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*Disclaimer: This article is accurate as of the publish date May 3, 2013
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A balance transfer can help you consolidate credit card debt, keep collectors off your back, and free up money for large purchases. While there are fees involved with this process, sometimes it just has to happen.
Many people email us with the question: "What is the maximum balance transfer amount?" They are concerned about the limit their creditors will put on their transactions. If you are thinking the same thing, the information below should help you out. Here is a look at the average maximum balance transfer so you can be prepared for your credit cards.
Maximum Balance Transfer Rule
The maximum balance transfer amount that you can roll over depends on your credit score and the credit card company you work with. However, most credit card companies will allow you to use all of your available credit. This means that if you are approved for a credit card line of $10,000, you can transfer balances of up to $10,000 from other credit cards. There are some balance transfer credit cards that offer higher options than your available limit, but you have to have excellent credit for those. Just assume that you will only be able to transfer what you could normally charge to the card.
Stipulations to That Rule
Remember to also factor in any balance transfer fees as part of your available credit. The majority of credit card issuers will charge you 3% of the amount you want to transfer. That means that if you have a $10,000 credit limit, you cannot transfer $10,000 in balances from other cards. You can only transfer $9,700. That extra $300 will be tacked on as a fee for the transaction.
Another stipulation to consider is the number of balance transfers you can do in a month. Some credit card providers set limits to this as a security measure for protection against identity theft. They don't want someone else transferring all their debts to your account. You will need to contact your credit card company to find out how many transfers you can do per day, week, month, etc.
How High Are Balance Transfer Fees?
In terms of balance transfer fees, the maximum amount that credit card companies typically charge is 3%. There are only a handful of banks that cap the balance transfer fee. Usually, these offers are presented as "3% of the balance transfer amount, not to exceed $75 or be below $25." In this economy, it's likely that consumers will not be offered no fee transfers, given that issuers are realizing lower profits due to rising delinquency rates.
Who Qualifies for High Balance Transfers?
Balance transfer credit cards are typically only offered to those consumers applying for a "prime" credit card offer. Prime credit cards are available to consumers with good to excellent credit. Credit card companies tend to avoid offering balance transfer offers to consumers with poor or bad credit due to the risk associated with their prior credit history. Taking on new debt from someone who doesn't have a strong repayment history would be too risky for a credit card company to absorb. The cardholder's previous creditor would probably be pleased to see the balance transferred, but the new company is just too hesitant to allow that to happen.
If you are looking to take advantage of low introductory balance transfer rates, you should be able to utilize all of your available credit line. Just keep in mind that you have to pay all of that money back – with interest. Don't get so balance transfer happy that you lose track of your debt. Continue making your payments as you should, and you will be able to get the most out of your credit cards.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.
*The content in this article is accurate at the publishing date, and may be subject to changes per the card issuer.