These days, it’s entirely possible to send the money from a balance transfer straight to your checking account, thanks to the widespread availability of balance transfer checks.
Instead of simply using a credit card balance transfer to pay off an existing balance on another credit card, you can write yourself a check using a balance transfer check, up to your balance transfer limit, otherwise known as your credit limit less any fees.
And that check can be deposited into your checking account, or even moved into a savings account that accrues interest.
A few years ago, this was common practice, and actually came to be known as balance transfer arbitrage because credit cardholders took advantage of the gap between yields on savings accounts and 0% APR balance transfer offers.
The spread between the 0% APR on the balance transfer and the 4-5% savings rate found in many high yielding savings accounts allowed a few savvy, yet daring consumers to make some extra pocket change.
But nowadays, most savings accounts yield less than 1% and many credit card balance transfer offers have associated balance transfer fees, which has largely eliminated this practice.
[See: No fee balance transfer offers for current deals.]
Why Do You Want to Put the Money In Your Checking Account?
However, it’s still possible to get balance transfer checks and put the money into your checking account for other reasons.
This method can prove quite helpful if you need cash fast, but don’t want to pay the hefty APR tied to cash advances, which is often close to 30%!
You can even use the cash to pay for other types of loans that couldn’t normally be paid off with a credit card balance transfer.
Just be careful when doing that because credit cards tend to have the highest interest rates out there, compared to auto loans and mortgages and such, so it may not be the smartest move.
For the record, Citi and Chase seem to be the most likely to offer balance transfer checks, just be sure not to confuse them with those so-called “convenience checks” out there, which simply masquerade as cash advances.
Keep in mind that you’ll still need to make minimum monthly payments on the balance transfer amount, and you could be subject to finance charges immediately or once the 0% APR promotional period ends.
So read the fine print extra carefully and call the card issuer if you aren’t entirely certain about anything.