You see them all the time – offers from credit card companies that give you zero percent interest if you transfer your current credit card balance over. It sounds like a great opportunity to clear off some of your credit card debt and get your finances in better order, right? However, before you pick up your phone and dial that number, or fill out the form, you should carefully consider the pros and cons.
Forbes states it all comes down to self-discipline and how much you owe on your current cards. Credit card companies may be reluctant to approve you for a balance transfer of your entire debt if it is over a certain amount, so this could leave you with two payments instead of one. If you have multiple cards and your hope is to consolidate them into one payment, you may have to settle for consolidating just a couple of them. This could still give you less payments to handle each month and the opportunity to pay off the smaller amounts first.
Timing is important too. If you are planning to buy a car or purchase a home, then it may be better to discard that transfer offer. The reason is that in order to approve the transfer, the credit card company will need to run a check on your credit and this can lower your score by as much as 10 points. This may not sit too well with lenders.
If you are set on using the transfer offer to pay off debt, then you need to make it a personal rule that you will not use that card for any purchases. Additionally, if you are transferring the entire balance from another card, you should plan to lock that card away so that you are not tempted to add more debt.