Balance transfer Q&A: “What credit score is needed for a balance transfer?”
First things first, there isn’t a specific credit score needed to get approved for a credit card balance transfer. Why? Well, for starters, there are a ton of different balance transfer credit cards out there that all come with their own set of eligibility requirements.
And some credit card issuers have healthier risk appetites than others, meaning they’ll take on a greater number of high-risk cardholders.
Additionally, credit card issuers look beyond the simple three-digit credit score to determine eligibility, though as a rule of thumb, the higher your credit score, the better your chances of getting approved for a balance transfer or any other line of credit.
Credit Score Requirements Vary by Balance Transfer Issuer
While credit scores aren’t the be all and end all in terms of qualifying, they certainly come into play. And credit card issuers tend to have a credit score floor, meaning scores below a certain level won’t be approved, regardless of any other positive compensating factors.
This floor will vary by credit card issuer and even by specific credit card, so don’t focus on a particular score. And even if your credit score is “high enough,” you may still be denied.
But because you probably want to see me throw out a credit score, it may be that credit scores below 620 or 640 will miss out on approval. When searching for suitable balance transfers, look for stuff like “good credit needed” or any other clues to determine if applying is worth your while.
Denied credit attempts can lower your credit score even more, so you may want to get your hands on a free credit score first to see where you stand before applying.
The average Fico score in the United States is just above 700, but that doesn’t mean you need a credit score that high to get approved.
You could have a credit score of 660 or lower, which is “fair credit,” and still get approved for that 0% APR balance transfer offer, depending on the rest of your credit history.
Conversely, even if you have really good credit, applying for multiple balance transfer offers in a short period of time could set you up for subsequent denied requests.
At the end of the day, the credit card issuer must decide whether they want to take you and your credit card debt on, and you better believe this decision will go beyond your credit score.
Of course, you can still find average credit score data at places like Credit Karma to see what most cardmembers’ credit scores were at the time of approval. This can help you narrow down your choices before applying needlessly.
Don’t Apply for Too Many Balance Transfers
Credit card issuers aren’t big fans of consumers applying for tons of credit all at once, as all that clamoring for credit is seen as potential financial distress, even if it’s not really the case.
So make sure you apply for balance transfers sparingly, and only when necessary. After all, you won’t want to miss an opportunity when you really need one because you we’re playing balance transfer arbitrage to make a few bucks.
If you apply too often, you may still get approved, but with a reduced balance transfer limit. And it may not be enough to cover all your existing credit card debt. Or worse yet, you may be flat out rejected.
If you’ve got bad credit (and you know it), there are still balance transfer options available.
Consider inquiring about balance transfer offers with your existing card issuers, or simply ask for an APR reduction.
If a family member or spouse has good credit, consider working out a deal to transfer a balance to that person.
Alternatively, they may be able to use a balance transfer check to pay off your credit card balance(s), and then you can pay them back directly.
Tip: Always make on-time payments, keep credit card balances low, and apply for new credit prudently to ensure you maintain a healthy credit score.