O% interest

Question: Ok Chris Farrell (or associate) I have a question that may give you a monetary migraine. I have approximately $7,000 in credit card debt (yes...shame on me). To top it off (and this requires that you be sitting down) the interest rate is 29%! I missed a payment two years ago on a different card that is now paid off however that one missed payment lead to my interest rate to be changed from 11% to 29%.

My question is this: There are many offers that come in the mail for credit cards that will transfer the balance and not assess interest for 6-12 months (0% interest). Now, after this period the interest rate stated is up to 29% (which is the rate I am at now). My thought is that I have nothing to lose interest-wise and could make some head-way into decreasing this debt during that period. Should I do it? or to sharpen the question... would you (if you were in this situation) do it? Please advise and inform me if my rational is misguided. Thanks. Kris, Pontiac, MI

Answer: There's no need for me to be sitting down or you to be ashamed. Yes, you have a lot of credit card debt, but so do a lot of people. I've seen a lot worse numbers. But I am outraged at credit card companies that boost interest charges to 29%.

Two things: First, shifting to credit cards with 0% interest for 6 to 12 months is a smart financial move in your circumstances. The gap between 0% and 29% is so large that you'll save money. Hopefully, you will qualify for the 0% interest.

Second, the key to this strategy is paying down the debt steadily. Once it is gone don't let it creep up again. The zero rate cards are a tool to make it easier for you to accomplish that goal: No balance on your credit cards.

About the author

Chris Farrell is the economics editor of Marketplace Money.

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