Getting Approved for a Balance Transfer Card
If you have existing credit card debt, opening a balance transfer card can provide relief by letting you pay it down over time at a lower interest rate. However, you still need to qualify for approval. Getting Approved for a Balance Transfer Card.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll discuss tips and strategies to get approved for the top balance transfer cards. We’ll cover factors that impact approval odds as well as alternatives if your application gets denied.
How Do Balance Transfer Cards Work?
A balance transfer credit card offers:
- An intro 0% APR on transferred balances for 12-21 months in most cases. This pause on interest charges gives you time to repay debt.
- The ability to consolidate multiple credit card balances onto one card. This simplifies managing payments.
- Possible balance transfer fee of 3-5% (or $5 minimum) per transaction. This is lower than months of high interest charges.
To get approved, issuers want to see you can handle the temporary credit limit boost and make monthly payments responsibly.
What Credit Score Is Needed?
Most balance transfer cards require good to excellent credit for approval with scores generally in the ballpark of:
- FICO score of 690+
- VantageScore of 700+
The higher your score, the better your chances. But even applicants in the fair range (630 FICO or 700 VantageScore) may get approved for cards marketed specifically toward rebuilding credit.
Tips to Improve Your Chances of Approval
Follow these tips to increase the odds a balance transfer card issuer approves your application:
- Lower credit utilization rate below 30% and 10% on each card
- Pay down existing card balances as much as possible
- Avoid applying for new credit recently before applying
- Check credit reports and resolve any errors dragging down your scores
- Become an authorized user on someone else’s account if possible
- Opt for a lower credit limit if requested as that poses less risk
- Provide updated income documentation if requested
- Consider being a deposit account holder at the bank already
Having a long credit history and mix of open revolving and installment loan accounts also demonstrates stability when applying for fresh credit.
Balance Transfer Cards for Average Credit
Options more accessible for average credit scores include:
Citi Diamond Preferred® Card – 0% APR for 21 months with no balance transfer fee (15.99% – 25.99% variable APR afterwards)
Amex EveryDay® Credit Card – 0% APR for 15 months with 3% balance transfer fee ($5 minimum) and no annual fee
BankAmericard® – 0% APR for 18 months with 3% balance transfer fee ($10 minimum) and no annual fee
Discover it® Balance Transfer – 0% APR for 18 months with 3% fee (11.99% – 22.99% variable APR after)
While their long term rates won’t be the lowest, these cards provide lengthy 0% intro periods for balance consolidation and repayment.
Getting Preapproved to Avoid Hard Checks
You can check if you’re prequalified for some balance transfer cards without a hard credit check using online tools like:
- Credit Karma
This lets you screen available offers without applying formally. Preapprovals give you an indication of what balance transfer options you may qualify for.
Tips If Your Application is Denied
If you aren’t approved for a balance transfer card, try these options:
- See if the issuer offers you a lower credit limit – this requires less available credit from their side.
- Call the issuer and ask what criteria led to the denial then work to improve it.
- Try again in 6 months after optimizing your credit by lowering utilization or paying down balances.
- Add an authorized user if possible to build more positive payment history.
- Apply for a secured credit card and use responsibly to establish positive behavior.
- Build savings for debt repayment in case balance transfer options remain limited in the short term.
- Avoid payday loans or other predatory lending that only worsens debt burdens.
Alternative Debt Consolidation Options
If balance transfer cards remain out of reach, other consolidation loans like a personal loan from your bank may provide lower rates than high-interest credit card balances.
Peer-to-peer lending sites like SoFi also offer personal loans with APRs as low as 2-6% for borrowers with strong credit and income. These loans allow consolidating credit card debt into one fixed monthly personal loan payment instead of juggling multiple cards.
Debt management plans through non-profit credit counseling agencies also remain an option to explore.
Strategizing Your Credit Card Applications
To maximize approval odds, implement strategies like:
- Only apply for a balance transfer card when you need the intro APR offer. Don’t apply years in advance.
- Reduce credit card utilization below 30% across all accounts before applying. This may require dedicating several months to paying down balances aggressively first.
- Remove yourself as authorized user from any accounts reporting high utilization or missed payments. This can drag down your credit.
- Don’t open new cards right before a balance transfer application. Too many hard pulls signals risk.
Getting the Longest 0% Intro APR Term
When comparing balance transfer cards, shoot for the longest 0% intro period possible for maximum interest savings:
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card – 0% APR for 21 months with no balance transfer fee
Wells Fargo ReflectSM Card – 0% APR for 21 months with 3% balance transfer fee ($5 minimum)
U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card – 0% APR for 20 billing cycles with no transfer fees
Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards – 0% APR for 18 billing cycles with 3% fee ($10 minimum)
Meeting a card’s minimum spend and payment requirements is required to maintain the full intro 0% offer duration.
Can You Transfer Balances to Any Card?
Balance transfer terms vary, but some common requirements include:
- Only existing credit card balances qualify – no personal loans
- Most issuers don’t allow transfers from other cards they manage
- Transfers usually limited to up to 80-90% of the credit limit
- Minimum transfer amounts of $100+ frequently required
- Time limits apply, like completing transfers within 60-90 days of account opening
Always verify the transfer guidelines from card offers before assuming you can consolidate any balances to that card.
Should You Take Cash Advances for Debt Consolidation?
While physically consolidating multiple debts onto one card can seem attractive, it’s rarely a good idea to take out cash advances for this purpose. Here’s why:
- Sky-high interest rates apply immediately to cash advances. Typical APRs can be 25% or higher.
- No grace period – interest accrues from day one, unlike purchases.
- Cash advance fees apply – typically 5% of the amount ($10 minimum).
- Balance transfers or personal loans offer much lower rates for debt consolidation.
Leave cash advances only for absolute financial emergencies with no other funding options available. Otherwise, the costs outweigh any benefits.
Final Thoughts on Balance Transfer Cards
Opening a balance transfer card allows you to press pause on interest payments and catch your breath. But approval still depends on factors like your income, credit scores, existing available credit, and history managing debt responsibly.
Employ strategies to optimize your credit before applying and increase approval odds. But have a backup paydown plan if initially denied. Maintain on-time payments and judicious credit use, and approval chances quickly improve.