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What’s the deal with a balance transfer card?

The idea behind a balance transfer credit card is to take high interest balance and transfer it to a new credit card with a lower interest rate. This can help you save money on interest so more of your payments can go towards your principal balance.

While using a balance transfer card responsibly can help you improve your credit in the long term, (a balance transfer credit card can help you save money on interest and get out of debt faster) some people are surprised when their credit scores drop immediately following the application process.

This can happen for a couple of reasons:

  • Whenever you apply for a credit card of any kind, the lender will check your credit, resulting in a hard inquiry on your credit reports. Typically this causes a drop in your credit scores, but the effect generally lessens over time.
  • Being approved for a new account can also shorten the average age of your credit (the length of time you’ve been using credit), which could also impact your credit scores.

Getting approved for a balance transfer card may help lower your credit card utilization, but it depends on how much of that credit you are using. Credit utilization is one of the credit factors that make up your credit scores. It refers to how much of your available credit you use at a given time, and most experts recommend keeping your overall credit card utilization below 30%.

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