balance transfer calculator
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How to use Credit Karma’s credit card balance transfer calculator
Credit Karma’s balance transfer calculator can be a helpful tool for determining if a balance transfer is right for you.
Based on the information you provide about both your current credit cards and a potential future balance transfer card, the calculator will estimate the monthly payment required to pay off your debt, your potential savings in interest with the card, and the balance that would remain at the end of the 0% interest period if you maintained your current monthly payments.
These estimates might not consider everything about your specific situation, including the interest you’d pay after a 0% intro period ends, but they can help you get a sense of what a balance transfer can do for you.
Specifically, our balance transfer calculator considers the following factors:
Your current credit cards:
- Card name
- Estimated credit card balance
- Interest rate of credit card(s)
- Typical monthly payment
Balance transfer card details:
- 0% intro APR length
- Balance transfer fee
To determine your estimated balance transfer savings, you’ll need to provide information on your current credit cards. While you don’t have to enter the full names of your cards to use the calculator, it might help you keep track of all the details for multiple cards.
Estimated credit card balance
This field represents the balance you’ll want to transfer from your current card to the balance transfer card. For the calculation, you might want to start by inputting your full card balance. But keep in mind that a new card will come with a credit limit that could affect how much you’re able to transfer.
Interest rate of credit card(s)
In this field, you’ll input the interest rates on your current credit card. These rates will help determine how much you could save on interest with a balance transfer card.
If you don’t know your card’s interest rate, you’ll likely be able to find it on your latest billing statement.
Typical monthly payment
In this field, you can input how much you generally pay each month for each listed card. This total will help determine if you’ll be able to pay off your debt within the balance transfer card’s 0% intro APR period.
0% intro APR length
Once you’ve entered your current cards’ details, you can move on to the details of your balance transfer offer. A balance transfer card’s 0% intro APR length determines the amount of time you’ll have to pay off your debt without seeing additional interest charges. In general, we recommend looking for a card with an intro period of at least 12 months.
There are also balance transfer cards that offer a low APR — but not 0%. This calculator doesn’t support these types of cards, and we recommend looking for a 0% intro APR card before considering one of these options.
Balance transfer fee
Think of the balance transfer fee as the cost of doing business for a balance transfer. The card issuer charges a percentage of your total transferred balance — usually 3% or 5%, with a minimum cost of $5 or $10 — and adds it to what you owe.
If your balance transfer fee is greater than the amount you’d save on interest, it’s probably a bad idea to pursue a balance transfer.
When is a balance transfer worth it?
A balance transfer is typically worth it if it allows you to save more on interest payments than if you continued to pay your balances on your current cards. If you’re able to pay off all or most of your debt during the balance transfer card’s 0% intro APR period, you can save a considerable amount on interest payments and put yourself in a much better financial situation.
But the value of a balance transfer doesn’t only depend on what you’re able to pay off during the 0% intro period. For instance, a balance transfer might not be a good idea if your balance transfer fee would be greater than the amount you could save in interest. You might also end up paying more overall if you don’t eat into a substantial amount of debt during the intro period — you could then be on the hook for a higher ongoing interest rate on the remaining balance once the offer ends.
If you’re considering a balance transfer, be realistic about how much you can pay off during the intro period and develop a clear plan. Not doing so could end up costing you long-term.
Do balance transfers hurt your credit?
Simply carrying out a balance transfer does not hurt your credit.
But the hard credit inquiry that comes with opening a new credit card will negatively affect your scores in the short term.
At the same time, that impact might be offset (at least in part) by your new card’s credit limit. Because you’re opening up a new credit card while adding only your balance transfer fee to your total balance, you’ll likely lower your credit utilization ratio, which is a major factor in your credit scores.
Over time, though, a balance transfer might affect your credit in other ways. If you’re unable to pay off your debt by the end of the 0% intro period, you might end up with more debt than when you started and fewer options for paying back what you owe.
On the other hand, paying off your debt in full could solidify your finances and allow you to take greater control over your financial future. In the long run, your credit scores are likely to improve if your level of debt stays under control.
What are the risks of balance transfers?
Balance transfers are complicated and come with many risks. If you’re considering a balance transfer, consider these key factors both before you apply and while you pay off your debt.
- Balance transfer cards have credit limits. Balance transfer cards might not be able to absorb all of your existing debts. They have credit limits just like any other credit cards, and you’ll have to make sure you can transfer all your balances onto the new card if you want to maximize your savings.
- New purchases can complicate your payoff plan. Many balance transfer offers come with a 0% intro APR offer on purchases, which can make it enticing to use your new card for essentials. But making new purchases on the card can make things very complicated, especially if the purchase APR offer ends before the balance transfer APR offer. If you carry a balance past the end of the intro purchase APR period, you could face heavy interest charges and a steeper climb out of debt.
- Balance transfer APR offers can require minimum payments. If you don’t make your minimum payment, you might lose your intro APR offer and even face a penalty APR with a much higher rate. In this situation, you’d likely pay more in interest than you would have if you’d kept your balances on your prior cards.
How do you calculate balance transfer fee?
Calculating a balance transfer fee is a fairly straightforward process. This fee is usually charged as a percentage of your total transferred balance, with a typical minimum fee of $5 or $10. So if you transferred $1,000 to a card with a 5% balance transfer fee, you’d have $50 added to that balance for a total of $1,050.