High-interest rates can deplete your savings. If you have a high credit card or loan interest rate, it may feel as if every penny you spend is going toward the interest and not the principal sum. You’ve thought about combining your credit card debt to lower your annual interest rate and make your debt more manageable. At first, glance, transferring your high-interest balance to a card with a lower rate may appear reasonable.
But, before you take this step, read the contract that comes with the new reduced rate card, as there may be some hidden fees that will come back to bother you later when you merge your credit card debt.
So, what should you be on the lookout for? Look for “balance transfer fees,” which are costs charged by some credit card companies when you transfer your debt from a high-interest card to a lower-interest card. The balance transfer fee is a flat rate fee, ranging between $35 and $45 dollars. The fact that the balance transfer fee as a percentage of the amount moved to the new card displeased several customers. The percentage may have been as high as 4% or 5%. A minimal $2,000 balance transfer could result in a five percent transfer fee of $100. Make sure you understand that when you merge credit card debt and transfer the balance to a new card, the balance transfer costs are applied to your new lower-rate card’s existing balance.
If you choose not to pay the transfer cost right away, the credit card company will charge you interest on the balance transfer fee. Check for any extra hidden fees also with the transfer fee when consolidating credit card debt onto a new lower-rate card. Some credit card issuers allow you to make payments over the phone; but, there is a cost for doing so.
If you’ve never paid by phone before, you might be astonished to hear that the fee can be as high as $10.00 per transaction. To avoid being stung by such a huge price, you may need to change your payment method. Your credit card company should notify you of any payment or convenience fees before you finish any transaction.
Take it upon yourself to inquire if the credit card company does not. Though these fees may appear to be hidden to us as consumers, this is only because they were not front and center in our minds when we decided to merge our credit card debt.
You should be aware that a credit card business is required to disclose any costs to the consumer before the credit card offer is accepted. Be an informed consumer and read the fine print of the contract before accepting the credit card offer.