Balance transfer credit cards can help California consumers with high credit card balances, but they can also harm credit scores.

Many California consumers use balance transfer credit cards to pay off heavy credit card debt. Typically, issuers of these cards offer applicants 0% interest for a limited amount of time. Then, if California cardholders can pay their debts off during this promotional period, they save money on interest charges. Unfortunately, though, some consumers in California lose credit score points when they open balance transfer credit cards. There are a few reasons why this happens. Also, even if they lose credit score points, some consumers may still wish to use balance transfer cards. It is possible that the rewards outweigh the risks. Yet, it is important for California consumers to understand both risks and benefits before pursuing this option.

The Three Risks Involved for California Consumers Who Use Balance Transfer Credit Cards

In spite of the fact that balance transfer credit cards offer opportunities for California consumers to pay less for heavy credit card debt, this option is not ideal for everyone. First and foremost, most balance transfer card issuers only approve consumers with good or excellent credit scores. Then, even if you qualify, be prepared to lose (at least a few) credit score points because of the following.

Hard Inquiry

When consumers in California and any other state apply for new credit, a hard inquiry shows up on at least one of their credit reports. Most of the time, this hard inquiry only costs consumers about five points. Fortunately, the loss is minimal and temporary.

Loss of Credit History Length

In most credit scoring models, length of credit history matters for two reasons. First, the average age of all accounts in your credit history factors into your final credit score. Next, the age of your newest account has some influence over whether your credit score is lower or higher. Clearly, if you transfer credit card balances to a new card, this “young” account drops the length of your credit history and lowers your credit score.

Credit Card Utilization Ratio Inflation

This is a tricky issue, because most California consumers will think that adding balance transfer credit cards to credit histories helps credit card utilization ratios. It might, if you didn’t immediately use this credit by transferring balances over to the new card. However, because consumers normally use most or all of their new spending limit for balance transfer purposes, their credit scores might drop. This is because their individual credit card utilization ratios inflate.

Why California Consumers Should Always do the Math Before Using Balance Transfer Credit Cards to Pay Down High Credit Card Balances

Using balance transfer credit cards to pay down credit card debt takes discipline, budgeting, and planning. After all, unless California consumers can pay off high balances before the “regular” interest rate kicks in on balance transfer cards, what is the point of moving debt from one credit card to another? This is an especially good point to bring up when you consider the fact that you could lose credit score points when you move heavy balances over to one card.

Yet, if you are willing to follow through and pay off your debts before the 0% interest rate ends, you can make it work. This is because, even if your credit score drops when you transfer balances, you’ll gain those points back (and more) when you pay off the balance in full.

Why All Credit Card Users in California Should Regularly Check their Credit Reports

Whether they use balance transfer credit cards or not, all California consumers working toward paying down credit card debt and improving credit scores should regularly check their credit reports. After all, if you put forth the effort to reduce your balances and increase your credit rating, you should protect your progress.

Unfortunately, creditors and the credit bureaus frequently make mistakes with consumer information. These mistakes then show up as credit report errors that often damage credit scores. So, make sure that you have the credit score you deserve by getting these inaccuracies removed.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), entitles all consumers in California to error-free credit reports, but you must first find the mistakes in order to take advantage of your rights. So, go to, and request your annual free credit reports from TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian.

Once you have access to your most recent credit reports, review them carefully. Next, if you spot credit score damaging mistakes and errors, contact Credit Repair Lawyers of America in California. Instead of handling the dispute process on your own, let our team of credit pros do all of the work for you from start to finish. In addition, you’ll get access to an experienced credit attorney who will do whatever it takes to get you clean credit reports – legally and for free.

The Free and Legal Way to Get Better Credit in California

Don’t let errors on your credit reports bring your credit score down. At Credit Repair Lawyers of America, we’ve been cleaning up credit reports for consumers since 2008 for free. How do we do it? All of our fees come from the defendants in settled cases. This is why our clients pay nothing for the work we do.

Let’s start the conversation about what we can do for your credit. Set up your free consultation today by calling Attorney Gary Nitzkin at (855) 956-2089 or sending him a message through our contact page.

For more information about Free Credit Repair, please visit