Can I Put All My Debt on a Zero Interest Credit Card?

The other day a friend of mine was inquiring about paying off credit card debt using a zero interest credit card.

She had moved all of her debt from a high interest credit card to a zero interest credit card and had completely paid off that debt very quickly, which was awesome.  She had two other high interest cards and asked me if she should move the debt from those over to the same zero interest card or if she should open a new zero interest credit card. I had to pause a bit before I considered the answer.

First things first.

A zero interest credit card is a credit card that has zero interest for a certain amount of time, after which the interest rate spikes up, usually higher than a ‘regular’ credit card. If you’re really diligent about paying off a zero interest credit card quickly, you can pay it off before the high interest rate kicks in.

I wrote about these types of cards before in my post: Is a 0% Interest Credit Card Just a Blatant Lie In a Pretty Package?

Zero interest credit cards have their pros and cons, and both are pretty simple. In a nutshell:

Pro: You can pay off debt quicker when you have no interest gathering on the debt while it’s on a zero percent interest credit card.

Con: If you don’t pay off your debt fast enough on aforementioned card, you’ll have a hell of a LOT of interest gathering on that debt.¬†

So, let’s back to my friend’s question about whether or not she should move multiple balances to the same zero interest card. Here are the facts:

  1. My friend had 3 high interest cards she needed to pay off
  2. She had one zero interest credit card
  3. She had already moved two high interest cards onto the zero interest card and had paid off one card’s debt already.¬†
  4. In May, the zero interest would turn to VERY HIGH interest, probably around 20+ percent, which is awful. 
  5. She still hadn’t moved the third debt and was wondering if she should move it to the zero percent card or open up a new zero percent card for that last debt.

Here’s my answer, with additional questions, in 3 parts:

  1. Can you beat the balance transfer fee? Some zero percent interest cards have a 3 percent balance transfer fee. If your zero interest card has this fee, you have to calculate whether that 3% is less or more than the interest you will end up paying on the original card before your debt is paid off. For example, if you have $1000 in debt on a card and move it to a zero percent interest card with a 3% balance transfer fee, you’d have to pay $30 to transfer the debt. If you would end up paying less than $30 in interest on the original card before you paid off the $1000, it wouldn’t be worth it. If you had a zero percent interest card with no transfer fee (they do exist), you’re fine and wouldn’t have to make this calculation. If
  2. Can you pay off the second AND third debt by the time the zero percent interest expires? In this case, if she could pay off all debts before May, her interest rate would stay at zero percent and she would get all the pros out of the card with none of the cons.
  3. Can you put all the debt from various, different cards, on one zero percent card?¬† This was a question I had to ask myself, and then had to google. I wasn’t sure how things worked with putting multiple debts on one zero percent card. Turns out it’s fine. It’s equally fine to put the debts on different zero percent credit cards (you can open multiple at the same time, depending on your credit score and approval, of course.)

One last MAJOR note: Don’t close the original card after the transfer, unless it has an annual fee that you don’t want to pay. Closing older credit cards hurts your credit score.¬†

So my friend was able to get all her debt from 3 cards on one zero percent credit card, and is on track to pay everything of by May before the interest goes up. This will save her tons of money in interest in the long run.

Hope this helps you guys understand zero percent credit cards a little better, and wasn’t too complicated. If used wisely, AND QUICKLY, zero percent interest cards can be a great tool to help get you out of debt.

 

 

The Connection Between Scary Movies and Credit Cards

Let me just start by saying that I actually really like credit cards and that they don’t scare me. But horror movies do- and even scary, or semi-scary, TV shows can keep me up at night. Hell, just a trailer for a scary movie makes me immediately plug my ears and avert my eyes.

People may laugh at me when I scream in fear during¬†the first episode of Stranger Things, or The Walking Dead, and turn away from the shows for good, deciding to probably never watch them again. But I know myself. I know how scary movies and books and TV shows might seem fun to me at first but can give me terrible nightmares, especially when I’m alone at an old hotel in the middle of Oklahoma City.

And since I know myself, I also know that I’m as good with money as I am bad with horror films. I was that kid who would look for money hidden in the coin returns at arcades and collect it, as opposed to using the coins to actually play the games. I know that credit cards will never tempt me into spending more than I have because I’m just a cautious type of person.

 

credit-cards-savings-435cs103112

Yikes!

However this isn’t true for lots of people- and if you’re one of them, don’t be ashamed. Be glad that you know yourself. The amazing finance blogger J. Money, on his fantastic blog Budgets Are Sexy (I only very recently discovered this extremely relatable and super fun-to-read blog, and I highly recommend it), writes about how he was solicited by TD Bank to create a credit card article targeted to millennials. Instead he describes how millennials are actually doing great things for themselves by avoiding getting into credit card debt. The reason TD Bank, and many other banks, are especially targeting millennials for credit cards is because millennials have been shying away from the cards due to worries about ending up in debt. According to the Budgets are Sexy article, almost half of all millenials- 44% – aren’t using credit cards at all. After all, many millennials-including myself- grew up and/or spent their early twenties during the recession of 2008 and are already saddled with insanely high student loan debt and a degree of worry about incurring any more bills.

TD Bank was trying to get Budgets Are Sexy to write about the benefits of credit cards and how millennials should establish credit so that they could borrow money later to acquire a car or a house. Yet J. Money, although he likes credit cards for their various perks and benefits, thinks that avoiding debt is way more important than your credit score.¬†And I completely agree. Although I love credit cards personally because they’ve enabled me to take many a free flight somewhere, and to pass the credit check to rent my apartment, I disagree with telling millennials they should establish credit in order to take on lots of debt down the line… especially when millenials are already worried they’ll take advantage of “free money” credit cards and take on debt from¬†unnecessary things!

I think it’s important to know yourself, and if you know you can’t handle the temptation of credit cards, stay away from them! I’ve cut scary movies out of my life because I know I can’t handle them, and I’ll never look back!

debt-credit-card

This creepy image scares me a lot. It’s actually from a protest against credit card debt, that I found in a How Stuff Works article

Have You Been Taking Advantage of Compound Interest in Your Thirties?

compound-interest

“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world”

“The greatest invention of mankind is compound interest.”

Albert Einstein is attributed to have said some version of all of these quotes. Whether he did or did not actually say this remains to be determined, but the truth is that compound interest really is a force to be reckoned with.

Compound interest can cause your retirement fund to grow way more than what you could’ve contributed yourself, and you can end up living on what you never could have saved up in your wildest dreams. $5000 invested at the age of 18 in a Roth IRA and left alone can turn into half a million dollars by the age of 72 with an average 9% interest rate.

$5,000 + compound interest magic + time= $500,000 for you

Compound interest can also get you in tons of credit card debt- the kind of debt that you couldn’t imagine wracking up in your wildest dreams. $5000 of credit card debt at a 22% interest rate would become $44,235 in 10 years.¬†

$5000 + compound interest + time (not much) = $44,235 owed to your bank.

Now that you’re in your thirties, make sure you’re aware of this miraculous compounding power. You can make compound interest work for you, or you can let it wreak havoc on your financial life, but either way, you have to start now because compound interest compounds fast, and waits for no one.

If you learn one financial lesson in your thirties, let it be this one- use compound interest wisely and start now.

Here’s a chart of $5000 invested in an IRA at age 18, untouched until age 72, at various interest rates. If somehow you averaged a 13% interest rate, that $5000, without ever adding another penny, would become over 3.5 million dollars when you retire. Now that’s some powerful magic.

rothchart

 

 

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