Credit card interest is an easy to overlook monthly expense. It doesn’t require actively swiping a card or forking over cash like other expenses. It just shows up on credit card statements, month in and month out.
Perhaps because we don’t consciously spend money on interest and we’re not required to pay credit card bills in full, many of us fail to realize that carrying just a few thousand dollars in credit card debt can cost hundreds of dollars a year.
Thus, with 2011 almost at the halfway point, it may be a good time to take a closer look at your credit card debt and find ways to reduce interest expenses via a 0% APR balance transfer. Here’s why:
1.) A person who carries an average monthly credit card balance of $1,000 on a card that charges a 15% interest rate will spend slightly more than $150 a year in interest. On a card with a 20% rate, the number leaps above $200.
2.) The average American carries slightly more than $4,000 of credit card debt. At a 15% rate, interest costs rise to $600 a year (and $300 since January). The same debt on a card with a 20% rate costs $800 a year (and $400 since January).
While $150-$200 a year is nothing to shake a stick at, the $600 to $800 a year many Americans pay in credit card interest is far from insignificant. In fact, that money could go a long way in funding a vacation or, even better, paying off credit card debt. Of course, there is no simple way out of debt. However, some ways are easier than others.
On our website, we focus on the cost-savings that balance transfer credit cards can provide. For those who are unfamiliar, a balance transfer is a transaction that allows you to move high interest debt to a new credit card that offers a 0% introductory rate that, at present, can last up to 21 months.
During the 0% introductory period of a balance transfer, every payment you make goes towards reducing the debt you owe, rather than being split between that debt and new interest charges. In other words, doing a balance transfer temporarily eliminates your monthly interest expense and allows you to pay down your debt faster.
The argument for using 0% balance transfer credit cards is pretty strong. It only takes about ten minutes to apply for a new card with a 0% rate and another ten to twenty minutes to organize your bills and initiate the balance transfer. Worst case scenario, a person with $4,000 of debt at a 15% interest rate may spend 30-45 minutes dealing with the balance transfer process. And for that effort, they’ll be rewarded with an extra $400-$600 dollars that would have otherwise disappeared from their wallets without even realizing it.
Getting the most out a balance transfer does require a little more work. The goal should not be saving the most possible money on interest by paying the minimum. Instead, the best approach is to use the 0% period to pay off as much of your debt as possible before the rate expires. This will put you in a much better place financially and can speed up the process of paying off credit card debt significantly.
Of course, you can always turn a blind eye to the issue and continue letting interest expenses silently steal from your bank account. But now that you know the yearly cost of credit card debt, it would be foolish to do so unless you really dislike having money. Thus, if you have a few minutes to spare, here is a quick guide to eliminating credit card interest for nearly two years.
Step 1: Gather all your credit card statements and add up what you paid in interest last month.
Step 2: Plug your balances and interest rates into our balance transfer calculator to get an estimate of how much you can save.
Step 3: Apply for a balance transfer credit card.
You can compare and apply for a balance transfer credit card on our site. However, we do get compensated for this and the purpose of this article is not to convince you to apply for a credit card on our website. Thus, while it is much appreciated if you do choose to apply at Smart Balance Transfers, I am writing this to encourage readers like yourself to save money and don’t care where you apply. Doing a balance transfer will save you money on interest and help you pay off your debt faster. If this article helps one person achieve this, that is more valuable than any compensation we might receive.
If you’re ready to get started, you can view our list of the top balance transfer credit cards in 2011 and apply online.