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Are You A Credit Card Tart?

Aug 17, 2007
Some people use the word tart as an insult; others as a bit of friendly banter. Either way, it's not the sort of term you associate with financial matters, especially not with credit cards. A credit card tart is someone who moves from credit card to credit card, taking advantage of the best offers. In the process, that person can save hundreds, and perhaps make money as well.

Being a successful card tart takes a bit of knowledge and a lot of organisation. The knowledge has to do with finding out which preferential rate deals are available. The organisation comes in remembering when you need to switch from one card to another.

How It Works

Many card companies offer incentives to get customers to sign up. Some incentives are low balance transfer rates. These allow people to transfer balances on which they are paying a high rate of interest to credit cards with a lower rate of interest. Sometimes this interest rate is as low as 0%, though this is usually available for a limited period of between six months and one year. Other balance transfer incentives offer a low rate for as long as the balance transferred stays on the card.

Credit card companies hope that people who take advantage of these incentives will remain with them even when the preferential period runs out. Many people do, but card tarts use these incentives to their advantage. Instead of keeping their debt on the same credit card forever, credit card tarts move their balances from card to card, taking advantage of the best offers. This is also known as 'rate surfing'.

Making The Most Of Rate Surfing

Rate surfing can save hundreds as people who are enjoying a low or nil balance transfer rate are able to pay off some of the balance when making their payments.

To make the most of rate surfing, look at the small print to see what transactions the preferential interest rate applies to. There may be a different rate for withdrawing cash, using credit card cheques or making purchases.

Keeping A Good Credit Rating

The key to being a successful card tart or rate surfer is to make all the credit card payments on time. Late payments will affect your credit rating. A poor credit history will make it harder to get a new card the next time you want to take up an offer.

Card companies have now got wise to rate surfers and credit card tarts. Many of them have introduced a one-off balance transfer fee. This is usually a fixed percentage of the balance transferred. In some cases, there is no cap on the fee, so transferring a large balance could incur a huge fee. This is a way for card companies to make rate surfing less attractive, as the practice costs them hundreds of thousands in lost interest each year.

Card companies are also becoming very selective about who gets their credit cards. This is another way of clamping down on credit card tarts, so if you're a credit card tart, enjoy it while it lasts.
About the Author
Joe Kenny writes for the Credit Card Guide, offering views on credit cards in the UK, visit them today for some great 0% balance transfer offers and start clearing credit card debt today.
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