Throughout the national economic crisis, many consumers have chosen to use debit instead of credit when paying for goods and services, as reported in Credit-Land.com 2009 research. Personal finance expert Carmen Wong Ulrich, author of “The Real Cost of Living,” said recently on “The Early Show” that these introductory rates are being offered strategically, in an attempt to coax Americans back into using their credit cards more frequently. “Then the rates jump, [to] anywhere from 14 to 20 percent, so it becomes incredibly costly,” cautions Wong Ulrich. “You have to know how to use these cards.”
“Our credit card usage has gone way down [since the economic downturn]. And our revolving balances have gone way down,” explained Wong Ulrich. Credit card companies would like to see this trend reverse, and are doing what they can to boost the appeal of credit cards. By transferring balances from high interest credit cards to low interest credit cards, consumers can save themselves a lot of money in interest charges, but only if they pay off the entirety of their outstanding balance before the teaser rate expires.
Roman Shteyn, a financial guru and CEO at Credit-Land.com, advises people to outline a payment plan that will enable them to settle their transferred balance within the time frame of the teaser rate and adjust their budgets accordingly.
“Some credit card companies are offering 0% interest on transferred balances for up to 21 months with no annual fee. That gives you nearly two years to pay off your balance and get out of debt. It’s an amazing opportunity to save money,” says Shteyn.
The consumer trend research team at Credit-Land.com determined the top four balance transfer credit cards favored by consumers.
They are: the Citibank Citi® Platinum Select® MasterCard®, offering a 0% APR on balance transfers for 21 months; Discover® Card’s Discover® More Card, which has an 18-month promotional 0% APR on balance transfers; the Platinum Prestige Credit Card by Capital One®, which has 0% APR on transferred balances until December 2012; and Chase’s Chase Freedom® Visa, which offers 0% APR on balance transfers for 12 months plus a $100 cash-back bonus.
If utilized correctly, a balance transfer credit card may seem an excellent tool for a financially struggling individual to pay down some of her personal debt. Denial of an application may become an inquiry mark on your credit history, which you may prevent by knowing your realistic credit potentials.
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