If you’re in a hurry to transfer credit card balances, you might want to slowdown and take a moment to consider the following three reasons why you should not transfer credit card balances online.  Paying heed to these credit card tricks could potentially save you a lot of money and a big headache.

Reason #1 why you should not transfer balances online:  Tiered Introductory Periods

Many credit cards advertise a 0% APR for up to 1 year, but may actually offer 0% periods for as little as 3 months.  Unfortunately, you will not find out how long your introductory period lasts until after your application has been reviewed and approved.  This can obviously be a huge problem.  Imagine paying a 3% balance transfer fee to move money to a 0% credit card, only to find out you’re going to need to pay that balance transfer fee again in three months – and that’s if you can actually get approved for a new 0% balance transfer credit card three months from now.  If you can’t get approved, you’ll be paying the standard interest rate nine months sooner than you expected, which leads us to reason #2.

Reason #2 why you should not transfer balances online:  Tiered Interest Rates

Just as some credit card companies offer multiple 0% APR durations, they also offer multiple interest rates.  Generally, the advertised rate is the lowest available rate, often reserved for applicants with excellent credit.  If you don’t qualify for the lowest interest rate, you may get a rate that is anywhere from 20% to 100% higher with credit cards that offer three tiers of interest rates. 

Here’s an example:  One major credit card company current advertises a 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for up to 1 year with a go-to APR as low as 9.24%.  In the fine print, it states that consumers who receive Elite Pricing get a 0% for 1 year and 9.24% interest rate.  Consumers who get Premium Pricing get a 0% for 1 year and a 13.24% interest rate.  And consumers who get “Standard Pricing?”  They get a 0% APR for 3 months and an 18.24% APR afterwards.

On the application for this credit card, there is a field for consumers to submit balance transfers (and a small link to the terms and conditions).  I feel very sorry for the untold thousands of customers who transferred balances to this card without reading the terms and conditions.  I’m sure more than a few ended up with a higher go-to interest rate then they had on the card they transferred balances from.  And, because we’re talking about credit card companies, there is no recourse.  Anyone who accepted this deal was stuck with it.

Reason #3 why you should not transfer balances online:  You Want to Get Approved

When you apply for a credit card, a number of factors are taken into consideration.  One factor is your current debt.  Another could be how you intend to use your card.  Now, this is purely a theory.  However, it stands to reason that credit card companies would rather not loan you a lump sum of money at a 0% interest rate for any period of time these days. 

Final Thoughts on Transferring Balances Online

Again, although reason 3 is speculative, after reasons one and two, do you really still think transferring balances online is a good idea?  (Note:  if you answered yes, please go directly to jail.  Do not pass go.  And definitely do not collect $200.  After all, you’d just give it to a credit card company anyway).

Consumers looking to take advantage of balance transfers and who want to start the balance transfer process as soon as possible can definitely expedite the process by applying online at a site such as Smart Balance Transfers, which provides consumers with the ability to compare applications.  However, while we’d be out of business if you didn’t apply online, we’d also be doing you an injustice if we did not tell you to transfer balances offline.

For information about balance transfer credit cards and to apply online (but not transfer balances!) please see the 0% APR balance transfer section of this website.