Credit card balances can really ruin the firm financial foundation that you’ve been dreaming about building, but that doesn’t mean that you have to actually let that happen. In fact, it’s in your best interest to make sure that you really don’t put yourself in that position at all. If you’re thinking about moving some of your balance from one credit card to another card, you’re actually thinking about a balance transfer. Unfortunately, that’s the only simple part of the process.

You see, a balance transfer comes with fees. In the past, those fees used to only be around 3% of your balance up to 1,000, which actually wasn’t too bad. Now that cap has disappeared form the equation. This means that if you transfer 20,000 worth of credit card debt, you’ll be paying $600 for the privilege. That’s something that you have to decide is worth the balance transfer process.

Of course, you might say to yourself that the 0 percent that you were offered is worth doing, since it’ll make every dollar you pay towards the balance count, right? That’s actually not true — when you take advantage of a balance transfer, you don’t get to really choose where the money goes on the account. You might have other charges on the credit card (if you’ve used it for new purchases), and the credit card company can apply your money to those new purchases. This is why some financial experts say that if you’re going to do balance transfers, you need to make sure that it’s the only thing you use the new card for.

Speaking of fees and transfers, keep in mind that the nice low interest rate that you got offered depends on having your payments turned in on time. In fact, you want to make sure that you can be early if you really can help it. This is because many companies now have a cut off time on the day that you pay. So if your payment doesn’t post until 3pm but the company has a cut off of 1pm, your payment is still late. That’s why you really need to read and see when payments are schedule d to post. Paying things off a week in advance will always make sure that you have plenty of time for that payment to post, thus saving your credit score. If you post a payment late, the credit card company can take away the good rate and give you a regular rate that can be as high as 23 percent — not better than where you started out!

As you can imagine, this means that balance transfers are really what you make of them. If you look around and find that a balance transfer can help, then you will want to apply and see how things go. If you find that it’s not worth it, don’t just jump in because you think that you’re going to rack up a bunch of reward points — they won’t balance out what you’ll be paying after you’re stuck with the credit card.

By Jasmina