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How money transfer credit cards work

Money transfer credit cards explained:

These cards allow for a great deal of financial flexibility. Many credit cards are not an ideal solution for using to withdraw money or make transfers. The fees, charges and interest involved with cash transfers from these cards make them an inconvenient and risky option.

However, considering the many benefits that can be offered by a credit card, you may think of using one for things like paying for a big expenditure with cash, or transferring funds to your regular account to handle other debts.

So money transfer cards are a good way to make these transfers without some of the drawbacks associated with credit cards. They do have their share of things to be aware about though.

Money transfer cards – things to know

In most cases, you can use a money transfer card to make an interest-free transfer to your bank account, which must be then paid back within a certain period in order to avail of the interest-free rate. Furthermore, in most cases this initial transfer period only lasts for a certain time after getting the card (often lasting about 2 months), during which time you’ll have to make the transfer.

The payback period during which you can pay back this amount interest-free (which can be up to 2 years), so you need to clear the balance on the card within this period to avail of the interest-free offer. For some cards there might be an unlimited interest free period, however – but there will always be a period in which you have to pay back the amount.

Requirements

As with balance transfer cards, you can’t take out 2 cards with the same provider, so if you have a credit card from Bank of Scotland you won’t be able to get a money transfer card from them too. Most providers of money transfer credit cards put fairly high requirements on who can avail of them – and a decent credit score is necessary.

Costs

There is a fee involved for most transfers – usually around 3-5% of the amount of the transaction, but many cards do not charge this fee (again, this only applies during the initial transfer period, as mentioned this is usually around 2 months).

And again, it’s quite important to be able to pay off the amount transferred out of the card during the interest free period, since after that the interest that kicks in could be higher than you might pay of a loan or other credit card, for example.

Other options

The first thing to note is that the terms of the different money transfer credit cards vary widely. If you think you won’t be able to pay back the amount transferred within the interest free period you should probably look for a card that has a longer or unlimited interest-free payback period.

A loan might be necessary if you need a larger amount over a longer period. Overdrafts are also worth looking into, since many overdrafts have the same interest-free benefits as a money-transfer card has.

If the transfer fee is an issue and you need the transfer to pay for a big purchase, then you could consider a 0% purchase card, which would not have as long an interest-free period as a money transfer credit card but would be cheaper if you are sure you can pay off the amount within the interest free period (since, of course, there is no fee – so you could save up to 5%).

What can I use money transfer credit cards for?

As mentioned earlier, these cards are a good option if you have a large expenditure coming up. Aside from a 0% purchase card, they might be the best choice. Money transfer cards can also be used to pay down debt – as long as you can be sure you can make the repayment within the interest-free period then it could be a way to reduce the cost of your overall debt.