Reducing the interest rate on any credit card with a balance is another great money-saving tactic. Transfer your balance to a card that offers an introductory rate of zero percent for the first 12 months. If you transfer a $3,000 balance that incurs 15 percent interest to a zero-rate card, you'll save at least $388 in interest payments the first year.
But there's a big if here. Credit-card issuers that offer the zero rate reserve their best deals for consumers with the best credit scores, so yours needs to be at least 760 (find out your FICO credit score at myfico.com). If your score is below 760, make it a priority to nurse it up by paying your bills on time, even if you're making only the minimum payment. That simple show of responsibility accounts for 35 percent of your FICO score. Another important step is to reduce the outstanding balance on your cards.
Here's the caveat with transfer deals: You must pay all your bills on time, or your zero rate could swell to at least 19 percent. And don't put any new charges on the card, because the zero rate usually applies only to the transferred money. If you can't pay off the entire balance by the end of the year, transfer it to another zero-rate card—but limit your transfers to one per year, to keep your credit score from suffering.
Suze Orman is known for her tough, straight-talking advice. Now she's answering your most-asked questions on debt, marriage and money, real estate and financial planning.
Please note: This is general information and is not intended to be legal advice. You should consult with your own financial advisor before making any major financial decisions, including investments or changes to your portfolio, and a qualified legal professional before executing any legal documents or taking any legal action. Harpo Productions, Inc., OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, Discovery Communications LLC and their affiliated companies and entities are not responsible for any losses, damages or claims that may result from your financial or legal decisions.
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