How I Became Debt Free In Less Than Three Years
Boom! You’ve graduated college, you’re putting beer games and late-night study sessions behind you. Next up, your first real adult job, with a full-time salary that makes you feel like Steve Jobs.
Your salary has you feeling invincible and without a worry in the world, you can start chasing your dream lifestyle. From fancy dinners dates, to indulging in upscale cocktails with new co-workers and designing your apartment to feel like home. You feel like you can buy it all, and you do.
After a few years at your first job: you want to start traveling more, try a new job or maybe move across the country. However, after all your excited spending, you look at your finances and you’re $10,000 in credit card debt. You know that all your big plans and next life stages are going to have to wait. You must get out of debt first.
The best answer for you to get your debt paid off and start chasing your dreams again: a balance transfer credit card.
How to Choose a Balance Transfer Card
A balance transfer credit card typically offers new card holders an introductory 0% APR period, which frequently is accompanied by no annual fees for transferring your balance to your new card (be sure to check the fee for a balance transfer though!). This introductory period will provide you time to pay off your credit card debt without earning any more interest on your balance.
Right now, three cards are offering some of the longest 0% APR periods ever offered. Making it a great time to tackle your debt and pay it off in a matter of months. There is the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card with 0% for 21 months on Balance Transfers, the Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card with0% intro APR for up to 21 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers and the BankAmericard® credit card from Bank of America.
Making a Balance Transfer with Your New Card
Once approved for your new balance transfer card, the credit card issuer will provide you with your new card’s credit limit. Let’s say you were approved for a balance transfer credit card with a balance transfer limit of $7,000.
Now it’s time to transfer your balances. We recommend taking your highest interest balance(s) from your current card(s) and transfer it onto your new card. So, if you have $10,000 in debt and $7,000 as your new card’s limit, transfer $7,000 onto your new credit card.
You now have over a year to pay off your debt. So, if you were to split your payments up evenly that would mean making payments of $389 a month to pay your debt off, while still chipping away at your other debt. Just make sure to keep paying your credit cards off each month on time too.
What if I Run Out of Time?
Just as you were super excited to start your new job out of college, life changes can come at you fast, and maybe it means having to divert some of your money away from paying off your credit card debt. Thus, putting you behind schedule and running low on time before your introductory 0% APR period is over.
Don’t fret, you have options. As your current intro window starts to close, it is worth considering applying for a different a balance transfer card. Find a new card you like and apply. Once approved, take the remaining balance on your current balance transfer card, and transfer it to your new card. Now you have an all new intro 0% interest period of time to pay off your remaining debt.
Using our example from above: say instead of $389 a month, you were only able to pay $250 off each month on your first balance transfer card. You will still owe $2,500 at the end of your 18-month welcome period. If you transfer your remaining $2,500 in debt to a new second balance transfer card, you now have an additional 15 months to pay off your remaining balance.
With the right planning and discipline in making your payments, you could pay off $10,000 in under three years! Mistakes can and will happen along the way, but balance transfer cards are not going anywhere and can be a big help in tackling your debt.
And if you are not approved for a credit card limit that you were expecting or maybe you pick a card with a balance transfer fee, those are still better options then trying to tackle your credit card debt while still paying a high interest rate. Utilizing a balance transfer card could potentially save you up to $3,000 (or more) in interest payments alone.
And remember that once you have paid off your balance on your credit card, don’t close your account. Keeping your card open with a $0 will help improve your credit score. And once you’ve paid everything off, enjoy the feeling of being debt free and take the same energy you had to paying off your debt and apply it to staying debt-free.