Leaping to a lower-interest credit card

Buckling under the burden of mounting credit-card debts? You're not alone. Besides budgeting their spending to crawl out of the red, many Americans choose to transfer debt to a better card value. Since all credit cards are not created equal, here are some things to look for when changing your plastic:

*What's the read rate?: If transferring your balance to a low-rate card, make sure that the rate applies to the transferred funds, and not just new purchases. See whether it reverts to a higher rate, and how soon.

*Transfer fees: Look out for hefty transfer fees, which can cancel out the savings you hope to gain from a transfer.

*Minimum-payment percentages: Remember that you're trying to pay off your debt! Lower monthly payments can prolong balance repayment for a very long time.

*Payment holidays: Such opportunities for a breather from payments make credit-card companies very rich - you end up with a bigger balance to pay off the next month, since interest has continued to accrue. Also watch out for two-cycle billing periods, which can cost you more interest in the long run. Remember that the average credit rate is 18 percent, but you can do better if you do some homework.

Source: North American Precis Syndicate

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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