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How to Make a Credit Card Transfer By Phone

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By Eva Norlyk Smith, Ph.D.
May 22, 2009

Whether you carry a Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express credit card, chances are that your existing credit cards have a balance transfer offer available-even though you haven’t received an offer in the mail.

If you’re a good negotiator, you can often get the very best deals on credit card transfers via telephone. For most credit card accounts in good standing, customer service representatives can access a list of offers available to the cardholder. Don’t just take the first balance transfer offer presented. With a little persistence, you can often get better terms.

Here is how to get the best rates when making a credit card transfer by phone. This scenario presumes that you have multiple credit cards, you owe nothing on the card to which you want to transfer a balance, your credit is good and you have no late payments on your accounts.

First, check all online credit card transfer offers available to you, so you know what your best options are. If you have received credit card transfer offers in the mail, also make a note of what these offers are.

Next, call the customer service representative from the credit card(s) you are considering making a credit card transfer from. Ask if there are any balance transfer offers available on your account. Typically, the representative will be able to give you one or two options, which differ in terms of duration and APR.

The first offers presented are rarely the final word, so this is where a little negotiation can be helpful. For example, if the credit card transfer offer is for six months, explain that you were looking for something longer, and ask if there are any options for a longer low APR credit card transfer.

Likewise, if you’re offered a 6.99% APR transfer, ask if that’s really the lowest APR that the rep can offer. It doesn’t hurt to hint that you’re comparing this to another credit card transfer deal and are trying to see which card issuer offers the best deal.

Lastly, if there is a transfer fee, ask if it’s possible to cap the fee. If there is a cap, see if the entire transfer can be deposited into your bank account, so that you can write checks to pay off a variety of loan balances and just pay one transfer fee.

If you don’t like the answers you’re getting, it doesn’t hurt to ask to speak to a supervisor. Supervisors often have more flexibility in what terms they can offer. Refer to your long history with the card issuer (if indeed you have one) and hint that you’d prefer not to take your business elsewhere.

Quick Tip. If you’d like to maximize the amount of the credit card transfer available to you, ask if your card is eligible for an automatic credit limit increase. Most credit cards are eligible for a credit limit increase about once a year-as long as the account is in good standing. An automatic credit limit is based on your history with the company, and it doesn’t involve pulling your credit report.

If your card isn’t eligible for an automatic credit limit increase, the customer service rep will offer to apply for one for you. Don’t do it! Applying for a credit line increase involves pulling your credit report, which will lower your credit score. It is also noted in the credit card issuer’s records, and could be taken as a sign of financial distress. Not worth it.