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0% Credit Cards: Are They Worth It?

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By Joseph Kenny

Credit card jumping has become a common practice. The term refers to the habit of moving debt balances from card to card to take advantage of preferential rates. But just how worthwhile is credit card jumping for consumers?

UK consumers have staggering levels of debt. Consumer borrowing has grown by more than 50% in five years. It's no wonder that people are looking for new ways to ease the debt burden. Credit card jumping offers one possible solution.

Money Saving Device

People who are carrying large amounts of debt can save hundreds of pounds in interest simply by taking advantage of the latest credit card balance transfer deals. Many of these offer a 0% interest rate for a fixed period, such as three, six, nine or even 12 months.

As well as transferring balances from other credit cards to a 0% credit card, consumers are sometimes able to transfer balances from store cards and even outstanding loan amounts. It is worth checking to see if these transactions also benefit from the 0% balance transfer rate.

Transferring a balance to a 0% credit card means that any payments made are paying off the principal rather than the interest. This reduces the amount owed, which is good news for those using this as a debt management method. Many card issuers do charge a balance transfer fee to curb the practice of credit card jumping, so it is worth looking around for the best deal.

Getting The Best From Credit Card Jumping

To get the best from 0% credit cards, many savvy consumers move from card to card when the preferential rate period expires. This requires some organization, but credit card jumping can mean that debt balances continue to go down as consumers move money (or rather, debt) from card to card. Those who don't move their debt at the right time often find they are paying a much higher interest rate and the debt is not being cleared. This strategy works best when consumers pay on time. Late payment can result in fees that increase consumers' level of debt.

Consumers who are using many credit cards to manage their debt should consider creating standing orders to manage payments automatically. It is also worth using a spreadsheet or calendar program to keep track of when it is time to move to the next credit card.

Other Incentives

Credit card jumping can be an effective way of reducing debt, providing consumers do not add any new debt. There are also other incentives for using 0% cards, such as charitable contributions, rewards points, air miles, travel insurance and much more. It is worth shopping around to get a reward as well as the interest-saving rate.

Summary

Credit card jumping can be a good strategy for people who are:

1. organized about managing debt 2. trying to clear a large debt 3. prepared to shop around for the best balance transfer deals 4. able to pay on time consistently so as not to damage their credit rating.

About The Author: Joe Kenny writes for the UK personal finance sites www.ukpersonalloanstore.co.uk and also www.cardguide.co.uk