NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Economic conditions are ideal for a balance transfer credit card.
Higher credit card debt, a slow economy and easy access to a 0% interest credit car make transfer balance cards a good bet these days.
That is, if you know how to get one.
Transfer balance cards let consumers move debt onto a new card, primarily to earn a lower interest rate, and pay down card debt at a quicker pace. According to Cardhub.com, the average U.S. household with $6,700 in credit card debt can save $1,000 by switching to the right transfer balance card.
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Most major card carriers allow transfer balance offers, but be careful. Know what the risks are, what fees you'll be paying, the amount of your new monthly bill and understand potential damage to your credit score.
"Balance transfers are easy tools to help consumers keep their finances stable, if used in the correct situation," says Yael Kent, editor of Creditnet.com
. "Unfortunately, balance transfers are associated with debt, resulting in a negative connotation. Their significance is often overlooked or misused."
To get the best kind of transfer balance deal, follow some advice offered by Creditnet.com
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If you're carrying a card balance:
Creditnet.com advises consumers with existing debt to be aggressive about getting a transfer balance credit card. "Always having a balance increases debt fast," the firm says. "Although cardholders may pay off the minimum each month, they are only scratching the surface of their debt. Interest continues to build up, and users end up buried in more and more debt." Balance transfer credit cards can help by giving consumers low or even no (as in zero percent) credit card interest rates for an extended period.
If you have balances on multiple cards:
Having more than one card, and more than one card balance, can wear down a cardholder's ability to pay. Switch to a transfer balance card and all the debt can be consolidated onto one card with one interest rate to remember. "Plus, by getting a card with a low or 0% APR, consumers will be able to cut down on the amount of bills and extra interest charges," Creditnet.com says.
If you have a card with a high APR:
High APR rates are another bank account drainer, the firm says. "Even for those who normally pay in full, making only the minimum payment once can result in a lot of extra money to pay off," Creditnet.com says. Balance transfer cards are all about lowering interest rates and lowering monthly payments.