It’s possible you have a significant amount of credit on a host of credit cards and store cards – and you might be considering transferring them to a balance transfer card to reduce your interest and simplify repayment. But how many cards can you pay off? It all depends on the total size of the debt. And you might need to make some smart choices to stay on top of it.
A balance transfer card is a credit card that you take out specifically so you can to move the debts from one or more cards onto it. Customers do this for one of two reasons:
Any low interest rates have a limited duration, although this is frequently as long as two years, and some offers have even longer durations. It’s not uncommon for interest rates to be 0%, but there will usually be a one-off balance transfer fee that is added to your balance.
The maximum amount you’ll be able to transfer will depend on the credit limit your new card allows. So if you have multiple cards, each of which is almost full, there’s a chance you won’t be able to transfer all these balances to the new card.
However, balance transfer card providers will usually try to match the credit limit of your existing cards when you apply.
In theory, there’s no limit to the number of separate credit and store cards you can transfer over. But in practice, you’re limited by the credit limit on the card. There will usually be a time limit for transferring balances though. It’s worth noting that if you already have a credit card account with a particular lender, you can’t open a second account with that same lender and transfer your old balance to the new card. You can only transfer balances from cards owned by different lenders.
Start emptying your cards one by one, starting with the one with the highest interest rate and working your way down until you reach your limit.
You will usually get 60 days to transfer any balances and keep the low interest deal, so if you can pay off as much as possible during that time, you’ll be able to transfer more cash from other credit cards and save money. Remember to keep your minimum payment commitments on the old cards though.
You can still transfer credit after 60 days, but the balance will be charged at the card’s standard interest rate. If this is still less than the rate you’re paying on the old card it remains good value for money.
Try and prioritise paying off your high interest cards while you’re still on the low interest deal. That means meeting your minimum payments on the balance transfer card and trying to pay off the old cards as quickly as possible. Hopefully with the majority of your credit transferred, you’ll find this much easier as the amount of interest added each month will be smaller.
When you’ve paid off the old cards you’ll be able to start clearing the credit on the balance transfer card in the knowledge that it’s been accruing less interest – or none at all.