The Card Tarts Guide to Balance Transfers

by : Hannah Callen

There is a new type of credit card user that has appeared over the years and that is the fickle money-conscious person known pejoratively as the 'card tart'. A card tart is a person who continually transfers their current credit card balance onto another card in order to reap the reward of a lower interest rate, or ideally, a 0 percent balance transfer period. A true card tart won't stop there though for as soon as the new offer period has expired they will leap frog once again. Although it may sound time consuming, requiring the card user to keep an obsessive eye on expiry dates, it is possible to save considerable amounts of money and make credit cards work for you.

In order to be a successful card tart, you must be aware of some basic credit card operating instructions. There are four important figures that you will need to keep in mind so that you can compare cards quickly and make the greatest savings from a credit card balance transfer. Firstly you need to find out how long the 0 percent transfer period is. The cards on the market today can offer anywhere in the region of 6 months to 15 months, although there are new deals coming out all of the time so make sure you check what's available at time of application. It would seem logical that the longer the interest free period the better, but this isn't always the case because of another important consideration - the balance transfer fee.

The balance transfer fee is a charge levied against the card user when transferring a balance to that card. This charge is a percentage of the transferred amount. The typical fee is usually around 3 percent so if for example you transfer a balance of ?3000 you will be charged ?90. It is usually the case that the cards with the longer interest free periods charge a fee whereas the ones with sorter periods are free. On a 15-month interest free card you could be charged the 3 percent whereas on a 6-month interest free card there may not be a charge. Obviously you need to work out whether the longer period and charge works out better or not.

The next thing worth looking at is the length of time from your initial application to when a balance transfer can be made. Most cards put a time limit on the credit card balance transfer period although this varies from provider to provider. For example it may be that the balance transfer needs to be made within the first three months in order to take advantage of the free period. If you are a true card tart, this figure probably won't matter so much as you will only be applying for the card in order to transfer your existing balance.

The final thing worth looking at is the card's APR in general. This is the amount of interest that will be charged once the interest free period expires. There are some cards on the market that have lower APRs for the life of the card and these cards may work out better value over a longer time period. The advantage of these types of cards is that you will not have to constantly be applying for a new card every year or so. However, these cards are notoriously difficult to be accepted for because they generally make the credit card companies the least amount of profit. Once again, if you are a full-blooded card tart this figure won't be as important as you will be dedicated to a transfer at the end of the interest free period.

So to begin your 'card tarting' and money saving you need to keep all of these factors in mind when looking for your next new card. Nowadays things are made even easier due to the huge number of price comparison sites springing up all over the Internet. These sites compare the facts and figure mentioned above along with any other pertinent information making applications for cards and credit card balance transfers easier than ever before. However, one final word of warning, credit card companies are smart and while they are keen to encourage new business, you may be penalised for making too many balance transfers. Every time you make an application it shows up on your credit rating and this information is available to every lender. Your application may be refused if the lender feels you have made too many applications, particularly for cards within the same credit card company. Unfortunately a refusal could damage your credit rating. So, by all means take advantage of credit card balance transfer offersFree Articles, but use your discretion.