Does transferring a balance from one credit card to another affect your credit score?

Dear James,

If I transfer a balance from one credit card to another, will this affect my credit score?

Andrew, Byfleet

Dear Andrew,

Transferring a credit card balance from one card to another could certainly affect your credit rating, but whether the change would be positive or negative depends on a range of factors, including the timeframe you’re looking at. This is essentially because credit scoring takes account of a wide selection of variables. For example, if you applied for and obtained a new card to facilitate the balance transfer, you might see your credit rating take a temporary plunge because you’d taken on a new credit account. But that effect would be quite short lived. The longer-term effect of taking on a new account could strengthen your credit history, depending on what other information is available. Another aspect credit scoring will look at is your account utilisation – that is, how much of your available credit you are using each month on what we call your ‘revolving’ accounts. Revolving accounts are usually cards. This calculation applies to individual accounts and to your credit report overall. Low utilisation is generally rewarded through credit scoring. So, for example, if you shifted a balance of £1000 from a card with a credit limit of £2000 to another card with a £4000 credit limit, the utilisation rate for the account carrying a balance would switch from 50% to 25%, which could boost your credit score. The Experian Credit Score can give you some personal guidance on this.  (April 2016, updated May 2017)

James
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