What do you do when you have high-interest rate credit card balances and bad credit?
Sounds like a really bad combination, but it may not be as terrible as it appears. Most consumers with poor credit will typically look for outside help when trying to solve their credit woes.
Whether it’s attempting to open a new credit card to transfer the balance, or enlisting a credit counseling company for assistance, the best offers are actually often found right beneath your nose.
Look at Offers with Current Credit Card Providers
That’s right. The help you so desperately need can come from your current credit card providers and banks if you take the time to look at the offers available to you. Nearly every credit card issuer and bank has a section on their website pertaining to credit card balance transfers.
Typically, you’ll see these existing balance transfer offers if you log on to your account online. Even if you have bad credit, or were recently turned down for a credit card elsewhere, you can still attempt to use these offers from your existing card issuers and banks.
You aren’t 100% approved, but you’ll probably have a better success rate with these “pre-approved” offers compared to those offered by an outside company.
It May Not be 0% APR, But It’ll Beat Your Current Rate
Sure, it may not be 0% APR for 12 months, and it may carry a balance transfer fee of 3% or so. But if your current credit card APR is 19.99% APR or higher, it makes a lot of sense to transfer those expensive credit card balances sooner rather than later.
Chances are your current credit card issuer will have an offer slightly above 0% APR, such as 1.99% or something similar, along with a balance transfer fee. If you’re lucky, you may even find a card issuer that will offer you 0% APR on balance transfers with no fee. But that’s probably out of the question is your credit score is really poor.
Citibank is notorious for extending such offers, and if you already have a credit card open with them, you may still be able to get approved for a balance transfer if your credit score recently turned ugly.
The same applies for credit cards tied to your bank account. Companies like Wells Fargo and Bank of America offer balance transfer deals at 4.99% APR or so for the life of the transfer. It may not be the best offer out there, but if you have bad credit, you should take what you can get until you get back on your toes.
Finally, you may not even need to transfer your balance. There’s another option. Call your credit card issuer and simply ask for an interest rate reduction. Explain your situation and plead with the issuer for a break. Or simply “play the game” and tell them that you plan on transferring the balance elsewhere if they don’t lower your current interest rate. They’ll probably play ball…
Do the math and take the time to research the offers available to you with your current bank and card issuers. You’ll be surprised at the number of options you have, even with a bad credit score.
Learn more: How to raise your credit score.