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Kip Tips

Be Strategic With Credit-Card Balance Transfers

Take these steps to get the best interest rate and lowest fees.


Transferring a balance from a credit card with a high annual percentage rate to one with a lower rate could save you a bucket of cash. You could, for example, save $750 by moving a $5,000 balance from a card with an 18% rate to one that charges zero interest for 12 months.

See Also: 11 Credit Card Mistakes to Avoid

But not all balance-transfer offers are that straightforward, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently warned. For instance, a low (or zero) interest rate may apply only to the transferred balance; a higher rate kicks in right away on new purchases. See what the rate will be at the end of the introductory period. How much of the balance will you pay off before the higher rate takes effect? Don’t forget to figure in the balance-transfer fee (usually 3%), as well as any annual fee.

Pay your bills on time to ensure that you’re not slapped with a penalty rate. Howard Dvorkin, chairman of, recommends paying off the balance a month early, if possible, to make sure you don’t miss the due date, then check that the issuer received the payment.


Check how long you have to transfer a balance after you open a new account to capture the best rate and lowest fees. If you don’t have top-notch credit, you may not qualify for the lowest advertised rate, although the rate you’re offered may still be better than the one on your current card. To help you decide whether a balance transfer is worthwhile, use this calculator at

Our top pick: the Chase Slate card. It has no annual fee and charges no balance-transfer fee as long as you move the money within 60 days of opening the account. The rate for transfers and purchases is 0% for the first 15 months.