Are you in debt and looking for some relief? If so, a 0% balance transfer might be just what the doctor ordered. And guess what? Unlike a year ago, when banks were tightening their belts, such offers are once again fairly common. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that the fees associated with many of these offers are climbing. The good old days of no fee balance transfers within a promo period of 12-18 months are (for the most part) long gone. Instead, most 0% offers come with a transfer fee and/or a much shorter introductory period.
While these fees used to be in the 1-3% range, and were often capped at a max of $50-$100 per transfer, credit card issuers have been ratcheting things up. In fact, according to a recent study by the Pew Charitable Trusts, balance transfer fees climbed from 3% in July 2009 to 4% in March 2010.
And guess what? The longer the intro period, the higher the cost, with promos lasting 14 months or longer costing as much as 5% of the total amount transferred. In other words… You need to look critically at any offers that you receive, and don’t forget to factor in the transfer fees when doing the math.