Home » Finance » Credit

Are The Days Of Balance Transfer Credit Cards Over?

Aug 17, 2007
If you follow the financial news and financial pundits, you've probably heard that the heyday of the balance transfer credit card is over - or at least in its dwindling days. Not so, say many market purveyors. Rather, the offers have been refined to cut out some of the losses the credit card companies were suffering because of them. Of course, loss is a relative thing - when the card companies speak of loss, they mean 'less profit than expected'.

If you haven't had a reason to check out credit card offers over the past few years, then here's a quick recap to bring you up to par on the issue and why some financial experts believe it is dead.

A few years back, credit card companies realized that they'd nearly saturated the market. With statistics showing that the ratio of credit cards issued to adults in the UK is 4:1 - that's 4 credit cards out there for every single adult in the UK - it was clear that most people who could qualify had at least one card. That meant that instead of competing with each other to attract the dwindling number of adults who had no card yet, they had to compete to attract those that already had a credit card with other companies. The scheme they came up with to do that was to offer special rates to those who would transfer the balance on their existing options to a new card with their company. The reasoning was that people would change loyalties if the reward was great enough. If you were paying 18% interest on a balance of 10000, you could save yourself in the neighborhood of 200 a year by moving that balance to a balance transfer credit card with a 0% introductory rate for one year.

The competition between credit cards offered big benefits to consumers. As the advertised rates on each balance transfer credit card dropped, and the introductory periods grew longer and longer, people figure out that they could avoid paying interest on their existing account balances - and even repaying those balances - indefinitely. All they had to do was transfer the existing balance to a new balance transfer credit card when the introductory rate ran out. That meant that they could pay the minimum payment due each month for months on end, without incurring any interest on the account balance - and when the introductory period ran out and interest would start to accrue, simply move the balance on to other cards and start all over again.

Of course, that wasn't the way that the credit card UK companies intended balance transfer offers to work. And to be fair, most consumers used them in the way that they were intended - to move their account balance where they could chip away at the balance and completely wipe it out within the introductory period. Enough took advantage of the unintended loophole, however, that the credit card companies have modified their balance transfer offers so that they could benefit from them. In some cases, this has meant shortening the introductory period to just a few months. Other companies offer a 'life of the balance' introductory rate of just a few percent - and require that you charge a minimum number or amount of new purchases in order to keep that rate low. Because all payments are applied to your balanced transfer first, this means that you're running up a new account balance on which you are accumulating interest at a higher amount for months until your transferred balance is paid off.

Is a balance transfer credit card still a good deal? Indeed it is, say many financial advisors. The trick is to shop carefully for a deal that offers the best combination of low rate on the balance transfer and low typical rate on new purchases. Only use one to make the absolute minimum number or amount of purchases, and always put as much as you can toward the bill each month to wipe out the transferred balance as quickly as possible. Once the transferred balance is done away with, pay off the new charges and retire the card.
About the Author
Jon Francis has been involved with finance for many years! With an in-depth knowledge of the credit card UK market help helps others get the best from a credit card.
Rating:
Please Rate:
(Average: Not rated)
Views: 146
Print Email Report Share
Article Categories
    • Artists
    • Gambling
    • Humanities
    • Humor
    • Movies
    • Music
    • Photography
    • Tattoos
    • Television
    • Classic Cars
    • Motorcycles
    • Recreational Vehicles
    • SUVs
    • Trucks
    • Vans
    • Branding
    • Business Opportunities
    • Careers and Jobs
    • Corporate
    • Customer Service
    • Direct Mail
    • Entrepreneurship
    • Ethics
    • Financing
    • Franchising
    • Home-Based Business
    • Human Resources
    • Import and Export
    • Leadership
    • Management
    • Market Research
    • Marketing and Advertising
    • Negotiation
    • Network Marketing
    • Networking
    • Organizational
    • Presentation
    • Project Management
    • Public Relations
    • Small Business
    • Strategic Planning
    • Team Building
    • Telemarketing
    • Training
    • Data Recovery
    • Databases
    • Games
    • Hardware
    • Networks
    • Operating Systems
    • Programming
    • Security
    • Software
    • Spyware and Viruses
    • Ask an Expert
    • College and University
    • Home Schooling
    • K-12
    • Languages
    • Online Education
    • Psychology
    • Coffee
    • Cooking
    • Gourmet
    • Recipes
    • Wine and Spirits
    • Acne
    • Aerobics
    • Alternative Medicine
    • Beauty
    • Cancer
    • Cosmetics
    • Depression
    • Diabetes
    • Diseases and Conditions
    • Fitness Equipment
    • Fitness
    • Hair Loss
    • Heart Disease
    • Medicine
    • Men's Health
    • Muscle Building
    • Nutrition
    • Skin Care
    • Supplements and Vitamins
    • Weight Loss
    • Women's Health
    • Yoga
    • Arts and Crafts
    • Babies
    • Collecting
    • Elderly Care
    • Genealogy
    • Hobbies
    • Parenting
    • Pets
    • Pregnancy
    • Woodworking
    • Feng Shui
    • Gardening
    • Home Appliances
    • Home Security
    • Interior Design
    • Landscaping
    • Affiliate Programs
    • Article Marketing
    • Auctions
    • Audio
    • Banner Advertising
    • Blogging
    • Broadband
    • Domain Names
    • E-Books
    • E-Commerce
    • Email Marketing
    • Ezines and Newsletters
    • Forums
    • Internet Marketing
    • Link Popularity
    • Pay-Per-Click
    • Podcasting
    • RSS
    • Search Engine Marketing
    • Search Engine Optimization
    • Security
    • Social Media
    • Spam
    • Video
    • Viral Marketing
    • Web Design
    • Web Development
    • Web Hosting
    • Copyright
    • Cyber Law
    • Intellectual Property
    • National, State, Local
    • Patents
    • Regulatory Compliance
    • Trademarks
    • Buying
    • Selling
    • Baseball
    • Basketball
    • Boating
    • Cycling
    • Extreme Sports
    • Fishing
    • Football
    • Golf
    • Hockey
    • Hunting
    • Martial Arts
    • Running
    • Scuba Diving
    • Soccer
    • Swimming
    • Tennis
    • Dating
    • Divorce
    • Marriage
    • Weddings
    • Astrology
    • Buddhism
    • Christianity
    • Faith
    • Hinduism
    • Islam
    • Judaism
    • Meditation
    • Metaphysical
    • New Age
    • Cable and Satellite TV
    • Cell Phones
    • Communication
    • Gadgets and Gizmos
    • GPS
    • Satellite Radio
    • Video Conferencing
    • VoIP
    • Addictions
    • Coaching
    • Goal Setting
    • Motivational
    • Stress Management
    • Time Management
    • Clothing
    • Electronics
    • Fashion
    • Gifts
    • Jewelry
    • Causes and Organizations
    • Environment
    • History
    • Holidays
    • Men's Issues
    • Nature
    • Philosophy
    • Politics
    • Women's Issues
    • World Affairs
    • Air Travel
    • Camping
    • Cruises
    • Destinations
    • Outdoors
    • Article Writing
    • Book Reviews
    • Copywriting
    • Fiction
    • Non-Fiction
    • Poetry
    • Quotes
    • Screenplay
    • Tools and Resources