Regular readers of this Illinois bankruptcy blog know that when it comes to resolving credit card debt problems a common theme is the importance of knowing all your options. If you don’t know what’s possible, it can be very easy to dig an even deeper hole of financial trouble, and getting out of that hole can be hard work. Speaking with an experienced debt relief attorney is always advised.

Whether your issue is with unexpected medical debt, threat of foreclosure or mounting credit card bill balances, obtaining a free initial consultation with a skilled bankruptcy attorney can open your eyes to possibilities you might never have considered.

One of the strategies we’ve talked about before specifically addresses credit card issues. Anyone who has run up a large load of plastic debt has likely considered taking advantage of one of those pitches for balance transferring. The company looking for your business offers to accept the balances from your other cards interest free for a certain amount of time.

It sounds good, but it might not pay off. Here are some questions worth asking to see whether and how such a move might affect you.

  • How long will it take you to pay off the balances? If you can pay off your existing balances in a few months without a transfer, some experts say you might be better off just staying the course with what you have. Do the math to learn how the various scenarios compare.
  • What’s your interest? If you hit the last month of zero interest period and you still have a balance, the rate you pay on that amount might be a lot higher than before and you could fare worse.
  • Will it affect my credit score? It might, and not always for the better. Experts observe that performing a balance transfer could improve your credit score over the long term. But it can result in a dip in the short term. So if you have plans to borrow big for a car or home in the near future you might be better off waiting on the balance transfer.

To paraphrase one philosopher – Question everything. Even the basics. You may feel foolish at first, but you will be a fool for a lifetime if you don’t.

Source: WashingtonPost.com, “How to tell if a balance transfer will pay off,” Jonnelle Marte, Aug. 8, 2016