Taking advantage of a 0% APR promotional balance transfer offer can make your financial life easier if you’re able to consolidate credit card debt at a lower rate.
While transferring a balance might seem simple enough, you could hit a snag when attempting to transfer amounts from one card to another at the same bank. Banks have rules for this process and these tips can shed some light on what you need to know when choosing your next balance transfer card.
See related: Best 0% intro APR credit cards
Balance transfers within the same bank: 5 things to know
- Why banks don’t allow balance transfers at the same bank
- There’s no exception for business credit cards
- Shop around for other balance transfer offers
- Balance transfer offers: options to consider
- What to do when a balance transfer doesn’t work
Why banks don’t allow balance transfers at the same bank
When you transfer a balance, you’re moving the amount you owe on one card to another. The receiving card could be one you already have or a brand-new account that you open to take advantage of a low promotional rate.
Banks make money through a combination of interest and fees. For instance, you might pay a $95-plus annual fee for your card that the bank gets to collect each year. If you carry a balance at the regular APR, the bank also benefits from the interest you pay.
Which is why, in a nutshell, banks typically don’t allow you to transfer balances between cards at the same financial institution.
“There’s no law preventing it; it simply isn’t beneficial to banks,” says Carey Zielke, personal finance expert at Realities and Dreams.
“Zero interest balance transfer offers are used to attract new customers,” says Zielke. “You’re already their customer and they’re already making money off interest on your existing credit card.”
That leaves the bank with little incentive to allow you to shift that balance over to another card where you’ll pay no interest on the balance through the promotional period.
John Pham, founder of The Money Ninja, says the balance transfer fees banks charge, which can range from 3% to 5%, typically aren’t enough to offset any lost interest by allowing you to switch to a card with a lower rate.
“It’s not so much a risk to the bank, but in their eyes, you’re likely not a profitable customer for them,” says Pham.
Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card, you wouldn’t be able to transfer that amount to another Chase card. But you could still transfer a business credit card balance to another business card at a different bank. You could also opt to transfer the balance to a personal card at another bank.
The caveat with transferring business debt to personal cards is that carrying a balance can affect your personal credit score since it changes your credit utilization ratio.
You could try working around the rules by transferring a balance to a card at a different bank, then transferring it back to your current bank. But the downside there is twofold: your credit score gets dinged with each new inquiry and you pay double the balance transfer fees.
See related: Multiple balance transfers: a difficult debt payoff strategy
Shop around for other balance transfer offers
It’s disappointing to come across a 0% balance transfer promotion that you can’t qualify for because it’s issued by your current bank. That’s when you have to look around to see what else is available.
Rick Orford, founder of finance blog Surplus Academy, says to consider the APR and fees first, then continue checking the fine print.
“The best balance transfer offer has no annual fee, a 0% APR and a 0% to 2% balance transfer fee,” says Orford. Though it’s important to note that these offers are currently less common than they used to be as many issuers pulled back these offers in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
Next, look at how long you’ll have to pay down your transferred balance with no interest. Zielke favors choosing the card with the longest promotional period.
“The longer you have with zero interest, the better to maximize your ability to pay it off before it ends,” he says.
When considering offers, look at how much you want to transfer. You need to be sure that the card you’re applying for can offer a high enough credit limit to accommodate the full transfer amount. Orford recommends trying to negotiate with the card issuer to get a higher credit limit if necessary.
Wells Fargo Platinum card
|0% introductory APR for the first 18 billing cycles for balance transfers. After that, a regular variable APR of 16.49% to 24.49%.
||3 balance transfer fee for the first 120 days, 5% after that. 0% annual fee.
||0% introductory APR for the first 18 billing cycles on new purchases.
|BankAmericard® credit card
||0% introductory APR for the first 12 billing cycles for balance transfers made within the first 60 days. After that, a regular variable APR of 12.99% to 22.99%.
||3% balance transfer fee or $10, whichever is greater. $0 annual fee.
||No penalty APR. 0% introductory APR also applies to purchases.
|Citi® Double Cash Card
||0% introductory APR for the first 18 months. After that, a regular variable APR of 13.99% to 23.99%.
||3% or $5, whichever is greater. Balance transfers must be completed within the first four months to qualify for the introductory APR. $0 annual fee.
||Earn 1% cash back when you make purchases. Earn an additional 1% cash back as you pay them off.
denied for a balance transfer?
You could try a consolidation loan instead, says Zielke. The catch here is that you likely won’t find a 0% APR on a personal debt consolidation loan. Before you throw in the towel completely on getting a better deal on your card’s APR, reach out to your bank.
“If you don’t qualify for a balance transfer, one option you should consider is to call your current credit card company and ask for a lower interest rate,” says Pham.
Banks can sometimes do this as a goodwill gesture for customers with solid credit and a good account history. “It might not be as low as what you’re looking for, but it will reduce the total interest you’ll pay over time,” says Pham.
If you are one of many Americans struggling with credit card debt, there are plenty of great strategies designed to get you out of it. From balance transfer credit cards to consolidation loans, there is no shortage of solutions to reduce your balances.
See related: How to pay off credit card debt: 3 best strategies
One unique service is trying to appeal to those with multiple credit card payments every month. Tally offers to consolidate your card payments and help you pay down your debt faster – all for less interest than you currently pay.
Read on to learn more about the service and if it is best for you.
What is Tally?
Tally is a mobile app available on both the Apple App store and Google Play store. It is designed to manage credit card debt and help its users pay down their balance faster.
Tally users link their credit cards, and the service automatically makes payments, using an algorithm to determine what size payments to make to each card – using factors like highest APR. In order to consolidate your debt, Tally will extend you a single line of credit to cover the payments it makes. That way, you just make one monthly payment to Tally and it takes care of the rest for you.
Right now, Tally is only available in certain states. Eligible locations include Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Washington, D.C., Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.
How does Tally work?
Tally offers a few different solutions for its users, based on how you want to pay down your debt. The most common service is known as Tally Pays – and puts your repayment in the hands of the app.
Tally Pays is the heart of Tally debt management solutions. With this service, Tally will extend you a line of credit, based on a soft pull of your credit report. You’ll be offered a variable APR between 7.9% and 25.9% (accurate as of January 2021).
Once you’ve secured a line of credit, you can link your credit card accounts and let Tally start making payments for you. The app will automatically make payments based on its algorithm to try to save you as much on interest as possible and pay down your debt quickly.
Tally only makes payments to credit cards on your behalf if it can save you money on interest. That means if you have any cards with a lower interest rate than your Tally line of credit, the service won’t make payments on those cards. (Note: Tally always makes the minimum payment on your card. Read more on late fee protection later.)
Sending cash to friends and family? Before you reach for that credit card, grab a calculator. Itâs time to do a little math.
With most everything you purchase online or through apps, credit cards have the edge. With plastic, you have chargeback rights. If youâre overcharged or receive the wrong item, broken merchandise or nothing at all, your card issuer will make it right. And if you use a rewards card, you collect points or miles, too. Win-win.
But itâs different story when youâre sending money through peer-to-peer platforms. Many of them (like Google Pay, Popmoney and Zelle), donât allow consumers to use a credit card to send cash.
Others (like Cash App, PayPal and Venmo), allow credit cards but also charge a fee for the privilege â often about 3%.
See related: How to choose a P2P payment service
The hidden costs of using credit cards to send money
Choose a credit card to send money and you might also end up paying additional fees to your card issuer. Thatâs because the combination of some peer-to-peer apps with certain cards are coded as cash advances, rather than purchases.
For many cards, that cash advance code triggers a higher interest rate that kicks in the moment you make the transaction, as well as a separate cash advance fee thatâs often $10 or 5% of the transaction â whichever is higher. (Currently, the average interest rate for cash advances is 24.8%, while the average APR for purchases is 16.05%.)
So the combination of peer-to-peer service fees, credit card cash advance fees and that higher interest rate (with no grace period) could make sending a few hundred dollars a bit more costly than youâd planned.
No chargeback rights with credit cards
The real kicker: Unlike other venues, you donât have chargeback rights when you use credit cards to make peer-to-peer money transfers.
When you present your credit card in an online or brick-and-mortar store, thereâs a merchant involved â and the law provides chargeback rights for your protection in case you donât get what you were promised in the deal. But in a peer-to-peer money transfer, thereâs no merchant, so currently the laws donât give consumers any chargeback rights, says Christina Tetreault, manager of financial policy for Consumer Reports.
âThe chargeback right requires a merchant,â says Tetreault. âOne of the hoops a consumer has to jump through is to try and work it out with the merchant.â
If you use a peer-to-peer service and send the wrong amount or send the money to the wrong person, most platforms advise that the only way to get it back is to contact the recipient and ask them to return it. And thatâs often the same whether you use a credit card, debit card, bank account or funded account on the platform.
âBe doubly sure when youâre sending the money that youâre putting in the correct information,â says John Breyault, vice president of public policy, telecommunications and fraud for the National Consumers League. âItâs still a buyer beware world when it comes to peer-to-peer.â
If youâre sending money and want to use a credit card, it pays to do a little sleuthing first. Check out the peer-to-peer site. Does it allow users to send money with a credit card? If so what, if any, fees does it charge?
On some platforms (PayPal is one), you could see similar fees for using a debit card â while sending from a bank account or funded account on the platform is free.
The good news is that many peer-to-peer platforms clearly disclose it when thereâs an extra charge to use a credit card, says Tetreault. With Venmo, for example, youâll get a pop-up message.
Harder to decipher: Will credit card transactions on the platform be treated as a cash advance? If your preferred platform doesnât post this information, you might need to contact customer service. (And how quickly and easily you get an answer can tell you a lot, too.)
Ask your card issuer the same question: Are peer-to-peer money transfers on the platform youâve chosen treated as a cash advance? If they are, whatâs the interest rate, and whatâs the cash advance fee?
âWhat I would suggest is to ask that question, via email, of your financial institution,â says Tetreault. âIt may be in their FAQs. And you want to save that email. If you have it in writing, if thereâs an issue later, youâre better positioned to contest that fee.â
But âthe hard truth is you may not be able to find out ahead of time,â she says.
Another solution: Opt to use a credit card issued by a credit union.
âWith credit unions, the APR is usually the sameâ for purchases and cash advances, says John Bratsakis, president and CEO of the Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association.
Likewise, with American Express cards you pay your regular interest rate and no cash advance fees on peer-to-peer transfers, says Elizabeth Crosta, vice president of public affairs for American Express.
And credit cards from U.S. Bank register peer-to-peer money transfers as regular purchases â with no cash advance fees or cash advance APRs, says Rick Rothacker, spokesperson for the bank.
See related: How do credit card APRs work?
Whatâs your reason for using a credit card?
Take a good look at the reason youâre using a credit card, too. If you want chargeback rights, thatâs not an option. If youâre doing it for the rewards, will the value of those points or miles be eaten up by extra fees or a higher interest rate you have to pay to use the card?
And if youâre using a card because you donât have the cash, that might be a good reason to rethink the idea of sending money in the first place.
Thatâs a huge red flag, says Bruce McClary, vice president of public relations at theÂ National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
âThe need to convert credit into cash is what really gets my attention â because that hints at a lack of savings,â he said. âItâs a reality a lot of people are facing, especially now.â
Cash advances arenât as expensive or risky as payday loans and car title loans, but they should be among your last resorts. If you’re looking for short-term relief, you could ask your credit card issuer for help, or find out if you qualify for a personal loan. You could also borrow from a family member or trusted friend, but be wary of the potential relationship toll if you can’t pay them back.
Getting cash from credit cards
Fifty-two percent of Americans report that the pandemic has damaged their finances, according to a recent survey by the NFCC. More than a fifth of those had to tap savings for everyday expenses, while 16% increased their credit card spending.
And thatâs a sign of financial stress, says McClary. âIt means that, in some situations, they have run out of savings.â
There are ways you can use your card to get cash, though.
Cashing in rewards
Some rewards cards from issuers such as Chase, Bank of America and US Bank let you deposit cash-back rewards directly to your bank account.
And Wells Fargo also will let you deposit its Go Far Rewards directly into another Wells Fargo customerâs account, says Sarah DuBois, spokesperson for the bank.
Many credit cards let you convert rewards into retail gift cards. So a pile of points can help a friend or family member buy much-needed groceries or a few holiday presents.
Or simply âbuy a gift card for someone,â says Bratsakis.
Retailer-specific gift cards and gift cards issued through local and regional retail associations and malls often come with no fees â meaning every dollar you spend goes toward your gift.
While you can get a cash advance or use convenience checks from your card issuer, both those options often come with fees and higher interest rates. Not a smart money move, especially in the current economy.
While some lenders may offer convenience checks with deferred interest, thatâs not the same as âno interest,â says Bratsakis. Also, if you donât pay the loan in full, will you owe the full interest retroactively?
âThatâs where consumers have to be careful,â he says. With a convenience check or even a cash advance, âthatâs usually where consumers can get themselves into trouble if they canât pay it off and get hit with deferred interest.â
See related: What is deferred interest?
When it comes to peer-to-peer payments, cash really is king. You can then put it into a funded account with the money transfer platform or your bank account. And most peer-to-peer platforms let you do this for free.
âThe safest way to use these services is to send money person-to-person and be diligent about getting all the details correct so it doesnât go to the wrong person,â says Tetreault.
Only send to people you trust and know in real life, she says. âAnd before sending money make sure you understand what, if any, fees you might incur.â