Q&A: Can I Transfer More Than One Card Balance to a Balance Transfer Credit Card?

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Question: Can I transfer more than one card balance to a balance transfer credit card? - Cole

Answer: Hi Cole,

Yes, you can transfer more than one credit card balance to a balance transfer card. This can actually make paying bills easier for you. Instead of paying several different bills for credit cards, you only have to make one credit card payment per month. But there are a few things that need to fall into place for this to be a successful strategy.

Excellent Credit Is Important

First of all, you need to have excellent credit to qualify for the balance transfer credit cards that offer the best deals. Usually, this means you need a FICO score of 750-plus. But since credit is loosening up a little, you might even qualify if your score is higher than 720, depending on what the details are in your credit report. Scores are very important when a creditor is considering you for credit, but other factors, such as a stable employment history, can work in your favor.

Now, even if you don't have excellent credit, go ahead and look at balance transfer credit cards that you might be approved for, whether it's cards for good or fair credit. You might not get a zero percent introductory offer if you don't have excellent credit, but it's still possible to get approved for a card that has a lower APR than the rates you have right now.

You can also consider a debt consolidation loan, which offers a fixed rate. You won't get a zero percent introductory offer, but this is a good option for those who don't have excellent credit. You can compare rates right here at LendingTree and see if you can find a deal that offers a better rate than what you're paying right now.

The Credit Limit Must Be High Enough

To transfer two or more balances from credit cards, you'll need a credit limit on your new balance transfer card that will cover the total amount. For example, if you have $3,000 on Card A and $2,000 on Card B, you'll need a credit limit that exceeds $5,000. It has to exceed the total amount because you'll also owe a transfer fee, which is usually around 3 percent, but can be as high as 5 percent.

In this case, you'd want to transfer $5,000 and let's say the fee is 3 percent. So you'd be charged $150 for a transfer fee ($5,000 x .03 = $150). You'll need a credit limit on a balance transfer card that exceeds $5,150. If your limit isn't high enough, you can consider transferring a balance from only one or two cards that fits within that limit.

Another strategy to try? Call the issuer and request a higher limit so you can transfer all of your balances. This may or may not be successful, but if your credit is healthy, it's worth a try.

How a High Balance Impacts Your FICO Score

One thing to keep in mind is that your credit utilization ratio might be high on your balance transfer card. Your utilization ratio is the amount of credit you've used compared to the amount of credit you have available. For example, if your balance transfer card has a limit of $6,000 and you transfer $5,000 to that card and tack on the $150 fee, your ratio is 86 percent (5,150 / 6,000 = .0858). It's best to have a ratio under 30 percent, so you can see how an 85 percent utilization ratio could hurt your score.

But having other cards with high limits could help lower your overall ratio. If this is the case, then the high ratio on one card won't impact your score as much. This is one reason why it's not a good idea to close a credit card account after a balance transfer. You want to keep that "available credit" associated with the card because it helps with your overall utilization ratio.

But here's the bottom line: If you have debt, that should be your priority. Pay it off as fast as you can. Getting a balance transfer card helps with that because you get an interest-free chance to pay it off.

As soon as you're debt-free, you can start boosting your score again. In fact, the very process of paying down debt will help your score because your ratio will start dropping and this boosts your score.

What If You Still Have a Balance When the Introductory Period Ends?

Sometimes, you give it your all, but you come up short. If this happens, you'll start paying the purchase APR on the remaining balance. For example, if you're given a purchase APR of 14.99 percent, then when the introductory period ends, your remaining balance will accrue interest at 14.99 percent. So keep track of how long you have to pay the balance off and do your best to be debt-free before you have to start paying interest.

And while you're paying off the balance, make a vow to avoid using your balance transfer card for new purchases. That will add to your debt, and in many cases, new purchases are not included in the zero percent introductory offer. Consider your balance transfer card as a golden opportunity to pay off your debt.

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