How to Transfer a Balance with Bad Credit

Credit card balance transfers are a great tool to manage debt and avoid paying finance charges, but you typically need good credit to take advantage of one.

After all, most balance transfers are executed by applying for a new credit card, so a credit check must be performed.

There’s no specific credit score that you need for a credit card balance transfer, as a number of factors aside from your credit score will determine whether you’re eligible or not.

But if you’ve tried to apply for a credit card recently, and been denied once or twice, it’s probably safe to say you’re not going to get approved any time soon.

If that’s the case, you may want to order a credit report to see what’s holding you back. There could be an erroneous collection or something else reporting in error. Or you may just discover that your credit history is too thin, or your existing balances too high.

So you may be wondering what options there are if you’ve got bad credit and high-APR credit card balances?

Look Within

Well, instead of looking at new credit card offers, take a look at balance transfer offers with your existing credit card issuers.

If you’ve got a few credit cards already open, consider calling up a customer service representative and inquiring about available balance transfer offers. Or just look at the offers online in your account panel. Many credit card issuers now list available offers online once you log-in to manage your account.

Chances are they’ll have a balance transfer offer available to you. It may not be a sought after 0% APR balance transfer, but it could be a low fixed rate for the life of the balance offer.

Either way, you’ll probably be able to save some money with one of their offers, as most credit card APR tends to range from the high teens to 20% and higher.

Balance Transfer Checks

If you’ve got bad credit, but a spouse or family member has good credit, see if they’ll execute a balance transfer on your behalf and use the balance transfer check to pay off your high APR balance.

Assuming they agree, they’ll have to make the payments each month, but you can reimburse them until the balance is paid off in full.

Obviously they need to trust you for this plan to work, but if you’re married, it’d be foolish not to take advantage of such an offer (is a balance transfer a good idea?).

[See: Balance transfer to another person for more details.]

Ask for a Discount

If you’re unable to get approved for a balance transfer, and no one is willing to execute one on your behalf, call your credit card issuer and simply ask for an interest rate reduction.

Tell them you’re unhappy with the high APR tied to your credit card, and actively looking at offers from competitors.

This scare tactic may be just enough for them to adjust your APR lower, instantly saving you money on expensive finance charges. Sure, it won’t be 0% APR, but any savings are good savings, especially when it doesn’t require more than a simple phone call.

Tip: Don’t mistake a cash advance for a balance transfer, as they are two very different financial tools.  In short, cash advances are very costly, and typically reserved for emergency use. So steer clear!