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Avoiding Credit Card Wipe-Outs: How To Succeed With Rate Surfing

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By Joseph Kenny

Rate surfing can be a good way of reducing debt but there is a risk. To avoid long term damage to your credit rating, it's best to make sure you do it right.

Rate Surfing Research

First of all, start by researching the current credit card rate offerings to see which one is best for your circumstances. Many people opt for the 0% interest deals, as these allow them to apply the payments the make to clearing any outstanding debt. These deals usually last for a limited period (between three and 12 months), so canny rate surfers will need to be on the lookout for the next deal.

Keeping Track Of Credit Card Interest Rates

With rate surfing, it is essential to move to the next card before the reduced interest period runs out. If you don't, you could find yourself with hefty payments to make. If you're surfing with many credit cards, you'll need to keep track of the different offer expiry dates so you don't get caught short. Keeping track of these dates can be as simple as writing them down on a piece of paper.

The more technically savvy may prefer to use a spreadsheet for this purpose. Whichever system you use, itís worth using a calendar to keep track of the dates when you need to apply for new cards and move money. If you have an electronic calendar, set up automatic reminders for these dates. That means you will always know when it's time to make the next credit card balance transfer.

Finding cards to move to is relatively easy, as there are several websites that offer comparisons of credit card deals. The same sites will also show you whether the 0% credit cards offer other incentives, such as air miles, vouchers, cash back or charitable contributions.

Balance Transfer Fees

One factor to think about is the rate charged for the balance transfer. With rate surfing becoming more popular, many credit card companies are charging a one-off balance transfer fee of approximately 2% of the sum transferred. This can soon add up when you are transferring large sums or working with several credit cards. There are still a few cards that do not charge this fee, so it's worth shopping around to find one.

Organise Your Rate Surfing

Organisation is the key to successful rate surfing. For example, it may be worth automating your credit card payments by setting up a standing order through your bank. That way you can be sure that your credit card bill will always be paid on time, and there won't be any danger of damaging your credit rating.

Rate surfing works best for those who intend to clear a debt. Adding more money to a transferred balance will not help with this goal. In addition, credit card companies may charge a different interest rate on new spending. This could increase, rather than decrease, the debt. With a bit of organization, most people can manage to reduce their levels of debt through rate surfing.

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