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How to switch credit cards

Looking to switch credit cards? The process of doing so is relatively straightforward and can be broken down into a few simple steps.

First, it is worth taking the time to consider the different types of cards that are available, as well as the most appealing offers given your own personal circumstances.

Second, the process of applying for the card requires you to have a range of information to hand, with the process taking as little as ten minutes when undertaken online.

Third, it is a good idea to ensure you repay outstanding balances on your new card prior to the end of any introductory period, as well as deciding whether to keep your old card.

Whatever your reasons for doing so, switching credit cards requires some planning. Here’s how to make that process simpler and potentially even more financially rewarding.

First, find the new card that’s right for you

Comparison sites such as The Motley Fool make it easier than ever to find the credit card that’s right for you. It is possible to search online for a variety of card types in order to find one that could save you money, whether that’s through a balance transfer with an introductory 0% interest rate, a travel credit card with no foreign transaction fees, or an introductory 0% interest rate on new purchases.

An important consideration when searching for a new card is your credit score. This helps credit card issuers determine what interest rate to offer you. A higher credit score may be more favourable in this respect than a lower one, so ensuring all your current repayments are up to date and looking at your wider financial situation before applying for a new credit card could be a good idea.

Next, apply and (hopefully!) get accepted

Once you have found the credit card that fits your personal circumstances, the process of applying for it is relatively simple.

Many credit card issuers now offer online applications which can be completed in under ten minutes. In order to access them, you will need to head to the credit card issuer’s website and navigate to the credit card for which you wish to apply.

If you have a top-notch credit score, well done! You can probably move right on to applying for the card of your choice and feel relatively comfortable about being approved. However, for those not at the tippy-top of the credit-score chart, it could be worthwhile to look for an eligibility check on the issuer’s website. This will perform a ‘soft check’ to see if you’d likely be approved for the card you’re interested in. What’s great about this is that if you’re not qualified for that given card, the eligibility check won’t affect your credit score the way a declined application would.

Having chosen to apply for a particular card, you will be required to complete a variety of details about yourself, such as your address, date of birth and other personal information. You will also need to have details such as your employment situation, financial outgoings and information about any other credit cards from which you wish to transfer a balance during the application process. Therefore, having all of this information to hand prior to starting the application process is a good idea.

Once you have completed the application form, an instant decision is usually provided. If your application is successful, your new credit card is likely to arrive within a few days, although this can vary between different issuers.

Once you have your new card

If you have switched to a balance transfer credit card, it may be prudent to try and pay off the debt in full before the balance transfer period ends. In some cases, balance transfer cards revert to relatively high rates of interest once the introductory period ends.

Likewise, it is worth paying off any balances on a new credit card that benefit from an introductory 0% interest rate for a set period. Otherwise, you may find that a high rate of interest is charged once the period ends.

In terms of whether to keep your old credit card, this decision may come down to whether any fees are associated with it. If there is an annual fee, for example, it may not be worth keeping the card. However, if it offers rewards or other perks that the new credit card does not have, it could be worth hanging on to as a secondary credit card.

Paying credit card interest? Time to switch to a 0% balance transfer card.

If you can’t afford to clear your credit card balance at the moment and are paying monthly interest, then check to see if you can shift that debt to a new credit card with a long 0% interest free balance transfer period. It could save you money.

By transferring the balance of any existing card (or cards) to a new 0% card, you could be debt-free more quickly – since your repayments will go entirely towards clearing the balance of the debt you owe, and not on interest charges.

Discover our top-rated picks for 0% balance transfer credit cards here and check your eligibility before you apply in just a few minutes – it’s free and won’t affect your credit score.

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