Setup And Management of 0% APR Balance Transfers

[This is Part 4 of an ongoing series about how to make money from 0% APR balance transfers.]

So now you have the money and are ready to earn some interest. How do I set this up so I don’t spent all day on it?

Overall, It’s Easy
Seriously, when people say it’s too much trouble to keep track of, I just don’t understand. It’s a credit card bill. I’m sure most people already get 5 bills a month. You get a bill, you pay the bill. What’s so hard about that? The only thing slightly taxing is to remember to pay it off completely by the end of the 0% period.

Put another way, the risk here is in your control, unlike stock market risk or even real estate. If you make your payments, your profit is virtually guaranteed.

Now, there are three main objectives here – pay the minimum payment on time, keep earning max interest, and then pay off the entire balance before the 0% period expires.

Minimum Payment Setup
There are two basic ways to pay your credit card bills, either “push” them the money via check or online BillPay, or have the credit card compnay “pull” the money out of your bank account:

Manual Push
This is what I do. It’s a bit old-fashioned, but it just makes sense to me. The 0% balance transfer is just another bill I have. I get the paper (or online) bill, put it my ToDo box, and then within a few days I pay it online with my bank’s online billpay. I can schedule the payment ahead of time, and the bank tells me when the payment will arrive. This way, I keep earning interest on my money as long as possible. You may want to test out your online billpay system if you don’t trust it just yet. You could do this with checks too, but why waste the stamp these days?

Automatic Push
Since your first minimum payment will be the largest minimum payment (unless they change it on you), you can just try to send the same amount every month at the same time. Bill due dates are usually about the same time of each month. For example, let’s say my MBNA card is due from the 25-27th of each month and the first payment was $245. Due to weekends and stuff, I could schedule a repeating monthly payment of $250 every month on the 20th.

This way, it’s all done for you. Every month your job is to just to glance at the bill and make sure the minimum payment is not bigger than your previous payment, which would indicate they changed the minimum payment rules (uncommon, but possible).

Note that both of these is assuming you use a checking account with billpay. If you can absorb the minimum payments using your usual checking account, great. Nowadays Citibank and Washington Mutual also have savings accounts earning 5% APY right now. I just move money into my checking account twice a month from savings to cover bills.

Manual Pull
This method has the benefit of being able to use high-yield savings accounts. You must make sure that they accept such external requests (Emigrant Direct no longer does.) If this is the first time doing this, I try to pay very early the first month and ensure that it posts correctly.

I’ve done this with HSBC Direct, WaMu, and others. You just have to give your credit card company your bank’s routing number and account number. Then each month, after getting the bill, you log in, and have them take out the minimum payment. You can also specify the posting date – again, waiting until the due date gives you more time earning bank interest.

This method allows you to just move all the money into a high-yield account and have it sit there the whole time. You just pay the credit card company back a bit of their own money each month, and watch interest accumulate.

Automatic Pull
I thought more credit card companies did this, but I just did a quick look and didn’t find any. The idea is for you to authorize the credit card company to pull out a set amount (the minimum payment for example), every month from your savings account. No fuss, no muss. I dislike the lack of control here, but others may not mind.

Payment Reminders

There are several ways to remember to pay your bill:

1) Most credit card companies also offer free email alerts to remind you to pay your bill. For example, I think I have one set to remind me 5 days before the due date.

2) If you use Outlook or a PDA, just stick in recurring monthly reminder on there. Use Snooze as needed, but not too often :)

3) I used to use Yahoo Calendar, but now my favorite is Google Calendar. Both allow you to set up both e-mail and SMS text message reminders to your cell phone, which I like.

Pin down the period end and set multiple reminders
You want to make sure of the end date of your 0% APR. Check the fine print. Call your card issuer and confirm. It should coincide with your statement cycle end date. If the CSR doesn’t sound confident, call and speak to another one.

Examples: The Discover Miles Card says “0% until the last day of the billing period ending during April 2008″. So if your billing period ends on every 23-25th, then be sure to pay it off by April 23rd, 2008. Give yourself a buffer, maybe have it paid off by the 17th.

The Citi Home Rebate Platinum Select MasterCard says “0.00% for 12 months from date of first balance transfer.” Check your statement to find out the actual date for the balance transfer.

Set multiple reminders! I usually make a little list of deadlines, which I check against each month whenever I get a bill.

Ok, I think that’s the bulk of the walkthrough. If you’re ready, use one of the cards I mentioned or see this list of the best cards with no-fee 0% balance transfers.

If you still have some concerns, I made a list from your questions and gave my answers. See Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. Please read through it, I think 95% of questions should be answered by the end. If not, leave a comment. Thanks!


Skip To Another Part
I. Introduction and Warnings About 0% Balance Transfer Offers
II. Scouting For 0% Balance Transfer Offers
III. Application Tips and Getting Cash From 0% Balance Transfers
IV. Setup And Management of 0% APR Balance Transfers
V. Best Pre-Screened No Fee 0% APR Balance Transfer Offers

Comments

  1. It’s very important to remember that Citibank has a six business day waiting period between the time you set up your bank account info on their website and you are able to make a electronic payment for your credit card. I found this out the hard way once when I waited to the night before a payment was due to set up my bank account. I wasn’t concerned about being late since most other companies let you make a payment immediately upon setting up your account.

    When I found out about the six business day delay, I then tried to pay via phone, but they charge $14.95 for that. So, I ended up complaining to customer services, who said to just pay via the web in six days at that they would credit the late fees and finance charges.

  2. Yeah, definitely the first time set it up early and make the first payment a few days early to get the hang of the system. Another thing to remember is that the first payment may be limited to $1,000. Again this is Citibank-specific.

  3. I personally have a savings account setup specifically for the Balance Transfer funds (to make sure I don’t spend it and because right now it is not worth rate chasing with lost interest).

    I also have all of my credit cards with Balance Transfer offers automatically PULL on the due date from my Checking Account. This way I am relatively certain that the payment will not be late and also because it will go into overdraft protection.

    This is mainly a Citibank specific item, but with their billpay service, they will not send payment if you don’t have the funds available. The only notice is a “online message” to you (not through e-mail), which could easily make your payment late if you do not check every day. They will try again the three subsequent days, but you cannot cancel the attempts on the following days, either.

    However, this is less of a concern as I have my Citibank Credit Cards linked to my Citibank Online account for instant payment transfers.

  4. I use mycheckfree.com, the good thing about this is, I can change my checking account numbers if I change bank and I don’t lose all my billpay setups. I just accept the default date of mycheckfree to pull money out of my account, this date is adjusted to fall on a business day before the bill is due automatically. Also it gives me the highest potential to earn interest, etc. The only issue is that the merchant should be registed with mycheckfree.com. Almost all credit-card companies and ultilities are registered however.

  5. Might want to read the threads on Fatwallet.com about paying credit cards from High Yield savings account. People have reported ED, ING and even HSBC have blocked large external pulls from there account as all 3 say all transfer must be made using there ACH system. Normally they wont block smaller transfer under $500. By large pulls I mean pull over $2K. 1 guy had $30K pull from his HSBC account by a credit card company and HSBC contacted the credit card company demanding the funds back. Credit Card company complied and it took person 18 days to gain access to his funds. And MBNA charge the person late fee’s bounced check fees and interest till the balance was paid off. Another person moved $100K from ED to HSBC and ED requested the money back same thing except took him 23 days to gain access to his funds. ED waited 10 days before asking the funds back. And the person had used his HSBC account to pay other account which in turn got bounced as he did not have the funds after ED took back the $100k

    American Express will flat out reject any payment made from a High Yeild savings account. One first offense they will just suspend your account till they get payment from a transaction account. But people have tried it a second time using another high yeild savings account have had there Amex accounts closed or put under financial review.

    So paying with a High Yeild savings account is risky at best and if the credit card company or bank reject the pull from the account your just begging for a world of problems.

  6. Be prepared in the future of this exciting ‘free money’ in the event something happens to you. Be sure you have someone else to take over in case something should happen. I participated in the 0% balance transfer for 3 months until all of a sudden I was diagnosed as lymphoma cancer and leukemia and ended up in ER. I was a patient in the hospital for 2 months at one time. Not knowing what my future hold, and no one else was aware of these transactions, I ended up withdrawing my balance transfer from the account that was drawing interest and paid it back in full. I did not want my executor of my will to fulfill an unknown “debt” with finance charges.

  7. Anyone else have similar information as Dave on scheduling payments from Online Savings Accounts? When I first opened my ING Direct 2 1/2 years ago, I called them and asked them about it and the CSR told me it “sometimes” works but ING could not guarantee it. Ever since then, I have been hesitant to try and have alwasy transferred from ING and ED to my regular checking accounts to pay the bills. I hate losing these few days of interest, but I don’t want to encounter any problems like in the post from Dave.

  8. I’ve never had a problem the few times I did this, but nothing on the order of $30k or $100k. I’ve also linked TreasuryDirect to Emigrant Direct and pulled $1,000 at a time several times. I don’t doubt that large transfers may trigger some flags though.

    I forgot to add that savings accounts only allow 6 withdrawals per month – after you usually get hit with fees or they even threaten to close your account. So be careful with that too.

    With HSBC, one could just use their Free Checking along with OnlineSavings – just schedule an instant transfer from OnlineSavings to Checking the day before, and then pay out of your checking account.

  9. Goto Fatwallet.com read the ING, ED or HSBC thread there must be atleast 20 people who have reported problems paying credit cards using thoses account. If I remember corectly the smallest payment that got reject was $2K. Many people on there think reason small transaction dont have a problem is no one manually looks them over. But on larger withdrawls maybe a real person needs to approve the transfer which is why it seems only larger amounts have problems.

    So you might be able to make your monthly payments from your High Yeild savings account without a problem except be aware of it the bank does reserve the right to ask for the funds back because if you read the terms of service on thoses account all state very clearly all withdrawels must be made using there webpage.

    1 person on there reported not sure which of the above bank but once you done it 1X they will even block smaller transfers. Your money will be subject to a new 10 bussiness day hold before the funds can be withdrawn once they get it back from who ever pulled it from your account.

    Personally for lost interest on 2-4 days on a small amount like your min payment is so minor that you have to be idoit to even risk your promo rate out of sheer greed. Same hold true when you goto pay off your balance in full. Lets assume we talking about $30K lost interest would be about $12-13 on 3 days. Now you made $15XX depending on how long it to you get the funds into high yeild sayings account. So are you willing to risk late fees, bounce check fees and interest for 10-20 days just to make an extra $12? Personally being greedy on last 3-4 days just make no sense personaly.

    Like Jonathan says You really have no excuss can get a free checking account with either HSBC or Citibank and just transfer the funds have it pulled from that account or have the funds automactilly moved into checking account day before your online bill payment due date.

  10. I have not had a problem with doing a pull from GMAC (specifically paying off the balance in full to Citibank ~ 13k, twice). For monthly minimums, I have always used a checking a/c or billpay. But after reading comments about folks having trouble from HSBC, ED etc. (I have never used them personally), I would reconsider doing a pull from GMAC the next time.

  11. GMAC Bank online account is a Money Market account and they allow you to write checks against it. I never read of a person having a problem with GMAC Bank yet on fatwallet.com

    Ing, HSBC and ED are savings account which do not allow you write checks. ACH debits are nothing more than electronic checks.

    Again please contact GMAC bank or read there terms of service just because no one has reported problems with GMAC on fatwallet.com does not mean they allow it. I think the fact it a money market account vs savings could explain why no one has had a problem yet with them.

  12. Gavin Peters says:

    Emigrant Direct’s contract does allow you to do ACH pulls, the text is ambiguous on it, but the principle of contract law is that an ambiguous contract is interpreted in favour of the person who didn’t draught it.

    It’s true, the contract with ED says:

    Withdrawing Funds and Limitations
    You may make a withdrawal from your Account through electronic funds transfer to the External Account by logging on our Web site. You may not withdraw funds by any other means including via check or any other negotiable instrument. Amounts withdrawn from an Account will be deducted from the Account balance and cease accruing interest on the business day of the withdrawal. Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays are not considered business days.

    However, it also says:

    Types of Transfers: The following types of electronic funds transfers are available to you in connection with your American Dream Savings Account:

    * Transfers arranged with a third party that result in deposit or withdrawal of funds.

    So, we have one part of the contract saying you cannot do any withdrawl via anything other than their website, and another contractictary part, that, with much more specificity, says that you are permitted to do ACH withdrawals. It seems clear to me that the very specific language permitting the ACH withdrawals trumps the earlier vague language, particularly, again, since they wrote the contract, so we must interpret ambiguity in my favour.

    *shrug*. I’m not a lawyer, though.

  13. Try it I dare you. Then ED can take back the money and you can sue them. Goto Fatwallet.com seach ED thread. MANY people have had there payments recalled 3-10 days after credit card company debit there account. And there credit card compays have charge these people late fees, bounce check fees and interest.

    Then you can spend tens of thousands of dollars sueing them and at the end of the day you might win losses except ED will just close your account and say they choose not to do bussiness with you. Either way you loose.

  14. Gavin Peters says:

    Dave’s claim immediately above this message is right, if someone is breaking a contract, and you can’t speak reason into them, then sueing them is often the only practical way to get a remedy. Realisticly, if Emigrant Direct disallows a transfer in violation of their contract with you, the damages won’t be large enough to require going to a regular court and incurring the tens of thousands of dollars in fees. You can just sue them in small claims court, which isn’t a very big hassle. It’s still a big hassle, and not really worth doing unless you are a legal wonk or a sort of vendictive person.

    What motivated my post was Dave’s earlier claim (12 Aug, 2006) that the ED terms of service prohibited remote ACH pulls. They are explicitly allowed in the contract, though, in contradiction of an another section which less specifically disallows them. There”s a meaningful difference between “it’s not allowed in the contract” and “it is allowed, but ED routinely doesn’t allow it anyway, and good luck recovering damages when they do this (and they will do this).” I think the situation is the latter, and not the former.

    I did look on FatWallet, I couldn’t find the forums in question; I’m very much an interested party though. I did a ~$3500 credit card payment earlier this month, and I’m really hoping that ED doesn’t reverse it and cause me trauma. I’ll report back on Friday of next week to tell you if ED let it through!

  15. Has anyone tried using Citibank’s e-savings? It gives 5% APY. If you have a checking account, e-savings account, and credit card all at Citibank I would think you could use CitibankOnline to transfer money to pay of your BT. I think this link should work

    linked

  16. Yes, I am currently using Citibank Savings.

    Since there is a 6 withdrawal limit (transfer) by computer or scheduled, I a transfer for the next two weeks from my e-Savings to Checking account, and then pay the individual credit card payments from there. Note, you can schedule them on the same day and they will process just fine (so no lost interest).

  17. The Citi Platinum Select Card may no longer worthwhile since there is now a balance transfer fee with a $250 cap.

  18. Citi has been dinking around with the balance transfer fee. Sometimes it’s zero, sometimes it’s not. As always, you should check the terms when you apply.

  19. Gavin Peters says:

    Oh, a long overdue followup to a dead horse from me: I asked Emigrant Direct what they thought about my interpretation of the terms of service, and what I should do about paying my credit card from my ED account.

    Their answer: well, be sure to give the correct ABA number to the credit card company, and go ahead, but do mind the six transaction limit.

    It reassured me that it’s fine to pay bills from an ED account!

  20. For two-cycle billing cards, do I have to pay off the balance one month before the intro rate ends?

  21. If you pay off the *entire* balance before the 0% period ends, then you will not incur any more interest and it won’t be any different.

    However, if you only pay off part of it, the two-cycle balance method will end up charging you more interest than the single-cycle method. This is why it is important to pay the entire balance off before the 0% APR period ends. As noted above, don’t be (too) greedy, give yourself a buffer period.

    Example – Perhaps the 0% period is stated to end on February 23rd, but you won’t get the generated statement until March 1st with a due date of March 15th. To repeat, pay off the balance before 2/23 (2/15 would be best), do not wait for the statement to come. The 0% period will already be over and interest will have started to accrue.

  22. Have you ever gotten rejected from a credit card because you have too many credit cards? I just tried to apply for the citibank card with the $100 gift certificate for Target and got rejected on the basis I have too many cards. I have 13 credit cards open. Some are old and I want to keep open to maintain a long credit history and some I have 0% balance transfers. My credit score is somewhere around 700. How many credit cards do you have if you don’t mind me asking?

  23. I have been told that I had too many cards from one issuer, and I had to close the older one or merge the accounts together in order to continue, but never outright rejected. Are a lot of yours new? I definitely have more than 13 myself.

  24. Yes. I signed up for three cards in the last three months. Is there a recommended time to wait between capitalizing on more CC deals?

  25. I have been playing the 0% game for almost 5 years now, nice to find this blog! I don’t ever call in and activate my cards when they arrive; I file the cards with all my notes. Is there a reason you should or should not activate them, if you will not ever use them for purchases? What is the implication either way?

  26. If you wait for 6 months, the credit inquiries will not affect your credit score any more.

    Activating or not activating a specific card really doesn’t make any difference – the credit line will still be shown on credit reports.

  27. I have a question regarding ING Direct Savings Account with 4.5% APY.
    I opened this account last week and planning to transfer $25 every month from my Bank of america checking account.
    Will there be any tax on the interest I earn with my ING account?

    Thanks.

  28. Jonathan,
    you mentioned you use manual push to pay your credit cards using online bill pay. Can I ask you what account do you use to set up onilne bill pay?

    Thanks.

  29. I do the el-cheapo interest rate deals too and have found them profitable. But there’s an additional caveat I haven’t seen mentioned here – identity theft.

    Suppose you have $20 grand in low (or no) interest credit card debt and $30 grand in your checking account. And one fine day you get calls from your card issuers to tell you they don’t like the fact that you’re 30 days late on that $5000 account you didn’t know you had, so you get to pay the default 25% rate now. And oh yes, your evil twin also raided your checking account. You know, the one you pay your card issers with?

    Not high probability, but if it happens you are well and truly up the creek. So here’s what I do:

    1) Get a checking account at Charles Schwab. Why? They specifically insure against losses to identity theft. There are other institutions that do this also, but Schwab is known for making good on the promise and restoring lost funds with minimal fuss.
    2) Use a long password and borrow the spammer technique of substituting non-alphabetic characters to make a password easy to remember and hard to crack. They say “\/!@gra” and “>

  30. Jonathan – EmigrantDirect no longer allows “Manual Pulls”.

  31. What a blog! This actually is useful and makes sense

    I like the fact that Kris says he has been doing this for five years. I’ve been doing it for two years.

    Kris says: “I have been playing the 0% game for almost 5 years now, nice to find this blog! I don?t ever call in and activate my cards when they arrive; I file the cards with all my notes. Is there a reason you should or should not activate them, if you will not ever use them for purchases? What is the implication either way?”

    So, I didn’t know that all or even most of the credit card issuers would allow a CC holder to take a balance transfer or other advance without activating the card.

    So, what is the reason not to activate the card?

    Write back with the answers.

  32. A friend of mine was playing this game of 0% BT trying to make a few extra $ after reading your blog. Sadly he spent all the free money after a year.

  33. You said: “Automatic Pull –
    I thought more credit card companies did this, but I just did a quick look and didn?t find any.”

    Well, I am using Chase card (used to be called Freedom, now ‘Rewards’ – has a cash reward), and they do this since a long (at least about 5 years I have been using it.). The money is directly pulled out of my chk a/c.

  34. I have a problem with citi cards, I recently applied for a new 0% apr card and got approved for $4000, I also have 2 other cards from Citi with a credit limit of $11,000, I wanted to consolidate but they started making problems, I also heared from my friends that they make problems lately, does anyone know how to get around this?

  35. Don and Kris,

    You can call and request a BT without actually activating the plastic card. But I sometimes do. Not activating keeps you from accidentally using the card for a purchase. I keep my cards in a big stack (it’s getting pretty tall!) and use a black marker to write important info on the front, so I know at a glance which is which. I write “0%BT ONLY” on the balance transfer cards. I write “gas” or “utilities” or whatever on any card that has a category bonus that I like (not my BT cards). And finally, for older cards that I no longer use, I write a big “X” on the front. Also, I keep 0%BT cards in a safe place, but NOT in my wallet, to avoid accidentally using them for a purchase. I use an excel spread sheet to keep track of the cards, terms and conditions, 0% APR dates, due dates, representative names if I had to call in, etc. It’s very helpful to keep organized in this way.

    Jerad

    ps- I have about $70k at 0%, and I have most of it in an FNBO Direct account earning 6%.

  36. Here’s a comparison of some onlie ToDo list websites: link

  37. is it possible to open cards in my husbands name and transfer balances from cards in my name?

  38. Okay, it takes an idiot to not understand this, but seriously, is it worth all the trouble with these cards to make chump change. Because 10k or 30k just isn’t much interest. If you have 30k making 5% apr, that’s only 1500$ for the ENTIRE year. Also, having that many Credit cards with that much “debt” on them cannot be good for your credit score as well as if you are in a business with needing to get mortgages and so on. Please let me know your thoughts on this!!!

  39. Shrug, if you don’t want to to do it, don’t do it. There are pros and cons to every financial decision. I’m glad that $1,500 is chump change for you, but do you think that is the case for everyone? Myself, I’m happy for the money, it funds a good chunk of my IRA every year.

    Mortgages are already mentioned in the very first post of this series. You can easily take a break from this while applying for a mortgage. How often do you need to get a mortgage anyways? Once every 5-7 years is the average I believe.

  40. Do you know about cards can have penalty when you pay off the 0% APR balance from other credit cards, not from your bank? Do you know if Blue from AmericanExpress has this penalty? I plan to transfer my balance out if not.

  41. Man! this is amazing info for a beginer!!! Thank you so much to all the kind souls on this earth!!

  42. I personally use the automatic PUSH theory (I use Citibank checking). This makes it easier for me so I can look at all upcoming payments to many different CC companies all at one place. Also, I always (except when getting 15 month BT offers – b/c I can only schedule up to 12 months using Citibank) schedule out all the payments the day I make the transfer. For example, I do 50K BT (I find out over the phone when doing the BT that the minimum payment is 2% – or 1K/month – then lower – but I don’t push it). I schedule 11 1K payments on the 17th of the month (so I know there will be more than enough money in there since i get my paycheck on the 15th), then 39K in the 12th month. I add a few ticklers to my calendar for month 11 so I remember to make sure I have the 39K available. I check after month 1 to make sure all is going to plan – then don’t need to worry about it until month 11.

    One little annoyance with Citibank, the largest online payment you can schedule is 10K/day, so when scheduling a balloon payment such as above, I need to do it as follows (assuming I got the BT on Jan. 1), Dec. 26 – 10K, Dec. 27 – 10K, Dec. 28 – 10K, Dec. 29 – 9K. Not very difficult, just annoying.

    Also, I hadn’t mentioned this before, but on my taxes, I write off all the BT fees (75 each x about 10/yr) + the $8/month (100/yr) that I spend on my credit monitoring since these are all direct costs of “doing business.” I am not recommending doing this until you talk to your tax advisor, though.

  43. noah vale says:

    What do you do when the 0% APR period ends? Do you close the account and hop to another card offering 0% and start the process over? Thanks, this seems like a good way to make supplemental income, but I wanna make sure I understand it all first.

  44. Looks like the Chase Platinum Visa has upped their balance transfer fee max to $99.00

    Thanks for putting this all down, too; I’d been wondering about using the free loans, and you spelled it out nicely.

  45. Hi, thanks good site. This is all done in USA, so is this (a.) able to be done by me here in Australia via accounts in USA? how would I set about doing this?
    (b.)or can I only do this in Australia, if it is possible, to be done here at all?
    THANKS

  46. So is this technically possible within the UK? The blog is very interesting and I may try my hand at it! :)

  47. 2011 – 5% checking interest rate is a dream of the past at this time when interest rates average 0.5% (ten times less). Clever scheme though. Must have been good while it lasted.

  48. Kyril- you said exactly what I was thinking. This is like reading fiction nowadays. Or history of the dinosaurs.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Skip To Another Part I. Introduction and Warnings About 0% Balance Transfer Offers II. Scouting For 0% Balance Transfer Offers III. Application Tips and Getting Cash From 0% Balance Transfers IV. Setup And Management of 0% APRBalance Transfers V. Best Pre-Screened No Fee 0% APR Balance Transfer Offers Share This Post:These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. [...]

  2. [...] Skip To Another Part I. Introduction and Warnings About 0% Balance Transfer Offers II. Scouting For 0% Balance Transfer Offers III. Application Tips and Getting Cash From 0% BalanceTransfers IV. Setup And Management of 0% APR Balance Transfers V. Best Pre-Screened No Fee 0% APR Balance Transfer Offers Share This Post:These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. [...]

Speak Your Mind

*