High interest rates can drain your finances quite easily. If you have found yourself bogged down with high credit card rates or loans, it may feel as if every penny is paying down only the interest and not even touching the principal balance. Perhaps you have considered consolidating your credit card debt to reduce your annual interest rate and giving yourself a more manageable debt amount. At first blush, it may seem feasible to transfer your high rate balance to a different card that has a much lower rate.
However before you take this step, be sure to read the contract that comes with the new lower rate card because you may find a few unseen fees that could come back to haunt you later when you do consolidate your credit card debt.
So what should you be aware of? Look for “balance transfer fees.” Some credit card companies will charge you a fee to move your balance from a high rate card to a new lower rate card. Many times the balance transfer fee is a flat rate fee, usually a one time charge of $35 to $45 dollars. Some consumers have been unpleasantly shocked to find that the balance transfer fee was actually a certain percent of the amount that was transferred to the new card. The amount was as high as four or five percent. A nominal $2,000 transfer of your balance could have you seeing a five percent transfer fee that will set you back $100. Make sure you are aware that when you consolidate credit card debt and transfer the balance to a new card;the balance transfer fees are then added to your outstanding balance on your new lower rate card.
If you elect to not pay the the transfer fee immediately, the credit card company will attach the interest to the balance transfer fee. When you consolidate credit card debt onto a new lower rate card, check for any other hidden fees in addition to the transfer fee. Some credit card companies allow you to make payments via telephone, however there will be a fee for payment on the phone.
If you are not aware of the fee, you may be quite shocked to see the phone payment fee and sometimes that fee can be as high as $10.00 for a transaction. You may have to adapt your payment method to avoid getting bit by such a high fee. Before you complete any payment your credit card company should inform you of any type of a payment or convenience fee.
If the credit card company does not, take it upon yourself to ask. Though we as consumers may consider these fees to be hidden, it is only because these fees may have not been forefront in our minds while making the decision to consolidate our credit card debt.
You should be aware that a credit card company is required to disclose any fees to the consumer before the credit card offer is taken.Before you accept the credit card offer, be an informed consumer and read the fine print of the contract.