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I have a credit with a small balance, but large enough to be annoying. It comes from an impulse purchase. The APR is 22%. My credit score is excellent. (Which comes from decades of avoiding impulse purchases, sigh...)

The card that has the balance is enticing me to transfer more balances to them. This is pretty standard, they want my business. The offer is 4% upfront, 0% until 9/2020.

I have a second card with a $0 balance. They do not have 0% balance transfer but they have a transfer at my purchase API, which is 15%. There doesn't appear to be a fee to transfer.

Why can't I transfer from the card with the balance to the second card, wait a few days for things to settle, and then take advantage of the first card's balance transfer offer?

It seems to be I can convert a 22% APR credit balance into a 0% balance for a 4% fee. Of course this assumes I will pay it off before 9/2020 but that's a given.

I do have a third credit card with a modest balance that is currently paying off another 0% balance transfer. My credit card utilization is 6%.

What am I missing here? This sounds like a great deal but the credit card companies are not in the business of making great deals.

Update

It sounds like a good deal, but, both the seemingly independent banks are owned by the same parent company and transfer between companies are prohibited.

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    "Why can't I transfer from the card ... then take advantage of the first card's balance transfer offer?" That would be a great trick. I doubt it would hurt to try. Even if the first card won't let you transfer it back, at least you'd reduce the APR from 22% to 15%. – RonJohn Jul 21 at 19:16
  • What is the advantage to pay 4% for being allowed to move your money around? Those 4% are lost immediately, and will in addition be charged with 15% interest. Even if it all works out, and you pay it off in time, you got yourself a 4% loan you didn't need. – Aganju Jul 22 at 3:24
  • It works out if I then transfer it back and get 0% – Paul Cezanne Jul 22 at 11:02
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    @RonJohn - although your penance comment is funny, that's some strange logic... – TTT Jul 22 at 16:26
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    @TTT what do you mean? OP wrote, "I'm not touching emergency cash reserves to cover an impulse buy. Paying the interest is the price of the mistake." That seems to me that he's punishing himself for his foolish spending. – RonJohn Jul 22 at 16:30
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Your idea is fine, and if I were in your shoes I'd do exactly as you propose. (In fact I've done it before.)

Things to watch our for:

  1. Make sure the CC you're transferring to temporarily really doesn't have a transfer fee. (At 15% APR I can see why it wouldn't.)
  2. If you pay 4% up front (plus a nominal amount of interest) to convert 22% to 0%, then if you end up being able to pay it off in less than approximately 2-3 months, you would have been better off not transferring it back.

I agree with RonJohn's comment- you should at least transfer it to the 15% card right away. And then decide if you should convert that 15% to 0% for a 4% fee.

  • Estimated time to completely pay it off is about 9 months. – Paul Cezanne Jul 22 at 16:58
  • @PaulCezanne I'd probably still do it if it's going to take 9 months. I may go as far as saying pay the minimums until the last month at 0%, and put the amount you would pay into a high yield savings account and then pay it off all at once. This would depend on how much you'd make by doing it. Pick a number in your mind that's worth the hour or two of work it would take to pull it off, and then run the numbers to see if it's worth it. If not, I'd just pay it off as quickly as you can and wipe your hands of that debt. – TTT Jul 22 at 19:20

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