Another tool that’s helpful for debt repayment is setting up account alerts for when payments are due. This is especially helpful if setting up auto payments is not an option.

Keep your options open

Balance transfer cards are helpful tools, but they aren’t for everyone. If your credit is not in a good place to add another card to your rotation, you may want to look at other options for paying off credit card debt. For instance, you could look into a debt management service to help you negotiate payment options with your creditors.

Alternatives to balance transfer cards

If you aren’t quite sure a balance transfer is the best option for you, there are other options. If you can manage to pay off your lingering debt with one lump sum payment, that’s always going to be the route with the least amount of risk. Of course, that may require a significant amount of cash, which is not usually just lingering around.

Another option to keep in mind is a personal loan. Taking out a personal loan to pay off credit card debt has its pros and cons, but since personal loans tend to offer lower interest rates than credit cards, you may save some money in interest over time.

Paying off your credit card debt in full with a personal loan does not immediately make you debt-free — you’ll still have to pay off your personal loan. However, by consolidating your debt into one loan, you’ll only have one monthly payment to worry about. This can make it easier to plan ahead when it comes to calculating your monthly expenses, and it may also help you pay off your loan more quickly depending on what your minimum payment is.

The bottom line

Paying off credit card debt feels amazing, and a balance transfer card can often be the key to getting there. However, paying off debt may not last very long if your spending habits don’t change. As you work to pay off your debt, also come up with a working budget for your current and future spending to keep your debt in check.