Here’s a bit of a catch-22. What can 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 third-party company for assistance. But some of the best offers are often found right beneath your nose.
Look at Offers with Existing Credit Card Providers
That’s right. The help you so desperately need can come from your existing 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.
Generally, you’ll see these balance transfer offers if you log-in to your account online. Even if you have poor credit, or were recently turned down for a credit card elsewhere, you can still attempt to take advantage of offers from card issuers and banks you already have a relationship with.
Sure, you might not be 100% approved, but you’ll probably have a better success rate with these “pre-approved” offers compared to those offered by an outside company that knows little about you.
It May Not Be 0% APR, But It’ll Beat Your Current Rate
There is a caveat. The offer you receive may not be 0% APR for 12 months, and it may carry a balance transfer fee of 3% or higher. In other words, not the best offer out there.
But if your current credit card APR is 19.99% APR or higher, it will probably make 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 willing to offer you 0% APR on balance transfers with no fee. But that’s probably out of the question if your credit score is really dismal.
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 feet.
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…
Get Your Spouse to Pay Off the Balance
If none of those options work, you’re still not out of luck. If your spouse or another family member has good credit, consider asking them to transfer it to one of their credit cards that offers 0% APR for some promotional period. Or better yet, Chase Slate and its no fee balance transfer.
Yes, this is a bit of an ask because they’re essentially agreeing to take on your debt, but a family member should be willing to help you avoid paying needless interest, especially a husband or wife.
Again, for this to work they need to have good enough credit to get their balance transfer offer accepted. And make sure they understand they will be liable for the debt if they transfer it to one of their own credit cards.
Lastly, 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 available to you, even with a bad credit score.
Learn more: How to raise your credit score.