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Tuesday, May 21, 2024   

Credit Surfing Saves You Money
by Scott Bilker
Scott Bilker is the author of the best-selling books, Talk Your Way Out of Credit Card Debt, Credit Card and Debt Management, and How to be more Credit Card and Debt Smart. He's also the founder of DebtSmart.com. More about and DebtSmart can be found in the online media kit.
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Scott Bilker

What is credit surfing? Itís the continuous process of jumping from one low-rate credit card to another every time you have a chance. Does it make sense to do this? Probably, if you carry balances on one or more cards, you need to keep your rates as low as possible because that APR is the key factor in what youíre paying in finance charges.

How much do you really save by transferring balances from one card to another? Is ďcredit surfingĒ worth the trouble? Letís take a look at how much you would save by transferring $3,000 from a 19.8% credit card to 5.9% for only 6 months.

Before we begin to find the savings, it is necessary to identify more information. Specifically, we must know all loan variables and fees in order to make an exact comparison. Also, we must keep the payment amounts consistent when comparing loans. Letís say youíre paying the minimum payment of 2% of todayís balance for the entire 6 months and there are no transfer fees, which is common, and no annual fee. In this case the monthly payments are $60.

Remember that all money is the same no matter who lends it to you. Itís just green paper that you can use to buy stuff with. Therefore, the only difference between lenders is really the cost of the loan. I want to define the best loan as being the cheapestóthe loan that costs the least, the loan with the lowest amount of overall fees. The way to determine the true savings is to find the amount still owed in both cases after the 6-month trial offer.

If you leave the balance on the 19.8% card and make 6 monthly payments of $60, the amount owed after the 6th payment is $2,934.

Another way to view this is that you paid off only $66 of the original principal ($3,000) in 6 payments of $60. You can view that as only one payment going toward paying the principal, and the other 5 payments being the fee, or the bankís profit in interest charges. After all, it cost you $360 (6x$60) to pay off $66 of that loan. This means that only 18% of the payments went toward the loan and the other 82% of payments were fees. How can you ever expect to pay off a loan when youíre paying 82% in fees?

Now letís see what happens if we take advantage of the 5.9% offer for the 6-month trial period. If you transfer the $3,000 balance to the 5.9% card for 6 months and continue to pay $60 per month, your balance after 6 payments is $2,725!

In this case you paid off $275 of the loan which means that 76% of the $360 in payments went toward the loanís principal, while only 24% went to fees, obviously a dramatic improvement. Also, you can view this as almost five of the six payments going toward lowering the principal amount and only a little more than one payment being the fee.

By transferring the balance and taking advantage of this offer, the savings total $209! And even if the bank raised the rate after the 6-month period, you still keep the $209 in savings, which is realized as a decrease in the loan amount. This is a good move even if there was a $50 fee to get that rate.

In my example, this process takes about half an hour to complete, and when itís over you save $209. Itís like getting paid $418 an hour to do the transaction! You tell me if itís worth the trouble. 



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