Software for playing the "rotate that credit card balance to the low APR offer" game
February 15, 2009 6:27 PM   Subscribe

My googlefoo is failing me: Hasn't anyone written a program that helps you figure out the best strategy for playing the "rotate credit card balances from one card to the next to take advantage of low APR offers" game?

(You know the offers - you get maybe 0% or 1.99% APR for 6 months, but a fee of 3% of the transfer amount, maxing out at $75, etc. Add to that the fact that I have a good number of cards, and suddenly the possibilities of what to move where/when can quickly become a tricky matter to manage.)
posted by GenTso to Work & Money (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Doing this can seriously hurt your credit because the agencies see a lot of new credit requests in a short period of time as a high risk factor.

That said, Mint will aggregate all of your accounts and suggest other credit cards based on APR and other offers, and tell you how much you can save, but it won't juggle your 0% APR balance transfer logic for ya.
posted by disillusioned at 6:33 PM on February 15, 2009

What some dub an "app-o-rama" is an alternative technique. Instead of opening one after the other for years and having a poor credit score forever, instead go on a crazy insane few-day binge getting as many cards as you can. You can end up with at least 40 grand in 0% APR credit if you were careful. Use any 0% BT offers you have to stick that "free" money in a high yield savings account until your 0% APR is up. You'll have access to very liquid cash you can loan yourself.

Also, you'll probably rack up a lot of bonus offers, cashback, points, etc. Read the FatWallet Finance forum for infinite discussion of this stuff.
posted by floam at 2:12 AM on February 16, 2009

Note, I didn't explain the real benefit of the binge: Since all these inquiries happened at one point in time, your credit should steadily improve in the aftermath as you get farther away from the event, and magically one day all 15 inquiries will disappear at once.
posted by floam at 2:13 AM on February 16, 2009

Here's a good starting place for cards to consider.

-- the devil.
posted by floam at 2:16 AM on February 16, 2009

Doing this can seriously hurt your credit because the agencies see a lot of new credit requests in a short period of time as a high risk factor.

True, but new credit requests will leave your credit history after a year or so. And it's better to take a smallish hit for opening up lots of new credit lines than take a big hit for missing payments if you can't make the high %.

That said there isn't really a "program" for what you're trying to do AFAIK. And the App-O-Rama strategy doesn't really apply here because you're trying to spread your 0% out as long as possible. The idea with App-O-Rama is to get as much 0% RIGHT NOW and put it in an interest-bearing account.

I don't think it would be too hard to do this however. Just open one card, transfer all your balances to it, and pay it off month by month. DO NOT CHARGE ANYTHING TO THIS CARD. DO NOT MISS PAYMENTS. Then, when the introductory APR is up, get a new card. Rinse and repeat.
posted by jckll at 1:06 PM on February 16, 2009

As floam linked, the Fatwallet Finance forums are a great place for more info on this. The term used there is "App-o-rama".
posted by reptile at 10:35 AM on February 18, 2009

Another complicating factor is that as your credit profile (and the economic environment of the credit card companies) changes, you will have different balance transfer offers available. It's usually pretty obvious which card you should make a balance xfer to right now, but it can be hard to predict which of your cards will have the best offer 6 or 12 months down the line. Thus, it's hard to make a long-term plan, and you'll end up having to re-evaluate options for your balance's destination every time an offer runs its course.

Thirding the Fatwallet finance forum for tons of info about App-o-ramas, which are tangentially related to this.
posted by DeucesHigh at 12:01 PM on February 18, 2009

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