A year ago, credit card companies doles out generous credit limits along with generous 0% APR deals for balance transfers.  Today, credit card companies are slicing credit limits to new and current account holders and dramatically reducing the length of 0% balance transfer deals.  This poses significant problems for consumers who have grown accustomed to $10,000 and even $25,000 credit limits for balance transfers.

Getting a high credit limit for balance transfers is a tricky endeavor these days.  For starters, and regardless of your credit score, history, or relationship with the credit card company, no major credit card companies reveal your credit limit until they have processed your application.  This can take anywhere from a minute to a few weeks, depending on the issuer and your credit. 

In one of the unfunny ironies of the credit crunch, consumers with excellent credit who don’t carry balances are likely to encounter little trouble in getting a new credit card with a high credit limit.  Unfortunately, consumers who need balance transfers and have relied on them on the past are likely to be surprised by significantly smaller initial credit limits.  Today, people who may have been granted $10,000 credit limits are given limits of $5,000 or $3,000 (and that’s if they can get approved).

Ultimately, one of the best strategies to insure you get enough new credit with a 0% rate to do a balance transfer is to apply for multiple credit cards from different credit card companies.  Hopefully, two should be sufficient to cover larger balance transfers, though consumers with significant credit card debt in excess of $10,000 may still find themselves with less new credit than they need.

Lower credit limits, shorter 0% periods, and higher interest rates appear to be the new norm in the credit card world.  Consumers who transferred balances a year ago and are returning for a second round will likely be quite shocked by how significantly this market has changed.  If there is a silver lining, then it is the very fact that 0% balance transfer offers still exist.  A year from today, it is entirely possible that such offers will be non-existent.

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